** Insert witty opening line about being the best of times and the worst of times here **
As I prepared to teach this novel to my classes of Honors 10th graders, I approached reading this book as a chore, one likened to when my teacher assigned it to me in the 10th grade. Like so many others, I didn’t read it, and then I complained how much I hated the book for years after. I not only criticized this work, but the entire Charles Dickens canon, all based on my failure to read the book. Fortunately, things have changed.
I read A Christmas Carol in 2010, and I noticed that I enjoyed how Dickens wrote sentences. They were complex and descriptive and funny. After that, I had a better attitude about reading A Tale of Two Cities, and I was glad that I did.
It’s a great story of love, war, mistaken identity, and freedom. More than that, there is Madame Defarge, unquestionable the meanest, cruelest, ugliest woman in literature. Can you think of a woman in literature that is her equal? If so, please add it to the comments. I cannot think of any. There’s my favorite scene with her exchanging her dainty knitting needles for an ax to chop off the governor’s head. That oughta wake you up!
On a more serious note, I love the theme of resurrection and redemption in this book. We see it several times, most notably with Sydney Carlton. Throughout the novel, I kept seeing a metaphor of our life in Christ, redeemed and alive because of the work of another.
I’m on a roll with Charlie Boy, and I’ve added Great Expectations to my 2011 list. I may like this guy after all. I certainly recommend A Tale of Two Cities for you to read this year. If like me you had a bad taste of it from high school, I suggest that you give it another try as an adult. You may see it differently and enjoy it now.
Oprah recently selected this book as her 65th pick for her book club, but that had nothing to do with my choice to read it. Honest. If I could, I would introduce Madame Defarge to Oprah. It is a far, far better thing for this to happen.