Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second time I have read this book. The first time was in fourth grade, because I remember our teacher telling us about Madame Defarge and her knitting. I read it this time because I had just returned from a 2-week vacation in London and Paris. I wanted to hold on to the two cities a little while longer and also to get to know them better. Nine days in London and five days in Paris barely let you scratch the surface of these two magnificent capitals.

As I recently reread this book, I wondered how educators back in the dark ages (late 40's) managed to abridge this novel into a classic suitable for children. There were scenes of unspeakable horror in the original. There is simply no way to explain "droit du seigneur"--the exercise of which set the whole plot in motion-- to a 9-year-old. I enjoyed the story as a story, but it raised more questions than it answered. So, to find out more, I have added two books to my already-too-long reading list: Alistair Horn's SEVEN AGES of PARIS, a popular history I found at a recent used-books sale, and Thomas Carlyle's THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. The Carlyle book promises to be tough going. It may take me to the end of my days as a reader to finish it. We'll see. I really want to find out what London thought of Paris while the guillotine was falling. The French Revolution, after all, followed hard on the heels of the American Revolution, the one that ripped the colonies out of British hands.

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