Read Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens Adrian Poole Online


Charles Dickens's last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend is a glorious satire spanning all levels of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Adrian Poole in Penguin Classics.Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmon's profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kinCharles Dickens's last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend is a glorious satire spanning all levels of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Adrian Poole in Penguin Classics.Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmon's profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults. With brilliant satire, Dickens portrays a dark, macabre London, inhabited by such disparate characters as Gaffer Hexam, scavenging the river for corpses; enchanting, mercenary Bella Wilfer; the social-climbing Veneerings; and the unscrupulous street-trader Silas Wegg. The novel is richly symbolic in its vision of death and renewal in a city dominated by the fetid Thames, and the corrupting power of money.Our Mutual Friend uses text of the first volume edition of 1865 and includes original illustrations, a chronology and revised further reading. As Adrian Poole writes in his introduction to this new edition, 'In its vast scope and perilous ambitions it has much in common with Bleak House and Little Dorrit, but its manner is more stealthy, on edge, enigmatic.'Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.If you enjoyed Our Mutual Friend, you might like Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood, also available in Penguin Classics.'The great poet of the city. He was created by London'Peter Ackroyd...

Title : Our Mutual Friend
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ISBN : 9780140434972
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 884 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Our Mutual Friend Reviews

  • Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
    2018-11-30 12:10

    I listened to this for the first time on audio. And I know!!! I'm not supposed to do that with first time books because I can't comprehend audio as the first read. I already have the book in my Amazon wishlist. But! I couldn't stop listening to it because the marrator (Simon Vance) was freaking amazing!! His voice was perfect for the book. Um, I have it in my audible wishlist too 😂 He gets all the stars. Now I'm hoping my re-read will bring this up to 5 stars when I can use my brain! Just another book I would never have read if it weren't for Goodreads, friends and challenges! Mel ❤️

  • BillKerwin
    2018-11-26 06:32

    Although not quite the equal of those great late works Bleak House and Little Dorrit, this last completed novel of Charles Dickens has much to recommend it. It is particularly memorable for its symbolism, the way it uses a series of "dust mounds" (huge heterogeneous piles of waste, primarily of cinders and ash, waiting to be recycled as bricks) owned by the "Golden Dustman" to represent great fortunes, their barrenness and avarice, and their harmful effects on an increasingly money-mad society. It also contains--as does all Dickens--a range of vivid scenes and memorable characters: harrowing glimpses of riverfront lowlife contrasted with wonderful comic scenes of nouveau riche display, a particularly vicious pair of married grifters, an ambiguous young lawyer and dandy who turns out to be something like a hero, and (perhaps a late apology for Fagin) an evil goy moneylender who uses a kindly Jew as a front. One reason this novel has gained in popularity during the last century is that it is as close as Dickens ever gets to a meta-fiction. The reading and interpretations of various texts--exemplified by Silas Wegg's oral reading of Gibbon's Decline and Fall to the illiterate Noddy Boffin, and their subsequent discussions--is an important metaphor here.

  • El
    2018-12-04 06:14

    Anyone familiar with LOST understands where I'm coming from here, but just in case you're stuck under a rock and have never watched the show (looking at you, Josiah) the above cupcake image is the character, Desmond Hume. Our Mutual Friend is associated with him on the show - it's the one book he claims he will read before he dies and we find later he has named his boat - wait for it - Our Mutual Friend.With that said, this connection to LOST is absolutely not the reason why I decided to read this book. At least it's not the whole reason. Actually I've been meaning to read some Dickens for a while and I figure this is a good place to start again. It's also the last completed novel by Dickens which I guess in some morbid way I was drawn to when I decided to pick it up. So there we are. (It didn't hurt that sex-pot Desmond Hume also toted it around with him which I'm certain has some deeper meaning than I'm able to comprehend right now.)All of the LOST references aside, Our Mutual Friend was freaking fantastic. I don't wanna hear anyone's tears (looking at you, Rhonda) about how boring Dickens is, and OMG, he writes for paaaaages without really saying anything... You all are wrong (respectfully). Oh, sure, I get it. There are a lot of words and lots of pages and sure, it seems like he's not really getting anywhere, but that's his freaking genius. And, well, I like big books and can not lie.This is the darkest Dickens I have read so far, and I wonder how much of that has to do with the fact that he was older when he wrote it (already in his 50s), was probably spending a lot of time contemplating his life and the fact that he never got that sports car he always wanted, had an anorectal fistula (ahem, a different sort than the fistulas we deal with, Rhonda), and whatever. He was probably just an old curmudgeon by that point anyway. I'm sure he had to deal with a lot of people saying all the time, "Why can't you write a nice story about that sweet little Oliver Twist again? He was so darling." That's gotta be a lot of pressure. It's like Arthur Conan Doyle not being able to stop writing about Sherlock Holmes. Or J.K. Rowling not being able to stop writing about that pesky Harry Potter.So this book is darker, but it's also about money. As opposed to his other books which deal largely with the lack of money, this book actually focuses on people with money. This leads to a different dynamic than his other books.There are a lot of effing characters, but they're all really well-written characters. (Note: Wikipedia references 19 major characters and 16 minor characters.) Jenny Wren is probably the most fascinating characters in literary history, for example, but I could probably babble on about everyone else as well. Apparently Henry James had a problem with the characters not being realistic or something. Whatever, Hank, suck it. No one cares what you think anyway and you're just jealous.The one real complaint I have is Bella's father who is referred to as "cherubic" multiple times on several pages. The book is almost 1,000 pages long. That's a lot of words. That shows Dickens was a wordsmith. A pretty darn good one at that. Couldn't ya come up with something else besides "cherubic", Chuck? Someone buy that man a thesaurus!The Afterword in my edition was great and really touched on the issues people have with the book, like good ol' Hank James up there calling the characters unrealistic and shit. That was intentional. The whole thing is intentional. From beginning to ending, Dickens knew what he was doing and it all means something and... O.M.G. Just like the creators of LOST!But the bottom line is - and this review certainly doesn't do the book justice - Our Mutual Friend probably ranks as my favorite Dickens which previously had been, I don't know, Great Expectations or something. My excuse is simply that I didn't know any better. And Your Yumminess Desmond Hume wasn't even stuck on that island when I first read Great Expectations.

  • Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
    2018-12-10 05:08

    In completing Our Mutual Friend, I believe that I may well have just finished reading the finest book written in the English language. One could perhaps argue that the prose of Austen in her novel Emma is more perfect; but the plotting and characters of Dickens in Our Mutual Friend is exquisite. Our Mutual Friend rivals Tolstoy’s War and Peace in breadth, scope, scale, and number of characters; but while War and Peace proceeds forward majestically in a linear fashion; Our Mutual Friend, like Dickens’ “Circumlocution Office” (Little Dorrit) proceeds circuitously, bobbing and weaving, exposing its mysteries and delights, one-by-one, like peeling back the layers of an onion.In Our Mutual Friend, Dickens plumbs the deep and dark depths of humanity’s soul with the creation and actions of some of fiction’s most horrifying villains. At the same time Dickens balances the novel’s darkness and depravity as we meet, and fall in love with, some of the kindest, noblest, and most good-natured saints and souls that ever graced the pages of his novels. One cannot but be completely taken with little Jenny Wren (“my back is bad, and my legs are queer”), and the beautiful Bella Wilfur and Lizzie Hexam, and kindly Betty Higdon. One must admire and respect the steadfastness and resolute nature of John Rokesmith, Eugene Wrayburn, and Mortimer Lightwood. One cannot help but laugh and smile at the comical goodness of Our Mutual Friend’s saints: the Boffins, Mr. Twemlow, “Rumty” Wilfur, and Mr. Riah. Then there are the multitude in the gray ambiguity between light and dark; the Veneerings, and those of “Podsnappery” like the Lammles. But it is the grotesque evil of the novel’s villains that makes the good characters shine so bright. There’s “Weggery”, an awful tasting dose of “Fascination” Fledgeby, all horrifyingly blended with “Rogue” Riderhood and the Dark Prince himself – Bradley Headstone.From Dickens’ pen, Our Mutual Friend falls forth onto the printed pages like the brush strokes on the canvas of the grandest painting of an old master. Our Mutual Friend depicts the freshness and rawness of human emotions in all of its attendant forms, including: joy and happiness, pain and sorrow, anger and hatred, and love and tenderness. Like looking too closely at a painting of Hieronymous Bosch, we have an almost macabre fascination as we follow the novel’s characters through life’s stages – life, death, rebirth, and even resurrection. Primary roles and responsibilities are switched too; with children ‘raising’ parents, the disadvantaged aiding the advantaged, and the poor enriching the well-off.In Our Mutual Friend things are never as they appear or ought to be. On some levels, Our Mutual Friend is the quintessential detective novel or mystery; but it is really more a series of mysteries nested inside a larger mystery. The reader must pay close attention to the seemingly slightest detail, for all does truly come together in the march to the grand, and most satisfying, conclusion. Through it all, however, there is one overarching and unifying theme, one thread that connects all – The River Thames. The Thames is the source of life, of death, of rebirth, and even resurrection; it infects and purifies; it is the source of depravity, horror, and hope and prosperity. The river is always there, relentlessly rushing onward, carrying the flotsam and jetsam, and the hopes and desires, of the novel’s characters, and even those of the reader. All I can say, upon turning the last page with a sigh, is that this is a novel for the ages; and one that I shall visit and revisit; setting forth again in my little boat upon the river of Our Mutual Friend.

