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David Copperfield
by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield adores his sweet widowed mother and their servant Peggotty, and his early childhood passes easily in quiet contentment. However, when his mother marries her second husband, a cruel man named Edward Murdstone who is convinced that David is lazy and stupid. He eventually convinces the boy's mother to send the child away to a boarding school. There, David makes new friends and finds a hero in this classmate James Steerforth. His mother eventually gives birth to a son, but both she and the baby die soon afterward. Murdstone, not caring about David, ships him off to work for a wine merchant amidst miserable conditions. David eventually runs away to find his estranged aunt and begs her to allow him to stay with her; she agrees and helps David complete his education. But David's troubles do not end as he grows older as one tragedy after the next strike his friends and family.

Of all the novels of Charles Dickens, it's said that David Copperfield is the most autobiographical. Like his young protagonist, Dickens was raised in a middle-class household, but fell into poverty and had to leave school early to work. I think that this is part of the reason why the characters in the book are so well-portrayed. In only a few sentences, Dickens is able to present an entire personality and hint at a man's character and intentions. For example, on his way to London David eats a meal at an inn where the server tricks him into giving up most of his food and paying extra, besides. The waiter's scene lasts only a few pages, but his manipulative character and personable approach to fleecing poor David is very memorable.

The book was originally written as a serial, and this gave the novel a certain cadence and information is sometimes repeated multiple times. It's rather episodic, in fact, but even so the strong characterization and convoluted plot twists make it hard to put down. By the end of the long story, nearly every plot thread is resolved and neatly tied up, and the journey getting there proves very satisfying and fulfilling.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about David Copperfield, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: Book Reviews by Authors Q-Z
2011: Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos
2010: The Lute Player by Norah Lofts
2009: Guest Post: Fool by Christopher Moore


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