The year is 1775. The novel opens with Dickens’ famous lines, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” As with many novels, the story is difficult to summarize in a single paragraph. Mr. Lorry, clerk of Tellson’s bank, has just received word that a certain person of interest to him has been ‘revived to life.’ Upon receiving this message, Mr. Lorry comes back into contact with Lucie Manette, whom he carried across the English Channel to safety in England almost twenty years past. Lucie and Mr. Lorry travel to Paris, to find her father, who has been dead for twenty years, but is now revived to life.
As with any Dickens novel the characters are fantastic. If there weren’t so many of them, they would be even better! The characters come to life throughout these pages. One is truly immersed in their lives and sympathetic to their troubles. They act as real people; they make mistakes, they lie or hedge, they love. Dickens’ novel brings the eighteenth century to life for modern readers perfectly. Most notable of all the characters is Mr. Sydney Carton. His character is perhaps the most complex of all those found in the novel, and certainly the most interesting. One thing to remember as you read this book: even the most minor characters may yet have a part to play in the story.
Perhaps the biggest issue I have with the book is that it tends to ramble; not necessarily in the inclusion of unecessary elements, but more with the confusion of the reader. It takes a good while to get your head around the story, and it was several chapters in before I was certain of what was happening and who every face was. One thing you will definitely want to put particular attention towards is placing the characters in your head as they are introduced. As I mentioned before, you’ll want to keep track of even minor characters.
Overall, A Tale of Two Cities is most assuredly a classic, and it has earned a place on my virtual bookshelf. I recommend it highly.