My Friend Nick suggested this book for me to read this year and overall I’m glad he did. It was really hard for me to get into for the first 150 pages or so but I muscled through it. I guess the good news of about an 850 page book is that if you finally get into it after 150 pages, there are 700 more to enjoy.
There is a lot to like about this book but I’m going to start with what some of the things that made it hard. I think lots of people struggle with old English writing and I suppose it’s the #1 reason many Christians do not read more work by people like John Owen and Jonathan Edwards. That was a little bit of an issue, but my biggest struggle was that Dickens spelled out the words of poorer characters phonetically. I would have to sit there and read it out loud several times to understand the point. I’m sure some people would find this charming but for me as an already slow reader it was a major impediment.
As I alluded to earlier, the book starts sooooo slow. It was a long time before I even understood where things were going. If the book really is allegory to Dickens’ own life, I suppose that explains some of the early content that seemed unnecessary and useless to me.
Gladly, there is a lot to like about the book. The plot is original and has sufficient twists to keep the reader engaged for 850 pages. The highlight of the book is definitely the cast of characters. While I don’t read much nonfiction, but once I got into the book and could appreciate what was going on behind the scenes these characters became some of the best I’ve ever read. I especially liked how Dickens wrote Copperfield as someone who was at times wise and other times foolish, insightful and dense, clever and dimwitted. I also found myself wanting to be more like Mr. Peggotty and Agnes, which seems odd but if you read the book you will see how noble they are in their own ways.
The writing is superior. Since much of the book is written in the first person it was fun to read accounts where Copperfield was initially dimwitted and then gradually began to see things as they really were. My favorite scene like this was the account of Copperfield leaving his apartment with friends after having a little too much to drink.
Overall I would highly recommend the book but warn the potential reader that the first bit might be a bit of a slough.