  • B0nnie
    2018-12-10 11:29

    He do the Police in different voices I will show you fear in a handful of dust Trash Inc: The Secret Life of GarbageOur Mutual FriendWhat do we have here but mounds of dust - garbage - and an “old rascal who made his money by Dust", who grew rich ‘as a Dust Contractor, and lived in a hollow in a hilly country entirely composed of Dust. On his own small estate the growling old vagabond threw up his own mountain range, like an old volcano, and its geological formation was Dust. Coal-dust, vegetable-dust, bone-dust, crockery dust, rough dust and sifted dust, all manner of Dust.”Our Mutual Friend: such a friendly title! Surely nothing likeBleak House - we will cheerily put behind its ten death scenes (view spoiler)[Miss Barbary, Jenny’s baby, Capt. (Nemo) Hawdon, Jo, Richard Carstone, Gridley, Lady Dedlock, Neckett, Tulkinghorn, Krook (hide spoiler)] and find a nice comedy. Not exactly. There will be humour, but also corpses. And corruption, child abuse and alcoholism, blackmail, grifters and fraud, misers, deception, missing limbs, bones and hair, litter and waste, uncontrollable anger, black and murky water. Sprinkled throughout is some delightful satire of upper middle class snobbery.The story opens very gloomily, with an old man and his daughter pulling a body "in an advanced state of decay, and much injured" from the river. This is how they earn their living, scavenging the waterfront, looking for anything of value. It’s an honest living, and even when they find a body to rob, it is done with integrity.“Is it possible for a dead man to have money? What world does a dead man belong to? 'Tother world. What world does money belong to? This world. How can money be a corpse's? Can a corpse own it, want it, spend it, claim it, miss it?” But never would they lower themselves to even associate with "the sneaking spirit that robs a live man".And so, the two themes are neatly hinted at: money, and the corruptible, i.e. decaying things.Dickens wrote Our Mutual Friend in a mood of darkness. His mother had recently died, and his son Walter dies just as he begins. He is in the Staplehurst Railway Accident, where many are killed and injured. He was trapped in a swaying carriage, just above the wreckage, but gets out uninjured, helps with the rescue and,then he did a remarkable thing. He remembered that he had left that month’s manuscript ofOur Mutual Friendin the swaying carriage. So in the calmest possible way he clambered back into the compartment and rescued it. But he was not calm for very long. He felt the effects of nausea for days afterwards; his pulse was unsteady, and he experienced all the physical tremors of nervous anxiety. He declared that he felt 'quite shattered and broken up'. Indeed the accident haunted him for the rest of his life. (Peter Ackroyd, Dickens)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2018-12-12 11:16

    Our Mutual Friend (In Two Volumes), Charles Dickens Our Mutual Friend, written in the years 1864–65, is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens and is one of his most sophisticated works, combining savage satire with social analysis. It centres on, in the words of critic J. Hillis Miller (quoting from the character Bella Wilfer in the book), "money, money, money, and what money can make of life." In the opening chapters a body is found in the Thames and identified as that of John Harmon, a young man recently returned to London to receive his inheritance. Were he alive, his father's will would require him to marry Bella Wilfer, a beautiful, mercenary girl whom he had never met. Instead, the money passes to the working-class Boffins, and the effects spread into various corners of London society.تاریخ نخستین خوانش: پانزدهم ماه ژوئن سال 1992 میلادیعنوان: دوست مشترک ما - دورۀ دوجلدی؛ نویسنده: چارلز دیکنز؛مترجم: عبدالحسین شریفیان؛ تهران، نگاه، 1369؛ در دو جلد، 1031 ص؛ چاپ جلد دوم 1370؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 19 مپدر «جان هارمون» مرد بسیار ثروتمند فوت کرده، و همه ی دارایی خویش را برای پسرش به ارث گذاشته به شرطی که او با دختری زیبا به نام «بلا» ازدواج کند، در غیر اینصورت ثروت به: «بافرها» یعنی خدمتکارهای خانه میرسد. همه فکر میکنند «جان» مرده، و این فرصتی است تا او همه چیز را از نزدیک زیر نظر بگیرد و بسنجد. ... ا. شربیانی

  • Sara
    2018-12-08 12:37

    If you have ever read Charles Dickens, you will know that his plot lines, characters, and literary devices are myriad, and for my thinking, Our Mutual Friend might employ more of those than any other of his novels that I have read. In the beginning, this made the thread a little harder to keep untangled, but in the end, it served his purposes beautifully.There are, for your entertainment, two major love stories, a mysterious imposter, a murderer or two, a few men of nefarious occupation, a couple of red herrings and several mistreated, but eternally good, individuals. Jenny Wren is a marvelous character, along with the Jew, Riah, who helps to atone for the evil character of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Betty Higden is a superb example of the worthy poor, and the Boffins are an unforgettable couple. I was particularly interested in Lizzie Hexam and Eugene Wrayburn, a part of the plot that was less easy to predict than some of the others. Both the love stories are captivating, and the ins and outs, and coincidental crossings, of each of the characters with the others is masterful. This is a later work, and the maturity of the writing and plot control are obvious.Then there is just the irrefutable wisdom of Mr. Dickens:And this is another spell against which the shedder of blood for ever strives in vain. There are fifty doors by which discovery may enter. With infinite pains and cunning, he double locks and bars forty-nine of them, and cannot see the fiftieth standing wide open.Ah, Mr. Dickens, may it ever be so!Not an unusual subject for Dickens, he deals with the plight of the poor and the inadequate methods of alleviating it, and he does it with deftness and just the right touch of sentiment.For when we have got things to the pass that with an enormous treasure at disposal to relieve the poor, the best of the poor detest our mercies, hide their heads from us, and shame us by starving to death in the midst of us, it is a pass impossible of prosperity, impossible of continuance. It may not be so written in the Gospel according to Podsnappery, you may not find these words for the text of a sermon, in the Returns of the Board of Trade; but they have been the truth since the foundations of the universe were laid, and they will be the truth until the foundations of the universe are shaken by the Builder.Does our modern society not still wrestle with how to help people pull themselves up without damaging their worth in their own eyes? Do we not still have a system that creates a class barrier and with the very assistance we offer sometimes assure that people will remain and always be aware that their class is not “our” class?There are almost as many themes as there are characters. Money, its influence and its corrupting properties, is one, but as the Bible tells us it is the “love of money” that is “the root of all evil” and Dickens makes it clear that it is the fault in the people and not the wealth itself that is objectionable. There is the major theme of class division and the insensibility of choices made for no other reason than that a person is part of one class or the other. There is the significance of friendship and loyalty, the importance of truth and ethics, and the value of trust in relationships, including but not limited to marriage. There is betrayal, but there is also steadfastness and a desire on the part of so many of these characters to overcome the baseness of their worlds and rise above their conditions morally.There were a few sections that plodded, but for the most part I was feeling sorry for the original audience who were forced to wait for the next installment to find out what was to happen and could not just plow ahead, as I found myself inclined to do.The novel is quite long at over 800 pages, but I read over a three month span and enjoyed it immensely. I am making some progress toward my goal of reading ALL of Dickens’ works. Next up is Nicholas Nickleby, and if it is as pleasing for me as this one, I will be quite happy indeed.

