I first read Our Mutual Friend when I was thirteen years old, and I awarded it five stars on Goodreads based on my memory of that first read. I always remembered this as my favourite Charles Dickens novel, and I am still strongly of that opinion. If I could award it yet another five stars, I would. This is a classic masterpiece.
Yards of literary analysis has been written about this book over the decades, and I could not possibly compete with those who have written before me. After all, English Literature was the only GCE O level that I failed. O levels are the exams that we usually take in UK at the age of sixteen.
Instead, I’ll just tell you what I think from my own heart and head.
First of all, the wonderful use of the English language employed by Dickens, and the extent of vocabulary, just amazed me and is a lesson for all of us.
Secondly, the character building of all of the characters, and their development throughout the story, is so strong that one can visualise them all, and start to imagine how they are all thinking and interacting. It is very difficult to understand who the leading characters are, as it seems that there are more than a dozen principals. I think that this is great.
Then I would say that everyone should read this book at least twice. Knowing the conclusions does not spoil the reading. I had forgotten much, but I knew roughly where we were going, even though it is over four decades since I first read it. In fact, the second reading is better than the first, because I understood more of why the conclusions were reached as I staggered my way through. I shall definitely read Our Mutual Friend again before long.
The complex, interwoven plots are marvellous, and I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It is a very thick volume, agreed, but every word is a gem in a treasure trove of jewels.