I’m re-reading A Tale Of Two Cities and it’s excellent. I’m enjoying it immensely, possibly even more than when I read it the first time. It’s funny how much you forget in between readings, and how much you miss out on when you read something just once. This time I was stunned to realise that Jerry Cruncher’s wife is not called Aggerawayter Cruncher, as I had always thought; he just refers to her as an ‘aggravator’. I’m clearly an idiot.
For a long time Dickens was the nearest thing I had to a ‘favourite author’. I know he can require insane powers of concentration but I always thought it was worth the effort… until I read The Old Curiosity Shop a few years ago and promptly fell out of love with him. I know I need to get over the disappointment and I thought going back to the start would be a good way of reintroducing myself. A Tale Of Two Cities wasn’t the first Dickens’ book I read (that was A Christmas Carol), nor is it my favourite (that would be Our Mutual Friend) but it was definitely the first one I was really aware of. My dad used to have the audio book on tape and I remember listening to it on long car journeys when I was very little. I didn’t understand a lot of it but I liked imagining Lucie Manette with her golden curls and her wrinkly forehead (as I understood it).
I first read it for myself in June 2008 during a holiday in Malta with my sister (in fact, when I re-opened the book last Saturday I discovered a tattered, coffee-stained timetable for the Valetta to Sliema ferry tucked inside the back pages). One of my lasting memories from that holiday is of the two of us sitting on some rocks on the island of Comino looking down into the Blue Lagoon, which looks like this:
Image courtesy of http://www.globeimages.net.
We spent all afternoon up there sunbathing and reading. I had a good book, my lovely sister for company, a nearly-new boyfriend awaiting my return and an exciting new job to start back in England. Life was pretty good.
It was comforting to remember this when I was on the train to work this morning, watching the rain over the fens and pondering whether I’m getting a cold again.