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A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens , Richard Maxwell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (706 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 27, 2003 0141439602 978-0141439600 Reissue
After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.


Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (May 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439600
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (706 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,190 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
577 of 617 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eighth Grader reviews A Tale of Two Cities June 29, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is incredible. I read it last year (in eighth grade), and I love it. I love Charles Dickens' language and style. Whoever is reading this may have little or no respect for my opinions, thinking that I am to young to comprehend the greatness of the plot and language, and I admit that I probably do not completely appreciate this classic piece of literature. I do read above a 12th grade level, although that doesn't count for a whole lot. It took me a while to get into this book. In fact, I dreaded reading it for a long time. But nearer to the end, I was drawn in by the poignant figure of a jackal, Sydney Carton. In his story I became enthralled with this book, especially his pitiful life. After I read and cried at Carton's transformation from an ignoble jackal to the noblest of persons, I was able to look back over the parts of the book that I had not appreciated, and realize how truly awesome they are. I learned to appreciate all of the characters, from Lucy Manette to Madame Defarge. I also was affected by all of the symbolism involved with both the French Revolution, and the nature of sinful man, no matter what the time or place. My pitiful review could never do justice to this great book, please don't be discouraged by my inability.
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193 of 206 people found the following review helpful
By Michele
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Please note that this is not the original Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - it is RETOLD by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley. English teachers will not accept this version for use in their classes. The Amazon photo and description is misleading. Now I get to buy the original version - hopefully it gets here before the class starts to read it. Anyone want to purchase a new RETOLD version of A Tale of Two Cities?
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215 of 231 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Cities July 27, 2001
By mp
Format:Paperback
The more Dickens I read, the more impressed I become at his skill as a writer. No matter the form, be it short, long, or a monolith like some of his best works, Dickens excels at changing his style of characterization and plot to fit whatever mode he writes in. "A Tale of Two Cities" is one of his shorter novels, and he manages to make the most of out of the allotted space. The compression of the narrative sacrifices Dickens's accustomed character development for plot and overall effect, but what we get is still phenomenal.
"A Tale of Two Cities" begins in 1775, with Mr. Lorry, a respectable London banker, meeting Lucie Manette in Paris, where they recover Lucie's father, a doctor, and mentally enfeebled by an unjust and prolonged imprisonment in the Bastille. This assemblage, on their journey back to England, meets Charles Darnay, an immigrant to England from France who makes frequent trips between London and Paris. Upon their return to England, Darnay finds himself on trial for spying for France and in league with American revolutionaries. His attorney, Stryver, and Stryver's obviously intelligent, if morally corrupt and debauched, assistant, Sydney Carton, manage to get Darnay exonerated of the charges against him. Darnay, a self-exiled former French aristocrat, finds himself compelled to return to France in the wake of the French Revolution, drawing all those around him into a dangerous scene.
Dickens portrays the French Revolution simplistically, but powerfully, as a case of downtrodden peasants exacting a harsh revenge against an uncaring aristocratic, even feudal, system. The Defarge's, a wine merchant and his wife, represent the interests of the lower classes, clouded by hatred after generations of misuse.
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127 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turbulent times in London and Paris April 27, 2005
Format:Paperback
The period from 1775 - the outbreak of the American Revolution - to 1789 - the storming of the Bastille - is the turbulent setting of this uncharacteristic Dickens novel. It is his only novel that lacks comic relief, is one of only two that are not set in nineteenth-century England and is also unusual in lacking a primary central character. London and Paris are the real protagonists in this tale, much as the cathedral was the 'hero' of Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris. Dickens was writing at a time of great turmoil in his personal life, having just separated from his wife, and no doubt the revolutionary theme was in tune with his mental state.

The result is a complex, involving plot with some of the best narrative writing to be found anywhere, and the recreation of revolutionary Paris is very convincing. The device of having two characters that look identical may seem hackneyed to modern readers, but it is here employed with greater plausibility than in Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson or Collins's The Woman in White.

Dickens was inspired to write this story by reading Carlyle's newly published history of the French Revolution. Those events and their aftermath stood in relation to their time much as World Wars I and II do to ours, that is, fading from living memory into history, yet their legacy still very much with us. In many nineteenth-century novels, especially Russian and British works, you get a sense of unease among the aristocracy that the revolution will spread to their own back yard. In the case of Russia, of course, it eventually did.

I have often recommended A Tale of Two Cities as a good introduction to Dickens for younger readers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I am so glad I read it
TALE OF TWO CITIES, London and Paris and the French Revolution was so integumentary. I am so glad I read it, however one needs to have a glass of water at hand while reading. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Merle Cunningham
4.0 out of 5 stars Book review
Reading assignment for our book club. Can't say I really,enjoyed the book but it really is how life was at that time in history. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Eleanor
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Classic that is worthy of the 21st Century
Ok. You read this book when you are in High School and you are 16 years old. The language is different - for a 16 year old it would be laughable. Read more
Published 8 days ago by dchg1317
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good
Published 8 days ago by kary quintana
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
History, romance by charles dickens! Need to say no more!
Published 8 days ago by joseph lee
5.0 out of 5 stars summer reading
I purchased this book for my son's required summer reading. It was a good price and he is getting his requirements fulfilled.
Published 14 days ago by A J Forde
4.0 out of 5 stars Did not think I would line it.
I knew it was a classic. The start was very slow for me, but the last half of the book moved quickly with intrigue.
Published 20 days ago by Wilma C. Bowers
5.0 out of 5 stars A good friend to meet again
Tale of Two Cities/ Dickens

The Master at his best. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, curl up with a cat, and let the magic commence.
Published 20 days ago by Jonathan Bell
4.0 out of 5 stars Lost some relevance, but none of its splendor
“A Tale of Two Cities” is a classic that has lost some of its relevance, but none of its splendor. The two cities are London and Paris, and Dickens starts with a bit of mystery as... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Kyle L. Rhynerson
4.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Still a classic read with the question of, would you lie down your life for someone you love, even through they don't know that you love them.
Published 26 days ago by Missy56
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Welcome to the A Tale of Two Cities forum
I found the end of the book to be highly moving. It was written so well that I felt I was actually witnessing the event. I'm sorry that I don't explain myself more, but to do so is to relate the ending of the book to someone who may not have read the book fully yet. But, it is the ending that... Read More
Apr 8, 2009 by WT |  See all 8 posts
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