Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

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Laura Amy Schlitz

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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

Author: Charles Dickens

Year: 1859

Famous for: A bloody cask of wine, dozens of rolling heads, and TWO of just about everything important.

Main character: Because this is a book about TWOs, there are TWO: Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton.

The scoop:

It was the best of books, it was the worst of books. Uh, sorry. We’ve been reading too much A Tale of Two Cities—and the book really is all about doubles. Maybe not doubles like best and worst. But doubles like tragic and comic, historical and fictional, good and evil, even personal and national? You bet. And that’s only just the beginning.

See, A Tale of Two Cities follows two stories in two cities. There’s the story of Dr. Manette and his daughter, Lucie. They spend most of the book in London, where Dr. Manette tries to overcome his dark past and various interesting characters shuffle in and out of their lives. Meanwhile, over in Paris, there’s a second story unfolding: The story of the French revolution. There are rioting peasants and rolling heads and definitely some bloodthirsty revolutionaries. Pay particular attention to Monsieur and Madame Defarge: They’re up to no good.

Actually, lots of characters in this book are up to no good, and because Dickens is Dickens, you can bet that he’ll reveal all in part three of his story, when both storylines (and all the characters) converge in Paris. There are surprising revelations, dastardly schemes, daring escapes, and of course, more doubles! Call it an ending that turns the worst of times into the best of books—really! Because not only does Dickens skillfully wrap up the story’s many loose ends, but he also manages to drive home a powerful lesson … or two.


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