Title: Nicholas Nickleby
Author: Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic Fiction
Rating: 4 of 5
Nicholas Nickleby is quintessential Dickens: boy find himself in hopelessly miserable circumstances but eventually encounters friendly people who help him through the ups and downs of life until (as Miss Prism from the Importance of being Earnest says) “The good end happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.” You’ll also encounter the usual assortment of silly names (just look at the title!), ridiculous characters, convenient coincidences, cutting social commentary (mostly targeting loan sharks and Yorkshire schools), snarky asides, and long-winded descriptions.
Our hero, Nicholas, is an enjoyable character. He is good-hearted but not completely free from faults, having an occasionally violent temper and a bit of forgivable smugness in his attitude toward silly/low people. He is not as passive as some of Dickens’ other heroes (e.g. Oliver Twist), and I think this makes for a better story. Parts of the story, especially the “hopeless misery” phase, seemed to drag on a bit long, but I suppose that’s what happens when the author is paid by the installment.
Overall, an enjoyable book if you enjoy Dickens (which I do), but you should avoid it if his usual rambling style annoys you.
Also, I’m using this as my 19th Century Classic over at the Back to the Classics Challenge.