I set myself the task this year of reading the remaining Charles Dickens novels that I hadn’t already read before. I love a Victorian serialised novel, and Dickens rarely fails to disappoint.
One of his less famous works, Dombey and Sons follows the life of Paul Dombey, a wealthy merchant whose sole aspiration in life is to have a son follow in his footsteps, and who therefore ignores his daughter, Florence. This relationship becomes more complex after the death of his beloved son, when he wishes that his daughter had been lost instead, and Florence feels the even greater distance between herself and her father, whose love and approval she longs for.
This is not my favourite of Dickens novels, and I found it really hard to get into for the first third of the book. It’s heavy, and a lot of the story is quite sad. Dickens has a lot of characters and plots, and he loads of the descriptions of things so that they last for pages, or even whole chapters. Ultimately, the book is very rewarding, and had me laughing to myself once or twice, but I had to push myself a bit to get there. I like how the book gives a social commentary on how women were ignored in the 1800’s and how much suffering this caused, what women had to do for survival, and how little options they had. It’s a very compassionate book, and shows how Dickens was a strong proponent of social change in his time.
I did find myself getting worried about what was going to happen to my favourite characters by the end of the book, and starting to worry that there was going to be a tragic ending. Whether or not this is one of Dickens darker works, I will leave for you to find out.
Read it if: You really like Dickens or have the patience for long Victorian novels, otherwise, maybe watch the movie.