First sentence: In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.
Oh how I loved Our Mutual Friend! I just loved, loved, loved it! I think reading Bleak House last fall helped prepare me to love it. Because it gave me a good taste for Dickens' style, his narrative techniques, his characterization. It showed me that all would be worth it in the end. Did I struggle with Our Mutual Friend? No. Not like I did with Bleak House. I happened to be in just the right mood, perhaps. But I found nothing dull, nothing lifeless about Our Mutual Friend. Nothing lifeless but the dead corpse discovered in chapter one that is!
How does one begin to describe a novel that is 800 pages long?! A novel that doesn't have one or two main characters--but many. A novel that doesn't have one or two main stories--but many. If you're not familiar with Charles Dickens, you should know that he has his own way of storytelling. His stories and characters unfold slowly but surely. Don't expect to meet all the main characters in the first hundred pages. Or even the first two hundred pages. Dickens won't be rushed. This is something that I have come to appreciate--though other readers may struggle with his pacing. I found it delightful; something to be savored.
What did I love best about this one? The characters? I loved Bella Wilfer, John Rokesmith, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, Melvin Tremlow, Jenny Wren, Mr. Riah, and Lizzie Hexam. And there were characters that I didn't exactly love--they weren't that lovable, after all--but their scenes were enjoyable nevertheless. The Podsnaps. The Veneerings. The Lammles. The Wilfers. Mr. Fledgeby. Mr. Lightwood and Mr. Wrayburn. Some characters added drama; some characters added humor!
Dickens did a great job with his characters. You'll find characters that you'll absolutely love and adore. You'll find characters that are so enjoyable, so fun, to spend time with. You'll find characters that make you laugh--or at least smirk. You might find a few characters that you love to hate, or hate to love. You'll find characters that are just so despicable, so nasty, so horrid that you hate them--with a passion. There might even be a few that drive you crazy! But I hope that you'll find a few characters that genuinely surprise you! I know a few surprised me! There are so many characters. Some are very important to the plot. Others are very minor. But just because they're minor doesn't mean they're pointless.I loved the romances of Bella and Lizzie. The scenes with Bella and her true love made me giddy! And while Lizzie's scenes were a different nature--a bit more melancholy--they were so heartfelt. But it isn't just a romance. There is action, drama, mystery. There are secrets and lies and malicious plotting.
I loved this one. I loved the writing, the descriptions, the characterizations, the storytelling. It's a great, great book.
"Never was an obstinate person yet, who would own to the word!" remarked Miss Potterson, rubbing her vexed nose; "I'm sure I would if I was obstinate; but I am a pepperer, which is different." (74)
"No one is useless in this world," retorted the Secretary, "who lightens the burden of it for any one else."© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
"But I assure you I don't, Mr. Rokesmith," said Bella, half-crying.
"Not for your father?"
"Dear, loving, self-forgetting, easily-satisfied Pa! Oh, yes! He thinks so."
"It is enough if he only thinks so," said the Secretary. (511-12)