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About the Author
Date of Birth:February 7, 1812
Date of Death:June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Education:Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington
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Excerpted from "Our Mutual Friend"
Copyright © 2002 Charles Dickens.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
BOOK THE FIRST (THE CUP AND THE LIP)
I. On the Look-out
II. The Man from Somewhere
III. Another Man
IV. The R. Wilfer Family
V. Boffin's Bower
VI. Cut Adrift
VII. Mr. Wegg Looks after Himself
VIII. Mr. Boffin in Consultation
IX. Mr. and Mrs. Boffin in Consultation
X. A Marriage Contract
XII. The Sweat of an Honest Man's Brow
XIII. Tracking the Bird of Prey
XIV. The Bird of Prey Brought Down
XV. Two New Servants
XVI. Minders and Reminders
XVII. A Dismal Swamp
BOOK THE SECOND (BIRDS OF A FEATHER)
I. Of an Educational Character
II. Still Educational
III. A Piece of Work
IV. Cupid Prompted
V. Mercury Prompting
VI. A Riddle without an Answer
VII. In which a Friendly Move is Originated
VIII. In which an Innocent Elopement Occurs
IX. In which the Orphan Makes his Will
X. A Successor
XI. Some Affairs of the Heart
XII. More Birds of Prey
XIII. A Solo and a Duet
XIV. Strong of Purpose
XV. The Whole Case so Far
XVI. An Anniversary Occasion
BOOK THE THIRD (A LONG LANE)
I. Lodgers in Queer Street
II. A Respected Friend in a New Aspect
III. The Same Respected Friend in More Aspects than One
IV. A Happy Return of the Day
V. The Golden Dustman Falls into Bad Company
VI. The Golden Dustman Falls into Worse Company
VII. The Friendly Move Takes up a Strong Position
VIII. The End of a Long Journey
IX. Somebody Becomes the Subject of a Prediction
X. Scouts Out
XI. In the Dark
XII. Meaning Mischief
XIII. Give a Dog a Bad Name, and Hang Him
XIV. Mr. Wegg Prepares a Grindstone for Mr. Boffin's Nose
XV. The Golden Dustman at his Worst
XVI. The Feast of the Three Hobgoblins
XVII. A Social Chorus
BOOK THE FOURTH (A TURNING)
I. Setting Traps
II. The Golden Dustman Rises a Little
III. The Golden Dustman Sinks Again
IV. A Runaway Match
V. Concerning the Mendicant's Bride
VI. A Cry for Help
VII. Better to be Abel than Cain
VIII. A Few Grains of Pepper
IX. Two Places Vacated
X. The Dolls' Dressmaker Discovers a Word
XI. Effect is Given to the Dolls' Dressmaker's Discovery
XII. The Passing Shadow
XIII. Showing How the Golden Dustman Helped to Scatter Dust
XIV. Checkmate to the Friendly Move
XV. What was Caught in the Traps that were Set
XVI. Persons and Things in General
The Last. The Voice of Society
Postscript. In Lieu of Preface
What People are Saying About This
The fact that Dickens is always thought of as a caricaturist, although he was constantly trying to be something else, is perhaps the surest mark of his genius.
‘The great poet of the city. He was created by London’
Adrian Poole writes in his introduction to this new edition, ‘In its vast scope and perilous ambitions it has much in common with Bleak House and Little Dorrit, but its manner is more stealthy, on edge, enigmatic’.
I would always prefer to go get another Dickens off the shelf than pick up a new book by someone I've not read yet
Reading Group Guide
1. Many of Dickens’s contemporaries thought the world of eccentrics depicted in Our Mutual Friend went too far. Do you think this conceit got away from Dickens, or did he have a purpose?
2. Henry James, in his review of Our Mutual Friend in The Nation, says “In all Mr. Dickens's stories, the reader has been called upon . . . to accept a certain number of figures or creatures of pure fancy. . . . He was, moreover, always repaid for his concession by a peculiar beauty or power in these exceptional characters. But he is now expected to make the same concession with a very inadequate reward.” Does Dickens offer little reward?
