I finally finished it last night! Dom says he can’t remember me ever taking so long on a book. Now I can finally return it to the library and stop racking up the late charges. (It seems silly to me that there’s a limit to the number of times you can renew a book. Or at least that the limit is so low.)
Of course, I did start the book and put it down a few times before I really got into it. dickens has a habit of building slowly, spending quite a bit of time introducing his enormous cast of characters.
This was Dickens’ last novel. And while it is huge and uneven as most of his works are, I did enjoy it once I got past the first hundred pages or so. It was much better than the last Dickens tome I read, The Old Curiosity Shop, which just got too treacly and sentimental.
One of the heroines is named Bella. At first I didn’t like her at all, but as the story progressed she grew on me. Which is good.
One interesting aspect of the novel was its condemnation of anti-semitism. There is a character who is a Jew who is made to look bad by the manipulations of another character. He submits to humiliations galore until he finally realizes that people will see him as representative of the entire Jewish people. An interesting commentary and good to see.
There were some good twists at the end and some funny bits with a baby. All in all one of the better books I’ve read in a while. I’m glad I made myself push on through the first hard bits. And it is so very satisfying to finish a book that is more than 800 pages. It feels like such an accomplishment.
Interesting trivia: this novel was the source of Eliot’s working title for The Waste Land: “He Do the Police in Different Voices”. Which I didn’t recall until I read the book. I knew it was Dickens but didn’t know which one.
Now on to some lighter summer fare…. I’ve got to finish two books now whose due dates are rapidly approaching. Then there are a few more books I’ve requested from the library and a box coming from Amazon that should arrive any day now with my birthday books. O Joy!