Sunday, August 9, 2020

Book Review: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens

The Old Curiosity Shop is a cautionary tale wrapped up in a heart-warming adventure. The reader is cautioned against greed and the acquisition of the tangible, in favour of attaining the intangible--highly valued relationships.

The Old Curiosity Shop is set in Victorian England. Fourteen-year-old Nelly Trent lives with her grandfather in a grand old house in London. They are better off than many but that's not good enough for Nell's grandfather. He wants a brighter future for his granddaughter. For her betterment, he hatches a get-rich-quick scheme. Unfortunately, his scheme doesn't work and they end up homeless. They set out on an epic adventure. What do they find as they journey but life in all its splendid forms and heart--there beats compassion. 

The Old Curiosity Shop is peopled with an assortment of fascinating characters--saintly and evil, poor and rich. 

On one hand, we have the generous, the kind, the hard-working... We have Christopher "Kit" Nubble--poor in finances, but rich in character. Why he's almost saintly...

On the other, we have Daniel Quilp--greedy, vile, villainous. But, I wonder, is he a product of the cruel treatment he has received due to his appearance? Oh, I could write a thesis on Quilp.

My edition was published in 1995
by Wordsworth Editions Limited.
'first issued serially in 1840-1841 in Dickens's own weekly, Master Humphrey's Clock; it was published in book form in 1841' -The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica

I met Charles Dickens in junior high (middle school). The assigned reading was Oliver Twist. Oh, how I loved that book. It wasn't an easy read--Dickens' prose reads like poetry and journeys far and wide--but still I fell in love. Later, while in university, I met Dickens again. My Introduction to Social Work course held him up as a hero of the poor and downtrodden. 


An overlooked Charles Dickens novel shows the writer at his madcap best
by Simon Winder

madcap like: 'Dickens would plunge his head in the water, stand upright, give himself a shake and then keep on writing.'

The Enduring Appeal of Charles Dickens:  Still Entertaining Us, 150 Years Later (CBC podcast)

Spoiler alert:  listen to this podcast after you finish reading The Old Curiosity Shop.

Further reading...

The Mystery of Charles Dickens by A.N. Wilson

Newly released (August 4) 
a biography that 'seeks to understand Dickens' creative genius and enduring popularity'. 

Next Sunday Evening...

Short story:  Visiting Iceland

It's hard for me to tell you about my time in Iceland. It's too enormous to sum up. But I'll say this... 

I'm still here.

photo by ldyck

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Reading to you...

Thanks to a company called Allears, I've started adding recordings of my short stories to my blog. So far I have recorded...

A Stone Heart (recorded on August 8)

These are pop-up author readings. Meaning I record them when I'm inspired and share them the day I do--last week that was every second day. Please watch for announcements on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, yes and I'm happy to take suggestions. Please leave me a note on Twitter or Facebook. Your support is greatly appreciated. Thank you for listening. 

On Monday, I think I will be recording...

But what will I record on Wednesday