3. Do you think Dickens originally meant to have Boffin have a change of heart?
4. Some scholars characterize Dickens’s work as giving a voice to the masses that, in his society, were never heard. Is this true of his Jewish characters? Consider the character of Riah and the role he plays in Our Mutual Friend. Do you think Dickens was anti-Semitic?
5. Consider Bella Wilfer and John Harmon/John Rokesmith’s relationship. Was Dickens making the novel neat when the betrothed couple truly falls in love, or was he creating a plot twist? Is this a comment about marriage?
6. Could it be said that Jenny Wren and the life she leads is the true heart of this novel?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was really looking forward to reading another Dickens classic. Unfortunately this free version is unreadable. Once sgain, Iappreciate the effort to make these classics available in electronic format, but it's so disappointing to have the reading experience msr by the lack of quality control. I've always believed that if you are going to do something at least give it your best effort.
Mistaken identity, love, lust, murder - this book has it all. The characters are exquisitly portrayed. You'll fall in love with Bella Wilfer, Lizzie Hexam, and Eugene Wrayburn! Definitely worth the reading!!
This ebook is totally garbled and unreadable--I tried reading it on the Nook Classic, Nook for PC, and Nook for Android with no luck.
There are so many typos and added punctuation that this ebook is unintelligible gibberish.
If you haven't read Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, then this is the book I recommend. This book has the illustrations by Marcus Stone. You will love this book and treasure it--pass this classic tale on to others. Needless to say, Dickens stories will live forever.
My favourite dickens. I feel in love with Eugene early on, and his quest to gain Lizze provides one of the two main plots. This is a double love story, as well as a tale of murder, money, greed and hatred. There is no more sinister villian in dickens than Bradley Headstone, and none more piteable. A huge book, but one to savour, its complexities resolve into an ending which is both satisfying and truthful. Dickens never did like to sugar over the realities of a situation and here he does his utmost to be faithful to the time and to give his readers hope for the future.
Wonderfully illustrated. By far the best. Charles Dickens classic written.
Dickens last completed novel still finds the author at the height of his powers, but Our Mutual Friend is a curiously disjointed affair. I selected this for our book club read and as I laboured through the first 150 pages, I feared that many of the club readers would not have gotten even this far. Perhaps my ear was not tuned to the author¿s style; after all it was 15 years since I had read any of his novels and I had always thought you can¿t rush Dickens you have to take him slowly, but suddenly it all started to click: new characters had been introduced at the start of part 2 and the plot started to unfold. I was gripped and remained so until the rather contrived ending 600 pages later..The novel starts with a powerhouse opening chapter; Gaffer Hexam and his daughter Lizzie are out on the river Thames in a rowboat. This is no pleasure cruise they are near the dock area and the half savage man is searching for corpses. The mud, dirt and grime are oppressive but they find a body, which could be the missing John Harmon. Mr Boffin old Harmon¿s foreman inherits the fortune following the death of the son John and installs himself in the town house. His former place of business the Bower is home to three large mounds of dust which have also been left to him and which may contain further riches. The kindly Bowers take in Bella Wilfer who was mentioned in old Harmon¿s will and sets her up as a lady. Silas Wegg an itinerant peddler is also befriended by Mr Boffin and is placed in the Bower as custodian of the dust heaps, he immediately starts plotting to embezzle his patron. A grand deception is played out on Bella, but she is not the only person to be deceived, as identities are concealed. There is murder, there is blackmail, there are rich society folk intent on squeezing the downtrodden poor for all they are worth. The need for money corrupts most people and even Mr Boffin starts to worship at the feet of mammon; becoming a miser, women are sorely tested as they attempt to take a step up in society, there are love stories; romantic love, obsessive love even homosexual love, but overarching everything is the love of money, and the central mystery as to who will gain control of the Harmon fortune and what role John Rokesmith; Boffins secretary will play in this drama.Avarice and the relentless drive to make money in a society that seems threadbare of human virtues is a major theme and it brought to my mind the well known English aphorism ¿where there¿s muck there¿s money¿. A juxtaposition that is evident throughout: from Gaffer Hexam picking the pockets of the muddy corpses hauled from the river to Silas Wegg and Mr Venus picking away at the enormous dust mounds in Boffin¿s Bower. Dickens continually refers to Boffin as The Golden Dustman. The dirt and the grime of the city where the dark and gloomy counting houses are situated is home to the evil young money man Fascination Fledgely. He delights in using the good Jew Riah as a tool for calling in his debts. Dickens is not content to merely portray the winners and losers on the financial merry-go-round, this is not enough, these are nasty vindictive people and he wants his readers to be appalled by their actions. If money is dirty then so is the city of London and the Thames that flows through it is ugly and full of menace. Dust detritus and gloom is everywhere, everything and everyone is covered by it:¿The grating wind sawed rather than blew; and, as it sawed, the sawdust whirled around the saw-pit, every street was a saw-pit, and there were no top-sawyers; every passenger was an under-sawyer, with the sawdust blinding and choking him.That mysterious paper currency, which circulates in London when the wind blows, gyrated here there and everywhere. Whence can it come, whither can it go? It hangs on every bush. Flutters in every tree, is caught flying by the electric wires, haunts every enclosure, drinks at every pump, cowers at every grating, shudders on every plot of grass, seeks re
