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A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations: Two Novels (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – Dec 6 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1st edition (Dec 6 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142196584
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142196588
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.9 x 3.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #73,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Salmon on Dec 7 2010
Format: Paperback
The novels and stories of Charles Dickens have been with us for almost 200 years for a reason. He is simply one of the best (some say, THE best) novelist who ever lived. Originally released in serialized form in magazines, each fresh installment would create an uproar as thousands of rabid readers rushed bookshops for the latest part fresh off the presses. In the United States, the ships carrying the magazine issues from England would often be stormed by readers who couldn't even wait for them to be unloaded. Such was the fervor Dickens' writing created.

With A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, you have two of his best novels in one handy volume and at a great price.

Great Expectations has been called "the only perfect novel" by critics. It's a tale of redemption, secrets, romance and tragedy. There is something for everyone to savor in this timeless novel and like all great fiction, there is also valuable lessons to be learned. Dickens wrote for the people and though his style is outdated by today's standards, you'll find the themes and scenes are very much of the street and deal with everyday cares and concerns. It is the strength of this aspect of his writing that has led to its enduring through the centuries.

A Tale of Two Cities has twists that have been echoed in countless stories since then. This novel of the French Revolution is a-typical of Dickens as it is an historical tale and he usually wrote about the London of his time. But the book has transcended like so much of his work to the extent that it's has been referenced all through pop culture. Even Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan hinges it's dramatic high-points on the opening and closing lines of the novel.
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By T. Holden on Oct. 18 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is more for a strong reader, having two books in one is very convenient for holidays and a SUPER value!
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By Fatima on Sept. 28 2011
Format: Paperback
I cant believe I only paid close to $3 for this classic! worth every penny. Pss. the book says $23 as its original price.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 58 reviews
35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Great read and a great gift Dec 7 2010
By B. McEwan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As usual, Oprah has picked a great book for her book club, only this time around she's recommending two books for the price of one, literally. And great books they both are. Charles Dickens is one of the towering authors of English literature. If you haven't read Dickens -- and I mean read, not just seen a movie -- you have a gaping hole in your knowledge and your literary experience.

A Tale of Two Cities is generally considered the better of these two novels. Some have called it Dickens' greatest, which is saying something when one considers the entire body of work from this outstanding author. At heart, Dickens is a story teller and A Tale of Two Cities relates a gripping story set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the sweeping intellectual, political and social changes of the Enlightenment period.

The basics of the plot are relayed elsewhere, but I caution you not to read too much about the story line before you have read the novel, as one of the best features of Dickens is his ability to surprise and delight with the twists and turns of his plots and the events that challenge his characters. Great characters they always are too. A Tale of Two Cities is full of interesting peoples, as well as events. Sydney Carton, for example, is on my list of the ten best fictional heros of all time. (See my list here on Amazon.)

While Great Expectations is not as highly regarded as A Tale of Two Cities, it remains an outstanding novel. Think of Great Expectations as the Cadillac to A Tale of Two Cities' Rolls Royce. There's nothing wrong with a Caddy and Great Expectations delivers on all of the fronts you'd expect. It features wonderful characters, particularly Miss Havisham, the rich eccentric who is arguably the basis for every kooky old lady character that came after her.

There was once a time when every school kid in the US was assigned to read Great Expectations in 7th grade English. If you are one of those, I encourage you to reread this novel, as I expect it will be surprisingly pleasant when not consumed under duress. It's a wonderful story with themes and lessons that remain resonant today, well over 100 years after Dickens wrote it.

