Charles Dickens—A Life: Claire Tomalin

Review by Abbas Hassan

This is a very readable and sweeping account of Charles Dickens’ life. What I found striking about the book was that it presented a very lucid, chatty narrative with trivia about all the books he wrote, the friends he kept (and did not), his habits, his weaknesses, his motivations, his marriage and more that followed etc., strewn throughout so neatly and hence came out as an interesting read. I won’t delve on this more because I don’t want to give away the little details you will find so amusing about him. At the end of the book however you have that feeling about how different his books were from his real life and yet some were impacted so much—a sort of a curious dichotomy which I found very interesting.

I’ve read Claire Tomalin’s earlier work, Jane Austen, which compared to this one was quite staid and plain. Ms Tomalin appears to have been very enthusiastic about her presentations of plots and the stream of events in this book more than her others.

I’d recommend this to all Dickens’ fans who’d like to know the person who wrote the remarkable novels such as David Copperfield (my fav), Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. The most cheerful of all his novels though I found was Pickwick Papers which is enthralling in its vivacity and frolic.

Buy from UK / USA

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