As an obsessed viewer of the television show "Lost," I had long been meaning to read Charles Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend" thanks to the show's references to it. And I am ever so glad I finally did. I never knew Dickens good be this good!Dickens presents fabulous characters that lurk in the shadows of London's seedier sections and mixes in a few from the upper crust along with some social climbers too. He paints such vivid pictures of the characters that they draw you into the story very quickly. The plot is complex and sprawling and mainly revolves around the murder of John Harmon, a young man who was returning to London to collect and inheritance and a wife. There are plenty of side stories in the wide ranging novel, but it is all woven together skillfully enough that it keeps the story entertaining. The only thing I didn't like was the final plot turn involving the Boffins at the end of the book, which seemed rather contrived and sudden. But I had enjoyed the rest so much, that's really just a minor complaint.
Many people claim that this novel, Dickens' last completed, was his darkest, or at least one of his darker, works. The story opens with a man and his daughter dredging the Thames for bodies (and plot devices, as we'll see) and among the other characters are included an unrepentant drunk, a crippled girl who does not undergo a sniffly death, and a dishonest poor person (in Dickens, this is sacrilege!). And yet...Dust is a motif used throughout the book--the fortune that everyone is in awe over, that anchors the work, was built on dust collection, dust disposal. I was rather confused about that until I learned that dust is British slang for garbage, then things made much more sense. Anyway, as I was saying: And yet...It's as though Dickens had Cheerful Dust leftover from his happier, more joyous novels (Pickwick, Nickleby, even Copperfield) and sprinkled it over this final work, enchanting the characters with a much-missed joy. The character Bella Wilfer, a poor snobbish girl given the chance to live the high life, has a cheery, tubby father named "Pa". Pa is constantly referred to as cherubic, he laughs and is cheerful...and I couldn't help but glance at my bookshelf and think of Mr. Pickwick. Sloppy, an orphaned, mistreated, mentally disabled (to a small degree) young man who likes to report police news in different voices is reminiscent of Smike, Nicholas Nickleby's constant companion. Mr. and Mrs. Boffer, with their great good nature and penchant for jokes and laughter and modesty, are a version of the Cheeryble Brothers from that same work. Even Twemlow, the dependable chair-filler at high-society dinner parties, who is constantly confused by the ridiculous nouveaux riches all around him, has, in his delightful confusion, has his antecedents (I had one in mind, but it slipped away and I have yet to recover it). And so the book is a wonderful convergence of light and shadow. Of course, being Dickens, the light is occasionally somewhat implausible. SPOILER.....I found the idea that Boffin faked his scroogy-ness to be ridiculous--and agree with G.K. Chesterton, who believed that Dickens had intended for Boffin to have a decline and subsequent rise back to his old cheerful self, but ran out of room/time to portray it well. Chesterton is really Dickens' best critic; he added that Dickens is really not very good at describing change in ANYBODY, he was a portraitist, not an animator--but god, what a portraitist. He walks along the Victorian London he helped create and sows diamonds in his wake. He crosses London Bridge and out springs a crusty old barrowman with a warty nose, a distinct voice, and three young daughters who bring him rum punch when it's cold. He strolls down the Strand and a languorous gentleman with an itchy scalp and a harpy for a mother suddenly blooms into faded glory. But change? Meh, leave it to Henry James, who dismissed Dickens (and Tolstoy) as "loose, baggy monsters". Perhaps James was right. He created works like crystal, faceted and brilliant from every angle, symmetrical and deeply reflective. But the monster is always more fascinating, and a friendly monster--the monster that was Dickens--is far more suitable for a soft chair and a fireplace than Henry James, even at his most prismatic. PS-I'm sure someone out there is thinking, "Scrooge! Scrooge changed! He changed from miser to wonderful man, overnight!" To which I respond1. Why, he's the exception that proves the rule.2. Scrooge's transformation wasn't really a transformation so much as a clearing-off of cobwebs. Scrooge was ALWAYS joyous and happy, though he later switched off that aspect of his personality. Dickens created him whole like that, switch and all. Scrooge doesn't, save for a few phrases of remorse, really evolve. He's shown his grave, and wakes up as from a dream--the dream of his miserliness.
