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Our Mutual Friend Paperback – Feb 1 1998
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Our Mutual Friend was the last novel Charles Dickens completed and is, arguably, his darkest and most complex. The basic plot is vintage Dickens: an inheritance up for grabs, a murder, a rocky romance or two, plenty of skullduggery, and a host of unforgettable secondary characters. But in this final outing the author's heroes are more flawed, his villains more sympathetic, and the story as a whole more harrowing and less sentimental. The mood is set in the opening scene in which a riverman, Gaffer Hexam, and his daughter Lizzie troll the Thames searching for drowned men whose pockets Gaffer will rifle before turning the body over to the authorities. On this particular night Gaffer finds a corpse that is later identified as that of John Harmon, who was returning from abroad to claim a large fortune when he was apparently murdered and thrown into the river.
Harmon's death is the catalyst for everything else that happens in the novel. It seems the fortune was left to the young man on the condition that he marry a girl he'd never met, Bella Wilfer. His death, however, brings a new heir onto the scene, Nicodemus Boffin, the kind-hearted but low-born assistant to Harmon's father. Boffin and his wife adopt young Bella, who is determined to marry money, and also hire a mysterious young secretary, John Rokesmith, who takes an uncommon interest in their ward. Not content with just one plot, Dickens throws in a secondary love story featuring the riverman's daughter, Lizzie Hexam; a dissolute young upper-class lawyer, Eugene Wrayburn; and his rival, the headmaster Bradley Headstone. Dark as the novel is, Dickens is careful to leaven it with secondary characters who are as funny as they are menacing--blackmailing Silas Wegg and his accomplice Mr. Venus, the avaricious Lammles, and self-centered Charlie Hexam. Our Mutual Friend is one of Dickens's most satisfying novels, and a fitting denouement to his prolific career. --Alix Wilber
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up-With a cast of characters that covers the whole spectrum of London life, Dickens weaves a tapestry of tales that are by turn funny, moving and tragic.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Inside This Book(Learn More)
IN these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps the darkest Dickens novel, in terms of plot-driving devices; murders, theft, blackmail, beatings and the lot, the reader is left to derive the lesson each is there to offer. The story, lacking in a real hero or heroine as a focal point, is a far bleaker portrait of English society than in his past works.
However, woven into these dim themes, Dickens has interjected his typical wit and joviality to lighten even the blackest of plot twists.
Of course the usual roster of colorful, lively Dickens characters grace the pages of this book, although the novel is seemingly bereft of a hero and heroine, at least in the traditional sense. However; the denizens of Dickens' world in this novel will entertain and enchant every bit as much as in his other works.
Dickens imparts many words of wisdom in the pages of this book, his last completed novel: Money cannot buy happiness; be careful what you wish for; keep your friends close and your enemies closer; and many other time-honored cliches that stand true today.
For a good time, call Charles Dickens. His novels never fail to deliver.
Dickens explores some of the bizarre occupations that might have been found in old London. For example: Dress-Maker for Dolls, Taxidermist/Curator of Human Bones, Street Sales of Ballads and Folk-songs, and (of course) Purchaser/Processor of Garbage (or "Dust").
There are so many examples of brilliant and hilarious stories he uses to illustrate human nature that, to begin to list them (which I could) would not do them justice.
Sure, there may be some dark subjects, but that is part of Dickens' creativity and therefore part of this masterpiece--full of intrigue and dark humor. My all! -time favorite novel.
Note: The Penguin edition always has good notes at the back of the book to explain dated references.
Yes, the book may have a dark and complicated twist to it, but everyday life is not a walk through the park. It is full of tough decisions that we must face head on. Dickens' showed this brilliantly.
Dickens writes a towering saga of greed and love and jealousy and manifold other emotions.
At times it seems as though the happy ending will never come, yet at the end wrong is righted and the heroine wed.
Forget this book as great literature - it probably is -(I'm just not pompous enough to say so) This book is a book that makes you glad you read it.
one good thing in the book is the character of eugene wrayburn. wrayburn's a variant of the sydney carton characer in 'tale of two cities', only here he is more fleshed out. the conversations between wrayburn and his legal pal mortimer lightwood are remarkably modern - ie, they could have been written today.
the narrative design of the book is also interesting. few books are written that don't rely on a central character to carry the story along. omf is unique in that it gives more or less equal time to a great number of characters. in this way it's like a robert altman movie - 'gosford park', or 'nashville', or 'short cuts'. it's a daring experiment, but dickens throws so many characters into the air, that even he can't help dropping a few along the way. 900 pages is simply not long enough to do what he's trying to do. either he should have written an even longer book (heaven forbid!), or, he should have cut a few characters. as it is, the result is not satisfactory.
if you are a die-hard dickens fan then read this book. eveyone else would be better off reading dombey, bleak house, or even little dorrit. all are better examples of the late dickens.
Most recent customer reviews
Enjoyed Dickens' characters once again, especially Jenny Wren. Will reread a number of sections to concentrate on some of Dickens' satire.Published 5 months ago by Diana Gendron
All I can say is this is one of the best books I have ever read.Published 7 months ago by Lorna Williams
This book was purchased for my son and is the beginning of his planned Classics library and was unaware of the Nonesuch editions prior to receiving this item. Read morePublished on June 20 2013 by Ruth Gerrard
Apparently, this is the last complete novel written by Charles Dickens.
Certainly, it is not his best.
The number of characters in this novel is astounding. Read more
Anyone, such as I, who is a fan or a student of Charles Dickens owes it to himself to explore this more obscure and less popular title. Read morePublished on May 29 2012 by Ronald W. Maron
One character in Dicken's novel, Our Mutual Friend, the crippled Jenny Wren pieces together scraps of cloth and thread out of London's refuse to create beautiful doll gowns for... Read morePublished on April 7 2004
"Our Mutual Friend" is the last of Dickens's completed novels, and apart from "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", the only one of his novels I had hitherto not read. Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2003 by MR G. Rodgers
Charles Dickens's 1865 novel, his last completed novel, "Our Mutual Friend" is an extraordinarily dark and convoluted work. Featuring such unforgettable figures as Mr. Boffin, Mr. Read morePublished on May 21 2002 by mp
This book is great. It is very complex and full of suspense so i never get tired of reading it! When i first read it in 8th grade i was impressed by the size until i found out how... Read morePublished on May 14 2002 by missjay