Friday, February 3, 2012

Oliver Twist

Title: Oliver Twist
Author: Charles Dickens
List: #182 on BBC Top 200
Worth reading? Yes!

I have to admit I was getting a little bored with the books on my list. I was yearning for a book with a fast-paced plot and a thrilling adventure. I was not completely sure what to expect from Oliver Twist, but because I generally like Charles Dickens and the story has been dramatized so often, I thought it would be worth opening. And was it ever.

Dickens is widely known as a brilliant storyteller, but I have found that some of his novels tend to have their slow patches where he gets lost in detail and description. Not so with Oliver Twist. Oliver tumbles from one adventure into another and Dickens makes sure the reader shares all of Oliver’s joy, terror, and sadness along the way. At times I found myself laughing, while other times I almost did not want to read on because I could not bear the misfortune that Oliver faced. But unlike other novels (ahem, The Jungle), Oliver Twist is one with a happy ending and one that embraces the concept of good triumphing over evil.

Of course, because this is Dickens, there are lessons to be learned from the novel as well. Or, perhaps more accurately, there were lessons aimed at readers in the 1830s. Dickens expertly employs sarcasm to publicly expose numerous problems of the day, such as the ridiculously inadequate and damaging law providing for the poor, the danger and prevalence of child labor, the widespread problem of homeless orphans in London, and the recruitment of children as criminals. To modern readers, the shocking part is that the things Dickens makes fun of were actually happening.

Oliver Twist is definitely worth the read. It is an absolutely marvelous story expertly rendered by a fantastic author. And it even teaches readers a little bit about London in the first half of the nineteenth century.

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