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Penguin Classics Our Mutual Friend Paperback – Feb 2 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classic (Feb. 2 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140434976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140434972
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 4 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 621 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #402,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

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)
First Sentence
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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Morse on July 15 2002
Format: Paperback
In the works of Charles Dickens, a reader can find many valuable life lessons threaded into the myraid plots, subplots, and character diversions. In Our Mutual Friend, those life lessons are no less abundant than in other works that I have read.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20 1998
Format: Paperback
Some may say that it is one of Dickens' darkest novels, but I only see the humor and the intricacy. This is a novel where he focuses on greed and hypocrisy. The sub-plots are masterfully inter-woven with the main plot (surrounding John Harmon's inheritance) and there is a surprise twist in the end, which makes everything come out blissful. (Like most of Dickens' novels.)
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 19 1997
Format: Hardcover
There are at least half a dozen moments in Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, the last book the great master was to complete before his death, when it becomes clear to the reader that he/she has left the London of nineteenth century earth for one deep inside the nightmare landscape of sleep. This is an angry, disturbing book (as all books by old men are), one that presents a vision of a great city coming apart at the seams and stuffed with sinners of all shapes and sizes. At the same time, and this is what makes Dickens both a great artist and a great humanist, there are flashes of beauty and humor that literally bring tears to one's eyes. At a time when so many of our own great cities are on the verge of imploding, there is no one hundred year old novel more pertinent--or saddingly familiar
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Jan. 14 1999
Format: Hardcover
I was first drawn to this book when I watched the mini-series on PBS and thought it facinating. So many reviews said it was "dark and dreary", but I found it to show the humor in so many outragous situations. The book presented a good handful of characters who were extremely selfish and greedy, yet through Dickens' amazing skills they became good once more. He shows that people are not one sided, nor can they ever be. They have a well of emotions and usually don't know why they do what they do.
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31 1999
Format: Hardcover
Charles Dickens novel "Our Mutual Friend" is by far the best novel I've read to date. He masterfully portrayed Victorian London society, and the overwhelming emphasis of money at that time. In this novel Dickins work is similar to that of Jane Austen, aside from the dark underlying settings the novel at times goes. This book by far to me, is a story of how love conquers all, even money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Aug. 27 1999
Format: Paperback
Yes Yes Yes
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.
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By Rodge TOP 50 REVIEWER on Feb. 25 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The general background theme of this very Dickensian and complicated work is the perils of greed for money in what for Dickens was contemporary society. It's also Dickens last completed novel, and he proceeds to play around with various techniques (or experiment, if you like). The experimentation provides the novel with originality in overall construction, even if the individual stories aren't terribly original or inspiring. In many ways this is a frustrating book, there seems to be some greatness in it but it's always just out of reach.

Plot is never Dickens' greatest strength and that's no exception here. In fact, it seems Dickens had some intention of deliberately making the plot frustrating at points. It's characterization where Dickens really shines, in putting preposterous characters on the page that you have to believe in, because they're preposterous in the way real people are, not the way actors on a stage are.

Ultimately, Dickens was fully immersed in his craft as a writer when he wrote this, and that alone makes it worthwhile. There are frustrating elements and unbelievable elements and things that might seem to stack up against a recommendation, but somehow none of them are insufficient.

Henry James hated this book. But Dickens always had a better grip on how to reach a reader's heart than James ever did.
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