Synopsis: Brought into the world by a drunken nurse and an inept surgeon, innocent young Oliver Twist couldn’t have known the mysterious circumstances surrounding his birth—that his mother had been discovered wandering the streets, near bursting with child, and had died ignominiously on the cold bed of a workhouse, having just pushed the little boy from her womb and into the uncertain future shared by thousands of other orphans throughout England.
First and foremost: I am glad to be back. Several things in my personal life came up at once, preventing me from having any spare time for reading or blogging. I started reading Oliver Twist right before things got hectic, and over the next twenty or so days I could only squeeze in a chapter or two per evening if I was lucky. I've missed you guys, and I hope I'm back to posting reviews/other things on a regular basis.
Arguably the most popular character created by author Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist is the orphan who dared to ask for more gruel. The tragic story of workshops, thievery, and murder set against the bleak backdrop of London's Victorian Era, this novel is quintessential Dickens. It hosts a large cast of characters (though not as large as his readers would see in his later works), all with fascinating back stories and motives.
You probably think you know the story if you've never actually read it -- Oliver Twist living in pitiful conditions in a workhouse, starving . . . and while that is part of the story, it's the first part only. Soon after, Twist runs away and ends up living with two different families, becomes caught up in a gang of robbers, and the story unfolds from there. It's pretty interesting stuff!
What's funny about this book is I loved every character . . . except Oliver. I have two reasons for that: 1.) He is wildly complacent, and goes along to get along. He never, ever stands up for himself, and he's a huge whiner to boot. I totally understand that he has had an awful life, but damnit he can be a chore to read about sometimes. Luckily, despite being the title character, he's actually not in a whole lot of the story once it really gets going. And 2.) He never 'feels' or reads like a kid to me. His dialogue and actions are not that of a child. I understand this was only the second novel written by Charles Dickens, and I've heard his child characters in later novels feel much more realistic, so I guess I'll see eventually! I wanted so badly to like Oliver, and the terrible things he goes through do create a certain amount of sympathy for the boy, but after a few hundred pages I was sick of the brat. Just my opinion.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was a highly enthralling read, and I wish I could have read more of it at a time than just a chapter or two. It's Dickens, so there's a bit of overwriting, but the writing itself is simply divine. Almost two hundred years after initially getting published, Dickens' mastery of the English language trumps almost any other novelist or poet. Oliver himself was a bit of an annoyance to read about, but the rest of the characters (especially Nancy -- oh, how I loved Nancy!) are a pure joy. If you're one of the few people who have yet to experience this story, what are you waiting for?