First: a word of warning: if you are intending to read the Modern Library Edition of this book (the one I own), do NOT read the introduction first! I did and I was incredibly sorry, because it gives away the show as far as the "mystery" part of this book. OH! I was SOOOO disappointed and I couldn't believe anyone would do that right at the front of the book. So now I have a new practice: I will only read introductions at the end.Second: Who would like this book? Well, it's one that readers of Dickens will certainly enjoy; there's enough action and enough of a "mysterious" subplot to keep you reading. But be prepared; this particular version came out 801 pages, therefore it will take you some time. So don't think you'll get through it quickly.What can I say? It's Charles Dickens, and it's awesome. The basic story is this (no spoilers, don't worry): John Harmon has inherited the fortune of his father, who was a dustman; his whole inheritance stems on him marrying a woman (Bella Wilfer) who John has never met. On his way to London, after his father's death, there is a boating accident and a corpse, identified as that of Harmon, is fished out of the river. So the inheritance goes to Nicodemus (Noddy) Boffin and his wife who were the only examples of love and kindness in John's childhood. While Bella, whose sole ambition in life is to marry money and be rich, is dismayed by losing her fortune, The Boffins take her in as their own, so that she could have the life of luxury she was going to get had Harmon fulfilled the terms of his father's will. It is at the home of the Boffins that Bella meets the rather reclusive secretary to Mr. Boffin, the "our mutual friend" of the title, a Mr. John Rokesmith. Meanwhile, back at the river Thames, Gaffer Hexam, who has pulled the body of Harmon out of the water, comes to a parting of the ways with his partner, one Rogue Riderhood, and at the same time, denounces his son for wanting to move up in the world and gain an education. Gaffer's daughter, Lizzie, knew the boy's potential and had arranged for his schooling. After a time, the boy's teacher, one Bradley Headstone, falls for Lizzie, but it's more of an obsession than true love. Both of these plots interweave (along with some minor subplots) to create a wide-ranging novel.You can tell that this was intended to be a story that looked at how money changes people; it's also a great satire on "the voice of society" and class rigidity and the importance of knowing one's station.I can HIGHLY recommend this book -- don't miss it if you're looking for a classic.
Dickens¿ last complete novel. I think that the influence of Wilkie Collins¿ success is evident. Dickens¿ novel has some of the same elements ¿ a mystery (more than one, actually) and unexpected twists and turns in the plot.It still has Dickens¿ exceptional treatment of the characters. There are many scenes in which the reader can revel in the details of character and setting ¿ the first scene in the bone articulator¿s shop, for instance.But the part of the novel that exasperated me was the plot to test the moral character of Bella Wilfer carried out by Rokesmith and the Boffins. It borders on lying to the reader. It is an intentional deception, at least. Such a deception should be accompanied by clues and symbolism that allow the reader to have a chance at predicting where the plot will turn. I don¿t think there are any clues here. The Harmon/Handford/Rokesmith complication is amply telegraphed to the reader ¿ it does not come across as an unexpected plot surprise. But the deception to fool Bella also fools the reader and leads to a certain amount of disgust ¿ at least for me.I really enjoyed the rest of the novel, though. I think it would be much more popular if the unfortunate deception had been altered by Dickens.
