It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous novels by Charles Dickens. It is a historical novel, set during the bloody period of the French Revolution. The ageing Doctor Manette is released from the Bastille after eighteen years and reunited with his daughter Lucie in England. Two very different men, Charles Darnay, a French aristocrat in exile and Sydney Carton a disreputable but brilliant lawyer, fall in love with Lucie. “From the tranquil roads of London, they are drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror, and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.”

Dickens really portrays the madness and uncertainty of the period well. The French people were (understandably) angry at the nobility and went wild with chopping off everyone’s head. A Tale of Two Cities both illustrates the period, and also tells a personal tale of Lucie Manette, Charles Darnay, and Sydney Carrton. I really enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities; it was probably my favorite Dickens novel so far, even more than Great Expectations. The writing wasn’t too overwritten for Dickens, and it was about the French Revolution, a period I’m interested in. I really cared about the characters, even though I knew the ultimate ending already (I had seen part of the film.) I’m planning to see the whole film with Ronald Colman soon. If you’re a fan of Charles Dickens and haven’t read this one yet, it’s a must-read.

Read A Tale of Two Cities:

  • if you like Charles Dickens
  • if you are interested in the French Revolution
  • if you like historical fiction

390 pages, 5 stars.

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