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Our Mutual Friend (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 1, 1998
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Harmon's death is the catalyst for everything else that happens in the novel. It seems the fortune was left to the young man on the condition that he marry a girl he'd never met, Bella Wilfer. His death, however, brings a new heir onto the scene, Nicodemus Boffin, the kind-hearted but low-born assistant to Harmon's father. Boffin and his wife adopt young Bella, who is determined to marry money, and also hire a mysterious young secretary, John Rokesmith, who takes an uncommon interest in their ward. Not content with just one plot, Dickens throws in a secondary love story featuring the riverman's daughter, Lizzie Hexam; a dissolute young upper-class lawyer, Eugene Wrayburn; and his rival, the headmaster Bradley Headstone. Dark as the novel is, Dickens is careful to leaven it with secondary characters who are as funny as they are menacing--blackmailing Silas Wegg and his accomplice Mr. Venus, the avaricious Lammles, and self-centered Charlie Hexam. Our Mutual Friend is one of Dickens's most satisfying novels, and a fitting denouement to his prolific career. --Alix Wilber
From School Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
It's also clearly not Dickens' sunniest work. At the time of its release already, people spoke nostalgically about the more gentle nature of _David Copperfield_ or _Oliver Twist_ . While the farce that constitutes such an important element in Dickens' works is present, it's tainted with a note of bitterness that conveys a feeling of pervasive sadness throughout this great novel.
Dickens was working on this book when he was caught in the Staplehurst rail disaster and narrowly escaped death when his car was the only one of the first-class cars not to plunge from a bridge into a river bed. He was one of the people who climbed down the side to do what he could for the dead and dying. Dickens himself mentions the accident in his afterword, and at the risk of reading too much into the incident, it's hard not to read this book from the perspective of an aging man who narrowly avoids death himself. The nature of death, and the idea of escaping it by a hand's length, is one of the themes that comes back over and over again in _Our Mutual Friend_
The plot hinges around a disputed inheritance and mistaken identity, with a meditation about love as societal coin.Read more ›
Well, she does. "Our Mutual Friend" is like a great meal at a fine restaurant. Chew slowly. Savor each bite. The beauty of this book is in its extraodinary and wonderful style of writing, delightful similes, vivid and uncanny character development (Dickens is the master, but he outdoes even himself in this work) and that odd sense you get when you close a masterpiece that you just had a once in a lifetime experience. The man can write!
Make no mistake, this is a tougher read than the earlier, more "Dickens-y" novels. But the characters are more rich, complex and interesting than in any other of his work. If you don't feel a sincere sense of mourning for Mr. Boffin's decline into miserism, and joy for...(well, I won't spoil the plot for you), then I can't help you. The caustically satiric language may be a shock to those used to the milder styles of Copperfield and Pickwick, but it is brilliant and I believe it is his best work. The grim story line is far from the lilting plot of a Nickleby, but it is gripping.Read more ›
"Our Mutual Friend" begins with Lizzie and her father Gaffer Hexam patrolling the river in the dark of night. Pulling a body out of the river for the potential reward money, the novel jumps right into the action with a bang. The body is presumed to be that of young John Harmon, just returned from South Africa to claim a huge inheritance from his recently deceased, hateful and miserly father. The only heir dead, the elder Harmon's loyal employees, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin stand next in the will to inherit everything. This causes a stir in Society, where Mortimer Lightwood, the legal executor of the will, and his friend Eugene Wrayburn are called in to view the body and question Gaffer Hexam.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good value with good notes in the back. I like the illustrations, too. Just can't give 5 stars to a book that is taking me forever to read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Barbara Whalen
Great book! Dickens uses satire and a good story about people to explain the need for and the dangers of money!Published 2 months ago by Owen Allphin
I have read all of Dickens' novels except this one until now. Like all the rest a good story quite lengthy but I enjoyed it.Published 3 months ago by KB