In the Bookcase


Book Review: Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (5 star review)

Oliver Twist

written by Charles Dickens

608 pages // published in 1838 // British classic literature


One of Dickens’s most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, "Please, sir, I want some more." After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured readers’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time—the terrifying Bill Sikes.

Rife with Dickens’s disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation—and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

My Review

5 Star Rating

The rawness of humanity. The lowest scum on the streets. A boy thrown ito the mix, tossed and turned, this way and that. Oliver Twist.

Before taking on this novel, I had certainly forgotten how humorous that Dickens is in his writing. Even though the story may be so sorrowful, filled with the lowest of emotions, the basest of human actions, and the darkest of hopeless thoughts... he still infuses comedy into the commonplace and he knows just how to poke fun at the characters to make them appear ridiculous in their own peculiarities. Renewed again, I love reading Dickens for this reason.

This is an ideal Victorian novel, that shows both sides of the coin in terms of social status. Little Oliver gets the chance to experience it all. He gets thrown back and forth a bit between lives, but as the reader, we can really take in the contrast. It makes for an excellent historical study about England too.

Note to the discerning reader: May contain some mild swear words, and many are crossed out (only showing the first letter).

What memorable characters and heart-rending scenes this classic boasts. I enjoyed every page.

Add to Goodreads

This is book #11 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: 18th Century Classic]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


  1. White OT isn't my favorite Dickens, it's still excellent. I should probably read it again some time.

  2. I've always avoided reading Oliver Twist (though I love all the movie/musical renditions of it) because I am turned off by possible anti-Semitic stuff concerning Fagin. Is there any in there? Is it bad or is it mild enough, it isn't too disturbing? Thanks!

    1. Faith,
      In "Oliver Twist" Dickens basically names the character as "Fagin the Jew"... it's repeated so often, it really just becomes the character's identity. With him being a villain in the story, it doesn't come off in good light for Dickens to stereotype him. :-|

      And to be honest, it's mentioned frequently.

  3. The title character is batted around more than a little, but I think that Dickens' humor had a large component on knockabout slapstick to it - probably from reading Smollett and Fielding when he was younger. The image I retain from this book is that grungy dog loyally following Bad Bill around......