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The Old Curiosity Shop (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Charles Dickens, first issued serially in 1840-41 in Dickens' own weekly, Master Humphrey's Clock; it was published in book form in 1841. The novel was enormously popular in its day but in a later age was scorned for its unabashed sentimentality. The Old Curiosity Shop is the story of Little Nell Trent and the evil dwarf Quilp. When Little Nell's grandfather gambles away his curiosity shop to his creditor Quilp, the girl and the old man flee London. Nell's friend Kit Nubbles and a mysterious Single Gentleman (who turns out to be the wealthy brother of Nell's grandfather) attempt to find them but are thwarted by Quilp, who drowns while fleeing the law. Little Nell dies before Kit and the Single Gentleman arrive, and her brokenhearted grandfather dies days later. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (July 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780140437423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140437423
  • ASIN: 0140437428
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Dickens heroes seem like real people, with both good and bad character traits.
gammyraye
Intentionally syrupy and over-sweet, Dickens writes so perfectly as to make the reader wonder how anyone could ever write so gorgeously.
"jenniferbraun"
The very idea of Rumpole getting an ASBO and also going for silk has got to make you want to dive into this one.
Carole H

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By "jenniferbraun" on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
...reading delight. Whenever I get depressed or feel like I can't start another book, I re-read some passages of this book written by Charles Dickens. It is one of the best books written in English. Intentionally syrupy and over-sweet, Dickens writes so perfectly as to make the reader wonder how anyone could ever write so gorgeously. If you pass this one up, you're cheating yourself. I couldn't put the book down. It's a rare and special novel that keeps me in bed over the weekend reading from dawn to sleep.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Old Curiosity Shop certainly displays the hallmarks of the unstructured, free-flowing make-it-up-as-you-go-along type of story characteristic of Dickens's early novels. Indeed, it is rather generous to call it a story, and it's difficult now to understand the sensation it caused when it was first published. However, if a page-turning plot was all there was to it, very few of Dickens's novels would be readable at all. As ever with Dickens, the pleasure in reading this book comes from the comedy, diversity and richness of the characters, as well as the sheer mastery of the English language which came so naturally to him.
The central characters are old Trent, his granddaughter Nell, the moneylender Daniel Quilp, young Kit and the wonderful Richard Swiveller. Of these, the spotlessly pure Nell and the irredeemably evil Quilp are the moral opposites around which the book revolves, old Trent is rather a pathetic figure, while Kit's sturdy progress from poverty to respectability makes for happier reading. However, it is the moral journey of Swiveller, which perhaps reflects the geographic journey undertaken by Nell and her grandfather, which is the real joy of this book. He enters the book in the guise of a rogue, involved in dubious intrigues with Nell's no-good brother and also with the repulsive Quilp. However, from the time that Quilp gets him a job as a clerk in the office of Samson Brass and his sister, the awful Miss Brass, Swiveller's basic decency and natural good humour begin to reveal themselves, and his soliloquies and dialogue provide many hilarious moments from that point on.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Lucy the Bargain Hunter on May 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the first Dickens' story I've read. If the other reviewer says he liked this one LESS than Dickens' other works, then I guess I am in for a treat in reading more of Dickens. I absolutely LOVED The Old Curiosity Shop. It was so well-written and witty, with twists and turns I would not have expected. Overall, it was such a fantastic book that - for someone who doesn't read books twice - I will certainly read this book again someday (after I read some other Dickens' books).
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
The only pleasure greater than discovering a new book
is rediscovering an old friend you haven't read for a while.
Many years ago I read all of Charles Dickens novels, but I
recently had occasion to re-read The Old Curiosity Shop, and
it is just as good as I remembered it the first time.
The story, like most of his plots, depends a great deal
on coincidences, so you have to suspend your scepticism to
enjoy it. Dickens begins by introducing us to one of the
most innocent little girls in literature, Little Nell, and
to her most unhappy grand-father. Quickly we discover that
instead of the old man taking care of the child, she is the
one responsible. We then meet one of Dickens' great villains
- the evil, corrupt, mean, and nasty Quilp - a man, if that
term can be used, who has absolutely no redeeming qualities,
one who finds pleasure in inflicting pain on all he meets.
Thinking that the old man has secret riches, Quilp
advances him money to support his gambling habit.
Unfortunately Nell's grandfather never wins, and the debt
grows ever larger. Finally Quilp forecloses on the curiosity
shop that the old man owns (thus the name of the book) and
tries to keep the two captive in order to discover the money
that he still believes is hidden somewhere. While the
household is asleep, however, Nell and her grandfather
escape and begin wandering across England in a search for
sanctuary.
On that journey, Dickens introduces us to a series of
minor characters who either befriend or try to take
advantage of our heroine.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on January 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Old Curiosity Shop is one of Dickens's most often-overlooked novels. A quite long (720+ pages) novel, it originally appeared in weekly segment in Dickens's short-lived journal, Master Humphrey's Clock. Appearing originally in this form in 1840, they were a huge success. In this novel format, separated from the journal, it still makes for some delightful reading, though sometimes it is clear that it was originally published in weekly portions. That is to say, the novel is largely episodic, to an even greater degree than his masterpiece, Great Expectations. Nell and her grandfather's trials and tribulations experienced during their travels through the English countryside are interspersed with parallel urban scenes involving different characters. Much of it goes along with little apparent connection to what has come before, with very little in the way of suspense and not much to speak of in terms of a traditional plot. The book's charm lies centrally with the characters and with the pathos and other emotions that their triumphs and travails evoke. There is little in the way of a theme -- no philosophizing or moralizing. These features belie the story's origin. It can make it something of a slow read at times, but the book certainly has its virtues.
These reside chiefly in, as always, the wonderful characters of Dickens. Here he, indeed, conjured up a motley crew -- from the innocent, angelic Nell to the demonic, malevolent Daniel Quilp, and everyone in-between. Like much of Dickens's work, the chief joy in reading this book comes from the pure enjoyment of reading about these delightful characters. They exist for their own sake, outside of the restrictions of the basic plot. The character of Mr.
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