In the Bookcase


Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

written by Charles Dickens

about 300 pages
originally published in 1858

"Recalled to life," is the strange message that Mr. Jerry Lorry of Tellson's Bank gives to the messenger on horseback waiting in the dark. "Recalled to life" is the running theme of the book, that each of its characters encounter. Originally, the message was stated for the case of Dr. Manette, a man hidden in the deep folds of the Bastille for 18 long years---his relatives never cognizant of his imprisonment, and thus presumed him dead many years ago. When Lucie, his daughter & only living shred of a family, discovers that he is alive at an innkeeper's lodgings in Paris, she immediately attempts to rescue him from his current horrible state she then finds him in.

Fast forward a little bit through the story, and the phrase "Recalled to life" fits yet again into a young man's life, a friend of the Manette's, whose name is Charles Darnay and has to endure his own hardship. The phrase is not applied to his situation, but works just the same. His fate includes being sent to the Guillotine, the main execution process used during the French Revolution. As trial after trial unfurls, what will be left of these men when it is all said and done?

This story begins in "the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five"--a few years prior to the beginning of the French Revolution. As the story progresses, the precautions and conflicts of the French citizens lead up to the full revolution, including the final storming of the Bastille and afterwards.

My personal thoughts:
I'd been wanting to read "A Tale of Two Cities" for a while, and I'm so glad that I did. The story had its peaks, which interested me greatly as I read each chapter. In reading this book, I realized what a sense of humor Charles Dickens truly has, as illustrated in a few favorite passages I immensely enjoyed. Occasionally, slow-going parts of the story paused my reading for a little while, but I pushed through, and in the end, it was truly worth it. A character worth mentioning is Sydney Carton--although his original position in the story had him as a rather minor person, it was only in the final chapters that he made his path clear. I didn't notice him much through the course of the story, but after reading the ending, he now ranks as my very favorite of the book. It was his actions, as selfless or as selfish as they were, in those last 4 chapters, which made the entire book a worthwhile task now satisfactorily accomplished.

My recommendation:
When the entire book has been finished, it is great, but to get there, it includes very hard reading. Everyone could enjoy it . . . but no matter what age, you'll probably want to grab a dictionary while you're at it.

"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." -----the very first sentence of the book


  1. Great review! I think it's the hardest Dickens to read, but the ending makes it well-worth it. :)

  2. Gotta love this story. And dear ol' Syd. <3


  3. I read this book a long time ago {several centuries I believe ;)} when I was oh, ten or so, and at the time I hadn't liked it {reading level was too high for me at the time} but since then I have been talked into reading it again by a good friend of mine and this book will be re-read {hopefully} this summer.

    Good review! :)

  4. Hi, Tarissa! Thanks for your comment!
    Yes, it's for sale on I don't have the link at the moment to the book, but in Lulu's search-engine just type in "Hannah Mills" and up will pop my book, lol.
    The 1st edition has a few errors I didn't find until later (sigh), so right now I'm working on getting those fixed ^.^

    - Hannah

  5. Hey Tarissa!
    Thanks for your comment! I just thought I should let you know, that I have moved my blog... I'm officially on blogger! Follow me here:
    If you will. :)
    God Bless,
    Rachel Lynn

  6. I absolutely love Dickens. He's one of my all-time favorite authors. his writing style, the colorful characters he creates, the moral lessons he weaves into his stories. A Tale of Two Cities was amazing, but my favorite story of his (at least that I have read, and I have not read all of them by any means) is The Cricket on the Hearth, one of his short Christmas tales.