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Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

"You avaricious old skeleton" was one of the first insults I ever heard and mentally noted down as a child. What a great insult. I didnt know what it meant when I first heard it but I liked the sound of it. This coupled with the fact that it was said in a very threatening manner by a scary man called Bill Sikes played by an excellently cast Oliver Reed to a sneaky wretch of a man by the name of Fagin played by an excellently cast Ron Moody made it one to remember. Of course the acting I mention was in the brilliant film adaptation of Lionel Bart's musical 'Oliver'. Although Mr. Bart was a shrewd man with an eye for quality (he must have been, for the first ever run of Oliver in the West End in the early sixties he cast a child called Steve Marriot, later of the Small Faces, as The Artful Dodger), he did not come up with the original story. That was down to a bloke called Dickens from another time and place.

Oliver Twist was published in monthly installments between 1837 and 1839 but for those of us lucky enough to live in the modern era it is there in either printed or electronic* formats to be enjoyed in its full complete glory. The line I mentioned in the first paragraph by Bill Sikes is actually in the book. As are many other extraordinary phrases and descriptive passages that use the English language to enthrall and entertain anybody lucky enough to pick up a copy of this book. I have run out of gratifying and flattering things to say about Charles Dickens but as your humble reviewer I will try to come up with more as I work my way through these wonderful stories (I have only read four to date).

The story of Oliver Twist takes the reader into much darker aspects of humanity than its more well known film adaptation and features, as is usual with Dickens, a colourful array of characters and locations. The Three Cripples public house, Newgate jail, and areas that are still a part of the sprawl of London namely Smithfield Market, Whitechapel, and Bethnal Green. The only downside to reading this great story for me is that with other Dickens books I have read one of the joys for me as the reader is imagining what some of these hideous and exotic characters would look like but because I saw the film first I lazily mentally revert to what they looked like in the film.

I have seven other Dickens novels downloaded on my Kindle and I cant wait to get stuck into them. From the first time I picked up a Dickens book a year or so ago it remains a reminder to me that life can be pretty good sometimes. It also showed me the standard of imagination and flare for language that every single writer of fiction should strive toward. 10/10

*Free on Kindle.
Frazier Cranium

All the film adaptations of this don't stick exactly to the story, I was really surprised about that when I read OT a few years back.  He must have had a fantastic imagination and memory, old Charlie boy.  Great book, truly.

Always swerved Bleak House, it was too much work when I tried, to my shame.  Got audiobook of A Tale of Two Cities, none of them seem as good as OT or A Christmas Carol which is one of my all time fave stories.

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