A Tale of Two Cities:
A Tale of Two Cities is one of Charles Dickens's most exciting novels. Set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, it tells the story of a family threatened by the terrible events of the past. Doctor Manette was wrongly imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years without trial by the aristocratic authorities. Finally released, he is reunited with his daughter, Lucie, who despite her French ancestry has been brought up in London. Lucie falls in love with Charles Darnay, another expatriate, who has abandoned wealth and a title in France because of his political convictions. When revolution breaks out in Paris, Darnay returns to the city to help an old family servant, but there he is arrested because of the crimes committed by his relations. His wife, Lucie, their young daughter, and her aged father follow him across the Channel, thus putting all their lives in danger.
A terrifying encounter with an escaped convict in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decaying Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor - these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip's life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble origins to begin a new life as a gentleman. Dickens' haunting late novel depicts Pip's education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his 'great expectations'.
For her 65th Book Club pick, Oprah Winfrey chose an edition that brings together two classics of 19th-century English literature, both by Charles Dickens:||One of Dickens's most serious novels, A TALE OF TWO CITIES is set during the French Revolution and tells a story of unselfish devotion. The beautiful Lucy Manette marries Charles Darnay, the descendant of an aristocratic French family denounced by the revolutionaries, among whom are the memorably evil fanatic Mme. Defarge. When Darnay is arrested and condemned to death, his place is taken at the guillotine by Sidney Carton, who loves Lucy himself and is willing to die to secure her happiness (and who happens to resemble Darnay). His last words--"'Tis a far, far better thing that I do than I have ever done..."--have become nearly as famous as the novel itself. One of Dickens's most popular works despite its sober subject matter, A TALE OF TWO CITIES is also, with BARNABY RUDGE, one of his only two historical novels.||Considered by many to be Dickens's best novel, GREAT EXPECTATIONS is the story of a young man who rises out of a rough, deprived childhood to a life in which his expectations--or some of them--are fulfilled: he is a gentleman and a success, though he soon finds that happiness doesn't necessarily accompany money and position. The tale of the orphan, Pip, and his mysterious benefactor provides a grotesque but pointed comedy that explores the many levels of English society with insight and sympathy as well as a satiric eye. The novel is full of fascinating scenes and characters, among them the coldhearted Estella, the vengeful and dotty Miss Havisham, Joe Gargery the noble blacksmith, the ever-lovable Herbert Pocket, and of course Magwitch, the grotesque and terrifying but ultimately benevolent convict, one of Dickens's most vital creations. As the compelling plot progresses, Pip's fortunes rise and fall, and he slowly gains wisdom, learning to value what is important and to abandon most of his illusions. But the moral of the story is never heavy-handed or didactic, and in telling his tale, Dickens displays all the qualities for which he became famous: a comic vision, an inventive imagination, and a bountiful appreciation for the wonderful variety and boundless possibility inherent in the most ordinary humans.