  • Jean
    2018-11-27 07:24

    Money. Filthy lucre. The love of money may be the root of all evil, but money, whether you like it or not Dickens tells us, is also Our Mutual Friend.Nothing misses Dickens’s sharp penetrating eye. In this final completed novel he is at his most astute, most bitter, and most brilliantly sardonic. We no longer have the posturing and hectoring tone of the earlier novels, but a much more nuanced writing style. Dickens has honed his skills to perfection, using his sarcasm and wit to entertain in the blackest situations, and weaving together a complex narrative of interlocking stories in which the denouement is well nigh perfect.Money. Greed and avarice. Cunning and contrivance. Duplicity and deception. All these, and many other ways of acquiring this desirable commodity are here. Dickens weaves his words to tell us this truth, and as ever, we learn it through his portrayal of irresistible characters. With a flourish of his pen, he starts …We see Jesse “Gaffer” Hexam, a “bird of prey”, trawling the dirty, foetid river Thames at dead of night. What can he be scavenging for through all that slime and ooze, through the “accumulated scum of humanity … washed from higher grounds, like so much moral sewage”? Gaffer Hexam is looking out for dead and decaying bodies; for those poor drowned unfortunates from whom he can now strip anything of any value, before handing in the body to the proper authorities. A hair-raising profession by any account, and one which terrifies his daughter Lizzie, who rows the boat for him. Thus the novel opens, setting the tone with an image which is hard to forget.From the lowest of the low we then flash to a very different picture: the sparkling pinnacle of society. We are present at a fashionable dinner hosted by two of its most recent members, the Veneerings, who have everything “bran new”. These shallow parvenus are out to impress everyone: Nicodemus and Henrietta Boffin, the Reverend and Mrs Milvey, the Podsnaps et al. Here is the self-satisfied Mr John Podsnap: “Mr Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr Podsnap’s opinion”. He is believed to be based on Dickens’s friend and biographer, John Forster. Since Podsnap is complacent, pompous and full of bluster, notwithstanding his “fine woman” of a wife, one hopes that Forster never believed this: he certainly never acknowledged it. Lady Tippins heads this distinguished group. Mr and Mrs Veneering consciously flaunt their good taste, their wealth and their position. They are indeed well-named; their very way of life is a facade.The genius of Dickens is such that he encompasses examples from all aspects of society. These two examples demonstrate his keen observations of the basest, to the most respected in the land. He also shows us many stops in between. There is Silas Wegg, indulging in little frauds, but also fantasising about the outrageous schemes he is to perpetrate, although when we meet him he only owns one tiny street stall, and its meagre contents. Dickens also presents us with common-or-garden tricksters, such as Roger “Rogue” Riderhood, another canny character who automatically turns every situation to his advantage. Or the greedy and corrupt moneylender, “Fascination” Fledgeby: “the meanest cur existing, with a single pair of legs”. He is one of the most unlikable villains since Christopher Casby, the landlord of “Bleeding Heart Yard” in “Little Dorrit”, outwardly showing an easy, gentle manner, yet behind the scenes getting someone else to do his dirty work. Every perfect bon mot from Dickens’s pen is assured, as we track the devious workings of these rogues’ minds, and each step towards their moral and sometimes literal degradation. We are gripped by the machinations and workings out of their plot-lines, and follow them with increasing horror.And we also delight in some of the funniest passages in Dickens’s novels describing the high and mighty aristocrats, and those on the periphery, such as the rather confused but well-meaning and kindly Melvin Twemlow, with his “eggy” hair: “allow[ing] his hair to stick upright”, who is cultivated for his connection with Lord Snigsworth. The most hilarious fraudsters of all his writing, surely, are two social climbers: the middle class con artists Alfred and Sophronia Lammle. Each of this most charming couple (view spoiler)[married the other in the mistaken belief that they were wealthy (hide spoiler)]. Such a treacherous couple; well deserving of each other! There is much games-playing throughout, and many attempts at crawling up the social ladder, and acquiring money and status, no matter who might be stamped on and suffer as a result. It’s a dirty business for sure.Sometimes the filth becomes quite literal and no longer a mere metaphor. The novel’s cental image, around which all these delightful characters perform their groteque dances, is that of three immense dustheaps, or what we would call rubbish tips. They are the source of much of the much-sought after wealth.Acquisitiveness and miserliness then, and the lust for money, is here in all its forms, and is a constant theme through this complex novel. The nub of the story is the “Old Tartar” Julius Harmon’s inheritance, which he bequeathed to a “John Harmon”. But John Harmon has been identified as drowned in the river. To complicate matters, it had been a condition of the inheritance that John Harmon marry Bella Wilfer, whom he had never met. The story revolves around the many money-grubbing people who each believe the inheritance should be theirs.Not only is Our Mutual Friend concerned with the various nefarious ways of acquiring this dirty money, but also with dirt, filth, decay and dust. All comes to dust, in the end. One character searches endlessly through one of the dustheaps at night with a lamp, in the secret hope of finding paperwork to do with the inheritance. The river Thames constantly spews up its gory decaying treasures - and receives the same. Bodies, and death. Another abiding image is of the social parasite Silas Wegg, with his one wooden leg, befriending a taxidermist, Mr Venus, who has heaps of body parts and stuffed creatures in his dimly-lit store. Silas Wegg is trying to track down the leg he had had amputated in order to gaze on it, while he deviously plots and plans his diabolical schemes.Charles Dickens had always had an interest in the morbid and the macabre. Quite a lot of his darkest humour is set in graveyards, and his fiction abounds with chilling scenes of ghosts and spirits. Most of the characters in Our Mutual Friend make their livings in the world from human leftovers and cast-offs; even to the very bodies themselves. Dickens was a good friend of Edgar Allan Poe, and in Our Mutual Friend one can see how the two could sustain this friendship. Yet there is a decided change in emphasis. In this 14th novel there is little trace of the youthful frivolity which characterised his early work. Gone is the exuberance and zest for life. What could have prompted this change? Is it, perhaps, “the Inimitable” beginning to have a sense of his own mortality?Our Mutual Friend, although very long, is very tightly plotted over 4 “books”, entitled: “The Cup and the Lip”, “Birds of a Feather”, “A Long Lane” and “A Turning”. Dickens was full of doubts, which he confided to his friend John Forster. His writing pace was slowing down, and he was beginning to feel ill. He reverted to just 19 monthly installments, between May 1864 and November 1865, with the final one being double-length. And he remained extremely concerned with money.Charles Dickens’s father, John, was a profligate gentleman, who was first imprisoned for debt when young Charles was only 12 years old. He continued to have financial problems over the years, having to sell of all his household goods to pay debt collectors, and spending other periods of time in the Marshalsea prison. As a consequence, Charles Dickens was forced to become aware of the importance of money from a very early age. He called his father: “a jovial opportunist with no money sense”. Throughout his adult life, Charles Dickens had to support his parents in their extravagant habits, in addition to his own family home, his wife and his many children. He also supported his mistress, Nelly Ternan, and her mother for several years. He had continuing difficulties over copyright issues of his novels, as there were many pirated copies of his books. He had to finance his own publications, his own theatrical productions, his own world tours of his reading performances, and his own charitable works. His novels are often concerned with money, but perhaps it is not surprising that in this final one, money is even more uppermost in his mind. With the pressure of his enormous workload weighing heavily on his mind, he ignored friends’ and doctors’ warnings alike. Was he even more aware that the clock was ticking? Did he perhaps have a vague inking that this was to be his last chance to create the perfect novel?The characters in Our Mutual Friend are multi-facteted and complex. We still have the extremes we love: the heroes and the villains, but they are far more nuanced. We have detailed studies of guilt, horror, obsession and miserliness. We can even recognise characters from early novels who are expanded and developed into far more realistic individuals. The unsympathetic Jewish portrayal of Fagin, which Dickens had spent a lifetime regretting, is gloriously countered and amplified into the kind, intelligent Mr Riah, one of the novel’s star characters. Bill Sykes, the unwitting (view spoiler)[ murderer(hide spoiler)] from “Oliver Twist”, provides the basis in Our Mutual Friend for one of the most compelling descriptions I have ever read, of a character ruled by his passions,Bradley Headstone. I confess I wept for this troubled man, subject like Edward “Monks” Leeford, in “Oliver Twist” to epileptic fits; of limited capabilities, but trying to improve himself, but prone to ultimately uncontrollable dark moods. You will not find the perfectly good child Oliver, with his impossibly well-spoken manners here, but you will find goodness, kindness and much self-sacrifice. One delightful couple are the the Boffinses. Noddy “the Golden Dustman” in particular has many layers to his personality. Perhaps they are the perfected end product of Dickens’s Cheeryble brothers, from “Nicholas Nickleby”, themselves based on an actual pair of brothers who were benefactors.Forget too, the docile or one-dimensional females of the early stories. “Little Nell” is always hard-working and good, perhaps almost too perfect, as is Kate Nickleby. Even Dora Copperfield remains pretty and clueless, but mostly in these middle novels Dickens begins to explore further. Mercy Pecksniff, a spoiled young woman in “Martin Chuzzlewit”, gains wisdom through her experience, and has a hint of regret by the end. In Our Mutual Friend the mercenary minx, young Bella Wilfer, is a fully fleshed development of Mercy - or perhaps even Estelle, from “Great Expectations” (a character who is herself perhaps based on the real life Nelly Ternan). She does not remain the disdainful spoiled character, tossing her head and announcing: “I am so mercenary” entirely focused on “money, money, money, and what money can make of life” as we are first introduced to her, but has a journey of transformation. Perhaps she may not be a truly modern heroine, since Victorian ideals for a young woman were very different from contemporary ones, and Dickens’s own views were very decided. Nevertheless, Dickens does present us with an alternative, parallel story to Bella’s, with Lizzie Hexam.Lizzie is a heroine for this century; strong, decided and intelligent. From her timidity at the beginning, she develops in initiative and determination. One set piece near the end cleverly mirrors the opening episode, and in this she demonstrates great courage, and shows her true colours. Do not listen to those who claim that Dickens’s females simper; that he cannot write strong women. Think of Miss Havisham in “Great Expectations”. Think of Mademoiselle Hortense, maid to Lady Dedlock in “Bleak House”, or of the bloodthirsty vengeful termagant of a Tricoteuse, Madame Thérèse Defarge, in “A Tale of Two Cities”. There are a myriad of others. Think too of the good strong females, Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield’s resourceful but cantankerous aunt, or of noble determined Lizzie Hexam, and of the “ruggedly honest creature” Betty Higden, another poor woman in this novel who lives in dread of being sent to the workhouse, or even having to receive charity, and goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid it.It is abundantly clear that Dickens’s caricatures, once rather flat in his early writing, become increasingly fully rounded as we trace through the novels, and are now revealed in full, glorious colour. And unlike many Victorian novels, with a clear main character and just a few supporting ones, the characters in Our Mutual Friend jostle and clamour for our attention: an entire crowd of them. Only a handful of them have been mentioned here. My personal favourite is “Jenny Wren”, a diminutive dolls dressmaker whose real name is Fanny Cleaver. With her dexterous fingers, lively imagination and dedicated industry, she carves a living for herself, despite her deformed spine and physical difficulties. She is intelligent, and with her sharp eyes is frequently the only one who sees things as they really are. My theory is that she has developed from Miss Mowcher, the dwarf manicurist, in “David Copperfield”. Jenny Wren is a beacon of light in this murky gloom, with her strange fancies and visions of “miles of flowers”, and calling “Come up and be dead”. The creation of such a character enabled Dickens to include many spiritual parallels and fairy tale allusions in these passages.The action centres on the river Thames, and in particular the inn called the “Six Jolly Fellowship Porters”, owned by Miss Abbey Potterson, who is a lynch pin for the whole riverside community. You can in fact, still visit this pub, which is now called “The Grapes”. It is situated as described on London’s dockside; indeed the entire novel revolves around this one location. But there are many other important characters: Mortimer Lightwood and Eugene Wrayburn, a young lawyer and a young barrister, indulging in sparkling repartee equal in wit to Oscar Wilde’s. Eugene Wrayburn’s indolent insouciance could come straight from the mouth of Wilde’s Lord Henry Wotton in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Other little stories pop in and out; that of Miss Peecher, so tragically in love with another who does not share her romantic thoughts. Or that of the mysterious John Rokesmith. Or what of the “dismal” assistant to Mortimer Lightwood, Young Blight? What of the shy and innocent Giorgiana Podsnap, or Charley Hexam, or Pleasant Riderhood “possessed of what is colloquially termed a swivel eye” or George Sampson, erstwhile paramour of Bella, and Lavinia … all have their own tales to tell.We read passage of great absurdity, ones which can make the reader laugh aloud in delight, but they are now presented to us by a master of his craft. There is the cherubic-faced “Rumty” Wilfer, father to Bella and Lavinia, and long-suffering husband of her mother: a haughty, discontented, martyrish woman. Or Sloppy, of limited intelligence but very willing to help Betty Higden. Or the naïve and unworldly Boffinses aforementioned, who are both so full of optimism about using their inheritance for good. The absurd scenes where “Noddy” Boffin pays the wily Silas Wegg to read to him, so keen is he to become a learned gentleman, are truly hilarious to read. Each comic interlude is carefully placed, so that after we have been fully charged by mystery or horror, or by an intriguing episode of passion and drama, we are then rewarded by a jokey cameo scene. The structure is almost perfect. His earlier novel “Bleak House” was also a complex novel with many interwoven strands. In that one too, it is difficult to say which one is the main story, as the subplots threaten to overwhelm what appears to be its central theme. In Our Mutual Friend, Dickens has pushed this even further. It is possible to read almost half the book and feel that there are several novels here, such is the tapestry presented. I personally feel that this way of writing a multi-focus novel is ground-breaking. Which is the main theme, or the main plot? Will there in fact be a main one? Perhaps not. Is there even a main character? In “Martin Chuzzlewit” we discover that the main character is not after all the one to whom the title refers, but his namesake. In a not dissimilar way, the main character of this novel is obscured, a double, double bluff.There are so many disguises in this novel. Some characters literally hide behind their veils, like Lady Tippins. Others hide behind an assumed personality, or an assumed role. Others behind an assumed name or profession. Children may be forced to take on the parental role. The novel is packed to the brim with negative masks and hypocracies: characters hiding their true natures. But all the strands do eventually come together, and in such a way which is quintessentially Dickens. The good characters in the main achieve happiness, and the evil ones get their just desserts. All the characters move around their various strategies, but there are quite a few cases where a selfish character has a life-transforming experience, and mends his or her ways most satisfactorily. Even the novel’s title may be a disguise. Is it money which is Our Mutual Friend? Or is it simply, after all, the character referred to near the beginning? Or could it even be the river Thames, friend - or enemy - to so many.Dickens liked his happy endings, and even in such a dark novel he will give us a smile on our faces. It is sad that he never had such a happy ending for himself. In my opinion he was a man living out of his time, and for whatever reason, he lived a lie. Having left his wife Catherine, and taken all but one of their children with him, he still professed to endorse the values of Victorian family life, publicly putting the blame on her innocent shoulders. Yet two thirds through this novel, he showed remarkable courage, in the Stapleford Rail disaster of 9th June 1865. Charles Dickens was travelling with Nelly Ternan and her mother when disaster struck. He courageously climbed out of his compartment through the window, and then made sure the Ternans were safe. After that, he looked after as many of the victims as he could, giving them brandy and water. Some were to die in his presence.Only after an emergency train to London arrived, did he go back into the carriage to get the manuscript he was working on - the next installment of Our Mutual Friend. What a hero! But his son reported that he never fully recovered, and would not then travel in trains from choice. The experience took its toll. Charles Dickens was to die five years to the day after the accident.An unacknowledged passion, the death most probably of a child born in secret, and the overwhelming burden of years of toil and overwork; racing to keep all the balls in the air, had made Dickens an exhausted man, perhaps one wracked by guilt and disappointment. Is it any wonder that his final novel should be so embittered?Yet still, what a legacy he has left for us. Thank you, Mr Charles Dickens. I am glad for you, that your final work was your greatest opus.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-11-27 11:23

