Title: Oliver Twist
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic Literature
Publication date: 1838 (first publication year)
Pages: 554 pages (Paperback edition)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Courtesy of Goodreads:
The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters — the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery
Oliver Twist was one of those books that I just so happened to grabbed from the library bookshelf because I felt like it and I just needed something to read, and I am glad that I did. Though, it’s not “action packed” it was very captivating. I will say this now if I had an author that would write a story of my life, Charles Dickens would be on the top of my list. This man can write! (yes I know he’s dead)
Mr. Dickens is a master of storytelling. He creates such vivid and memorable characters and you will enjoy reading about them, including the bad guys. My heart kept shattering for our poor little orphan Oliver every time he faced unfortunate situations.
He is sweet and endearing and always ever so trusting and intent on doing what is right. It seems unnatural that even after being treated badly and starved he never strayed from the path of goodness. He hardly grows throughout the story, which is probably one thing that I would say a con in terms of his character development or lack thereof. But he’s eight years old, so I’ll let it slide. As a matter of fact the whole time I was reading the book, I felt like he was more of the secondary character. In the end he remains the same affable, adorable and sweet boy he was at the very beginning of the book.
The villains in the story were so well-crafted and I enjoyed reading about them: the cheeky Artful Dodger with his quick fingers and even quicker tongue, the maturity decider Master Bates, the totally flawed but golden-hearted Nancy, the truly awful Sykes who I did want to strangle so badly. Even Fagin the biggest villain, who I truly despised the most in the story was such an intriguing character. He is the epitome of evil; described at incredibly grotesque to look at, he shows no remorse for children who have been sent to jail, or put to death, for working with him.
Other than being a captivating tale Oliver Twist is a biting social commentary. The underlying current of the story is a criticism of England’s ability to take care of the poor and down-trodden. England at that time was in essence what the free market advocates want in America to be today. They want no government interference in business nor the government to manage anyone’s lives’. Therefore, an orphanage wasn’t a place where you keep children until they can be adopted or come of age; it’s a place where you work them to turn a profit. But on the whole, the book is about the eventual triumph of good over evil. There is no doubt that there are bad people in the world. However if the good people keep being good and chose to do good things, and vow to teach the other half a lesson for all their misdeeds, all evil can be uprooted from its very roots.
Truthfully, there were so many things that I loved about this book that I simply can’t even summarize it, without having such a long-winded review and mostly spoiling the whole story. However, I did have issues with the writing overall, thus, giving it only 4.5 stars. My main issue would have to be the very long sentences that Mr. Dickens construed. At times it was difficult to grasp the meaning of the whole sentence, so I often had to re-read it. Some of the sentences are long and winding and seem to go on forever and often end just where they had started, which I am afraid may put off some readers who are not used to it. On another note, Mr. Dickens made me realize that I definitely need to polish more on my vocabulary.
Overall, Oliver Twist was a great dark read with a mixture of humor and Charles Dickens’ storytelling is superb so I definitely would recommend this book.