The classic opening line "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." is familiar to most everyone, but not everyone has braved Dickens' masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities. If you haven't read it: the first part of the novel, while gorgeously written, has a slow-paced development of both plot and characters. But for the patient modern reader who gets to the second part there is the big payoff, which is a gorgeous climax with loads of riots and beheadings and such.
The Two Cities involved are Paris and London in the period leading up to, and during, the French Revolution - and featured are the French peasantry, who struggle under the brutal authority of the aristocracy. Dickens creates a rich tapestry of protagonists, primarily Charles Darnay, a French former-aristocrat who falls victim to the retribution of the revolutionaries despite being a good guy, and Sydney Carton, a drunk British lawyer who's in love with Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette. A Tale of Two Cities has sold 200 million copies, making it the most printed original book in English. There's only one way to find out what the hype is all about.
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