So at the end of the first part of A Tale of Two Cities, I’ve come up with only one conclusion:
Nothing really happens (or, very little happens) and Charles Dickens sure loves his detail.
Oh, The Language
Right off the bat, my head hurt. I mean, the writing seems good. I think. But I had to make sure I had enough time to actually read a chapter or two at a time, not just a few paragraphs. I also had to read veeeery slowly because the whole reading process was kind of painstaking, especially when I wanted to, you know, take in some of what I was reading.
I commented on Twitter about the fact that this is old timey language. I felt the same way when I read Jane Austen, like I had to be in a certain mindset to actually read the story because it wasn’t something I was going to be used to.
I’m pretty sure this is why I stuck to literature that was a little more recently when I was an English minor in university. Of course, by the end of the first 107 pages I’ve come to wonder if I’ve retained anything of my studies in university since I had no idea what the hell was going on.
Stories, and Other Stories (And more stories after that!)
Not only was there a bit of a language barrier going on between me and the book which had me yelling at it:
“Make sense! I want to like you! Other people understand you — why can’t I?!?”
But there was also a wide array of storylines! Storylines with lots of descriptions! Lots of characters! Wine in the streets!
IN THE STREETS!
I’m getting worked up. OKAY.
I remember one day I sat down on the couch with a free moment and turned on the TV. Having only three channels, it’s pretty fair to say that there is rarely anything good on. I came across Coronation Street and ended up watching an entire episode and by the end had no idea what was going on or who any of the people were. I was confused.
This is the same thing with A Tale of Two Cities. I read the first 100+ pages and ended up wildly confused. Mainly because for a story with not a lot going on, there seems to be a lot going on.
But Are You Liking It?
It is so hard to tell at this point. I mean, I’ve heard wonderful things about the latter half and the ending, but this book is so not what I expected. I remember falling into Price & Prejudice and even Jane Eyre (until it got boring) but this one? I think more times than not I’m sitting there with a furrowed brow, scratching my head wondering who all the characters are. Apparently someone was in prison, but I read it to mean that someone was actually being raised from the dead — at which point I got really excited. There’s lots of humour (I think. Am I supposed to be laughing? Is it actually really sad and I’m slightly crazy??). There was that wine section that made me question the 5 second rule. I mean, sure I’ll eat a piece of food that falls on the floor (within reason, folks.) but dip my cup into street wine? All I can think is how many bums peed on that street? There ya go. Get that out of your head.
I will persevere! It’s actually not that long and I feel quite proud that I read the allotted amount by today. I’m hoping at some point I won’t feel the need to take out my eyeballs, or bang my head on the table. And maybe at some point I’ll actually understand what’s happening and not feel like Googling the Cliff’s Notes or Spark Notes or somebody else’s summary of what I read.
Oh, and maybe the whole knitting needles/scarf being made on the cover of my book will make sense by the end. Is Charles Darnay the inventor of the knitting needle? Will it get all Agatha Christie and someone will kill another WITH a knitting needle in a pool of wine? ONLY TIME WILL TELL!
April 21: Start reading April 28: Book the First ch. 1-6 and Book the Second ch. 1-5
- May 5: Book the Second ch. 6-16
- May 12: Book the Second ch. 17-24 and Book the Third ch. 1-3
- May 19: Read to the end
- May 26: Wrap up