A Tale of Two Cities - Tickle tickle, pickle pickle (or, the final installment)

So it's a day late, but I finally finished a Tale of Two Cities! I say that like I was struggling to get through it this whole week, but honestly I only started reading the last bit today (in spite of what I said in my last post, I got distracted by shiny things).

Spoilers from here on in, beware!

I started reading the last bit this morning and actually got annoyed when my husband woke up and interrupted my reading. If any of you know him, don't tell him that! Hehe.

So... what an ending! I knew that Sidney was going to do something good, and I am happy to be proven right. (Although if I knew, that probably means it was super super obvious.) I knew that the last line was also famous, but I couldn't recall what it was, and didn't look it up while reading, otherwise I might have guessed the ending much earlier.

I'm sad that Lucie continued being pretty pathetic throughout the whole thing, but never mind. Her and Darnay were both pretty stupid: Darnay for going back to France when it was pretty obvious that he wasn't going to be safe, and Lucie for following after him for no apparent reason, and taking her child?! Okay, so the reason was probably love or whatever, but I'm not sure that taking the kid along was the best idea in the world. Honestly.

I also found the way that Darnay was portrayed to be quite... unrealistic. He was shown to be very brave and whatever to the end, but honestly, how many people would actually behave like that?! I think that might be one of the problems that I have with Dickens (the Dickens that I know, anyway)... The whole Sidney storyline made sense, but unless I completely missed it I don't think that any reason was given for Lucie to be so damn perfect (and irritating), or for Darnay to be that good. The other characters were all much better drawn, I think.

I'm really glad that I came into it not knowing the story at all. I think that a problem with reading classics sometimes is that the plots are generally pretty well known, so it's rare to go into a classic book without knowing really anything about what happens.

General thoughts on Dickens - I definitely don't dislike him like I thought I did. Once I got a few chapters into the book I started to get on better with his writing style, and by the end I was having no problems with it at all (although some of the things that his characters said were slightly bewildering - "I call myself the Samson of the firewood guillotine. See here again! Loo, loo, loo; Loo, loo, loo! And off HER head comes! Now, a child. Tickle, tickle; Pickle, pickle! And off ITS head comes. All the family!"... Tickle tickle pickle pickle?! What? I wonder if that was the reaction that people were supposed to have when reading, to make them think that that character was slightly insane, or whether that was actually a thing? I'm guessing that that line is not included verbatim in any adaptions of A Tale of Two Cities, hehe.

So all in all... I really enjoyed the readalong! If it wasn't happening, there is no way that I would have made it through the book this month, and I probably would have always been slightly afraid of tackling Dickens. But now, while I don't have a particular burning desire to start reading his other stuff straight away, I definitely do want to tackle one of his other books at some point, yay!

I have also realised, yet again, that I try to read way faster than I actually can. I think with some books this is okay (pretty much any YA, for example), but I kept on having to go back and reread stuff because I was getting confused. So, more careful reading in the future for me!

I'm really looking forward to my next readalong now! Yayyy!!!
Thank you to Bex for hosting it, and making me face my Dickens fears.


Jen fails at book blogging

So I am not particularly good at this whole blogging business, it seems. I have a huge pile of books that I've read but haven't talked about at ALL on here. And I'm getting to the point where I would really struggle to write about some of them at all coherently, so I think I might have to a few mini book review posts with just a few comments about stuff that I've read. I'll do better next year, I promise!!!

I have recently passed the 1000 page view mark, which I'm sure is not a big deal for most bloggers, but I'm quite shocked considering how spotty/incoherent my posting is! And happy! Thank you! *happy dance*

I have hardly had a chance to read this week at all (I've been doing stupid amounts of overtime whilst being slightly ill, this is not a combination that leads to the ability to do anything more than sit gormlessly on the sofa when I get back from work) but I'm going to try and remedy that as well! And now I'm going to go and make a start on the final part of A Tale of Two Cities now, yay!

Thank you again for reading my blog! I will try to post more regularly/more coherently from now on, although um, that may have to wait for the new year as I'm going to be stupidly busy again at work next week (which includes working on Christmas day. What a lovely Christmas present, Japan!), and then next Saturday I'm going off to my in-laws for a week. But come January, when I'm back in Yokohama, I'll be better! I WILL!


A Tale of Two Cities readalong - part 2!

So to be honest I struggled to get through this weeks bit. Happily it wasn't because of the story, but because I had a cold, ended up working late most nights (always fun when you're not feeling well!), and didn't have the time or the concentration to read when I got home. I did manage to finish off the remaining chapters this afternoon though, so I'm all caught up! Huzzah!

And as with the last post, for anyone who hasn't read the book, this post is pretty spoiler heavy so be warned!

I find myself really not being that bothered about anything to do with Lucie (also I find the spelling of that to be irritating), as she is still such a non-entity of a character. She's just there to worry about all of the men in her life, and be perfect, it seems. Boring. Also I don't know if it's just me being dense, but in the chapter where it's talking about her having children, I spent the whole time until it was specifically stated that the children existed going "Oh, has she had kids then? Is this like her seeing into her own future? Is it some huge kind of metaphor for something that I'm too stupid to get?! What?!". I think that someone should go through the books and add a little explanatory sentence for me at the side of some of the passages saying "Yes, this means that he is dead", "This is the guy they were talking about a few chapters ago", or "The children are real!!!". Hehe. I'm sure I used to have good reading comprehension skills at some point. Sigh!

I find the Sidney storyline quite interesting.. I can't quite see where it's going now, but presumably he is going to play a really important role in the last part of the book.. you don't bring in a morally corrupt man who says that he doesn't have the ability to do good without letting him do something good at some point!

I am also glad that I completely get the design of the cover of my book now! Knitting is useful! Although hearing about that really made me want to see how exactly things were being encoded into the knitting, which I'm sure is not something that most people reading would care about, hehe.

I'm really hoping I'll be able to find more time to read this week, although it doesn't seem tremendously likely at the moment. I want to know what happens next, but seeing as the first few chapters for this week didn't even touch on the major event that happened at the end of last week's section, I'm guessing Dickens might make me wait a while for it. *Shakes fist at the past*


A Tale of Two Cities readalong - Like a marine ostrich

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"

...that's it!

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!