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A Tale of Two Cities

by Charles Dickens
544 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Aslan's Lamb

The violence may bother some readers but it's still a great work of literature with a great message.

Plot

Dr. Manette is reunited with his young daughter Lucie in England after spending many years in prison in France. He does not remember anything about his past life and is on the brink of insanity, but with Lucie's tender care he begins to recover. Meanwhile, two men fall in love with the beautiful Lucie: Charles Darnay, a handsome respected teacher from France, and Sydney Carton, a drunken lawyer with no ambitions and no friends. But when the French Revolution happens, it turns out that Charles Darnay has secrets in his past - and they can destroy him.

Morality

Some characters are good, some evil. Some characters are ambiguous at first but as the story goes on, we learn more about them and come to understand what side they're really on. The redemptive power of selfless love is clearly shown as well as true sacrifice.

Spiritual Content

For Dickens, this is a thoroughly Christian book and lacks much of the "works-salvation" that appears in his other works. One character prays to Jesus Christ and repents. This same character quotes the Bible. Another man orders his wife to stop praying, but he is not presented as a particularly good character; she, however, is also portrayed as spineless.

Violence

It's set during the French Revolution. Of course, there's violence. A man is stabbed while asleep. A child is trampled. People are killed in various ways by an out-of-control mob. A man is worked to death. Various fights, killings. A character is sent to the guillotine.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Sydney Carton drinks to excess. Wine flows through the streets. One character drugs another.

Sexual Content

A doctor tells a story of a girl who was raped, which caused her to lose her mind and eventually die.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None that I can think of.

Conclusion

This is my favorite book by Dickens. It is beautifully written. The characters have a lot depth. There is a lot of violent content but also a surprisingly large amount of tenderness and humor. And the power of love and sacrifice shines through.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: adult

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