Title: Hard Times
Author: Charles Dickens
Publication Year: 1854
My Rating: 3/5 stars
This is the story of Louise and Tom, siblings who live in Coketown together with their parents. Their father, Thomas Gradgrind, is quite a peculiar man who is very set on facts. His children must be brought up with a proper education that relies on nothing but facts.
One day, Gradgrind stumbles upon Sissy, a circus girl who becomes a student at his school. Things gradually evolve, and eventually Gradgrind decides to take Sissy under his wings and give her a proper education. Meanwhile, life goes on in Coketown, and we get to hear more both other characters, but also the hard times and hard conditions of the average working man.
This book is another evidence of Charles Dickens' brilliancy when it comes to writing. He starts with one person and her destiny, but gradually the story becomes more and more intricate and complex, and in the end you end up with a completely different story from what you started out with.
I have quite an ambivalent relationship to Charles Dickens and his books. Some of them I love, some of them confuse me or end up disappointing me. "Hard Times" was a good story, but I was mildly disappointed with the fact that it changes direction. I wanted to continue reading about Sissy and her destiny, but I was disappointed to realize that her story became kind of a parallel plot to the main plot. Nevertheless, the main plot was definitely full of surprises and at times kept you at the edge of your seat, and I liked that.
However, I can't disregard the fact that I was quite bored during most of this novel. I felt like the story became more and more predictable, and I felt like it kept dragging on the same characters and their worries and views on life. Therefore, I ended up rating this one 3 stars, because it's definitely worth a read, but it's not my favourite of Dickens'.