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Dickens - where to start?

(17 Posts)
MackerelOfFact Wed 16-Dec-15 11:04:30

I read 'A Christmas Carol' every year to get me in the festive mood, and always enjoy the humour and the glimpse into Victorian London. Every year I vow to read more Dickens, but frankly, I don't know where to begin - I hated it so much at school that even the titles just put me off.

I was thinking of The Old Curiosity Shop as I work round the corner from what was supposedly the actual shop, but the plot does sound a little dull.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

DoreenLethal Wed 16-Dec-15 11:11:10

Great Expectations is one of the best. Helps that I used to live near where it was written and it reminds me of home.

parrotonmyshoulder Wed 16-Dec-15 11:14:40

The Old Curiosity Shop is the only one I dislike! I love David Copperfield, Our Mutual Friend and Hard Times best of all I think.

BluePancakes Wed 16-Dec-15 11:40:18

I love Great Expectations, and I recently read A Tale of Two Cities which took a couple of chapters to get into (probably cos I hadn't read Dickens for ages) then really enjoyed.

CastaDiva Wed 16-Dec-15 11:52:38

I think I'm the world's only Little Dorrit fan, but I would begin with that, Bleak House, David Copperfield or Great Expectations. Or Hard Times, which is very short, and might be a good place to start small?

Though if it's the humour that you enjoy about A Christmas Carol, something like the Pickwick Papers, which I admit I can't bear...?

MackerelOfFact Wed 16-Dec-15 13:39:11

Hard Times I remember studying at school, I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet (short or not)!

Great Expectations sounds like it might be a good gateway read, I might give that a try first.

Thaisa Wed 16-Dec-15 18:29:57

Casta You're not alone, I think Little Dorrit is my favourite of the novels that I've read. Arthur Clennam is one of my favourite characters in literature, actually. I wouldn't necessarily recommend LD as a beginners read, though. Nor Bleak House, another one I really like.

I agree with Doreen and Blue that Great Expectations is a good one to start with. It's one of the few novels I can think of that has made me laugh out loud.

Hard Times gave me a pain, though to be fair, that was probably because had to write an extended essay on it.

There are still quite a few I haven't read. I started Martn Chuzzlewit a while ago but gave up about a third of the way in. I really ought to give it another go.

cressetmama Thu 17-Dec-15 16:29:15

I like Tale of Two Cities or Nicholas Nickleby best from the Dickens I've read, but have never completed the canon.

FrChewieLouie Thu 17-Dec-15 16:33:56

When it was the Dickens bicentenary, a couple of years back, I decided to read all of his novels. I did it in chronological order, which was a good idea, as Pickwick Papers comes first - despite being a weighty tome, it's a light and easy read, full of humour with some laugh-out-loud bits. Gets you over the Dickens 'scare factor' so you're ready to go in a bit deeper. I managed to read the lot in the end, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Even Barnaby Rudge.

Muskey Thu 17-Dec-15 16:39:11

Bleak house is very good the characters are interesting and the plot at times is nail biting. Great expectations is good if a little pedestrian. I enjoyed hard times but to say the least it is truly miserable. DoMby and sons is good as well. I would stir clear of Pickwick papers, the old curiosity shop and little Dorit (really dull)

IndridCold Thu 17-Dec-15 19:44:05

Pickwick Papers! Dull!

I love Dickens and it took ages for me to get around to reading it. It is used so often as representing every Victorian Christmas cliche, when I finally got around to it I was surprised at how much I loved it. Fascinating glimpse into life at that time and very funny.

I would start with David Copperfield (one of the best descriptions of getting drunk I've ever read), Bleak House or Great Expectations.

Whatever you do don't start with Old Curiosity Shop - you will never pick up another Dickens again smile.

dun1urkin Thu 17-Dec-15 19:46:25

Another vote for Bleak House here

Themodernuriahheep Thu 17-Dec-15 23:58:49

David Copperfield, Great Expectations first. Then Bleak house. Superb. Our mutual friend poetic but strained, I always think.

Pickwick is really pre Victorian in spirit, more galloping regency. V funny in bits.

I'm fond if little dorrit. Tattycoram is a magnificent pre Kevin teenager. Mrs clennam a Protestant witch. Arthur, sorry, a wimp. Dorrit an inexcusable EAr. And the ministry v funny.

Themodernuriahheep Fri 18-Dec-15 00:01:56

Dombey is an appalling EAr, with NPD, sociopathic tendencies. How MN would go to town on him, and Florence an enabler till Wall'r puts some spine into her.

annandale Fri 18-Dec-15 00:03:35

Bleak House [gavel]

SurelyYoureJokingMrFeynman Fri 18-Dec-15 00:10:32

I adore Bleak House, like Tale of Two Cities, can't stand Great Expectations.

Maybe it's less a case of where to start, than of not giving up on Dickens if one doesn't suit: there's probably another that you'll like.

Thaisa Fri 18-Dec-15 10:39:33

Arthur, sorry, a wimp. sad

I know he is. A bit. But I still love him.

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