A few weeks ago, I blogged on the strong connection between The Dark Knight Rises and Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities. When I saw the movie, I was unaware of this connection. Ironically, I had just begun my second time through the novel.
I finished A Tale of Two Cities a few days ago. Though I had read it maybe fifteen years earlier, and though I remembered the main plot line, I was astounded once again by this book. It is truly one of my favorite novels.
Yet, I want to offer a word of warning. A Tale of Two Cities is strikingly different from some of Dickens’ more familiar novels, such as David Copperfield or Great Expectations. Those books, which I also highly recommend, follow a coherent story line from beginning to end. By contrast, A Tale of Two Cities seems to jump around, almost randomly. For the first two-thirds of the novel, you will find yourself wondering what’s going on and why things can feel so disjointed. Has the great storyteller forgotten how to tell a good story? Nope. Not at all. In the final third of the book, Dickens ties together apparently loose ends with brilliance. They form a tight fictional knot that astounds, delights, and moves the reader.
I should also say that, unlike many of his other writings, Dickens does not fill A Tale of Two Cities with bombastic characters who make you smile, or even laugh out loud. N0, this novel is serious and dark, not unlike A Dark Knight Rises. It confronts without flinching the injustice of humanity. Its offer of hope comes subtly, unexpectedly. I won’t say more because I don’t want to publish any spoilers.
If you are looking for a book that is worth every ounce of time you put into it, if you are looking for something that will make you think as well as feel, I highly recommend A Tale of Two Cities.