Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities

Where to begin? What to say? This is my beloved Dickens. This is Sydney Carton. This is the French revolution. This book is the one I almost picked for my favorite classic.

This book broke my heart.

Read it please. It will break yours.

France is flowing with blood and rage, gasping for more of both. Among it's throngs several characters are brought out of the red mist to play out there story on the bold relief of it's curtain.

A girl comes to claim her father from a decrepit wine shop where he was being cared for. He had been taken from the Bastille where he had lost his memory. Escorted by an old family friend Mr. Lorry, Lucie Manette and her father leave for England never expecting to come to France again. 

Their paths cross two men, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, who look remarkably alike and yet could not be more different...except in their love for Lucie. 

Charles is gentlemanly, eager, and industrious. Sydney is sloppy, rough, and he drinks. It is Charles of course who wins the love of Lucy. But when the characters are once again drawn to the bloody streets of France the true meaning of "hero" becomes apparent 

Read this book with a growing lump in your throat.

Sydney Carton is the point of this book. I loved other characters I held my breath for other characters, and I was fascinated by the other plot lines, but Sydney was something different.

Miss Havisham, Estella, Steerforth, Lady Dedlock. I begged for them, I pleaded for them, I cried for them. Sydney put them all behind him. I was almost praying that the book would end different then I knew it would.

So what's so special about Sydney Carton? He's no John Ridd.

No he's not. And that was what hurts so much. He could have been one of the most brilliant men who ever lived. He could have been the one Lucy loved, he could have been epic. But he wasn't. And it was his own fault. He was to lazy to develop hid enormous brain capacity. To lazy to make something of himself. And he had no one to blame but himself.

Why does that hurt so much? Why? Why cant we just put him down as Tip Dorrit and move on? It's because he knows it. And because I see myself in him. I'm lazy, you're lazy. Every human is lazy. Sydney went under because of it.

And he knew it. But to late. I cried my way through the second half of the book. I wanted a second Valjean. Valjean turned to God and changed his ways before it was to late.  

Sydney doesn't. He dies in peace but his life spilled and wasted behind him. For one day he is a hero. For only one day he stands tall as a man and does something that was worthy of Sir Percy himself.

And yet to me the greatest moment of his heroism is not when he trades with Charles. To me his greatest moment is when he spends his last moments comforting the young seamstress who would proceed him to the guillotine. His life was a total waste but his death was not. Frankly though I care about poor Lucie and Charles  I think the greatest deed Sydney carton ever did was to comfort that poor trembling girl in the moments before the blade fell.

Sydney Carton made me want to live my life with purpose.

Read about him please. He'll do the same for you.

It is a far better thing.....               


Anonymous said...

You are quite convincing... I will add this onto my club list! -Sarah

Jillian said...

Oh my goodness! I cried for this one too. I love this book. xx