Just finished Dickens' Dombey and Son, his longest novel. It is not great. It starts really well, with excellent writing, characters and descriptions. But about halfway through, it plateaus, and then coasts for a long time -- hundreds of pages -- and then ends. Oh, there is a little excitement with Edith and Mr. Carker toward the end, but this is too little, too late.
I think Dickens blew a chance to have a really exciting story by paying some attention to Walter after he sails. Walter could have had all sorts of interesting adventures, involving wild characters, as he sailed and then was shipwrecked, and rescued, etc. Similarly with Uncle Sol in his travels.
But, no. Dickens just has them go away, disappear, be taken for lost, and then has them simply show up near the end of the book, safe and sound, and they don't even tell us their stories. Quite disappointing.
Still, this, the best paragraph in the novel, is superb:
Through the hollow, on the height, by the heath, by the orchard, by the park, by the garden, over the canal, across the river, where the sheep are feeding, where the mill is going, where the barge is floating, where the dead are lying, where the factory is smoking, where the stream is running, where the village clusters, where the great cathedral rises, where the bleak moor lies, and the wild breeze smooths or ruffles it at its inconstant will; away, with a shriek, and a roar, and a rattle, and no trace to leave behind but dust and vapour: like as in the track of the remorseless monster, Death!
I will continue to read all of the novels of Dickens. So far, I've read the grey ones:
- Dombey and Son (1.95)
- David Copperfield (1.91)
- Bleak House (1.91)
- Nicholas Nickleby (1.86)
- Martin Chuzzlewit (1.85)
- Little Dorrit (1.85)
- Our Mutual Friend (1.83)
- Pickwick Papers (1.72)
- Barnaby Rudge (1.41)
- The Old Curiosity Shop (1.19)
- Great Expectations (1.01)
- Oliver Twist (0.91)
- A Tale of Two Cities (0.78)
- Hard Times (0.58)
The numbers are proportional to the length of the book (they should be
approximately the number of characters in the novel, in millions).
Only four left.