On April 28, the Pickwick Club, Maine’s only Charles Dickens reading club, will reconvene to discuss Jenny Hartley’s book Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women. Perhaps you don’t know a lot about Mr. Dickens, other than the omnipresent A Christmas Carol. You are not alone. Suffice it to say, Dickens had a great interest in London’s poor. His own father spent time in a debtor’s prison. Whether his interest stemmed from personal experience or the need to produce content (translation: sell magazines and books) is not clear to me at this point in my study of the author.
But this book, the Hartley book, is poorly written and I’m struggling to make my way through its paltry 250 pages. It’s not answering my questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how.
I’ve now resorted to reading the book backwards in preparation for the upcoming club meeting. I wonder if other club members will echo me when I paraphrase Dorothy Parker and say Hartley’s book is not a book “to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”
I’ll get through it, the Pickwick Club meeting, and then it’s on to Great Expectations.
One of my friends reminds me that Charles Dickens wrote his books for our enjoyment, “so we would laugh at his ridiculous characters. We must always consider the context in which he wrote. This context is reflected in the story and cannot be separated from the story and analyzed as some sort of modern CNN commentary. Sometimes ‘a banana is just a banana.’”
She signs herself “Sigmund Freud.”
Speaking of tossing books and bananas, another friend is helping me get my food act together. She stopped in for a visit and then chopped, sliced, tossed, and assembled a week’s worth of salads for me.
It was a wonderful kickstart to spring and it’s kept me from stressful snacking on pretzels and chocolate-covered graham crackers every afternoon as the counting house spins out of control. So it’s the “House of Big Salads” here and I could not be happier.
Viva La Lettuce! And kale and broccoli and cauliflower and celery…