I enjoyed this Dickens immensely and read it just before the brilliant TV drama adaptation came out. David Morrisey is Bradley Headstone (the creepy infactuated teacher), one of the McGanns is the love interest and 'Miss Toner' of Tutti Frutti is the crippled ?seamstress...I've forgotten now! Anyway book and TV drama fantastic.
This is a ridiculously long, complicated serial novel (originally published in 19 monthly installments) with some vivid scenes of London's nouveaux riches and its toujours pauvres. Characters are simplified like cartoon characters -- with the possible exceptions of three minor ones. Much of the dialogue is ridiculously long-winded, though in places very effective. Plotting takes bizarre implausible turns but does eventually tie almost all the threads. The book's greatest single merit is its descriptions of physical settings --the Thames, Venus's "articulation" shop, the Veneering table settings, the London streets, etc. Its most irksome features are Dickens' frequent interjections of preachments, and --far, far worse --his maudlin sentimentalizing of such a ninny as Bella Wilfer, who gets the full Dickens treatment of loving attention to the details of speech, dress and grimace.The only characters with a little complexity are (1) Sophronia, the wife of Alfred Lammle and his accomplice in con games, but with qualms of conscience; (2) Mr. Venus, the "articulator" (he assembles miscellaneous bones to construct whole skeletons of men and beasts), who also finds he has scruples after having allowed himself to be dragged into a nefarious plot; and (3) Twemlow, a poor relative of an aristocrat, who never understands what is going on and is frightfully timid, but who acts on an independent code of honor in the end. I was glad when Dickens finally got so enraged at one of his ineffectual characters, Eugene Wrayburn, that he broke him to pieces. It was distressing to learn later that Wrayburn had survived and was likely to recover. But Wrayburn was not the most annoying character. I would have preferred that Dickens commit some mayhem on obtuse, saccharine-sweet Bella Wilfer and shut her up -- but that was too much to hope. The author seems actually to have liked that character. The key to Dickens' clumsiness is the medium he chose: Monthly installments over 19 months, the author keeping only a little ahead of his readers. Thus, by the time he had sickened of Wrayburn, a professional failure who becomes a stalker of a pure-hearted poor girl (daughter of a river scavenger), it was too late to go back and rewrite his story to make him more interesting or attractive; all of London (the novel-reading part of it, that is) had read those earlier chapters, and Dickens was stuck with him. The author's only recourses were either to let Wrayburn's ineffectualness continue to slow down the story, or to do him violence. The violence is stunning, and quite a bit more than would be necessary for the plot. The villain -- another stalker, more infuriated by Wrayburn's behavior than even I was -- doesn't merely knock him out and try to drown him; he cudgels him, breaks his arms and wrists and cracks his skull before hurling his limp, barely pulsating body into the river. Dickens was really pissed off.But then, to please his sentimental readers (he could hardly have had any other kind), he lets Lizzie Hexam (the stalkee) rescue him and nurse him back to life. She even marries him! And all the nasty bad guys (who all dress badly) are duly punished, and the sweet-natured good gals and guys (they're the ones who have good grooming) live happily ever after. Ugh.
