OK, confession time – I did not finish Little Dorrit until last night. I have a lot of excuses (other reading, a huge amount of writing, etc.) but for the most part they are just that, excuses.
Anyway, when I was about three-quarters of the way through, I drew up a list of talking points. Well, after finishing, I have some other things to say…. I will mention these talking points, I just won’t spend as much time with them as planned. Still, maybe I will spend too much time on them ;) (long post warning…)
One thing that I noticed when I was deep into the book was that Dickens had spent the first 100 pages or so (my copy had 787 pages) just introducing characters and planting a few seeds of plot and subplot. When I started reading, I only did a few pages at a time, usually before going to bed. The problem was that there was no plot or substance to get my teeth into at first and so it was a real chore getting through the first 200 pages – I spent almost 4 months on those pages and less than 4 days on the other 587 pages!
You may have seen that Yvette Prior and I are running a small Little Dorrit challenge. The challenge runs from today, June 9 (Dickens passed away on June 9, 1870) and will run until Sunday, June 13. You can join by writing a post about the book and linking to any of mine or Yvette’s posts about it. Your posts can be about anything at all – what you though of the book, a review, talking about the writing style, about the characters, about humor, about satire, about what you liked, about what you hated or anything else that comes to mind.
This post is to get things started with a few facts about the book.
Little Dorrit was originally published in serial form between 1855 and 1857. The story is set in London in 1826 and features Amy Dorrit, aka “Little Dorrit”, the youngest child of her family, born and raised in the Marshalsea prison for debtors in London, the same place where Dickens’ father was imprisoned in real life. Arthur Clennam encounters her after returning home from a 20-year absence, ready to begin his life anew. (paraphrased from Wikipedia) In many ways Arthur is the real “main character”, not Little Dorrit, but she is the center of attention.
Today, February 7, is Charles Dickens’ birthday. This an author who needs little or no introduction, being perhaps the most famous 19th century English language author. Even if they haven’t read a word, everyone knows A Christmas Carol, can quote the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities and most likely can summarize Oliver Twist. There are other big name books, like David Copperfield, Bleak House, Great Expectations, etc.
Dickens is known for some of the most colorful characters created in the English language. He also pushed for social reform and helped improve the lot of the average British citizen. He is often thought of as the greatest, most influential British author since William Shakespeare.