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Langley, BC, Canada
I love to read. I love books. I like to talk about books and recommend them. I read everything including cereal boxes and junk mail! I heard once that if you're not reading at least 3 books at a time you're not reading enough! This blog will keep track of the books I've read and whether or not I liked them. It will be a little bit of everything from Christian fiction to Science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to participate by suggesting books to review and giving your comments. Occasionally I am given free books by Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not told how to review them or compensated in any way for the review.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens

This novel follows the Nickleby family and especially the son, Nicholas. The family meets hard times early on. Nicholas’ father is rendered poor and then dies leaving his wife alone with two children. Nicholas approaches his estranged uncle for help and is directed to a school for boys where he is to be the teacher. He is appalled by the way the students are treated and finally breaks away, throttling the headmaster and escaping with one of the boys who remains with him through the rest of the story. He then meets up with an acting troupe and becomes a writer for a short time. He’s called back home to avert a disaster occurring to his sister and remains to care for his mother and sister by becoming an assistant in an accounting firm. This turn of events leads to the happiness that eventually ends the novel.

There are a host of comical characters in this novel perhaps as an antidote to all the evil ones that are also part of the story. I often found myself chuckling at the escapades that these comical characters got themselves involved in. It is also peopled with Dickens usual wide variety of characters. There are villains both poor and rich; women both foolish and wise; beautiful young girls in need of rescue; children in need of rescue. In fact, rescue may be one of the main themes of this book.

It is also a true old fashioned romance. Love is also a major theme. It’s fascinating to see how the story plays out and the ending is true old fashioned happy one.

Dickens wrote as much to inform as at to entertain and so in this novel he takes on boys schools and reveals some of the horrible treatment lavished on the children because of the greed of the owners. (Greed is another theme in the book) He says in the preface that “any man who had proved his unfitness for any other occupation in life, was free, without examination or qualification, to open a school anywhere”. Apparently there were many school masters who thought that the description of his school and its master was based on them Dickens insisted that Mr. Squeers character was representative of a class, and not any individual person.

Despite the continuous portrayal of good and evil, this is a relatively light-hearted book for Dickens. By the time it was published he was married with 3 children. Jane Smiley in her book Charles Dickens:A life, concludes that Dickens was enjoying his own domestic life at this point and allowed that to come across in the novel. She also notes that although the novel had early success it ended up being one the least-read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it may end up being one of my favourites. If, like me, this is one of his novels that you’ve not read I would encourage you to pick it up and immerse yourself in the life and times of a Victorian gentleman named Nicholas Nickleby.

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