Monday, June 10, 2013

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens

What an amazing read!  I haven't read Dickens for a while; this book was recommended.

Essentially, this book is the story of an older very wealthy man, the first Martin, and his grandson, the second Martin.  They have a falling out, mostly over a girl.  She's the grandfather's caretaker, the grandson's love and childhood friend and among the most likable characters in the book.

For Dickens has cast his pessimistic viewpoint of life over the whole story.  The elder Martin has a brother, also wealthy.  A motley assortment of truly horrible relatives circle the brothers like vultures, hoping to gain a prime seat in their wills.  And bad people attract bad company.  I've never met a more unlikable group.

But Dickens is too much a master not to sprinkle virtue throughout the novel.  And while the more likable characters spend some time getting the short end of the stick, Dickens does ultimately give most all their just rewards, good and bad (not to give too much away...but I will reference Picture of Dorian Grey, another book in which evil rots you from the inside and has outside implications).

There are gems in this book.  We are made to wonder at a wise old man falling fool to an evil idiot late in life after having fended off so many much more clever.  And the idiot in question is noted to make all his adversaries look like saints when standing next to him.  The wit and biting commentary of the author is unparalleled.

The book is long, starts slow and sometime falters on older English.  It's still one of the best books I've ever read.  Love it!

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