A little shy of 1000 pages, a mid way break to read two other books and 1 month after I started it I completed David Copperfield, with a heartfelt sigh of relief. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, it was just very long, and quite heavy to hold when balancing it in one hand whilst reading on a packed tube.
Now I come to review it I barely know where to start. It such an epic tome with so much packed into those 1000 pages, that I’m actually a little lost for words. I didn’t come to David Copperfield as a Dickens newbie. I’m not an extensive reader of Dickens but I’ve read Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol (often) and Great Expectations, which I love. I did come to it though as some one who is used to whizzing through books quite quickly, and David Copperfield is not a book to whizz through. Much earlier in the year, January to be exact, realising that I didn’t read too many classics I set myself the task of reading 5 classics of literature before the end of 2016. David Copperfield was one of those 5. I chose it because it was Dickens own personal favourite of all his novels. This seemed like a good recommendation.
As the title might suggest this is the story of David Copperfield. It spans his journey through life from orphan to doting husband, and successful author, chronicling his adventures and the myriad of characters he meets along the way. All told in his own words.
“I have elsewhere said, this narrative is my written memory. I have desired to keep the most secret current of my mind apart and to the last I enter it now”
As with all Dickens the characters are key and there are some truly awful characters here. The wicked stepfather Mr Murdstone, the abhorrent Uriah Heep and dare I say it I struggled to feel any affection for the simpering child bride Dora and felt none at all for her dreadful yappy dog Jip. However as an antidote, there are also characters such as Mr and Mrs Micawber of whom I could not get enough of. His particular eccentricities which were particularly endearing.
“He had provided himself among other things with a complete suit of oil-skin, and a straw-hat with a very low crown pitched or caulked on the outside. In this rough clothing, with a common mariners telescope under his arm, and a shrewd trick of casting up his eye at the sky s looking out for dirty weather, he was far more nautical, after his manner than Mr Peggotty. His whole family, if I may so express it were cleared for action”
There are so many events and characters in this novel that I sometimes found it hard to keep track of what had gone before but that is more my issue with attention span and amnesia than it is Dickens ability to write in an engaging way. David Copperfield was engaging and I got to the end of it feeling very pleased to have read it and been immersed in Dickensian England with its poverty, excesses and complicated goings on. I’m not sure what my next Dickens read will be but I may go for something a little shorter.