What the Dickens?

I feel like I’m finally joining the adult world. James and I have settlement on our first house on Friday! We just spent an hour at Target today getting grown up things like trash cans and dish towels. And I didn’t buy books or movies because I currently have “enough” and they’re not “necessary”. Go figure.

Our wedding is not til June 1, so only James will be living in the house for the next 10 months (good thing it’s only 10 minutes from where I live). I get to spend the next 10 months painting and making it exactly how I want it, and filling those gorgeous built-in bookshelves with all sorts of papery wonders. Now you’re talking.

Speaking of books, I recently discovered something amazing. You’re not going to believe it. I started reading A Tale of Two Cities and I am enjoying it. Sure, Ebeneezer Scrooge and Oliver Twist are household names. But how many modern people actually enjoy reading Charles Dickens? I know I never did, even though I wanted to.

Like many modern readers, I approach novels with a bit of violence. You know, eyes flashing like lighting through the words, flipping pages like a wild storm until the end is reached. This method has served me well for decades, beginning with Meet Felicity  in the second grade, and even through my love affairs with Alexander Dumas and Jane Austen.

Dickens doesn’t work that way. It was the opening passage of A Tale of Two Cities that let me on to the secret. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Speed read the beginning and you miss the artfulness of the most beautiful series of comma splices in history. If you try to rush through Dickens, you’re missing the point. He’s meant to be enjoyed slowly, like super rich dark chocolate.

So now I know. I read no more than one chapter a day, one sentence at a time, admiring the genius of each phrase. And I’m loving it. Charlie and I have made peace.

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One thought on “What the Dickens?

  1. I had a similar revelation when I read Great Expectations. There’s humor there – and wit. There’s brilliant phrasing and story lines. But you’re right, if you read at normal speed, you miss it all. It took me a few tries but I got Great Expectations read, and now when I read Dickens I go one or two chapters at a time and then switch to something else until the next day.
    Congratulations on your wedding! Mine is nine months away now, so I know how excited you must be. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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