Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Dombey and Son

Title: Dombey and Son

Series: None

Year: 1848

Author: Charles Dickens

Summary: Mr. Dombey is a man obsessed with his firm. His son is groomed from birth to take his place within it, despite his visionary eccentricity and declining health. But Dombey also has a daughter, whose unfailing love for her father goes unreturned. 'Girls,' said Mr. Dombey, 'have nothing to do with Dombey and Son'.

When Walter Gay, a young clerk in her father's office, rescues her from a bewildering experience in the streets of London, his unforgettable friends believe he is well on his way to receiving her hand in marriage and inheriting the company. It is to be a very different type of story.

Dombey and Son moved grown men to tears (Thackeray despaired of ‘writing against such power as this’), but its rich, comic characters and their joyful explosions of language draw laughter with equally unerring magic. (from Goodreads)

Main Characters:
~ Mr. Paul Dombey
~ Florence Dombey
~ Walter Gay
~ Captain Cuttle
~ Miss Tox

Review: This is probably one of the lesser-known of Dickens' work, but I wasn't very far in this novel when I realized it was quickly becoming one of my favorites. True, I am a huge fan pretty much of anything Dickens, but this story really captured my interest from the beginning. It may have been that one of the main plots was very similar to one of my own (one that I had completed prior to reading this novel, mind you), but Dombey and Son rates on my list close to Our Mutual Friend and Little Dorrit, my two favorite Dickens ever. 

Can I just take this moment to say how talented a storyteller Dickens was? 

Dickens was a talented storyteller.

Okay, I'm good. Let's move on.

Mr. Dombey is quite a severe man, and his ultimate goal in life is to make his business succeed as Dombey and Son. That title, of course, requires a son, and much to his joy, after the disappointing birth of a healthy and beautiful daughter, he has a son. And then his wife dies. And his son, his pride and joy, isn't nearly as healthy as would be hoped. While doting on his sickly son, Mr. Dombey brushes aside his daughter, Florence, who grows up with the hope of one day earning her father's approval and love. 

Florence was one of my absolute favorite characters. She was so sweet and good, and with everything that she came up against, it was heart-wrenching to watch her struggle through. Walter, too, was a favorite. His uncle Sol and family friend Captain Cuttle were so much fun to follow as they plotted Walter's rise to wealth and prestige - all by becoming the next Dick Whittington. Many obstacles try to blow their plans apart, but the two old men love dear Walter too much too give up hope of his advantageous marriage. Walter, for his part, was content in merely being a friend to one who had no other friend. 

Susan Nipper was phenomenal. The Carkles, I'll admit, were a little confusing, as the two brothers (obviously) had the same name. I was forever trying to keep them apart. It was slightly easier to keep track of their sister. I wept (metaphorically) for poor Bunsby and his fate, but laughed (not so metaphorically) at how he accepted it. 

Writing a review of a Dickens' novel isn't always easy to write since there is so much that goes into one of these novels. Instead of just one main plot, Dickens weaves usually two main plots together with another ten subplots tied in the mix as fringe benefits. And, no matter how complicated the weave, and no matter how intrinsic and unique each plot is, every one of them manage to tie up nicely together at the end. It always baffles me how Dickens did it. Dombey and Son is no exception. You have a father who ignores his daughter, a "good" old woman bent with evil desires, a midshipman, a beloved dog, a grinder called Rob... and each one of their stories is connected to the others. 

Brilliant. Please go read it. That's all I have to say.

Advisory: As always, your typical Dickens advisory: some language, violence, deaths, and elopements. Nothing big to say, but I did feel that this novel was less dark than most of Dickens' works. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Click here to buy Dombey and Son on Amazon!