Published by Penguin Classics on January 30th 2003
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“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”
I still remember being assigned to read this book in the 11th grade by Mr. Stahler. I can still see him up there in front of the room, leaning on the lectern, talking about Dickens and this particular book. Thinking back on this time, I can say this is the first Classic book that I love. I loved the romance, heroism, the courage, the sacrifice. As a teenage girl this book seemed so sad yet so romantic. When I think of Dickens I think of Mr. Stahler and the discussions of this book in his classroom.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..” Really, it was the time of the French Revolution. A time of intrigue, danger, love, romance, betrayal, hunger, and vengeance. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And at the end of the day, does it even really matter?
Mr. Mancette is released from prison. He has been wrongly/unjustly imprisoned for 18 years and is now free to unite with his daughter, Lucie. They go to England where they hope to live and be free of the past. But their plan is not to be as the pair is summoned back to Paris where they have to testify agains Charles Darnay. Darnay, like Mancette, has been wrongly accused of treason. Let it be said that Darney also looks almost exactly like another man in the proceedings, Sydney Carton.
Today we might say “really looking exactly like another person? how contrived? How cheesy!” But it works in this book. Boy does it work.
True, this was written years and years ago. Yes, some of the language and writing might seem hard to digest. But perhaps, if you give this a go, stick with it, you will see the beauty of this book. Brilliant tale with brilliant storytelling. A Pleasure. I have read this three times, each time enjoying it more and more. Each time finding something else to love about it. Each time I am in awe.