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I like big books.

A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics)

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens Isn't it pretentious to review a classic? Who am I to judge Dickens?

I'm glad then, that I have zero bad things to say about A Tale of Two Cities. I've never been a huge fan of Dickens, though I recognize the brilliance, but this story really compensates for all the things I didn't like about him before. Dickens has a tendency in my opinion to ramble (I guess when you're being paid per word you write that's a given), but that's not at all apparent in Tale. Some of the plot devices are obvious and simplistic, but I read it in literary historical context. What he did was refreshing and breathtaking for the time. In spite of really cliche things like twins, look-a-likes and coincidences, Dickens manages to convey a heavy and terrifying atmosphere full of suspense throughout the entire work. I love the French Revolution, and Dickens's English disdain for the runaway French adventure in democracy is couched in brilliant satire, with obvious chagrin as to what could have been.

Caught up in the blood-soaked events of history is the story of a family with a sordid, but mysterious history, revealed one block at a time in a way that makes this piece of 19th century fiction a real page-turner. I get the distinct feeling that Dickens invented the mystery and suspense genre with this one book and that so many later works are modeled upon it, and for good reasons. He creates memorable and lovable characters with the same ease as monsters, without overdoing it and making caricatures of them. This is especially the case with Mr. Sydney Carton, who quickly became one of my favorite literary characters of all time (just below Elphaba, Pi Patel and Roland of Gilead).

For those people looking to read a classic without being bored to tears in the search for relevancy, I highly suggest A Tale of Two Cities. It does not disappoint.