Monday, November 28, 2011

0 Charles Dickens: A Life by Jane Smiley review

Title: Charles Dickens: A Life
Author: Jane Smiley
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: November 29, 2011
paperback, 212 pages
ISBN: 978-0-14-311992-0
Genre: Biography


Summary:
With delectable wit and characteristic sensitivity, Jane Smiley presents a fresh, illuminating take on the life of Charles Dickens. Smiley naturally finds a kindred spirit in the author of such classics as Great Expectationsand A Christmas Carol, who was not only a prolific writer but also one of the first modern "celebrities." She offers interpretations of many of Dickens's major works, exploring his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes. Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a perceptive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life.


My thoughts:
Chances are sometime in your life you've been introduced to Charles Dickens, weather it be from reading his novels or seeing his characters come to life on film and stage. One of his popular holiday books, A Christmas Carol  is well known. I know I've watched on television quite a few film versions from the classic 1939 movie to The Muppets and to the 2009 remake.  A Christmas Carol was the first novel I read by Charles Dickens. My seventh grade teacher tortured us with the complexity of Dickens. I say tortured because my young mind couldn't yet fathom the complexities of his novels. I didn't learn to appreciate Dickens until later in life. In fact I've even read a few of his novels for pleasure. That's right no grade was involved.  But who is the man behind these novels? What inspired him? What drove him?
Charles Dickens: A Life by Pulitzer Prize winner, Jane Smiley is an interesting portrait of the man behind the novels. Instead of writing about Dickens from birth to death, Smiley concentrates on what influenced Dickens at the time of his writing. Charles Dickens was an eccentric character. He was a bit flamboyant, charismatic, very intelligent  and socially conscious.   He was also peculiar. His life and writing was influenced by many things that happened in his childhood,  his personal views on marriage, and his social responsibilities. He was a hard working man. Always on the go. Charles Dickens was a rock star of the literary world. People loved and hated him. Jane Smiley brings out the intricacies of Charles Dickens life. She introduces a more private side of Dickens and how his choices influenced his novels. 
I've read a few biographies about Charles Dickens but I really enjoyed this book. Jane Smiley did a fantastic job of showing different sides of the mysterious Dickens through his literary masterpieces.  Charles Dickens: A Life is full of valuable information that will have you not only understanding the man behind the public figure but also his novels. I think this is definitely a book any Dickens fan would love to read. 
My rating:

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*I received this book from the publisher for review purposes only. This in no way influenced my review.


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