by Charles Dickens
They say that people don’t read books anymore, and they say that the few who do, don’t read long books. Especially long, old books. So I suppose there isn’t much of an audience these days for novels like David Copperfield, Dickens’s 729-page coming-of-age classic, and that’s a shame, because books might not get any better than this.
Unlike Tolstoy (the endless battle scenes in War and Peace), and Hugo (an interminable description of the Paris sewer system in Les Miserables), Dickens avoids bloat in Copperfield. It’s not “perfect” – Dickens’s affection for some characters borders on sappiness, and a few of his plot coincidences stretch credulity – but in the two categories that matter most, strong characters and story, I’m not sure that it can be topped.
Wait, I take that back. There was a little book called Great Expectations ….
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