Monday, February 28, 2011

Oliver Twist Readalong: Book 3 and Final Thoughts

Allie at A Literary Odyssey is hosting this Readalong of Oliver Twist. This third and final Readalong check-in covers Book 3 (approximately 140 pages). Here are my thoughts:

This third section of the book has been my favorite of the three. It was suspenseful and action-packed, and the secrets that were revealed were astonishing. I found myself feeling happy for Oliver and Miss Maylie, but heartbroken for poor Nancy, who wanted to help Oliver but couldn't help herself.

Nancy's fate in the book was shocking and sad. That whole branch of the story, with Bill on the run and the scene that ultimately ended Bill's life, left me breathless and in shock.

I would have been more shocked by the revelations about Oliver's parents and family if it hadn't been so perfectly coincidental. Out of all of the people in London, Oliver just happened to randomly be taken in by people who knew his father or ended up being related to him. With a few little hints here and there about possible connections, I was ready for Oliver's story and I knew that Brownlow would be connected somehow. I didn't expect Miss Maylie to turn out to be connected to Oliver, though! I think my jaw dropped with that revelation!

Regarding the bad guys, I was glad Fagin got what he deserved in the end (his role in Nancy's fate made him even worse than he already was in my eyes). Monk was horrid. What a terrible man to manipulate people he didn't even know for his own ends. Especially a young boy, who didn't deserve all of the grief and hardships he was forced into because of Monk's scheming. The only person more horrid was Monk's mother, who seemed to be a real piece of work herself.

The Artful Dodger, what can I say about him? He never really struck me as a really bad guy, despite his choice of profession. Even when he betrayed Oliver, he didn't seem like he was doing it out of meanness or hate (unlike Noah Claypole and Monk) but to save his own skin. I had to chuckle at the scene in the courtroom, when he was being tried for thievery. Forever the showman, this was his response at the end of the hearing:
'Oh, ah! I'll come on,' replied the Dodger, brushing his hat with the palm of his hand. 'Ah! (to the Bench) it's no use your looking frightened; I won't show you no mercy, not a ha'porth of it. You'll pay for this, my fine fellers; I wouldn't be you for something. I wouldn't go free now, if you wos to fall down on your knees and ask me. Here, carry me off to prison. Take me away.'
With these last words, the Dodger suffered himself to be led off by the collar, threatening till he got into the yard to make a parliamentary business of it, and then grinning in the officer's face with great glee and self approval. (369)

I am so very glad that Allie's Readalong gave me the motivation to tackle this book. For some reason, Charles Dickens makes me nervous, even though this only the second time I've read one of his works. The Readalong kept me reading even when I was hesitant after the first section. I also enjoyed seeing what other participants thought of each section as we were going.

I liked this book! It was a little bit predictable and almost too perfect in some ways, but it was definitely a worthwhile reading experience. I liked A Christmas Carol more than Oliver Twist, but I am glad to have another Dickens novel under my belt.

A million thanks to Allie for hosting the Readalong, and also for the book! I won her giveaway for this gorgeous Penguin Classics clothbound edition. When it arrived I had no idea why the cover featured pocket watches, but now that I've read the book, I know!

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