As this is my first readalong (and I haven't actually read most of the readalong posts on the blogs that I follow, as I don't want to be spoiled for stuff that I've read) I'm not entirely sure that this post is going to be along the right lines or not, but meh, I'll try! Obviously this post is going to have spoilers in it, so if you're spoilerphobic like me and you haven't read it, stop reading now!
Before I get into the book, here's what I knew before I started reading it:
It is about 2 cities.
It features the French revolution
It was written by Dickens, and it's supposed to be one of his best
It apparently has some connection with knitting, as on my copy (the clothbound classics one, which is a pleasure to read!) has a knitting based design on the front cover.
The opening line is "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"
The copy that I have has an introduction in it, but I'm never sure whether book introductions are going to be spoiler heavy or not, so I avoided reading it... and so went into the book knowing only the things that I've listed above. Which is unusual for me! Normally I have at least some idea of where a book is going when I start reading it.
I also haven't been reading most of the endnotes in my edition, only the ones after sentences that really confused me, so I'm sure there is lots of stuff that has been going over my head. Although I did look at one in chapter 9 of the second book (the last chapter I read) after this bit:
'...You know a compatriot who has found a Refuge there? A Doctor?'
'With a daughter?'
The endnote said "The Marquis's spied have evidently followed Darnay to England", which was kind of obvious from the context?! Why is that an endnote? I only looked at it because I was wondering what deeper meaning that could possibly have... So I'm thinking that my choice not to read them on the first read was the right one. Maybe! If anyone is reading the same edition and is finding them useful, tell me and I might start actually looking at them properly!
So far.. it's taken me a while to get into the writing style, but I think I'm there now. It's been a long time since I've read something that wasn't written at least in the 20th century, and I think Dickens has a particular style which is really not the kind of style that I read normally. He occasionally describes things in bizarre ways, like "The little narrow, crooked town of Dover hid itself away from the beach, and ran its head into the chalk cliffs, like a marine ostrich." ...like a marine ostrich?! What? I could understand just saying "Like an ostrich", but what the hell is a marine ostrich?! If you google it, you can find threads of people asking if that's a specific kind of ostrich, hehe.
Reading this has made me realise that it probably isn't Dickens that I had a problem with when I read a Christmas Carol, it was more that I was being forced to read it in school, and so forced to spend a long time on passages which I would have just read once if I was reading on my own. I wonder how the people in my class who weren't readers anyway felt about it...
So let's talk about the opening line... I wonder how many people thought that it was just "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" like I did. I honestly had no idea that it went on for a whole paragraph!
I found the first bit of the book a bit confusing, as I had no idea who anybody was and have apparently completely lost my ability to remember character names (apart from Mr. Lorry... is that actually a surname? Wait... were lorries invented by somebody with the surname Lorry?!), plus although it is for the most part centered around the same few characters, it seems to jump around a bit and I wasn't entirely sure that I was following it. I enjoyed the last 2 or 3 chapters though, where it started following the Marquis. Who is a sort of nice charicaturey portrayal of a horrible person, which is exactly what I was expecting from Dickens!
Also, the first mention of knitting! I have no idea what the significance of the knitting woman by the fountain after the baby was killed is, but I'm assuming that there is more mention of knitting later. Knitting! Yay!
Writing this post has made me realise that I should probably be taking notes or something while I read this, so I can be slightly more coherent next time.
I'm not really sure what more there is to say, but I am enjoying the read, which is good because I really had no idea whether I would or not. I am going to schedule this post to go up later, because I'm pretty sure that otherwise it will be ridiculously early compared to other people's (I'm writing at 9.30 am on Sunday morning, Japan time, which is 9 hours ahead of the UK, 14 or so hours ahead of New York), but I had to write it now as the end of the last chapter made me really want to carry on reading! I'm looking forward to seeing other people's thoughts on it. Yayyy!