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A Tale of Two Cities Paperback – May 27 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (May 27 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439600
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #206,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“[A Tale of Two Cities] has the best of Dickens and the worst of Dickens: a dark, driven opening, and a celestial but melodramatic ending; a terrifyingly demonic villainess and (even by Dickens’ standards) an impossibly angelic heroine. Though its version of the French Revolution is brutally simplified, its engagement with the immense moral themes of rebirth and terror, justice, and sacrifice gets right to the heart of the matter . . . For every reader in the past hundred and forty years and for hundreds to come, it is an unforgettable ride.”–from the Introduction by Simon Schama

From the Publisher

illustrations by `Phiz' and other artists --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
It was the best of times,' it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Misfit TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 1 2007
Format: Paperback
I will never, the rest of my life forget these two sentences. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." and at closing "It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."

Wow, this is not your usual Dickens. No quirky characters with strange names and laugh out loud moments, just a darn good story -- the story of two cities, London and Paris. It is difficult to put the plot into words, but when the book begins you are in London at the time of the American revolution and spies (or suspected spies) abound, and the story eventually switches to France prior to and during the French revolution.

Dickens does a marvelous job (as always) of building his story one step at a time and slowly peeling back the layers one at a time. This is not a put down and pick it up a week later kind of a book, it is very intense and complicated and you have to pay close attention. I was just floored at how he sucked me in with his descriptions of the mobs, terror and the madness of the revolution leading you to a nail biting finish. I admit to holding my breath during those last few pages!

Highly recommended, and well worth the time to discover (or rediscover) an old classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 29 2012
Format: Paperback
I feel that this book is not viewed as being one of the top tier of Dickens works due to the fact that it is thrust upon grade 9 students as an introduction to literary classics and, being so, its impact and overall cultural power has become diluted due to the audience that initially received it. It is not in regards to the content of the work itself. The intellectual abilities of students of this educational level are not able to understand the historical era, appreciate the fluent descriptive nature of the writing nor to comprehend the literary nuances that the author presents. In sum, it starts out with a less than average evaluation, by a less than receptive audience, and never fully recovers from it. A similar writing that undergoes an equally unfair youth-driven summary is that of `Silas Marner'.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. etc...." Dickens in his introductory remarks clearly lays out the tone for the rest of his historical novel; everything that is presented has two different and opposing definitions depending solely on how one views life's occurrences. What appears to be a revolution to overcome decades of elitist oppression to some, appears to be a retaliatory blood bath to others and who the people that appear to be the heroes of a just and timely uprising to some, appear to be no more than blood thirsty criminals to others. The contrast that Dickens verbally paints for us goes that much deeper; the calm and serene life in England vs. the agitated emotional level of Paris, the significant differences between the French and English Tellson Banks operations, and the respect of the ruling elite of London for the utter disdain for Paris's monsignors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By "loftinr" on Oct. 18 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"It was the best of times, it was the was the worst of times..." Charles Dickens's dramatic opening phrase to his novel about the French Revolution now stands alone in the English language and is used with ordinary regularity and contrasts in historical events. An internet search shows the phrase occurring in 5402 different web sites. A new reader of this book could well come away with the feeling that this was the best of books, it was the worst of books. The contrast for the new reader is one of subtle character development and that of cartoon characterizations.
On the one hand the reader will find Sydney Carton, a drunken, broken, brilliant lawyer who is the tool of a sober but less clever man. Carton lives a life of drink and works only to support his habit. If this were all we were to know about him, he could be one of many characters that Dickens uses to set the stage. But Carton is more than window dressing; he can still love and hope to be loved. His love for Lucy Manette is unrequited, but this condition drives Carton not back to the tavern but to the guillotine where he dies so Lucy can experience love that is undiminished. Sydney Carton is not ones usual hero; he is at once broken and ruined as well as noble and transformed. The reader will find a home in Sydney Carton because, like most people, he is a mixture of these things which fail and succeed.
On the other hand, the new reader may not feel so very much at home with the novels remaining important characters: the Manettes, Charles Darnay, the wicked Marquis, and M.and Mme.Defarge All of the characters are cartoons which the Victorian reader may have enjoyed but do not seem to come to life today. For example, Lucy Manette is beautiful, righteous, long suffering, obedient, and boring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hagan on Oct. 17 2003
Format: Paperback
Although A Tale of Two Cities is both confusing and sometimes monotonous, it is truely a great novel. Sydney Carton ,the books necessity, is both useless, and vulgar. At the beginning of the novel while talking to his partner he is referred to as the "Jackal" foreshadowing his life to come tainted by his decisions made early in the novel. Although most readers finish this novel with more pros than cons, they come to a sense that they owe a great deal of credibility to Carton, as he examplifies more than meets the eye. Having established the reputation of worthless, he has a hard time proving himself to the people amoungst him. Finally in his one chance to make his life worth the while, he sacrifices himself for his friend Lucie Mannette's husband, Charles Darnay. Darnay was one of many to be captured during the era known well as the French Revolution. As they come to find out Darnay will be lead to death only escaping it with the help of Carton. During Darnay's trial early in the novel, the public comes to find that Darnay and Carton have a striking resemblance. So, seeing this as great chance to bring meaning to his life, Carton, decides to sacrafice himself for the one and only, Charles Darnay. Thus, proving his life, saving his true friend, and adding an intriguing crux to this novel. So, as you, the reader, leave this novel you part it with both feelings of admiration and hatred, creating a love hate relationship.
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