    Before Goodreads, before the Internet (aka the dark ages) I kept a list of Books Read and I've finally added them all in here. On that list is Our Mutual Friend. The title is right there, in my handwriting. So I must have read it. As it is 900 pages long, you would think I'd remember it, but I don't. In fact I had thought it was the one remaining Big Dickens I hadn't read & was saving it for a rainy day, or 90 rainy days. Now I am wondering if I was possibly not sober when I added it to my Books Read list, and I did that just to mess with my future self's mind, i.e. me now, and make me think I have incipient Alzheimers. Why would I do that? Why would I fall out with my future self? What did the present me do to the past me? Or maybe it's because my brain is now full, and in order to make room for a new fact I have to forget an old fact. If so I'm glad I forgot something as trifling as reading a 900 page book, rather than say my mother's address or the name of the company I work for.The five star rating is purely sentimental, Dickens was a genius.

  • zumurruddu
    2018-11-18 12:34

    Un'eterna ghirlanda brillanteDice Dickens che esistono giorni nella vita per cui vale la pena vivere e morire; forse, esagerando un po’, si può anche dire che esistono opere per cui vale la pena vivere e morire e in tal caso questa è una.Leggete Dickens. Lo so, i suoi romanzi hanno tante pagine. Questo ne ha più di mille. Viviamo tempi così frenetici che anche ciò che facciamo nel tempo libero, che sia intrattenimento o qualcosa di più, lo vogliamo consumare nel più breve tempo possibile, perché non abbiamo tempo. Eppure, vi dico, leggete Dickens.Però non fate come me, che con la memoria corta e due-tre neuroni rimasti ancora funzionanti pretendo di leggere tre libri per volta, e poi mi succede che a un certo punto non mi ricordavo chi era un tal signor Venus e me lo sono andata a cercare su wikipedia beccandomi uno spoilerone che sarebbe stato meglio un pugno in un occhio.No, non fate come me, prendetevela con calma, predisponetevi al lento svolgimento della trama: accendete il caminetto, preparatevi una bella tazza di tè, e lasciatevi incantare dalla magia di queste storie, dalle atmosfere della Londra ottocentesca lungo il Tamigi, entrate nelle sordide osterie, addentratevi nella caliginosa City, origliate i pettegolezzi dei salotti borghesi… e vedrete che a un certo punto sarete trascinati da un fiume in piena e i capitoli voleranno.Un’eterna ghirlanda brillante, questo sono le storie e i personaggi di Dickens, personaggi che vivranno ancora quando noi non ci saremo più, storie che terranno ancora a bocca aperta e commuoveranno chi le vorrà leggere, il tutto condito da un’ironia bonaria ma pungente.Non dico altro perché non sono in grado di commentare tutto questo ben di dio, dirò soltanto che Dickens ci racconta del dio denaro e dei suoi influssi, potenzialmente nefasti, sull’animo umano; e che per una volta, lasciatemelo dire, è bello vedere trionfare le virtù e i buoni sentimenti.Chissà se nella mia vita mortale riuscirò a leggere ancora molto di Dickens, come mi sto proponendo di fare, chissà se le mie facoltà mentali si manterranno all’altezza.Per adesso, in ogni caso, sono una lettrice appagata.

