"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Perhaps one of the most quoted lines of Dickens’ novels, the one
that begins his dark, exciting tale of the French Revolution. Set in the time of the American Revolution’s beginnings
and the foreshadowing of the storm that would rage in France, Dickens spins of a tale of intrigue, blessed coincidence, passionate
revenge, and loving sacrifice that has arguably been one of his most beloved classics, lasting for more than a century despite
harsh criticism from many a seasoned reader. Well, I may not be justified as a seasoned reader as of yet, though I hope to
grow to be one, but I believe I know a good tale when I hear one. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a fantastic tale!
The year is 1775. Jarvis Lorry, an English banker, has just taken a journey
to France in an errand of ever-growing importance. What started out as a simple appointment to discuss business leads to a
long kept secret of one who, being thought dead in prison after 40 years, has been hidden away from Monsieur and Madame Defarge
of Saint Antoine. Lucy Mannette, a young French woman, is told by Mr. Lorry that her father, imprisoned long ago unrighteously,
is alive. After restoring him to herself, they travel back to England, meeting a young man by the name of Darnay, who’s
mysterious personality holds a greater connection to them than realized.
5 years pass, and after being restored to his old life, Dr. Alexander Mannette
and his daughter Lucy witness the trial of this Darnay, who has been accused as a spy. Saved by a happenstantial circumstance,
namely in the form of a young lawyer by the name of Sydney Carton (bearing a striking resemblance to Darnay), he is freed.
Upon this newfound freedom, Darnay is able to court Lucy Mannette, and soon their new life takes flight in Soho, England.
Peace, however, is not meant to last.
In France, revolution has broken out. The common people have stormed the
Bastille, and no aristocrat is left alive in their path. Under the leadership of the Defarges, the revolutionaries cry for
blood, and they will leave not one drop of noble blood coursing through the veins of anyone alive, guilty or not. Darnay,
having abandoned his aristocratic life in France for a more honorable life, is unaware of a plot that will soon bring him
within the clutches of the revolutionaries, who seek to destroy him for crimes committed by not he, but his kin. Once under
their law, the Mannettes travel to France in hopes of rescuing him, but are soon caught up in the frenzy of a lust for revenge,
from which there seems no escape. Once in France, nothing could save Darnay or his family.
Except a miracle.
From the 19th century literary master comes a tale that can
only be held in renown for its undying love and timeless morals. Characters, though argued by some to be too one-dimensional,
leap off of the page with every sentence read with such passion that it leaves the reader breathless. Lives thrown into sudden
chaos strike back with the power of tenderness and courage. Lives change with such beauty or grimness that reality seems to
sing in their descriptions. The mind and heart of each character grips our imaginations, and we cannot help but sympathize
or relate to their plight. And finally, its vision of love and sacrifice is one for the ages, stealing our hearts and softening
even the hardest of attitudes. Its teaching is very clear, though it be only one aspect of the book, and it is this: "Even
the most hopeless of lives can make a difference."
"Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope that we have,
for God can be trusted to keep His promise." -Hebrews 10:23
If you liked A Tale of Two Cities, you may like:
A Christmas Carol