“The sun,–the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man–burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray.”
Oliver Twist is my first book of Charles Dickens. So this review will also focus on my opinion on his writing and narration. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because there’s a lot to unravel about this book too.
I didn’t know an awfully lot about Oliver Twist. I knew the famous line of “Please sir, I want some more.” and the fact that it has been made into a lot of movies and musicals. And when you think of musicals, you don’t think of the darkest stories right? Well, Dickens probably didn’t intend this one to became a happy musical with songs. Because oh man, it’s not a happy story whatsoever.
This book is dark. We deal with themes of abuse, neglect, murder and poverty. And it’s quite graphic too. In Oliver Twist we follow the life of Oliver, a little boy who is so good at the core but is mistreated from the moment he’s born. We follow his life and in that get to see a glimpse of society in the 1800’s.
Dickens as a narrator is something unique. Let me first get into the fact that people have mentioned to me that his writing is dry and hard to get through; it wasn’t to me. It’s filled with sarcasm and great storytelling. All the characters are immediately put down as full personalities and given their role in the bigger story. The characters are very black or white, they are either good or we immediately get to know that we shouldn’t really trust them. My favourite character was Nancy, a girl involved in crime and the wrong side of life, but so good at heart. My heart ached for her.
“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.”
Charles Dickens’ Narration
In the narration we get to know Dickens’ opinion on society in this time period. He’s very judgmental over actions of people; of how people treat Oliver Twist and use him to get their way. We get to see the hardest of lives in this book. Of how hard poverty can be. And I can definitely appreciate a writer who calls things out like it is; this time period wasn’t a joy, it was hard and people took advantage of each other. He took this little boy, so pure and innocent, to illustrate how hard and unfair life can be and I personally loved that about this book. You heart hurts for Oliver and at the same time it hurts for anyone who experienced these circumstances.
I think the full picture is quite brilliant. The story pulled me in, and despite switching editions 3 times during this read, I was intrigued by the story the whole way through. Dickens introduces characters and knows exactly how to play them out like chess pieces to narrate the story to where he wants the plot to go. It’s well crafted and it easily takes you along for the ride.
I kinda love and hate how he manages to wrap up the story in the end in one chapter. A bit fairytale like, but well, after so much darkness, we kinda needed that.
“Your tale is of the longest,” observed Monks, moving restlessly in his chair.
It is a true tale of grief and trial, and sorrow, young man,” returned Mr. Brownlow, “and such tales usually are; if it were one of unmixed joy and happiness, it would be very brief.”
Title: Oliver Twist
Author: Charles Dickens
Publish date: June 1st, 2008 (first published in 1838)
Page Number: 496
ISBN 13: 9780099511939
I so need to read this book! I’ve owned it for way too long. But your review really makes me want to pick it up! Also, didn’t Dickens write his books to be published chapter by chapter in newspapers? Which is why every chapter has an “ending”? ??
Thanks so much! It’s such a great story, I do hope you’ll get to it!
Oh yeah, definitely. All the chapters in the book have a little summary as well so it’s easy to keep track of what’s happening even when you read the book over a longer period of time. It has such a charm to it.