  • Apatt
    2018-11-18 11:09

    “No one who can read, ever looks at a book, even unopened on a shelf, like one who cannot.”I have certainly been looking at Our Mutual Friend on my TBR shelf for years. He kept shaking my fist at it, muttering “One day, damn you! One day!” Started July 5th, finished August 20th, that is almost two months. It took so long because it is over 800 pages in length, and I read it mostly it in audiobook format. On my commutes to work, which means no progress most weekends. Towards the end of the book, I also started playing Pokemon Go on the bus so that caused further delays.Our Mutual Friend is epic in length but smallish in scale. Unlike most of Dickens’ novels, it does not—for the most part—have an obvious protagonist but several central characters that the narrative switches between. That is, until the last third of the book that I realized it is John Rokesmith’s story more than anybody else’s. I suppose the fact that he is the eponymous “mutual friend”—as indicated by Mr. Boffin early in the book—should have clued me in!John Rokesmith is the secretary of Mr. Boffin, a former servant of a rich miser who inherited his master’s wealth upon the man’s death, his only son having apparently drowned en route back from overseas. Mr. Boffin starts off the book as an extremely amiable chappie, one of Dickens’ colorful, comical and vivid characters.Noddy BoffinUnfortunately, he is soon to be seen completely corrupted by wealth and—in an amazing 180 ° personality shift of “Jekyll & Hyde” proportions—becomes something of a beastly scumbag*. His secretary, on the other hand, is the novel’s moral centre and becomes the brunt of beastly Boffin’s abuses and accusations.In contrast to Mr. Boffin, another potential protagonist Lizzie Hexam, appears to be completely incorruptible and not in the least tempted by wealth if the opportunity seems to go against her moral conviction. Lizzie is one of Dickens’ stock impossibly angelic female characters, but damn if he doesn’t always manage to make them all quite lovable in spite of being too good to be true.Lizzie HexamThe plotline of Our Mutual Friend is not possible to outline succinctly, it is quite densely plotted, full of mysteries, twists and turns; not to mention laughs. The central theme, however, is the effect of wealth. How it can corrupt even decent people; but also how it can not corrupt people with moral fortitude. A similar theme is the effect of love, depending on whether love is selfish or selfless it can also corrupt or redeem. Bradley Headstone is introduced to the readers as a hard working schoolmaster but later on an unrequited love turns him into a scheming psychopath. On the other hand, Mr. Eugene Wrayburn, a handsome, roguish, insolent (not to mention uppity!) young barrister, is redeemed by the love of a good woman.If all this sounds terribly serious Our Mutual Friend is actually often very funny. One of the reasons I often return to read Dickens is that he always populates his books with colorful, eccentric and often hilarious characters. Top prize for the most colorful character in this book goes to Jenny Wren, a dolls’ dressmaker. She is crippled with a bad back, and walks with the aid of a stick but is always of a sunny disposition and treats practically every man she meets like an imbecile. She is also one of the book’s most perceptive characters and nobody seems to be able to the better of her.Jenny WrenAlso very memorable is the aforementioned Boffin, whether he is good or evil, he is never less than entertaining. There is also the even more villainous Silas Wegg, ballad merchant extraordinaire, with a wooden leg, and “Fascination Fledgeby” who really lives up to his name; a man with any redeemable quality but is still almost sympathetic because he does get the stuffing beaten out of him and almost literally gets salt rubbed in his wounds afterward. There are numerous other interesting characters, but I don’t want to spend all day writing this review, and you would have much more fun discovering them for yourself.At more than 800 pages I would say Dickens-once again-overwrote. However, as he published his novels in monthly installments in magazines the length is understandable. Also, unlikeVictor Hugo’s catatonia-inducing expositions about the Paris sewage system and whatnot inLes Misérables, Dickens does nor over indulge with the “TMI” expositions. Our Mutual Friend is always readable and I never felt any urge to skip even one paragraph. I have recommended every Dickens’ book I review, this one is no different. It may not be as much fun as Pokemon Go but probably more rewarding_______________Notes:* Boffin’s sudden 180° moral change did initially seem more like a plot device than a realistic character development, but it eventually makes sense, and even kind of hilarious.• Audiobook credit: Another excellent professional-level narration by Mil Nicholson. Thank you!• Thank you Shmoop for their helpful notes, though Our Mutual Friend is not as hard to read as they mention; no harder than any of the Dickens books I read so far.

  • Grace Tjan
    2018-12-14 12:28

    3.5 starsSPOILERS!What I learned from this book (in no particular order):1. You can use the same adjective 19 times in a short chapter to describe a single character and still be considered a great literary stylist. Yes, I get it, Mr. Dickens: Bella’s adorable father is CHERUBIC.2. It is perfectly acceptable to deceive your wife-to-be, and even marry her under an assumed identity, for the noble purpose of ascertaining her moral worthiness. 3. Once you are convinced that she is no gold-digger, she can be informed of your true identity as the sole heir of a wealthy garbage man.4. She of course, having been established as a person of high moral standing, would take the news with perfect equanimity, even though she was of the mercenary persuasion just before she agreed to marry you.5. It is perfectly possible for a hard-nosed, mercenary beauty to be reformed through the example of others whose characters have been debased by the sudden acquirement of wealth. 6. A barely literate, retired garbage man with no acting experience whatsoever can convincingly act this example.7. The notion of the bee as a paragon of industriousness is vastly overrated. We as a bipeds should object on principle to being constantly referred to insects and other four footed creatures. As human beings, we cannot be required to model our behavior on the behaviors of the bee, the dog, the spider or the camel. 8. One of the most salient reasons of why this is so, is the undeniable fact that a camel has several stomachs to entertain himself with, while we poor humans have only one.9. One of the best ways to educate oneself is to listen to The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire being read by a one-legged street ballad seller. Thus we may learn of fascinating historical characters such as Polly Beeious (a Roman virgin, and therefore cannot be discussed in polite company), Commodious (an Emperor who is unworthy of his English origins) and Bully Sawyers, a.k.a Belisarius, a great military leader.10. If you need to have your leg amputated, you can always sell it to Mr. Venus, a bone man whose collection includes preserved Hindu, African and (articulated) English babies, a French Gentleman, human bones (“warious”), mummified birds and dried cuticles. BUT SERIOUSLY,The most entertaining part of the book for me is when Dickens is being caustically funny. Mr. Boffin’s reading of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Mr. Venus’ dry recitation of his macabre inventory, and Wrayburn’s argument against the bee made me chuckle. The social satire with the social-climbing, money-obsessed Veneerings, Podsnaps et al is piquant and sharp, and perhaps as relevant today as it was in the Victorian era. The plot is intricate but deftly woven, with hardly any improbable coincidences that mar his other works such as A Tale of Two Cities. The evocation of the Thames and the marginal characters that make their living from its ebb and flow is immediate and pungent: we can palpably see and smell the great river, the seaman’s taverns and the muddy lanes where the Hexams and Riderhoods live. The river is a metaphor for growth and decay, and the most interesting characters are those that are associated with it. In fact, I find the supporting cast more interesting than the bland main characters. I don’t really understand who Wrayburn and Rokesmith/Harmon are, aside from the traits that they are given to support their roles in the plot. Bradley Headstone is a one-dimensional plot device. Bella is given more personality than the usual saintly, long-suffering Dickens heroine, but her sudden transformation seems to be hardly credible, and so is her romance with Rokesmith/Harmon. The contrast between the dark satire and the fairy-tale conclusion is jarring, and at times the pace of the story is as slow as the silt-burdened current of the Thames. And I was sorely tempted to fling the book to the wall every time Dickens calls Bella’s father a ‘cherub’ --- it’s like a literary Tourette syndrome. A mixed bag for me, and if not for the melodramatic A plot and bland main characters, should have been a solid four stars.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2018-12-12 09:32

    Better to read Dickens in week-long rushes—serialised readers, without the aid of Wiki or plot recaps, will have to summon the heroic powers of recall commonly the resource of Victorian bookworms. How torturous to be put on tenterhooks for months as to John Rokesmith’s identity enigma, to think of the vagabond Wegg ruining the sweet old Mr Boffin. Perhaps now, at the end of my Monster Dickens reading, it is pertinent to ask of these novels—page-turners of their day, morally instructional entertainment, or works of art? Answer: all three and more. These are omninovels that defy snubbing. In his last completed work before a long novel-wards sabbatical, Dickens once more chips away at an old theme: the corruption of money, how it seeps into society, and poisons everything. Not that Chaz was a raging anticapitalist, quite the opposite, but there’s no point in being a millionaire if you behave like a spoilt child hoarding all the sweets. In an age badly in need of strong moral fiction (hurts me to say, but tis true), this message still needs to be drilled into the heads of the moneyspinners of the free world. Our Mutual Friend is a brilliant (complete) swansong from Chaz, full of collectively captivating plots and subplots, and some more complex personnel than usual (Wrayburn and Headstone) and your usual vivid, striking and compassionate prose mastery. Farewell, big Chaz!

  • Davide
    2018-12-16 08:15

    [italiano sotto]So far, my favourite among Dickens’s books; it made me want to read them all (in order of writing, why not?).It makes you laugh, it makes you think, it makes you move. And it makes you wonder. And it makes you admire.And it disorientates you.From halfway on, you are less disoriented. But in the meantime you have come to love Mr and Mrs Boffin.Then the central theme seems to become the corruption - or the risk of corruption, the fear and the charm of corruption - that money brings with it. So Mr Boffin becomes a monster, but...[I have tagged it città, cities: and it’s London, of course. With a memorable beginning at night on the Thames, and a lot of remarkable walks through the city, and a central importance, as already in A Tale of Two Cities, for the Inns of Court area].Tra quelli che ho letto finora, il mio Dickens preferito. Anzi, a dirla tutta, è quello che mi ha fatto venire la folle idea di leggerli tutti, a partire dall'inizio.Si ride, si pensa, ci si commuove, si ammira, ci si domanda.Ah, e ci si disorienta, anche.Arrivati circa a metà, ci si disorienta meno. Ma intanto si è sviluppata una certa passioncella per Mr. and Mrs. Boffin.Dopodiché il tema centrale sembra diventare la corruzione - o il rischio della corruzione, il timore e il fascino della corruzione - che il denaro porta con sé.E quindi Mr. Boffin diventa un mostro, ma...[Città: Londra, ovviamente. Memorabile l'inizio notturno sul Tamigi].(Ho letto anche una traduzione italiana che normalizza un po' troppo lo stile di Dickens, appianando le ridondanze, le ripetizioni ironiche, ecc. Mi era già capitato con una traduzione di Persuasion di Jane Austen: letto in italiano sembrava un esempio classico della costruzione inglese secca e diretta ma in confronto l'originale sembrava Proust, con molte subordinate, frasi complesse, incastonate una nell'altra...Misteri).

