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A Tale of Two Cities
By Charles Dickens

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A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities
By Charles Dickens
Dover Large Print Classics, (2001)
ISBN: 0-486-41776-X
Genre: Fiction, English Literature

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - January 21, 2002

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." This is one of the best known opening lines in Western Literature, and it gives the reader entry into a book that highlights the ultimate heights of human valor and dignity, juxtaposed with the ultimate depths of human evil. A Tale of Two Cities was first published in 1859 and it takes places in the dark days of the French Revolution. This is both a commentary on the revolution and a heart pounding thriller that will have you holding your breath as you wait to see what will happen to Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, two men whose lives are inextricably entwined.

This one of Dickens more significant works. It has a complicated and well wrought plot, filled with memorable characters such as Madame Defarge. Defarge and her husband run a wine shop, and she sits all day in the shop, silently compiling a knitted register of the enemies of the Revolutionaries, most of whom are destined to become intimately acquainted with Madame Guillotine. A Tale of Two Cities centers around the lives of Charles Darnay, a French Nobleman, Lucie Manette, and Sydney Carton a young Englishman who looks remarkably like Darnay. Carton is the type of character that you cannot help but root for. He is a scoundrel with a golden heart, and Carton saves Darnay's life on several occasion. And his ultimate sacrifice will be indelibly etched in your mind as the true essence of valor.

The two cities in A Tale of Two Cities are London and Paris, and just as the two cities are explored, so are the notions of good and evil, and what they mean to different people in different circumstances. When the story opens, the year 1775 and the terrors of the French Revolution have yet to have occurred. By juxtaposing the two cities, Dickens clearly shows that the horrific events that were to occur in France, could just as easily have occurred in England. It is also a story of self-sacrifice and the extreme lengths that some people will go to - for the sake of a principal. This mythic tale of good and evil is infused with the recurring motif of redemption.

A Tale of Two Cities is essential reading, both because it is a classic work of literature, but also because it is a phenomenal story. It is a marvelously well written story that skillfully weaves elements of romance, history, and unmitigated adventure into a spellbinding narrative.

This unabridged, large print edition of A Tale of Two Cities is 527 pages long. It is printed in a 16 point type face that meets the standard of the National Association for the Visually Handicapped (NAVH).


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