Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nicholas Nickleby ~ Charles Dickens

Yet another great read from Dickens, but I did have a few problems with it.  Although apparently a good example of 19th Century comedy, I didn't really find it very funny.  Mrs Nickleby was to provide the comic relief, and undoubtably back in 1838 this type of humour was appreciated, but I found her awfully annoying.

Nicholas is not immediately likeable; he's not as selfish as Philip 'Pip' Pirrip but he's not the true gentleman that David Copperfield grew up to be.  Nicholas has a good heart; however he is very hot headed and, when it comes to defending someone's honour, he does it with violence and unable to leave it with just one blow he must pummel that person to within an inch of his life!

There are a whole host of characters and towards the end I did get a bit forgetful of who one or two of them were. I guess Wackford Squeers, the beastly conniving school master was one of my favourites and the tragic Smike. 

There are plenty of cartoonish names, and the ever present benevolent gentleman, although in this case there are two (twins!), but you tend to expect this from Dickens.

The novel pretty much follows the Nickleby family after the death of Nicholas's father. The family are left destitute and so they travel to the big smoke to appeal to their wealthy relative Ralph Nickleby for assistance. Ralph is extremely unlikeable and he and Nicholas soon become sworn enemies which is the underlying theme of the whole novel. I loved the revelation of who Ralph Nickleby's son was, and the outcome of that revelation.

A very satisfying read all in all.


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