I have been meaning to read this book for a long time. While most of my friends read A Tale of Two Cities in high school, my 10th grade English teacher decided to exchange the heart-wrenching verbosity of Dickens for the stoic brevity of Hemingway. While my female peers were gushing over one Sydney Carton and complaining about the density of the old prose, I was stuck analyzing 80 pages of marlin-tracking madness. I had read Great Expectation (and was the only person in the class who likes it) during my freshman year, and wanted more! I wanted the romance, the adventure, and I wanted a protagonist that wasn’t Pip!
It’s been 7 years since then…and I’ve finally gotten around to reading A Tale of Two Cities . For those of you who haven’t read it, don’t worry, I will not spoil it for you. Rather I want to take this time to convince people who think Dickens should stay in high school to reconsider.
Dickens’ topics are relevant to us all. A Tale of Two Cities may be set during the French Revolution, but it contains themes of loyalty and patriotism and deception that are intriguing no matter what. There were legitimately some nail-biting moments where it felt more like a Dan Brown novel than a 150-odd-year old work of art. Another great one is Hard Times , in which Dickens explores the promises and perils of the Industrial Revolution. Sure, we’re way past factories and child labor now, but we can learn about modern technology by reflecting on our past progresses. The internet and smartphones could very well be the textile factory of our time.
I don’t care what people say about Great Expections …it’s wonderful. There is a reason why everyone is forced to read it in high school. Secret Benefactors, two man-hating ladies who are certain ahead of their time, and London. If you can get past how whiny the protagonist is this book is quite the treat.