I remember reading A Tale of Two Cities while I was still in high school. There was a used bookstore local college students regularly purchased and sold their books. My friends and I were regulars there, and I loved poring through the classics. On a spring day, while still in my youth, I picked up this novel and immediately became entrenched in the world of the French Revolution a la Dickens. I vividly remember finishing it on my front porch, stifling a sob when I realized how Sydney Carton aimed to help poor Charles Darnay.
A Tale of Two Cities begins with that classic line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The two cities are London and Paris and it is in London where the novel opens. Dr. Manette is reunited with his daughter Lucie after being imprisoned for 18 years in the Bastille. Paris is now on the brink of revolution and Dr. Manette is a hero for his unjust suffering at the hands of the government. Meanwhile, Charles Darnay, an exiled aristocrat and Sydney Carton, an English lawyer, both fall in love with young Lucie. Their lives come together in a Paris courtroom drama where the threat of the guillotine looms large.
It only seems fitting, that years later, I read this wonderful novel again. While it didn’t hold that same element of surprise and awe (after all, I already knew the ending), it is still a marvelous work and continues to hold a warm place in my heart.
5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1859
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