  • Lance Greenfield
    2018-12-06 04:26

    I first read Our Mutual Friend when I was thirteen years old, and I awarded it five stars on Goodreads based on my memory of that first read. I always remembered this as my favourite Charles Dickens novel, and I am still strongly of that opinion. If I could award it yet another five stars, I would. This is a classic masterpiece.Yards of literary analysis has been written about this book over the decades, and I could not possibly compete with those who have written before me. After all, English Literature was the only GCE O level that I failed. O levels are the exams that we usually take in UK at the age of sixteen. Instead, I'll just tell you what I think from my own heart and head.First of all, the wonderful use of the English language employed by Dickens, and the extent of vocabulary, just amazed me and is a lesson for all of us.Secondly, the character building of all of the characters, and their development throughout the story, is so strong that one can visualise them all, and start to imagine how they are all thinking and interacting. It is very difficult to understand who the leading characters are, as it seems that there are more than a dozen principals. I think that this is great.Then I would say that everyone should read this book at least twice. Knowing the conclusions does not spoil the reading. I had forgotten much, but I knew roughly where we were going, even though it is over four decades since I first read it. In fact, the second reading is better than the first, because I understood more of why the conclusions were reached as I staggered my way through. I shall definitely read Our Mutual Friend again before long.The complex, interwoven plots are marvellous, and I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is a very thick volume, agreed, but every word is a gem in a treasure trove of jewels.

  • R.
    2018-11-27 08:14

    I don't know if I was supertired or Dickens gawt slawppy, but I spent three pages last night thinking I was reading about the inner life of a dinner table the family had nicknamed "Twemlow".The confusing to passage: There was an innocent piece of dinner-furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street, Saint James's, when not in use, to whom the Veneerings were a source of blind confusion. The name of this article was Twemlow. Being first cousin to Lord Snigsworth, he was in frequent requisition, and at many houses might be said to represent the dining-table in its normal state. Mr and Mrs Veneering, for example, arranging a dinner, habitually started with Twemlow, and then put leaves in him, or added guests to him. Sometimes, the table consisted of Twemlow and half a dozen leaves; sometimes, of Twemlow and a dozen leaves; sometimes, Twemlow was pulled out to his utmost extent of twenty leaves. Mr and Mrs Veneering on occasions of ceremony faced each other in the centre of the board, and thus the parallel still held; for, it always happened that the more Twemlow was pulled out, the further he found himself from the center, and nearer to the sideboard at one end of the room, or the window-curtains at the other.Paid by the word much? Bonus for semicolons? Anyways, Dickens intentions are clearer today: he wanted to make certain the Constant Reader got the seating chart for the Veneerings down pat. Thanks, Chuck. Thanks.

  • Katie Lumsden
    2018-12-19 11:20

    As brilliant on a 5th read as on a first.

  • Vale76
    2018-12-19 08:16

    Bello bello bello! L'ultimo lavoro compiuto, prima della morte, del vecchio Charles è, a detta di molti, il romanzo che gli conferisce il diritto di essere annoverato, al pari di Shakespeare, tra i più grandi autori britannici della Storia.Dickens è noto universalmente per i suoi romanzi sociali e di formazione, e "Il nostro comune amico" non fa eccezione, e in più porta con sé un giallo, una morte misteriosa..Questa volta è molto difficile recensire senza svelarne la trama. Accanto a dei netti protagonisti troviamo dei comprimari, degli antagonisti, fino ad arrivare ad un vasto caleidoscopio di personaggi le cui personalità sono da Dickens sviluppate più o meno ampiamente, e di cui egli si serve per descrivere e criticare, da perfetto cronista quale è, con il cuonsueto acume, e ironia, un po' tutte le varie sfaccettature della società in cui viveva, tanto largamente stratificata; e così, con gran dinamismo e naturalezza, ci conduce tra il fango del Tamigi e i salotti dei signori. Dickens denuncia, attacca, stuzzica, ironizza, prende abilmente in giro (divertendosi anche un po', a mio parere) un po' tutti i suoi personaggi senza distinzione; tuttavia la beffa è direttamente proporzionale alla disistima che palesemente alcuni di questi suscitano, in lui, più di altri. Su questo piano abbiamo, probabilmente, il Dickens migliore di sempre.Ma il vecchio Charles è anche molto abile nel depistare continuamente il lettore seminando ovunque falsi indizi, e narra con sapienza una storia gialla in cui non mancano di certo l'amore, la rettitudine e i buoni sentimenti accanto, manco a dirlo, a egoismo e decadenza morale. E così, pagina dopo pagina, assistiamo all'affermazione in positivo di alcuni, e al netto decadimento di altri. Dickens ci insegna che le convenzioni sociali lasciano il tempo che trovano, che siamo tutti esseri umani potenzialmente corruttibili e ci dice che non sempre le più infime azioni sono commesse da chi viene "dal basso", e ci ammonisce sul ruolo che il denaro ha sulle nostre vite..Non aggiungo altro per non rivelare troppo sulla trama."Il nostro comune amico" è la penultima opera lunga dell'autore. Non sarà famosa come l'Oliver Twist o Grandi Speranze, ma è un gran bel libro che si legge tutto d'un fiato e raramente annoia.

  • Donna
    2018-11-18 11:26

    3.5 starsThe way this book started gave me chills. Imagine a dark night in which a young woman is rowing a boat on the Thames, her father, a gruff man, steering the boat as he searches the murky water for drowned bodies that he can rob before tying them to his boat and dragging them to shore to turn them over to the authorities for a fee. The daughter keeps her gaze averted as her father leans over the boat and finally snags a body. He yells at her to watch him, her face a frozen mask as she watches it all, and not for the first time. What a beginning! So imagine my surprise when nothing much exciting happened for the next 400 pages. I had characters coming out of my ears, talking talking, but I didn't know if or why they might be important or how they related back to the chilling events at the beginning. But this wasn't my first time reading Dickens, so I knew everything must relate and every character must be important when the author finally got around to telling me how. I only needed to be patient enough to wade through all the words to be rewarded. And I was, beginning at the halfway mark and onward when the characters and their doings began falling into place, if not falling all over the place in pursuit of money and the power it would bring them. The characters are the best and most memorable part in any Dickens' novel with all their quirkiness and strange names: the Podsnaps, the Veneerings, Bradley Headstone, Pleasant Riderhood, Jenny Wren, Lizzie Hexam, Noddy Boffin, to name only a few in this book. But this story begins with the murder of a man with the common name of John Harmon. Harmon had come to London to claim his inheritance from his deceased and formerly estranged father, a condition of the will being that he must first marry a beautiful but spoiled young woman he had never met, to claim any riches. But with Harmon murdered, an unassuming employee of Harmon's father was to be next in line to inherit a fortune that might just prove to be his misfortune. Despite this novel being written in 1865, Dickens wrote it in what felt like a very modern style with a shocking beginning, and then twists and turns throughout the story that had me thinking, "No way!" as he brought everything around full circle. But I didn't set out to read this novel for that kind of excitement. I read it to see if Dickens would redeem himself for what seemed a very anti-Semitic tone in Oliver Twist which I never did finish for that reason. I'd heard that he had purposefully created a wonderful Jewish character in this book as an apology to the Jewish community. And he did redeem himself with the character, Riah, but not because of Riah's benevolence. He had his faults and weaknesses like any other man, which became most apparent during an amazing speech he made near the end of the book. He admonished himself for unbecoming behavior that did no credit to himself or others of his religion. He also spoke of the dangers of using any individual as representative of whomever his people were, as an excuse for hatred of an entire people. I wasn't expecting this kind of wisdom in this dark story that had less comic relief than many other novels by this author. This book is about corruption in society as most of his novels were, but also corruption of the soul when people value and pursue the wrong things, harming those in their way. It was to be Dickens last complete novel, which made it particularly sad when he addressed the reader in an afterword in which he admitted he was grateful to have lived to finish this novel having been in a near fatal accident recently. I want to add that this book has strong, admirable female characters, much more so than some other books by Dickens that were dominated by males. In this book, the reader watches many of the women evolve and strive for dignity and control over their own lives as much as possible during those times. And interestingly enough, there are four complex father/daughter relationships helping to drive the story forward to a memorable conclusion. Actually, nearly all the characters in this novel evolved for better or worse into something complex and nuanced in personality and in motivation. If only the first half of this book had been more compelling and less loosely knit, I would have given it four stars for those great characters who wanted the best in life, but not always looking to get it in the best possible way.

  • F.R.
    2018-11-30 06:20

    It’s many a year since I picked up this book, and reading it through it now I did find myself wondering whether this was a favourite of Samuel Beckett’s. After all it’s the novel with three large dust piles sat in a yard - which may, or may not, contain valuables - and a one legged, ‘literary’ man who scours through them. (It is certainly echoed in ‘Happy Days’). Furthermore there is a young/old, tiny and crippled maker of clothes for dolls, and a character with a death-like name who – as his homicidal rages increase – exhibits actual explosions of blood. (A touch David Cronenberg would no doubt enjoy). In short this is a great novel for Dickensian grotesques. Although this being pure and undistilled Dickens, we get the good and the bad. Yes, the grotesques are very entertaining, but beautiful young women are either angelic or haughty as hell. There are no other characteristics they can possibly exhibit.The plot, in simple form, sees a dead body pulled from The Thames, and the consequences of that discovery having repercussions across nearly every strata of society.‘Our Mutual Friend’ is a really clever and entertaining read, with lots of fantastic scenes. Other later Dickens’ novels, like ‘Great Expectation’ and ‘Bleak House’, I love with all my heart and wouldn’t hesitate to give them five stars. So, why am I more reluctant with this one? Well towards the end there is an extraordinary and breathtaking sleight of hand, one so audacious it pretty much counts as Deus ex machina. And it’s that ripping away of the carpet below much of what went before, which sours me a little on this novel. Undoubtedly this is a book jam packed with many superb scenes (and might just contain more murders than any other Dickens’ work), memorable moments and greater than life characters – so I would certainly recommend, although there are better.And one can only assume – given its treatment of the dinner parties held by the upper echelons of society – that Dickens was treated with some wariness after publication each time he went to such a soiree.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Well I guess everything around the birthday celebrations has affected me. The fact that the British public has all dressed up in frock coats or bodices for Victorian street parties in every road up and down the land; the thousands of imitation Charles Dickenses who now wander across London quoting the great man’s work; and that our greatest living Dickens impersonator – Mister Simon Callow – has made it his mission to go around every residence in the UK and perform personally to every single citizen. I’ve greatly enjoyed that we’ve reopened the work houses and we all get turns to go there and refuse to give the urchins any more gruel; while I’m looking forward to those ghosts coming to visit tomorrow night – I’ve been meaning to mend the error of my ways for some time now.It really has been an exciting and wonderfully literary six weeks. And so, I guess it’s time for me to do my bit and actually read some Dickens.

