Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Old Curiosity Shop

The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

I finally did it!  I've been reading this book for months, but my problem was that it was on my tablet and e-reading just wasn't doing it for me with this book.  I checked a paper copy (with illustrations by Phiz!) out of the library last week and finished the second half of the book in about 3 days.  It's much better on paper.

Here we have the saga of Little Nell and her dotty old grandfather, horrible Quilp with his confederates, and trusty Kit Nubbins with his good friends.   There are virtuous folks, who go through trials and are rewarded, and baddies who come to a sorry end.  And there are some funny ones with a story nearly all their own, who turn out good in the end--I liked them quite a lot. Quilp's manipulations made me think of him as a DM, running his own evil D&D game, which is not very classically-minded of me.

Really, I think I liked the Kit sections best.  Nell was angelic and all, and I did care what happened to her until she got settled, but the tear-jerking bits didn't do much for me.  I really disliked reading the Quilp sections, and I tried to always stop in the middle of a part I liked--if I stopped in a Quilp part it was hard to pick it back up.

Considering the title of the book, we spend very little time in the actual Old Curiosity Shop.  The first thing Nell and Grandfather do is leave it.  But I found lots of paintings and pictures of the shop, and few others, which I thought was interesting. 

George Gissing says in the essay after the story that "To the popular mind, The Old Curiosity Shop is Dickens' most attractive book."  What do you all think of that?  I certainly enjoyed it, but I can't say it's my favorite Dickens book ever.  It was a hit when it was published, though, with hype and anticipation like that we saw when the last volume of Harry Potter came out.


This title counts for my Mixing It Up Challenge, and now I just have three more to go.  I have a history book all picked out, but the romance challenge has got me stumped.  Maybe I could find a nice Elizabeth Goudge title?

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