Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is a very dark, suspenseful, heartwarming, yet heartbreaking story of a poor orphaned boy struggling to survive on the streets of old London where poverty kills and thieves run amok in the shadows. Written in 1837, this book has been a huge success in English literature. With brilliant insight, depth of feeling, formal language, and a constant element of fear, Dickens has proven that no matter how long, dark, and foul-smelling the tunnel, there is light on the other side.
From the time of his birth, young Oliver struggled in this world, first as an orphan of the workhouse, then as a runaway on the streets, and then as a frightened boy trapped in a den of thieves. We follow him through a maze where evil is present at almost every turn and dig up his long-lost ancestry piece by piece.
Evil is painted in all its dark colours with intense descriptions of brutality and pain. It gave me chills at all the right moments, thus preventing me from putting the book down.
At regular intervals, Dickens jumped from one perspective to the next, giving great insight to many of the characters and weaving his carefully planned plotline. He first wrote the narrative through Oliver’s eyes, and then alternated between the perspective of the parochial beadle Mr. Bumble, gang master Fagin, Nancy who is a young thief, Mr. Brownlow who is a kind old man, and the terrible Bill Sikes. It made me rather impatient sometimes because I could not see the big picture at first and it left me wondering why certain parts were relevant. In the end, all the pieces fit together perfectly.
This novel made me happy, this novel made me sad. Some parts filled me with dread, others with a sense of enlightenment. Though death was inevitable for some, and others undeserving of such a fate, you could still feel its sting with every loss. And yet happiness, beauty, and miracles were made bittersweet by the evil that accompanied it. Overall, Oliver Twist was in itself a thrilling experience and an absolute pleasure to read.
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher: Penguin Canada