So rush out and buy two copies of this double-barreled hit, one for yourself and one as a gift for your best friend.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Excellent AudioBook July 10 2012
By R. Koning - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is an unabridged version of Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities. This recording has a talented cast with consistent application of well-differentiated character voices. There is a narrator who reads the non-dialog portions of Dickens' novels. The chapters and headings are narrated. There are clear bookends on each CD telling you which CD it is and which CD is next in the series. The last few lines of one CD are repeated at the beginning of the next CD so that you know you have connected them correctly and have the context for the next portion of text. These are the features of what I call an excellent audiobook. The listener gets the author's imaging, setting, and context thanks to a full reading of the book. There are 35 hours of reading here. The two sets of CDs come in a very sturdy plastic library case with ring-bound jackets for each disc. Highly recommended!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A great tale Jan. 10 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A very clear and well paced reading of a classic tale by one of the world's greatest writers.I highly recommend this presentation.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great collection for the fan of Dickens Dec 29 2010
By fra7299 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
With A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations as the new Oprah book selection, we have two very different styles of Dickens. My preference is Great Expectations, although many love A Tale of Two Cities also, as it is often read in high school. A Tale of Two Cities lacks the comic relief that most of the Dickens novels have, and there aren't many "Dickens-like" characters within the story. Also, A Tale of Two Cities is pretty cut and dry within its characterization; good guys are clearly good guys, and bad guys are the villains, and there isn't any gray area to speak of. Still, there is power with the message of what revenge and war bring. Within Great Expectations there is much more depth and dimensionality to the characters, both good and bad. I think that any Dickens novel has merit, and should be read because of its moral, message, themes and social commentaries. Now, you get two in one book.

A Tale of Two Cities centers on the English/French revolutionary war. We have our heroes (Charles Darnay, Sydney Carton) and villains (Madame Defarge and her revolutionaries). A Tale of Two Cities is a little different than most Dickens' novels in that it is more action-based and has a bleak, bloody perspective, being that it bases much of its tale on the historical aspects of war. The restless, chaotic nature between the two sides lends its way to various modes of revenge from many characters. Maybe one question explored is "are there times when revenge is acceptable, or does it always destroy the individual?" Also, differences between classes are evidenced as some poor go without while others prosper and live luxurious lives. One superior aspect to A Tale of Two Cities is the character transformation of Sydney Carton, who goes from basically a drunk to one of the most relevant and important characters in the book. The woman who he has a fondness for, Lucie, seems to wake him up to this change; he wants to do all he can for her, even though she is Charles' wife. Instrumental in leading other characters to safety, he undergoes an awakening, and sacrifices.

Great Expectations tells the story of Pip, who is raised by his overbearing sister, learns through years of experience the meaning of wealth. A strange encounter with a criminal (Magwitch) early in the novel will have greater meaning for Pip's fate. As a youngster, Pip goes to the Satis House with his uncle, where Miss Havisham, a revenge-seeking old lady who was cheated at the altar, resides; Pip, while here, is enchanted by the beautiful, but proud and snobbish Estella. Being poor and fully self-conscious of this, Pip has visions of being a gentleman one day. Maybe then Estella would take a poor lad like him seriously? Pip is eventually given a sum of wealth by a mysterious benefactor, and now sets off to be "educated" on living the social life of a gentleman. Pip will come to learn though Dickens semi-autobiographical coming of age tale that richness does not necessarily make one's life complete. He also goes through the trials of trying to win over Estella. Monetary wealth has its pitfalls, and Pip's real education is learning that moral, loyal, spiritual wealth come from being true to oneself and those who are close to you.

What makes Great Expectations an exceptional novel is Dickens' memorable characters, multi-layered plot, and social commentary about the world. Many characters have depth to them, having faults and weaknesses along with strengths. Even one antagonist, Miss Havisham, who is quite despicable for much of the story, can be sympathized with when we know what she has experienced. She later has a change of heart, and feels a terrible amount of guilt about what she has done to Pip. Dickens also criticizes the state of the classes, with the rich getting richer and the poor being poorer, as well as the usage of class status to judge a person. A prevalent theme is the ills of ambition and wealth, and the loss of self when you "sell out" to become something or someone you are not. Great Expectations is just a wonderful story, also.

I'm so glad that Oprah chose Dickens as her choice. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't anything in the way of an introduction, but still, it is a fantastic deal for two solid classics. You can't go wrong there. For any Dickens fans, or anyone who wants to catch up on the classics, here is a nice buy for them. The font is also a decent size, which may seem to be a minute point, but many of Charles Dickens' novels are produced in microscopic font due to the length of many of his novels.

Excellent collection worth owning, especially for the Victorian Literature fan!
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Hmmm. Dec 17 2010
By great horse - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I love Charles Dickens! He is one of the all time greats and all of his books are worth reading. But, I really have to put TOTC at the very bottom of his books. If you are new to Mr. Dickens and are looking for an introduction to his works, I would highly recommend you start with any of the following: Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Great Expectations or Bleak House, all of which are far superior to Tale of Two Cities. BY all means read TOTC but if you don't get into just keep in mind there may be far better ways to approach the Master.

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