Currently Reading: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Hi! Last month, I finished reading Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky which left me three books to read this year. It took me a while to decide what to read next before I picked A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I have read many good reviews about this book on Goodreads which made me more curious on what it is all about and plus, it is under the classics genre. I’m interested in reading books under the classics genre this time.

I began reading it on Thursday, November 5. When I started reading the first chapter of book 1, I was stunned on how many words are so out of my grasp which led me to seek help from my dictionary friend. My pocket dictionary is not enough so I have to use our two-volume Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary. An old friend I met in 1997. Oh my, that was so long ago. My old friend is very helpful. I read the book first, highlight and list down the words I don’t understand, find its definition and get back to reading it again. It was such a learning experience and it helped me a lot in understanding what I am reading about. I also like reading the book out loud sometimes and I find the writing style somewhat poetic.

The book I have is a World Classics edition, which has an explanatory notes at the last part. It is very useful when you want to know what is the meaning behind the sentences used. Like the sentence at Chapter 1 of Book The First, “There were king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face on the throne of France.” It was used by the author as a reference to George III of England (1760-1820) and his queen, Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and to Louis XVI of France (1774-93) and to his consort, Marie-Antoinette of Austria. Speaking of Marie-Antoinette, I remembered the movie Mr. Peabody wherein she was one of the characters met by Mr. Peabody and Sherman when they traveled in France during the French Revolution. Does she really like to eat a lot of cakes or it was just in the movie?

As of now, I’m on Chapter 2 which was entitled The Mail. I gave myself a two-week period to finish reading the book. Let’s see what happens after the two-week time limit. By the way, I bought this book on Booksale for only PHP 35.00. Such a huge discount. The prices that were indicated at the back cover of book states how much the price is, if it is bought in these countries: UK – British Pounds 3.50, USA – $4.95 and Canada – $5.95. The is quite old, the cover has marks that it was folded and the pages has turned yellowish but its alright because there are no torn or missing pages.



Here are some of the words that I listed while reading Chapter 1 of Book The First:

  • atrocious – very wicked, cruel
  • environed – to extend around, encircle, surround
  • blunderbusses – an old-fashioned, short gun with a large-bore and a flaring mouth, used for scattering shot at close range
  • gaol – jail
  • hangman – public executioner
  • mire – swampy ground, deep mud
  • pilferer – to steal in small quantities
  • potentate – on having great power; a sovereign
  • tumbrils – a farmer’s cart; a box like cart for carrying and dumping; a rude cart in which prisoners were taken to the guillotine during the French Revolution
  • turnkey – one who has charge of the keys of a prison; a jailer
  • wretched – miserable or pitiable person

About A Tale of Two Cities

Set in London and Paris at the time of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities (1859) sees the causes and effects of that great social upheaval from an essentially private point of view. Dickens’s characters are fictional, their responses individual, their political activity minimal, but all are caught up in a web woven by their own activities and responsibilities, and all are drawn to the Paris of Terror.

A Tale of Two Cities is Charles Dickens’ second historical novel, which he considered ‘the best story I have written’ ; it has his tightest and most shapely plot, and shows great narrative daring and experiment. Private experience and public history are seen in parallel in this highly charged examination of human suffering and human sacrifice.

 – Want to read my book review of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky? Head over to Spell The Book. There are also some quotations in there that I got from this book.

Coolen 🙂

Definitions from Funk & Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary Vol. 1 & 2 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
About A Tale of Two Cities from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, The World’s Classics edition by Oxford University Press


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