Title: Hard Times
Author: Charles Dickens
About the Author: Charles Dickens was an English novelist best known for Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. He has been called "the greatest novelist of the Victorian era."
Other Books by This Author: Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickelby, Great Expectations, and others
Awards: The Giller Prize, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, the Prix Médicis
Medium: Penguin Classics, Paperback
No. of Pages: 288
Original Publishing Year: 1854
Genre: Victorian Novel
Age Rating: 14+
Positive Review: I've been noticing that most of the books I read don't have chapter names, and I love those, so I was really happy to see them in Hard Times. They're like a little hook to get me interested in each chapter. The opening also got me hooked. Dickens was hinting at the story, and I was curious about what was to come and who was the speaker. All the characters were different and interesting. My favorite moment in the novel is when the characters work together to save another character (is this too much of a spoiler??). I found the ending was satisfactory. I appreciated knowing what happened to all the characters.
Negative Review: The story did lag a bit, à mon avis. I didn't feel fully engaged and interested in the novel, and I was confused at times about what was going on. I found this novel hard to read just for pleasure. It requires more than just a surface reading.
Overall Review: Although I did feel the story dragged, it got a bit more interesting with the introduction of Mr. Harthouse. I didn't like him as a person, but I did as a character. He seemed the most "normal" of the characters. He could see what's wrong with people (instead of pretending everything is fine) and admitted to being bored. Louisa is proof we all need a little imagination in our lives.
Summary: Coketown is dominated by the figure of Mr. Thomas Gradgrind, school owner, and model of Utilitarian success. Feeding both his pupils and his family with facts, he bans fancy and wonder from young minds. As a consequence, his obedient daughter, Louisa, marries the loveless businessman and "bully of humility," Mr. Bounderby, and his son, Tom, rebels to become embroiled in gambling and robbery. And, as their fortunes cross with those of free-spirited circus girl, Sissy Jupe, and victimized weaver, Stephen Blackpool, Gradgrind is eventually forced to recognize the value of the human heart in an age of materialism and machinery.
*Information on author from Wikipedia. Summary from back of novel.