This was a really fun book. There are heroes, heroines, villains, and unsavoury characters aplenty throughout the story and the twist and turns it takes before coming to it’s conclusion are enough to keep you wondering just what was going to happen next. The book was originally released as series released on a monthly bases for which even the Americans were clamouring for the next instalment. It’s easy to imagine them waiting for the next episode to reach them and then sitting around together reading, discussing and conjecturing about what would happen next. In some respects, it’s quite like a popular soap opera in which the viewer can’t wait to see what dastardly plans the villain will come up with next and just how the hero(ine) will get themselves out of a seemingly impossible situation.
Despite all of the hardships they suffer, the Nickelbys remain cheerful and are ready to do what they must to survive, which keeps the reader rooting for them. Their kind heartedness and refusal to discriminate against people who aren’t in the same class as themselves are not only pleasant to read about, but are also the reason they are able to elevate themselves in the end. Without the help of people who are either as or more down trodden than themselves, they would have remained penniless and unable to thwart their evil uncle’s plans. In general, it’s Dicken’s usual style of pointing out human and social faults while showing the reader the means to remedy them, or at least make them bearable. I found myself thinking as I was reading that Dickens must have been a very kind hearted man, otherwise he could not have praised the advantages of kind heartedness and generosity and make convivial company seem so inviting.
The other thought that kept crossing my mind as I read, was that Ralph Nickelby could have been Scrooge for all of this evilness, hatred and greed. I wonder just how long his chain was when he finally died and if he was ever able to stop roaming the earth, or if he’s still there, trying to escape his heavy burden of sin.
All in all a good book which I can recommend to anyone.