  • Veronique
    2018-12-05 04:38

    4.5“This reminds me, Godmother, to ask you a serious question. You are as wise as wise can be (having been brought up by the fairies), and you can tell me this: Is it better to have had a good thing and lost it, or never to have had it?”At first look, Our Mutual Friend seems to be a brick of a Victorian novel where the themes of family life, marriage, class and money will be treated in a strong fashion. This is correct and yet this description doesn’t even scratch the surface of this amazing book.Dickens offers us in this last novel of his a veritable fairy tale with more mysteries and secrets than could be believed, and focuses particularly on social mobility, greed, avarice and obsessive passion, while adding elements of Beauty and Beast and Little Red Riding Hood. Naturally, the cast is wide and colourful, full of fascinating protagonists with undisputably dickensian names and attributes: the pretentious Veneerings, Silas Wegg and his wooden leg, the taxidermist Mr Venus, the kind Jew Mr Riah, etc. The female characters are especially noteworthy in this instance, not just two-dimensional or secondary but fully portrayed, Jenny Wren being the most memorable and likeable. Comparisons and contrasts abound, from the superficial world of the nouveau riche to the poor river-dwellers, with the Thames, the one constant, meandering through the setting and indeed the lives of all the protagonists.Dickens is brilliant at painting the society he lived in, criticising it while entertaining his public. This story is at the same time dark and violent, comical and full of ridicule, suspenseful and thrilling, and even touching in its representation of love. This is a long book and yes it could have been shorter but it is still a great novel worth of the extra time.

  • Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
    2018-12-06 09:38

    Revisit.Dickens’ last completed novel, when one comes to think of it, is essentially about money. “Society” revolves around it (‘status’ pretty much comes with it), as do individuals, each in their own way, be it the off-putting (and also somewhat pathetic) drunk who wants some for his “three-pennyworths of rum”, or a pair of swindlers (of sorts- also off-putting because of their acts though perhaps, not of themselves) who seek their fortune; a “secret” money lender who enjoys tormenting his so-called friends through others’ hands; some who come into a fortune, and others who covet theirs’ or even one of our heroines who is something of a mercenary wanting to marry only money. (The poor law too, of which Dickens gives a rather scathing critique through Betsey Hidgen, put people in appalling workhouses simply for not having/being able to make enough money.) For many of them, money “corrupts”, somewhat like what is said of power. But there are still those few who realise the value of things beyond money. A surprising exception is also the villain of the piece who is driven by his obsession which for a change, is not for money. But this isn’t a social commentary on the ills of money alone, like any exciting serial it has its share of romance, mystery, and murder. I especially love the end where everyone-good or bad or even in between-gets his or her just desserts. I enjoyed reading this in serial with my book group here. I’d forgotten quite a few details and plot twists so had many a surprise every now and then.

  • Jonfaith
    2018-11-24 04:14

    The white face of the winter day came sluggishly on, veiled in a frosty mist; and the shadowy ships in the river slowly changed to black substances; and the sun, blood-red on the eastern marshes behind dark masts and yards, seemed filled with the ruins of a forest it had set on fire.Seven months of nibbles, most of these clusters, all braced with serious efforts to remember characters, enlisting wikipedia and rereading, rather often, entire chapters. I'm glad I read such, though I felt most of the characters lived on plotlines like so many pigeons perched above the interstate. Maybe I am being greedy, but i wanted some tension between the molar and molecular, maybe like my instincts I prefer the argumentative quantity, a murder of crows assuming control on the deserted football pitch. Maybe I want more struggle and uncertainty. That said, Our Mutual Friend does have the example of Bradley Headstone; there is an example of actualized potential. Well, the plot certainly benefited. His plausibility should be left for the fore-mentioned crows. Such fare would be a diversion.

  • April (Aprilius Maximus)
    2018-12-18 12:36

    DNF at 33% coz I almost fell asleep every time I read this. BOR-ING.

  • Tristram
    2018-12-17 06:26

    “[...] traffic in Shares is the one thing to have to do with in this world.Have no antecedents, no established character, no cultivation, no ideas, no manners; have Shares.” This is no contemporary character comment on those bankers, stags and scalpers whose insatiable appetite has so strongly disagreed with all our stomachs; this is rather how Charles Dickens describes the social circle of the Veneerings, a prodigious upstart couple, in his 1864/65 novel Our Mutual Friend, his last completed novel and one of his deepest works of fiction.Our Mutual Friend tells no less than five stories, of which two shall be briefly touched here. On his death, avaricious Mr. Harmon, who made a fortune collecting and selling urban dust, bequeaths his fortune to his son John on condition that the young man is going to marry Bella Wilfer, a neighbourhood girl. When John Harmon, who, estranged from his tyrannical father, has spent most of his life abroad, returns to England, he falls victim to some criminals and is officially pronounced dead. According to Old Harmon’s will the fortune now goes to the Boffins, a couple of simple-minded, yet decent and honest servants, who served the testator for long years. At first the Boffins seem to have some qualms about this pecuniary bliss – they even ask Miss Wilfer to live with them, labouring under the guilty impression that they ruined the young girl’s prospects in life –, but by and by Mr. Boffin apparently changes under the influence of his newly-won wealth, becoming just such a mistrustful and hard-hearted miser as his former employer was. One of the victims of his harsh egoism is Mr. Rokesmith, his private secretary, who is actually no other than – the reader gets to know this quite early in the novel – John Harmon, who has luckily escaped the assault on his life and who has not given up his chosen alias in order to put Bella, with whom he has actually fallen in love, to the test.The other major story centres on Bradley Headstone, a schoolmaster who has worked his own way up from humble beginnings, and Eugene Wrayburn, an unsuccessful and idle lawyer, who become rivals over Lizzie Hexam, the daughter of a man whose occupation it was to fish corpses out of the Thames.This summary doing but imperfect justice to the complexity of structure and the vast number of characters that are often so typical of Dickens’s novels, I am nevertheless not going into further detail here, because mapping the land of Dickens’s imagination in Our Mutal Friend can surely not be done within the limits of a review.The novel is extremely rich in symbolic language, the most prominent examples being the mounds of refuse and dust out of which a fortune has been made for the existence of which not one single creature has been any happier; and the river, which flows on as the story proceeds, meaning death and corruption for some of the characters, yet cleansing and re-birth for some others. As is suggested by the first symbol, Dickens, like in many others of his latter-day novels, dwells on the corrupting influence of wealth on the human character: Mr. Boffin, however honest and genial he might have been before his rise to affluence, by degrees discovers his relish for money and his anxiety never to fall back into his old state of indigence. Miss Bella Wilfer, one of the heroines of the novel, was born in conditions of genteel poverty, and it is absolutely clear to her that she will only marry for money in order to lead the life of a lady – Mr. Boffin’s change and her feelings for the seemingly impecunious secretary, however, make her reconsider her shallow materialism. Then there is Fledgeby, a greedy money-lender, who is utterly naïve with regard to anything but matters of business. Dickens’s sharpest satire, finally, is reserved for the Veneering circle, whose members are mere types without any actual relevance to the story, but who afford Dickens the opportunity of some of his most ingenious sallies against materialism and social conceit, the two main ingredients of Podsnappery.For modern readers, some few chapters are quite hard to stomach, as they show Dickens at his worst. The story of the pauper lady Betty Higden, for example, rings with melodramatic pathos, and whenever Dickens writes about young love and little babies it is better to leaf forward quickly because it is difficult to believe that the keen satirist and dramatic writer should have been capable of such trite, over-sugared ooze. Another flaw is the character of Lizzie Hexam, who seems to be completely unaffected by the surroundings in which she grew up and who even talks like the gentlest of ladies, whereas all people around her are branded by their sociolect. Nevertheless there is ample compensation for these lapses in the haunting story of Bradley Headstone and Eugene Wrayburn, who are quite ambivalent characters, marking yet another development of Dickens’s skill as a writer. Especially Bradstone, disciplined and somewhat slow-witted, who has earned his status by hard labour, until his ungovernable feelings for Lizzie awaken the terrible passions he has always tried to suppress, is one of Dickens’s finest achievements. Another instance of the novelist’s artistic refinement are the Lammles, two social adventurers, whose marriage has been a misalliance, but who vow to enter into a partnership of convenience in order to eke out their living at the expense of society.Finally the novel also contains the typical Dickensian oddballs, such as Silas Wegg, a scoundrel with an inclination to poetry, who scorns and plots against his benefactor Boffin as “the minion of fortune and worm of the hour”, and the melancholic and lovesick taxidermist Mr. Venus, who loves “floating his powerful mind in tea”; these characters are so full of life and endearing that one almost wishes Mr. Wegg, the “literary man with a wooden leg”, had had a better exit than was actually allotted to him.All in all, it can be said that Our Mutual Friend is a clear indication that Dickens’s development as an artist was far from being exhausted – if it had not been for his untimely death.

