Friday, 16 December 2016

Book Review: Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens

Title: Barnaby Rudge
Author:Charles Dickens
Publisher: Wordsworth Classics
Publication Date: 1998 (1841)
Pages: 648
Format: Paperback
Genre: Classics
Source: Gift

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This vivid historical and political novel by Dickens is centred on the infamous 'No Popery' riots, instigated by Lord George Gordon, which terrorised London in 1780. Dickens' targets are prejudice, intolerance, religious bigotry and nationalistic fervour, together with the villains who exploit these for selfish ends.

His intense account of the riots is interwoven with the mysterious tale of a long-unsolved murder and with a romance involving forbidden love, treachery and heroism.
Barnaby Rudge abounds in memorably strange, comic and grotesque characters. Furthermore, recent historical events have renewed its political topicality. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I found Barnaby Rudge a delightful read. Peopled with the usual vast assortment of memorable characters, it shows Dickens at his best. The prose is not as dense as in some of his other works, and I loved the way he weaved the fictional tale into historical events. The only thing I found strange was calling it Barnaby Rudge. Barnaby is one of the main characters, but, to me at least, his character didn't come across as more important/central than any of the other key figures. In a book named after him, I would have expected him to be the primary focus throughout. Nonetheless, he's a wonderful presence whenever he does show up in the narration, even if his bird, Grip, threatens to steal the show from time to time. I would recommend this work to those who have already experienced some of Dickens' other works. For me, it sits somewhere in the middle - not an ideal first read, but still one of his most accessible tales.


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