A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

This historical novel takes place in London and Paris during the late 18th century.  Dickens portrays cruel aristocrats in France during the monarchy and also depicts the horror of the French Revolution, when the lower classes used the guillotine to get revenge on anyone whom they considered to be involved in oppressing them.

As the novel opens, Dr. Manette, a French doctor who has been a prisoner in the Bastille for eighteen years, is finally released.  Other story lines tell about the trial of Charles Darnay, a Frenchman accused of treason against England, and about the marriage of Lucie, Manette’s lovely daughter.

One of the best-known characters from the novel is Madame Defarge, who is ruthless in her search for revenge on the French aristocracy.

The one sentence which stuck in my mind during the many years since I read the novel as a teenager comes from the book’s final paragraph: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.”  I don’t want to give away the ending of the novel, but I found this part of the story as moving as I did when I first read it!

A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most famous historical novels of all time, and I thoroughly enjoyed rereading it.

(Helen Snow, retired from Information Services)

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