I decided in January to try to always have a classic novel or short story collection on the go. Continuing this back in March I picked up The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Yes, it is June now. This has been a slow and long read.
The Pickwick Papers is very different from my previous Dickens’ reads. Here we join Mr Pickwick, his manservant and his intrepid, young friends as they travel around England; collecting stories for the self-styled Pickwick Papers. If only that is all they did! Instead they find themselves making new friends, falling in love, making enemies, attending jolly parties, but also getting themselves into prison, duels, court cases, fights, and highly embarrassing situations. This a silly, sometimes raucous, and rambling adventure which does finally come to a neat and peaceful end.
What I love most about Dickens’ novels are the large cast of colourful, and often larger than life characters. The Pickwick Papers certainly has it’s fair share of colourful characters. However the cast is so large and we often meet them so fleetingly that sadly I didn’t find them that memorable. Excepting Mr Pickwick and his manservant Sam Weller (or Veller as he pronounces it). Our main protagonist Mr Pickwick is a large, bumbling gentlemen of means. Whilst he usually makes things far worse, his heart is always in the right place. Then we have his manservant Sam a young, eager and cocksure man, who is loyal to a fault (even getting himself locked up to look after his master). I am a little bit in love with Sam, his sections always made me smile.
My previous Dickens’ read was A Christmas Carol; which I adored. The Pickwick Papers couldn’t be more different in style or tale. I found Dickens’s rather convoluted and highly detailed language and speech had returned in this book. Making it more like Bleak House or Oliver Twist in that sense, but again it lacked the drama and mystery of these reads too. I think it was ultimately the lack of drama, mystery and pace that made it such a long read for me. There just wasn’t anything to grip me! I enjoyed some of the amusing scenarios, the variety of characters they meet along the way, and the selection of stories they collect; but sadly this won’t be going down as one of my favourite Dickens’ novels.
The Pickwick Papers is a frivolous and lighter tale from Dickens with some morals and redemption in there too. I recommend if you fancy trying a lighter toned Dickens novel. This is my 31st read off my Classics Club list. I am now looking forward to finally getting round to The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling; my selection for the 9th Classics Club Spin. Okay read.
Have you read this? Which is your favourite Charles Dickens’s novel?