Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

The Old Curiosity Shop, 

Written by Charles Dickens, Narrated by George Hagan

Reason for Reading: I’m making a point of reading all of Dickens’ major works. This month, Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia from Postcards from Asia hosted Dickens in December, a month dedicated to Charles Dickens. This will also count for the 7th completed book in my Classics Club list

When Little Nell’s grandfather drives himself into gambling debt (in hopes of raising money for Nell’s future), they must take to the streets to escape the malicious designs of more than one nasty character. Nell’s grandfather increasingly becomes a doddering old fool, and Nell is left to her own devices in finding refuge from the cold, the hunger, and the devious people-of-the-streets. Unbeknownst to them, their good friend (and former servant) Kit is desperately looking for them – praying for their safety and not knowing why they have left. I think this is my least favorite Dickens book so far. Generally, I am able to get involved in the complex narrative and the variety of character in a Dickens novel, but kit was the only character I really cared much about. Nell and her grandfather were so melodramatically pathetic that, although I felt sorry for their situation, I couldn’t get myself to really care about the outcome. Perhaps this was just timing – maybe I’d have liked the book better in another mood. But I can’t say I’ll ever try reading it again to find out. Not a bad book – but Dickens can do better.

16 thoughts on “Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens

  1. I haven't read this one but I think I've seen a dramatisation of it having read your description which I seem to recall was quite good. Maybe it's easier to watch than read. I think that's probably the case with a few of Dickens books – for example Bleak House. I never really fancied reading this but the serial made for TV was excellent.
    Wow – you do love your reading challenges. Very impressive.
    Lynn 😀


  2. Perhaps it's better on video. I haven't had the chance to watch this one on video yet. I usually watch the videos before reading a Dickens novel because his novels are very long and have a lot of random interactions. It's nice to know which interactions I have to remember for plot and which I can store away as characterization moments.


  3. I have not read this one but it is interesting what you noted about the melodrama. I have heard that before about this work. I believe that Oscar Wild even mocked a famous death scene in the book.

    Dickens who was of course brilliant at times, seems to be hit and miss.


  4. Well, the only other Dickens I've read in English is “A Christmas Carol”, and I really liked it, so I guess it's 1 to 1 now) I'm going to read my third one in February, and I'll decide then. Any suggestions how I can avoid being disappointed? =)


  5. Ha! That's a difficult question to answer, because I think different people like different Dickens novels for different reasons. I really enjoyed Hard Times when I read it, but I think that was because I was interested in his social commentary. The most acclaimed Dickens novels are Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities.

    I'm going to try Bleak House in February. I've been told that it's really good. I guess I'll see. 🙂


  6. I think I'll choose Great Expectations for February then. I already have the book, anyway =) And I'll get Hard Times next if I don't get disappointed =)


  7. I loved the book, but maybe just because it was my first Dickens. After reading A Tale of Two Cities, I realized retrospectively, that The Old Curiosity Shop was a bit overdone and also kind of slow. Even though I still think it's a pretty good book, I agree with you, Dickens has done better! 🙂


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