A Tale Of Two Cities is a historical fiction novel written in 1859 that takes place in England and France around 1776. It focuses on the plight of the poor in those two countries as French peasantry begin its revolution against the aristocrats.
The writing style is very descriptive. The action moves slow but clear images pop in your mind of the characters and the environment. You can argue that this book is just as much about mood as it is plot. The author, Charles Dickens, forms characters whose motives you understand. I had to stop every couple of paragraphs to imagine what the characters must be feeling and what they will do next.
The only problem is that it takes a while for you to feel invested in the story, until all the odd bits and ends he introduces come together in the second half. I wouldn’t be surprised if many readers quit this book well before the payoffs start to arrive.
The water of the fountain ran, the swift river ran, the day ran into evening, so much life in the city ran into death according to rule, time and tide waited for no man, the rats were sleeping close together in their dark holes again, the Fancy Ball was lighted up at supper, all things ran their course.
The book is at its best during the revolution when the peasants begin hunting for those who wronged them. The aristocracy reaped what they sowed with its unfair treatment of the peasants, but the rageful hunting and rapid denouncements should give pause to any man who is a success in this world. What will happen to him if the poor and weak suddenly become the strong? Dickens seems to perfectly balance sympathy for the peasants with hints that their bloodthirst went too far.
If you attempt this book, and I must warn you that it’s not an easy read, I think you will be rewarded in the end when the loose ends get tied. Every scene and chapter has purpose. As I approached the end, and the suspense built to a fever pitch, I read even slower so it wouldn’t end. This is the hallmark of a good story. A Tale Of Two Cities is a rich book with rich characters and a plot that describes a fascinating period of mankind’s history. If you have the time and patience, I highly recommend it.
Read More: “A Tale Of Two Cities” on Amazon