Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

A bit of a doorstopper, this one, weighing in at 900 pages. But a brilliant example of Dickens at his best as a mature writer – great characters, great social commentary. The scene where the man employed as debt-collector rounds on his deceitful and hypocritical employer could have been written today, with equal relevance and power.

The plot is complex and it does, in the end, all centre on Little Dorrit herself. I started to think of her character as a cypher, rather than a real person, as she is implausibly impervious to all slights and feels only lovingly, humbly and kindly. But the other characters are vivid and brilliantly created.

The denouement is a long time coming, perhaps, and there is a fair bit of tying off of loose ends; but that is fair enough for such a long and epic novel.

Interesting, too, that the story is set around the Marshalsea Prison, which was the prison in London for debtors, where Dickens himself lived as a child because of his father’s financial woes. Makes it all the more poignant.

Great book.


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