I set myself an interesting challenge to read this book, and found it hard going to get through. Comprising three 'books', each with several chapters, the language is of Victorian era and sadly the characters were more puppets on a stage than real characters.
The major characters are Sissy Jupe - the daughter of a circus performer, Mr Bounderby - a self made man who never lets people forget he came from the streets into influence, Thomas Gragind senior and his two children Louisa (marries Mr Bounderby) and Thomas junior (loves his sister and squanders his fathers money) and one Stephen Blackpool, a worker at the mill owned by Bounderby.
Lousia laments her childhood being lost, knowing that she has lost something, not what she has lost. Thomas for his part simply wants to escape the regime laid down by their father. Sissy Jupe is abandoned by her father (a circus clown) when he cannot make people laugh, and she is also failing in school. As Mr Gradgrind has a vested interest in his system of "Facts" working perfectly, he takes Sissy into his house to better educate her.
Stephen Blackpool in this time goes about his business, lamenting his marrige to a drunkard woman (as you later learn) and that there is no recourse for escape. His marriage was until death do you part. He loves another woman, but cannot be with her because of the laws.
Mr Bounderby proposes to Loo and she accepts, seeing as she has nothing better to do. She even remarks to her father that she cannot express the happiness and joy an unmarried young woman is supposed to express to such a proposal as she was never given the chance to learn how. The marriage being one of convenience and not of love slowly cracks in the second book and shatters at the end of the second book.
Bounderby is revealed to be a man in love with his own voice. He expresses his opinions loudly and frequently, trying to always be centre stage. This sadly carries on throughout the 3 books. Fittingly, his death is ignobious and not at all important - he dies in the streets, pennyless. The irony is that by reading carefully, one can see that the stories are not always the same. In fact, he did not have such a hard childhood as he maes out.
Thomas Junior simply wants to be free of authority and equally loves his sister, sadly this twist causes him to borrow ever increasing amounts from her, either in goods or cash. she loves him in turn and provides what he wants thinking nothing of it.
The book twists and turns in the village of Coketown and in the end, you never really feel that you get anywhere with it. There is but one happy ending and that is of Sissy Jupe who raises her children with love and laughter.
Not the best book I've read, though the reflection-look at Victorian life and ethics provided by Mr Dickens is interesting. A pity that the characters were not as rich as they could have been.
1 / 26 books. 4% done!
My first review here. I need more practice..