Release Date: 1854
Publisher: Penguin Classics
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After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille, the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There the lives of two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.
This is a book that genuinely could have been fabulous if only Dickens had not included the main characters. Which is a strange thing to say unless you have read about Lucie, who is so inconsequential you could replace her with a block of cheese and no-one would notice (I told you I’d include this, Amber :D) and her boring husband and father whose names I’ve already forgotten and don’t care enough to look up. Sydney Carton, who is actually Damon Salvatore look in your hearts you know this to be true, is the only interesting ~main character and he’s not even in the majority of the book -___- It is the minor characters, such as the poor men and women who are part of the Revolution who are actually really fascinating to read about – my favourite was a female character who earned the nickname The Vengeance because of her merciless rage against the upper classes.
I also really liked Madame Defarge, a female revolutionary like The Vengeance, and is responsible in the novel for accusing many of the people who end up in prison of treason against the new agenda. I loved seeing the bits and pieces of Revolutionary France in all it’s glory and fear. The description of the trials in which the accused were sentenced was also very interesting, as was the insight into the french prisons and the atmosphere in which no-one could trust each other because anyone could be a spy; it was these small parts of the novel that redeemed it, in a way.
I mean, I wish I could finish this review with some profound comments but honestly, this book bored me into a near coma; I have rarely been so excited to finish a book if only so I could shove it on my bookshelf and forget about it.