I just finished a mini-marathon. Dombey and Son, Hard Times, and Our Mutual Friend in the space of two and a half weeks. It dawns on me that I there is a real danger that I could become a Dickens completist. Yikes! I'd better rush out for a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV and get back to reality.I liked Our Mutual Friend best of the three novels - and what a huge Howard Hughes-Spuce Goose of a novel it is...a wingspan of 42 characters. And made out of wood - good old fashioned Charles Dickens knotty, piney, planed, smoothed, polished, spit upon, rubbed against, all to your satisfaction sir! just knock it and see - Wood!And, believe-it-or-not Ripley, it DOES lift off and fly. Eight hundred pages of wood, off the ground, and flying.The only rough moment for me - and it is always take off - was in Book One, Chapter Two "The Man From Somewhere" when Twemlow is introduced as "an innocent piece of dinner furniture that went upon easy castors and was kept over a livery stable-yard in Duke Street" I did stumble for several pages over inserted leaves until I realized that Twemlow was actually a human. The entire chapter introduces so many people in such a tongue in cheek fashion that I had to sit down in the nearest corner and fan myself, panting all the while. And come back and read the chapter again later.All the old Dickens parts and pieces are assembled here - poor Charles went to his death flogging school teachers, saving young single women, and skewering the greedy - but the effect is not so cloying in Our Mutual Friend. There's sentimentality, but there's also salt, pepper, suspense, flavor, and sarcasm.Dickens is Jenny Wren in this novel His dolls are as carefully crafted as ever, but the doll maker is there too, to laugh and carp and mock and tweak and hope, like us all, for love, and even fish for compliments. Consequently, the extremes in humor and pathos are more muted, the twists are more interesting, the personalities more complex, good and evil more blended and it all seems somehow more modern a novel. A Dickens novel, perhaps, for those who may think they don't like Dickens.
Charles Dickens' penultimate novel, and last complete one, is a compendium of the best and worst of his art. The characters are present, perhaps too many, but they lack the fresh life and spirit of earlier works like Dombey & Son or Bleak House.The metaphors are present, but the waters of Our Mutual Friend are dark and foreboding, ultimately leading to death; while the waters of earlier works, such as Dombey again, hold the promise of life. It seems that Dickens is worn out and it shows in the lack of energy; but in spite of this there remain beautiful passages and complex plotting, perhaps his greatest. His critique of social class and society surrounds the story with the caricature of the Veneerings at its apex. Within the story he uses his theme of false identity as well as he ever has with one of the central characters, John Harmon, the prime specimen. But he fails to provide a central character with whom we can identify as he did so well in David Copperfield, Bleak House and Great Expectations. The Boffins, who are very appealing at first, appear to change their moral character and thus disappoint (at least Mr. Boffin) while the most appealing characters, like Jenny Wren or Lizzie Hexam, are not substantial enough or central enough to carry the novel. So we have a novel that receives a mixed grade from this reader. I finished it longing for the early Dickens humor and the later Dickens greatness but was left with a bit of that but not enough to sustain the 800 pages he had devoted to the story of Our Mutual Friend.
Certainly my favourite Dickens, and one of my favourtie books ever. Eugene Wrayburn is brilliant, Bradley Headstone truly disturbed and disturbing. It's incredible how Dickens managed to draw the character with such small actions. All the characters are drawn perfectly and the plot is wonderfully intricate and absorbing. It is difficult to get into and you might wonder what it's all about to start with, but it's worth sticking with!
Have tried Dickens before and had a hard time getting through it, but this one was wonderful, I didn't want the story to end.
First of all, it is unthinkable that any objective person would rate this version of the book more than one star. If there are any reviews on here that exceed one star, I would guess they were left by this book's compilers, or refer exclusively to Dickens' original story, not this representation of the book. I bought this "annotated" version for a deluxe experience, but what I got is a poorly re-typed copy of Our Mutual Friend. The text is riddled with typos and doesn't even use paragraphs. All the lines are justified fully left. The only annotation in the book is a three-page biography of Dickens which was cut and pasted from the web. This book is as much a scam as a fake watch from Times Square, and while it might be possible to decipher the story, the book itself will reduce the enjoyment of anyone who doesn't enjoy being ripped off. I bought the book sight unseen and had it shipped to my home when the physical store didn't have any copies of Our Mutual Friend. I don't believe anyone who understands how books are supposed to work would choose to buy this one after looking inside. I'm surprised that merchandise of this quality is available through Barnes & Noble, and I hope that when they realize what's being sold here, they will stop offering this version of the book.
Incorrectly converted words
Finally a version of this great book which is readable! Not perfect, but good. Our Mutual Friend is (in my opinion) more exciting, faster paced, and much more optimistic than Dicken's other works. With the exception of A Christmas Carol, this is his "easiest read". BBC's version of his book is also very good.