Friday, 10 April 2009

A Novel For Our Times

Finished Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens today.

Another engrossing page-turner from Dickens. I must confess that I saw the excellent BBC adaptation of this novel a few months ago, so already knew the plot and eventual outcome. However, as with all televised adaptations, the screenwriter had to leave out a few key plot points, and hey, there's nothing like reading the book.

I found myself not wanting to put the book down, even though I knew what was going to happen next. The characters are so flushed out by Dickens that I can see their faces, hear their voices, even feel their emotions.

Dickens makes Amy Dorrit a good, honest, selfless person without being simpering and cloying, and as the reader, I really felt for her and how she continued to be mistreated by most of her family. Dickens also makes Arthur Clennam an inherently decent and honourable man without making him a complete pushover and weakling. In another author's hands, these two main characters could have been quite unsympathetic, but I felt for Amy and Arthur, and (SPOILER) it was a happily predictable ending for the both of them.

As to one of the main themes running throughout the novel...the mismanagement and misplacement of money: What timing. I have said before that if a novel written long ago still has relevance and resonance today, I would enjoy it - and Little Dorrit definitely has relevance to what is happening in the world today. I don't think the makers of the most recent miniseries could have predicted how prescient their adaptation would be.

How the dickens did Dickens do it? Amazing. A must read for these times in which we live.

Next up: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

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