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For the young (and young at heart)
Charles Dickens was a prolific author, and wrote more than 40 books. Renowned for his razor sharp characterisation and social commentary, each of his novels is a treasure trove of fascinating personalities and intriguing plot twists. Find your favourite with this quiz.
Oliver is an orphan living on the dangerous London streets with no one but himself to rely on. Fleeing from poverty and hardship, he falls in with a criminal street gang who will not let him go, however hard he tries to escape. In Oliver Twist, Dickens graphically conjures up the capital's underworld, full of prostitutes, thieves and lost and homeless children, and gives a voice to the disadvantaged and abused.
Your hero is David Copperfield. His father dies before he is born but his mother loves him dearly. His new stepfather, however, does not. Subjected to his unpredictable bullying, David's early years are filled with sadness. But he has a few good friends and a kindly aunt to guide him through love and heartbreak, and help him find true happiness. Tolstoy said David Copperfield was ‘the greatest achievement of the greatest of all novelists’.
There are many heroes in this story. The fortunes of Lucy Manette and her father, finally reunited after his 18 year-sentence in France's Bastille prison, become entwined with the heroic aristocrat Darnay and the dissolute lawyer Carton. Their gripping story, which encompasses violence, revenge, love and redemption, is played out against the backdrop of the French Revolution's terrifying brutality as the state tries to impose itself on the characters' lives.
Tom and Louisa Gradgrind have a rather stern father, who is also their schoolmaster. The children at Mr Gradgrind’s school are sternly ordered to stifle their imaginations and pay attention only to cold, hard reality. They live in a smoky, troubled industrial town, where entertainment is hard to come by and resentments run deep, and their father's fixation with the facts leaves them unprepared to deal with the unpredictable desires of the human heart. Luckily their friend in Sissy Jupe, the child of a circus clown, is on hand to help them.
Great Expectations’ hero, Pip, starts his life as an ordinary boy, destined to be unexceptional. But that all changes after an encounter out on the marshes one night. As he is led away from the country to the city, and begins to climb the social ladder, Pip’s desire to improve himself is matched only by his longing for the icy-hearted Estella. But he also meets hardened criminals who don’t have his best interests at heart, and secrets from the past impede his progress. Along the way, Pip has many hard lessons to learn.
Bah humbug! You got A Christmas Carol. Your unlikely hero, Ebenezer Scrooge, begins his story as a rather unpleasant man, wrapped up in his own affairs and oblivious to the world around him. He is his own worst enemy, but he’s not so closed-off as to prevent him from realising the error of his ways as he goes on a journey through time in the form of three ghostly visitations, which reveal some unvarnished truths about his choices. A Christmas Carol is Dickens’s most influential book - a funny, clever and hugely enjoyable story.
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