I absolutely loved this book. I was slow to get into it, but that’s to be expected since it is written in a different style than I’m used to and it was an assigned book in English.
My favorite part was at the end when Sydney Carton meets the girl Charles Darnay had befriended. She instantly recognizes that he’s not Darnay, but they give each other comfort until the end, and Carton truly feels happy.
The author’s primary historical source was The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle: Dickens wrote in his Preface to Tale that “no one can hope to add anything to the philosophy of Mr. CARLYLE’S wonderful book” Carlyle’s view that history cycles through destruction and resurrection was an important influence on the novel, illustrated especially well by the life and death of Sydney Carton.
~ From the Afterword of the Penguin Classics 2003 edition, cited from Wikpedia
I never noticed before how many stories incorporate the idea of people looking alike and using it to their advantage or causing havoc, also seen in Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona”.
Before I read A Tale of Two Cities, I had a murky conception of this book being a story about two gentlemen wanting to see what life was like in the other’s city, a notion I discerned from a kid’s book about two frogs. After I got the gist of the story I remembered a Wish Bone episode I had seen, and everything fit into place.
One thing that helped me to understand this book and lessen my confusion was reading “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. It is a much simpler book to read, and less in depth, but just as enjoyable in my opinion.