Saturday, February 19, 2011

Oliver Twist Readalong: Book 2

Allie at A Literary Odyssey is hosting this Readalong of Oliver Twist. The second Readalong check-in covers Book 2 (approximately 120 pages). Here are my thoughts:

I mentioned in my check-in after Book 1 that I was starting to have a hard time with the book, feeling like it was too long. This time, I felt like the action picked up a bit--I felt a bit more suspense and mystery in this portion of the story than I did in the first section.

It helped that we were kind of left hanging at the end of Book 1, wondering what would become of Oliver after a forced burglary attempt resulted in his being shot in the arm. Although Oliver's very life was hanging by a thread, the incident had two good outcomes: it takes him out of Fagin's control and places him into the kind household of Mrs. Maylie and her niece.

By this time, I'm starting to understand that Fagin knows more about Oliver's parentage than he lets on. He has apparently been paid to keep Oliver out of sight and to change him from the angelic boy he is into a sneaky thief. Someone named Monks wants to keep Oliver's family ties a secret, but who is he? How is he connected to Oliver and what does he have to gain by keeping Oliver in such hazardous and unhappy circumstances?

So I'm starting to feel the suspense and am enjoying the book more. I am pretty sure I know who Oliver is related to (I'm thinking maybe he's related in some way to Mr. Brownlow or someone he knows), but all of the different strands of the story haven't quite started coming together for me yet. Before I sign off, I've got to mention that Mr. Bumble's new circumstances as a married man left me giggling. His bullying tendencies are absolutely thwarted by his new wife, who turned out to be even more of a bully than he is! I love it.

I marked a few passages that seemed profound when I read them, so I'll share a couple of them here. Both of them are musings that are brought about by Miss Maylie's life-threatening illness, the first by her aunt, Mrs. Maylie, and the second by the narrator:
I have seen enough, too, to know that it is not always the youngest and best who are spared to those that love them; but this should give us comfort rather than sorrow, for Heaven is just, and such things teach us impressively that there is a far brighter world than this, and that the passage to it is speedy. (267)
We need be careful how we deal with those about us, for every death carries with it to some small circle of survivors thoughts of so much omitted, and so little done; of so many things forgotten, and so many more which might have been repaired, that such recollections are among the bitterest we can have. (272)
I'm not as hesitant about continuing my reading as I was when I finished Book 1, so on to Book 3! I'll be posting my final thoughts here at the end of the month.

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