The Classics Club: The Pickwick Papers

The Pickwick Papers

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?

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16 thoughts on “The Classics Club: The Pickwick Papers

  1. I haven’t read this one, so thanks for the review. My favorite Dickens novel so far (and one of my favorite classics ever) is A Tale of Two Cities! So good! I really love A Christmas Carol as well, and I want to read either David Copperfield or Bleak House next!

    1. Ashlee, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I am looking forward to reading A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield; both are on my Classics Club list. I enjoyed Bleak House, and I hope you do too 🙂

  2. I haven’t read this one yet as it has never sounded as appealing to me as most of Dickens’ other books. Congratulations on finishing it, especially as you were finding it so long and slow. I think I’ve read about half of his novels now and my favourite was A Tale of Two Cities, though I also liked Our Mutual Friend and David Copperfield.

    1. Thank you, Helen 🙂 This is very different to Dickens’ other books which could be a little disappointing, as it was for me, or it could be refreshing for some people. Sadly I haven’t read any of your favourite Dickens’ novels, but I am really looking forward to reading A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield; both are on my Classics Club list.

  3. Yay for classic books! I have yet to read the Pickwick Papers. It was recommended to me, but it’s not at the top of my TBR. I just finished Nicholas Nickleby last month and loved it. I think that thus far, my favorite Dickens novel is a toss-up between David Copperfield and Our Mutual Friend. Next on my Dickens list is Little Dorrit. I hope your next classic book is more enjoyable. Thanks for your bolg!

    1. Thank you Regina 🙂 I am pleased to hear you enjoyed Nicholas Nickleby. I read it many years ago. I think it is high time for a re-read. I sadly haven’t read any of your favourite Dickens’ novels but I am looking forward to reading David Copperfield and Little Dorrit; both are on my Classics Club list.

  4. I enjoy the Pickwick Papers but I agree it’s very different to his other stuff. I find it’s one I’m more likely to pick up and put down than read straight through, almost as if it’s a collection of short stories. I am fond of Mr Jingle though. My favourite Dickens is Bleak House – in fact, that’s my favourite book of all time.

    1. I totally agree reading this is more like reading a collection of short stories rather than a novel, and that’s how I tended to read it. Dipping in for one chapter/story at a time hence why it was a longer read than usual. I have also read and enjoyed Bleak House 🙂

  5. I loved the idea of this book – and I remember that March girls talking about it in Little Women – so I’m sorry it was disappointing. I’m working my way through Dickens quite slowly and I have more ahead of me than behind me, but so far Great Expectations and Bleak House are my favourites.

    1. Thank you Fleur, I suppose I can’t love all of Dickens’ novels. I have read and enjoyed both Great Expectations and Bleak House. I think Great Expectations is one of my favourites too 🙂

  6. Hi Jessica. I quite liked “The Pickwick Papers”. If anyone asks me my favourite Dickens, as you have, I’d say “Bleak House” but then I realise that I haven’t read it for years since I had to read it for college and it was so long that I was having to stay up until the early hours to get through it and whereas I did really love it and have always thought I’d go back to it the length of it must still be daunting me. So I’m going to change my usual opinion and say a couple of Dickens I have read recently and would be very happy to go back to again and again and that’s “Tale Of Two Cities” and “Our Mutual Friend” so these must therefore by my new favourite Dickens! Thanks for helping me to clarify that!

    1. Hello Phil, thank you for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from a new face, and I am pleased to hear I helped you clarify your favourite Dickens’ novels 🙂 I have read Bleak House and I am looking forward to reading A Tale of Two Cities which is on my Classics Club list too.

  7. I’m really hoping to get into some Dickens in the near future, this one especially! It kind of sounds a bit like “Three Men in a Boat”, which I found quite funny!

    1. I hope you have some time for reading some Dickens soon, and if you read this I hope you enjoy it. I haven’t read Three Men in a Boat but I have heard good things about it 🙂

  8. As I was opening this post I read “frivolous and lighter” – sounds good. The length not as much, but light-hearted goes a long way sometimes with Dickens. I’ve only read three so far; of those my favourite is Great Expectations.

    Liking your spin result 🙂

    1. Charlie, I also really enjoyed Great Expectations. I was really pleased with The Jungle Book as my spin result. I started it this week and I am already half way through 🙂

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