Ye Great Olde Dickens Challenge

‘Get what you’re given and like it’ is a favourite phrase of my mother’s, and one that she used to herald every childhood over-cooked fruit cake of bizarre item of clothing bought in the sales, and usually I would have rather hit myself with a house brick than worn said item in public.

She won’t buy a Christmas, birthday or wedding present she doesn’t like herself. In certain places our tastes overlap, and she has given me some beautiful and expensive things, but also plenty of others currently living in packing boxes in the loft. I was never allowed a Barbie, but I was allowed a Sindy, as ‘she looks less American’ but what stung most (and to a certain extent, still smarts a little) was her refusal to let me have a Girl’s World. She said it was strange to want a decapitated head to put make-up on and do the hair of, like it was something left over in a basket from the French Revolution. I was also never allowed to wear patent shoes or go to Brownies. Okay, I’ll stop moaning now, because a few years ago she atoned (slightly) for these injustices.

‘I have too many books, take some. I don’t think I’ll re-read that lot again.’ she said, waving her hand at three shelves full of goldie leaved and leather bound complete works of Dickens, the Brontës and Daphne Du Maurier. She also has the whole set of Hardy and Austen, but she kept them, possibly to depress and then cheer herself up at regular intervals.

Well, hot diggity dog! So I have decided to set myself a Dickens challenge. I shall read and in some cases re-read all his novels. All of them. I wasn’t sure what kind of time limit to give myself. Initially I thought ‘before I die’ but now I’m thinking three years, as I have other things I have to read, and I also don’t want to get sick of them and end up hating the man. I am going to ease in gently with the first Dickens I ever read, and re-read Nicholas Nickelby.

On my marks…get set…read!

 

This is the Heron Centenary set, published in 1970 to mark 100 years of Dickens being dead.

This is the Heron Centenary set, published in 1970 to mark 100 years of Dickens being dead

Has to be said, not the best portrait inside every cover, Dame Sybil Thorndike? No one has names like that anymore, which is  shame.

Dame Sybil Thorndike? No one has names like that anymore, which is shame.

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