Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

I grew up watching the 1968 film Oliver! but for some reason only bought a copy of the book last year. The magic of the film has stayed with me throughout my life. When I was little I loved the fact that it was both frightening and funny, and I still can’t get enough of the wonderful songs!

Perhaps because of the music and singing, I was always under the impression that Oliver Twist was a children’s book. However it’s much grittier and at times downright gruesome. There’s also less laugh-out-loud humour, which is replaced by sharp and dark satire. In fact, the book is simply dripping with sarcasm, showing Dickens’ total disgust of the workhouse and justice systems of the time. Continue reading

Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens

our-mutual-friendOur Mutual Friend opens in true Dickens’ fashion with a grizzled man and a young woman rowing on the murky waters of the Thames. A repulsed Lizzie Hexam and her father have just found a corpse in the river.

In a sudden change of environment in the next chapter, we head over to Mr and Mrs Veneerings’ ‘bran-new house in a bran-new quarter of London’. I’m not sure what’s more horrifying, the grimy scene we just left or the shiny, well polished world of the Veneerings with their extravagant dinner parties and ‘bran-new’ artificial friends.

What brings these characters together in one book is an old miser’s will, and the body of his son John Harmon, found in the Thames. As always, Dickens’ mix of characters is a delight and his settings range from the gaudy dinner table of the Veneerings to my favourite, the dark and peculiar taxidermy shop owned by the gloomy Mr Venus. Continue reading

Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Great ExpectationsI feel as though I have known the story of Pip for most of my life. I have vague memories of listening to audio books and watching adaptations. Maybe that is why I have never felt a real need to pick up the actual book and read it.

The beginning is pretty much exactly how I expected it to be. All the characters seemed to be just as I had seen them before; the scary convict, the kindly Joe Gargery, the nasty sister, stuck up Estella and timid little Pip. Even Miss Havisham didn’t seem any different to how she has been portrayed. It’s not until half way through that I began to feel as though I was coming to the story for the first time. Possibly I’ve not paid as much attention to that part of the story when watching adaptations? Continue reading