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Oprah’s Book Club: What the Dickens!!! December 7, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Writing & Writers.

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052The new selection in Oprah’s Book Club?  Not just one book by my favorite author, but two!

Oprah’s most recent pick combines two classics into one Dickens of a Good Read:

* A Tale Of Two Cities, set in Paris and London in the late 18th Century (before and during the French Revolution), one of only two historic novels by Dickens, enthralls readers from first line:

“It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”

To last:

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”

In Great Expectations, Dickens weaves vividly drawn characters, great good humor, moral maelstroms, and the sorrow and pity of love into a rollicking good read.

From Amazon’s Editorial Reviews: 

A Tale of Two Cities:  After 18 years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of the two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of the guillotine.

Great Expectations:  A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor ~ these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens’s haunting late novel depicts Pip’s education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his “great expectations.”

Two Great Classics brought together for one Dickens of a read.

Related posts:  100 Books * 10 Holiday Classics * The Clean Book(Plate) Club *  A Sunset Dinner Cruise * Austen & Dickens Had It Easy 


1. Cindy - December 7, 2010

Great Expectations is one of the books in my top 50 books, for sure.

nrhatch - December 7, 2010

Such a classic . . . for so many great reasons.

The humor that Dickens (and Austen) used can float under a reader’s radar which causes me to slow down and fully digest his words in great good humor. 🙂

2. aardvarkian - December 7, 2010

Once again, I blame how English was taught in my school. I had the same teacher for English and History. As you read last night, I’m just beginning to appreciate History. Dickens wasn’t ‘taught’ to me, he was ‘read out’. And as such, any joy I could experience was lost in translation. They were “Hard Times” indeed.

nrhatch - December 7, 2010

If you want to ease into Dickens slowly . . . A Christmas Carol is a wonder-filled place to start. 🙂

3. kateshrewsday - December 7, 2010

Best place to start is Scrooge! “He lived in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so little business to be, that one could scarcely help fancying it must have run there when it was a young house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and have forgotten the way out again.”
I love this post, Nancy, two really epic books for the Christmas season. I hated Dickens when I was young but have grown to love the way he plays with words…

nrhatch - December 7, 2010

I noted the Dickensian reference in your last post, Kate.

Such a wordsmith. You and he. 🙂

4. Maggie - December 7, 2010

I read that news article somewhere online today and I couldn’t believe that Oprah actually picked 2 works by Dickens – that’s awesome. Harold Bloom would be pleased.

nrhatch - December 7, 2010

Oprah has a tremendous influence on her fans . . . I’m delighted she’s spotlighting one of my two favorite authors.

5. Booksphotographsandartwork - December 7, 2010

I actually said, you are kidding when I read what you said about those books. I started Great Expectations last year and about two thirds of the way through wanted to throw myself off of a bridge if I had to read it to the absolute end.

In the ninth grade I had a Great Experience with the film version. Our teacher did a fabulous job with it. I was so enthralled by it. And scared. It’s very gloomy and that old lady living like that! Yikes.

As for A Tale of Two Cities I think I tried to start reading it and it seemed far too sad so I finally gave it to a thrift store I think. I did start a painting based on the title. I started the painting after reading Greg Barret’s book Father Joe.

I love love love the pbs version of A Christmas Carol. Is that the one with hmmm the old war hero guy. I can never remember his name. Actually I like all the versions of that movie. I have never read the book though. Maybe one day.

nrhatch - December 7, 2010

Do you mean George C. Scott (who also played Patton)?

A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations are not as light-hearted as A Christmas Carol (which will ALWAYS be my favorite tale by Dickens).

6. nancycurteman - December 7, 2010

I need to go back and read some Dickens. I haven’t cracked one of his novels since college.

nrhatch - December 8, 2010

So many books . . . so little time. 😦

7. Alannah Murphy - December 8, 2010

Dickens is great. He lived around here for some time and part of David Copperfield was inspired by Highgate. I’m attending a Christmas Carol-Dickens-Victorian England lecture at Highgate Cemetery later in December so very much looking forward to that. I definitely need to go back and read some of his stuff as I’ve not read it since I was about 8 years old…as you say, so many books, so little time…sigh

nrhatch - December 8, 2010

I highly recommend starting with A Christmas Carol . . . maybe in preparation for your lecture at Highgate Cemetary.

We’ve attended a Dickens Christmas Celebration (or two) over the years ~ with costumes, carols, and cider. Always fun.

This week, we’re going to a Cracker Christmas at Manatee Village Historic Park and a Christmas Celebration at Gamble Plantation ~ both are celebrations of how early Floridian (the poor / the wealthy) celebrated the holidays.

Alannah Murphy - December 8, 2010

Yeah, I think that’s a good idea Nancy 🙂

Ah, that’s nice, love hearing about history and what those before us were up to.

nrhatch - December 8, 2010

Me too.

Learning about history can be delightful fun when it’s not just a bunch of bloody battles and dry dates.

8. Judson - December 8, 2010

The most memorable Dickens quote for me:

“We forge the chains we wear in life … ”

— Judson

nrhatch - December 8, 2010

Ah, yes, Marley’s chain:

“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”

Scrooge trembled in reply.

“Or would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”

9. Julie - December 8, 2010

I’m excited! I’ve read Great Expectations, but actually had A Tale of Two Cities on my tbr list this year. So I figure I might as well go ahead and dig in since there will be lots of people reading and discussing.

nrhatch - December 8, 2010

This Oprah pick thrills me ~ I’ve never participated in her Book Club but know that she raises the readership of every author she selects.

Go Dickens!!!

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