The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

Book #917

Reviewer: Beth, of Beth’s List Love (first published March 2012)

Dickens had a genius for revealing the social ills of the England in which he lived through poignant tales of worthy characters who battle and suffer from those ills. In the process, he lightens the reading experience with his marvelous wit, his gift for characterization, and his clear compassion for the protagonists he creates.

In this tale, the protagonist, Nicholas Nickleby, is the son of a widow, well-meaning but amazingly circumstantial and self-involved, and his namesake, who was a respectable landowner until an unwise investment at the urging of his wife lead him to financial ruin. At the opening of the tale, Nicholas, his beautiful sister Kate, and their mother have traveled to London to throw themselves on the mercy of Nickleby Sr.’s brother Ralph who is wealthy. Ralph is as nasty as he is rich, and this leads the family to experience a number of the country’s ills which they might otherwise have been spared. Nicholas is packed of to the Yorkshire countryside to work under Mr. Squeers, a horrible schoolmaster who takes in vulnerable boys and starves and beats rather than educates them in exchange for their tuition. Kate is consigned to work in a seamstress’s shop, and she and her mother are lodged in a tiny unkempt property of Ralph’s. In the course of the tale Kate is placed at the mercy of lecherous gentry, Nicholas escapes, rescuing a runaway boy, and joins a theater company, and various other adventures ensue. Eventually joins forces with various other reputable and kind hearted folk to battle back against the various evil schemes of his uncle.

This book is VERY long, but it is an enjoyable, if not gripping read. At times it reminded me of A Christmas Carol, but Ralph is not so easily influenced as was old Ebeneezer Scrooge, despite being at one point visited by a Marley-like figure from his past (not yet dead, and not yet fully repentant, but nonetheless offering a chance to make reparations for one of his early evil deeds). I’m glad to have hung in there through this lengthy read, although at times I thought I might never get to the end.

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3 thoughts on “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby – Charles Dickens

  1. inspirationalreads June 23, 2012 / 7:00 pm

    Love this cover too!

  2. T Peters July 27, 2012 / 7:56 pm

    While I have loved many of Dickens’ books, after reading your review, I may just give this one a miss (I have an ever-growing list of must reads that I would rather tackle and a “very long” book is not very appealing right now!). I was listening to an excerpt from “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” on the Book Report radio show on the weekend and was still not decided. It’s a great resource for keeping in touch with trending books and authors showcased weekly, and the snippets offered often pique my interest enough to go and have a closer look-thus bringing me here! Thanks for the feedback and if you enjoy getting a feel for new and upcoming books (I know…this is not new…but they were showcasing Audie award winning books), perhaps you may also enjoy the show. The schedule for the different shows is on their site(bookreportradio(dot)com).

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