A Tale of Two Cities

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .”

So begins one of my favorite classics, a book that I didn’t expect to like and instead fell head over heels in love with. A Tale of Two Cities captivated me. Its poignancy, intrigue, and complex characters drew me in, propelling me through a book that I’d heard described many times as sluggish.

The French Revolution is a bloody, chaotic period in history, and the books that I have read during that era have always fascinated me. The Scarlet Pimpernel and Les Miserables are both great favorites of mine as well, both as movies and as books.

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Like most classics, A Tale of Two Cities is anything but a quick read. It meanders along, telling the story in rich detail and vivid depth. I personally will read—and enjoy—a book no matter the length, as long as it does a good job of keeping its reader engaged.

And this book had no trouble doing that.

The story begins with the trial of Charles Darney, a Frenchman in an English court, now accused of treason and espionage. The charges are quickly dropped, however, on the testimony of Sydney Carton, a lawyer and a man who looks enough like Darney to be his twin. After the trial, the two of them continue to be linked together by a young woman, Lucie Manette, whose father has recently been rescued from a French prison. She eventually is married to Darney, and Sydney graciously steps aside, declaring the other a better man and continuing to maintain friendship with both of them.

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But the turmoil in France continues to grow, and Darney, a former aristocrat who has disowned his family line, must return to plead mercy for a former servant. But the bloodshed, rampant hatred, and growing terror snatch him up as well, and the whirlwind of violence that was the French Revolution threatens the quiet family he has built.

A Tale of Two Cities is a remarkable story of love and grief, bitterness and healing. Charles Dickens weaves heroism into ‘worthless’ men, fear into courage, and forgiveness into years of hatred. This story is one that I have treasured since the moment I read it and will continue to hold dear as one of the most believable, moving stories I’ve ever read.

I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.

20 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Cities

      • Other Charles Dickens book I love are Oliver Twist, Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol.

        I also love Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes.

        I love Victor Hugo as well. I read Hunchback of Notre Dame last Christmas break. I fell in love with Les Misérables through the musical, which lead me to read the unabridged book.

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      • A Christmas Carol was excellent! I enjoyed it so much. The others I haven’t read yet, but they’re on my list!

        Victor Hugo is one of my favorite authors. I read both the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables and enjoyed them so much. Don Quixote is also on my list! My brother-in-law keeps telling me to read it.

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      • Les Misérables took me about three months. By having knowledge of the musical, I was able to understand what was going on. I wrote in songs and was able to mark up important characters. By reading this book, I became a bigger fan of the musical.

        Don Quixote is a tough book to get through, but it worth it.

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      • Les Miserables took me about three months as well, or longer. I grew up with the musical/movie, so I knew the story very well. Otherwise I think it would have been much harder.

        Have you read either Jane Eyre or Villete by Charlotte Bronte? Both of those are also incredible.

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      • The musical turned my love of musicals into a passion. High school me treated tragedies horribly. I thought they were pure sad and nothing else.

        But Les Misérables entered my life and it changed my perspective and realized tragedies go beyond sad. Heartbreak also decided to enter the musical world. Sad was already there but had no idea I was blind to heartbreak. Les Mis twisted what I knew about musicals and showed me musicals from a different perspective.

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      • Les Mis is extremely powerful, epic, passionate, and highly emotional moving. The characters are so interconnected that they directly and indirectly impact each others lives. The story is so beautiful, inspirational and heartbreaking. It is hard to describe how powerful this musical or how emotional it is.

        I am a musical theatre fanatic. My blog is mostly about musicals but every so often I talk about something other than musicals.

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      • I am majoring in Sociology. I want to work in Nonprofit in particular want to work with those living in poverty. Theatre is one of my two passions: the other passion is volunteering for those living in poverty. I somehow want to bring theatre into their lives.

        I hope to see at least one musical a year. 2015 was my biggest year of musicals: I saw Music Man at my school, then saw Pippin in my hometown, the best musical: I saw Les Mis in the West End that year, and the last musical was Sound of Music.

        Other musicals I saw live that I love are Newsies, Wicked (4x), Rent, Phantom of the Opera, and Annie. I have been around musicals my entire life. Actually I saw Les Mis 5x (3x at community college, 1x in the West End, and 1x in Greenville)

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      • Wow! That’s so amazing!

        I would love to go visit broadway eventually. My sisters live close to NYC, so I’m hoping to go up and visit them sometime.

        Phantom of the Opera is amazing! Definitely one of my favorites. The Sound of Music too.

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      • I saw Wicked on Broadway. I was 12 at the time and that was in 2006. I don’t have vivid memories left: I know I was with mom and what my favorite song was.

        It has been too long since I been to New York. I want to go back and base the trip around theatre.

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