If I were asked on Desert Island Discs, which book I'd take to the island, it would have to be 'David Copperfield'.
This was his favourite among the many books Dickens wrote, and 'D.C' (David Copperfield) is a reverse form of Charles' Dickens' own initials. There are aspects of the story which reflect parts of the author's own life and hard times (Dickens' own father was in debtors' prison for a time).
When the hero, 'Pip' (Philip Pirrip)lives for a period near Yarmouth with his aunt Betsy Trotwood, he beomes friendly with an extraordinary extended family living together in an upturned boat on Yarmouth beach. There's a gloomy old aunt, 'I'm a lone, larn woman', she says, adding that many family members are now dead -'drown-dead'.
There's a beautiful daughter, too, who has her head turned by a caddish friend of Pip's who has come over from London for a visit. This all ends in tragedy - yet another drowning.
I'm writing all this, not having re-read David Copperfield for YEARS - but its mixture of humour and pathos will make you laugh out loud, and, at times, bring you to the point of tears. Some of the people in the book are caricatures; cartoonish, but loveable and believable for all that.
And... bliss - it's a LONG story; the reading challenge is worth it, and Dickens' lovely writing lifts you, as the reader, into a strange, poignant and captivating world.