  • Hope
    2018-12-16 04:33

    I wasn’t sure that I was going to review this novel at all, because it’s such a novel. It’s intimidating enough to look at, let alone to read, let alone to write about. This decision, upon whether I would write a review for it or not, was pending…until I struck upon the following…“ ‘One of Mr. Dancer’s richest escretoires was found to be a dung heap in the cow house; a sum but little short of two thousand five hundred pounds was contained in this rich piece of manure.’ ” Well, as I toppled over, laughing in bewilderment but not wholly bewildered at this, I made up my mind: This book would get a review, not because it needs one, because it speaks for itself, but because I feel it my duty to exhort all of humanity to read this book!The last novel that Charles Dickens ever finished (The Mystery of Edwin Drood was the last, but he never completed it), Our Mutual Friend is set up to be rather dark, rather gloomy, and rather unhappy and strange on all sides. And then something peculiar happens…you begin to love a character, or hate a character, or feel something for every one of the characters. Characterization is the making of this novel, because Dickens was a caricaturist, if ever there was one. On the front of this edition of the book is a quote from George Orwell, which reads thus: “The fact that Dickens is always thought of as a caricaturist, although he was constantly trying to be something else, is perhaps the surest mark of his genius.” What does that mean? It means that Dickens was a literary genius in spite of himself. So, to all you aspiring authors out there, remember, maybe the thing you personally dislike about your natural writing style/voice is what makes it special. Of the Dickensian literature I’ve had the pleasure of reading thus far in my life (and that‘s not as much as I’d like), I’ve come to realize that it’s very difficult to choose a favorite character, or, actually, to find any of the characters very likable at all. In Great Expectations and David Copperfield, you never quite knew whether to love or despise many of the characters. As far as main characters; Pip was aggravatingly selfish and annoying, David was weak and uninteresting. With A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton was the tragic hero you cried for and loved because you were poetically sorry for him. I’m usually left feeling lukewarm towards all of the characters (save Sydney Carton, of course), but loving the stories simply because of Dickens’ fascinating descriptions and scenarios. I can imagine everything I read from Charles Dickens, and I think that’s most of the appeal. But in this novel, it was more than the imagery and the plot (though both of those were superbly done!)…Because here, here we have a whole army of beautifully flawed, perfectly imperfect characters. Bella Wilfer is so perfectly flawed that even after her character goes through such a transformation, she remains flawed. She has spunk, she has a kind of silly charm, but she’s full of a loving kind of compassion, and every scene between her and her beloved John (who is also a fantastic character, but more on him in a bit) stole my heart. And then there’s Eugene Wrayburn, and perhaps he and Bella are the two characters this story is really about. Both of them have huge character arcs, Eugene’s probably being much more abrupt than Bella’s. Eugene starts out by disgusting me by simply being himself, and then he changes near the end and somehow has me forgiving him for all his gooberish wrongs. Lizzie Hexam is sort of the angelic figure, and she probably annoyed me most for her naivety and “flawlessness.” Certainly she was gullible, but is gullibility a true flaw? Or is it just a kind of innocence, in reality? I did feel a bit like she was idolized. Sort of like I felt towards Agnes in David Copperfield.The Boffins are probably the best characters of the entire novel. And I feel absolutely no need to explain the worth of the Golden Dustman and his wife. Now, about Bella’s John. John Rokesmith-Harmon. He is our mutual friend. Without him, there is no story, the story begins with him. Everyone in this story is brought together, somehow or other, by John Harmon. Thank God that Charles Dickens thought to himself, “I’m going to write a book about a man in connection with a will, drown him in some complicated manner, and bring him back to life.” If he hadn’t, we’d never have had the pleasure of this last complete novel.

  • Henry Avila
    2018-11-29 06:33

    John Harmon is found dead in the Thames River.But wait a minute,since he's the main character of the book, this would be a very short novel(it is 800 pages long !).Of course,it's not really him.The body identified as John and thought to be a murder victim,was a friend .And Harmon is heir to his wealthy but cruel father's, estate,in the dust business(they make bricks from it).John has to marry a woman he's not seen since childhood, in order to collect.So he waits to claim his fortune.Things become more complicated when Harmon disguises himself, not one but two different men. Mr. Noddy Boffin ,a poor but kindly clerk for his late employer,Mr.Harmon,the original,eventually inherits all.John Harmon becomes Rokesmith , gets a job as the secretary to The Golden Dustman,Boffin, a servant in his own mansion!The illiterate, also hires Silas Wegg,with a wooden leg, to read to Mr. and Mrs. Boffin.Silas chooses "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".No one follows the lives of these Romans,like the former clerk.He becomes concerned about their safety. Wegg is always scheming to get rich, legally or not.Bella Wilfer , a beautiful woman from a family without any money,comes to live in the house.Harmon had rented a room in her parent's home,where he had met her.He offers Bella his love, but she only wants to marry a prosperous man!Things become interesting when Wegg finds another will, that says if Harmon's son John is dead or doesn't fulfill the wills directions, all would go to the state. Blackmailing Boffin, Silas thinks finally, he'll reach the promised land...

  • Susan
    2018-12-18 05:25

    Although it is probably an impossible question to answer, if anyone asks me 'what is the best book you have ever read?', my answer is always Our Mutual Friend. I have read it three times, and you really should read it at least once!I've recently completed my fourth reading of this, my favourite book of all time....I've enjoyed it every bit as much this time around.....I love the story itself, the messages it gives about avarice, jealousy, pride, snobbery and greed, and about the dangers of putting the love of money above everything else, but most of all, I love the characters, brilliantly described men and women, who have all become like old friends to me....even the bad guys, who I feel sorry for, wishing they could see the light in the way Scrooge eventually did, but who never do, and who Dickens so cleverly makes examples of.But it's the cast of basically good, kind human beings that make this book so memorable......even though they don't always get things right.....There is so much going on in this book....each character is a thread which is eventually knitted together to make a wonderful whole, making this such a satisfying read....I know Dickens isn't to everyone's taste.....I was the only one in my live book group to finish this, but I don't think I'll ever tire of his multi layered writing and unforgettable characters.

  • Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)
    2018-12-13 11:27

    Dickens last completed book, Our Mutual Friend is one of his lightest (comparatively) and most hopeful novels. While still confronting the dichotomy between the rich and the poor in England, Dickens writes a winning love story, as if wishing to end his literary career on a hopeful note.

  • Ayu Palar
    2018-11-22 12:29

    As Dickens got older, his novels were getting gloomier, either the themes or the tones. In Our Mutual Friend, the readers are taken to the dark side of Victorian society. And by dark, I do not always mean the world of the working class. In fact, here we’re served with the high class society, whose obsession with money disgusts me as the reader. Come to the dinner table of Mr. Veneering and you’ll know what I mean.The main plot (since there are a couple of plots here) is about a gentleman named John Harmon. He is believed dead by other people, and his inheritance goes to his ex-servants, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin. His fake death, however, is the right mean for him to find out more about his supposed-to-be wife, Bella Wilfer. That’s the main plot, and John Harmon is supposed to be the hero. Yet, I do think that the characterization of John Harmon isn’t really gripping. He leaves no strong impression to me. As a master of character-making, I believe Dickens got other characters who are more remarkable. Fortunately, Harmon has Bella. Bella is a woman who at first wants other thing besides money. Coming from a poor family, her attitude is understandable. Yet her character grows, and I am quite impressed by it. I found another plot that is more engaging, which is the triangle love between Lizzie Hexam, Eugene Wrayburn and Bradley Headstone. This is a plot about obsession, to be precise Headstone’s obsession with Lizzie and also with, weirdly, Wrayburn. When Headstone thinks about Lizzie, he also has Wrayburn in mind (p. 377). Headstone is pathetic but at the same time impressive (other character Mortimer Lightwood also thinks the same way). Trying to get Lizzie, he then tries to hurt Wrayburn. Yet his plan does not go well. In fact, it makes Headstone suffer even more. Reading chapter VII from Book IV ‘Better to be Able than Cain’ and seeing the illustration from Marcus Stone, I can’t help but pitying Headstone. Dickens portrays the obsessive side of Headstone in such a striking way, I must give A+ for it. I also like the use of Mortimer Lightwood as the consciousness of the story. It’s through him we know the ‘death’ of John Harmon, which means he introduces us to the world of Our Mutual Friend. Lightwood also closes the curtain of the show with an ending which, I think, is very perfect for a story about a society like this. Lightwood might not be taking part in the main conflicts, yet he can be dubbed as Dicken’s voice. He’s an important character too, indeed. Again, Dickens has charmed me with his work. And after all these praises for Our Mutual Friend, why not five stars? Well, there are things that are not really convincing to me, like Harmon’s characterization and Lizzie’s love to Wrayburn. At the same time, there’s a thing that is too convincing yet the plot reveals another thing: Mr. Boffin’s attitude changes when he gets rich. However, as the last completed novel from Dickens, Our Mutual Friend is a gem. Thankfully, he left us with such precious streasure.