Quick Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (DNF)

Dickens in December

Caroline at Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Delia at Postcards from Asia are organising the Dickens in December event. There is a read-a-long, a watch-a-long and there are of course book reviews.


A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

After A Christmas Carol, which I really enjoyed, I tried A Tale of Two Cities, which I enjoyed at first, but later found extremely uninteresting.

The back of my book says: “A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Dickens’ greatest historical novel, traces the private lives of a group of people caught up in the cataclysms of the French Revolution and the Terror. Dickens based his historical details on Carlyle’s great work – The French Revolution – and also on his own observations and investigations during his numerous visits to Paris.”

I should have read that first. I just thought “Here’s a book by Dickens I haven’t read, let’s try it.” I have enjoyed some of his other novels, Oliver TwistNicholas NicklebyA Christmas Carol, and one or two others, and I enjoyed those very much.

I did not finish A Tale of Two Cities and I think my main problem is the main topic: the French Revolution and the complots etc. They did not interest me. I enjoyed the beginning where an English gentleman is rescued after many years from a lowly French establishment (Book 1). This was fun. But then it continued with some different characters, I lost track a little, and I didn’t find anything in the story that made me want to read on.

A pity, but it’s just one of those things. Maybe I’d enjoy the book if I read it at a different time, and maybe I will re-try sometime. For now, a did-not-finish (after 120 pages).

Rating: did not finish

Number of pages: 321 (I read until page 120)

First published: 1859

I got this book: bought

Genre: classic

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

About Judith
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com and bookhelpline.nl. We edit books and articles for independent writers.

29 Responses to Quick Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (DNF)

  1. I totally agree with you, Judith. For me this wasn’t a story, it was a (boring) record of events that didn’t interest me.

  2. Caroline says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it but I thnk I get why. I never really understood why he chose this as his topic. I think it’s a love or hate book. I saw many who said they hated it and others love it. I know it will be one of the lasts I will try by him.

  3. I still haven’t read my festive Dickens book, oops. Well at least I have it ready for next year! This one holds no interest for me but I love Great Expectations and highly recommend it if you haven’t read it already.

  4. It’s a shame you did not enjoy this. Once I got accustomed to the long sentences I loved it.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jo, I didn’t mind the long sentences (although I do think Dickens is a little wordy at the best of times), but more the story. It was not for me. Glad you enjoyed it!

  5. I have never read this one but have wanted to…. thanks for the heads up. 🙂

  6. Tiina says:

    Sorry to hear you did not like A Tale of Two Cities. I love the book. It’s my favorite Dickens this far & only one I’ve read twice. 🙂 I think it is a very clever story, but that is revealed only in the end. 🙂 However, I do understand why you did not like it. It is different from his other novels.

  7. Leslie says:

    I love A Christmas Carol, the book and the many film versions, but I doubt I could stay interested in this one. At 120 pages, you did pretty good!

  8. I haven’t read any Dickens, but I think you did a good job reading til after 100 to decide to stop. I always give myself 100 pages before DNF’ing.

  9. Kristen M. says:

    I strongly disliked this book when we had to read it in the 10th grade but decided to read it this year, 20+ years later and now that I’ve read a few more Dickens novels. I appreciated it much more but I can’t say I loved it. The subject is definitely hard going and the plots are sometimes hard to follow. I’m always surprised when someone says they love it. It’s nothing as good as David Copperfield or Great Expectations or Bleak House.

  10. Pingback: Dickens in December – Wrap up « Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

  11. Laurie C says:

    I have made it into my 50s and managed to avoid this book, so I understand! I loved Bleak House but never got back to reading any Dickens after that until I listened to David Copperfield on audio recently. Next on my Dickens list is Great Expectations! (My teachers must have assigned weird books because I never had to read this one in school either.)

    • Leeswammes says:

      Laurie, I’m sure there is no need to read the book. I do like Dickens, generally, but obviously not this one. I LOVED the movie of Great Expectations (actually a 3-part BBC series). Hope you’ll enjoy the book.

  12. JoV says:

    Sorry to hear you didn’t like it Judith. I do want to try this one soon, after Great Expectation that is.

  13. ruthhill74 says:

    I guess I’m in the minority. This is my favorite Dickens book, and I have read it twice. It took about 50 or so pages to get into, but I absolutely loved it! And the movie–the made for TV movie, that is–always get to me. I am a historical fiction fan so maybe that’s why I love this so much.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Ruth, funny how people can differ, isn’t it? I did like the beginning but started disliking it with the law suit and it went down from there for me. Maybe I should watch the movie.

  14. Lisa says:

    I first read this book in high school (man years ago 🙂 ), but I’ve revisited it many times since. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books of all time, although as I recall, it did take until somewhere in the middle of the book before I was truly hooked the first time. I’d encourage you to keep going, although recognizing that it might just be a matter of taste. Still, I found the writing beautiful and was very moved by the story.

  15. Nish says:

    Sorry to hear this book didn’t work for you. This is one of my favorites of Dickens, but it could also be because I tend to love books set during the French Revolution.

  16. Crystal says:

    Well, don’t give up totally on this one! I suggest (and yep, brace yourself…this is a sacrilege I know…:) ) but check out the movie version. Yes, it’s from 1980, but you will at least kw how it ends….and the ending is so redeeming! It brought tears to my eyes, and I am a terrible cynic! Ha! Sometimes, time is of the essence and Dickens does seem a bit wordy if you’re not into the plot heart and soul! Enjoy the suggested Netflix or YouTube experience! 😉

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