I’m actually in the middle of not one thick novel but two by Charles Dickens right now: Our Mutual Friend and Pickwick Papers.
Pickwick Papers, the first thick novel Dickens ever wrote, is something of a hodgepodge. Pickwick Papers was serialized in 1836 and published in 1837.
Unlike his later books which are executed with more finesse, you can tell this one was written in serial installments. Though it’s considered a classic, like all of Charles Dickens’s novels, it’s definitely not my go-to Dickens book.
I found it a bit hard to engage with this mammoth novel. I misplaced it a few months ago. How do you misplace a thick paperback? We have a lot of books in our house and a lot of shelves. I put the book on one of the high bookshelves when I was straightening up and forgot where it went… So I started reading Our Mutual Friend instead.
But since starting Our Mutual Friend—which is totally compelling and exquisitely well-written—I’ve taken breaks to read Ursula LeGuin’s Left Hand of Darkness, an irreverent English novel by a young writer called Gods Behaving Badly, and a fascinating self-published book of mostly unassisted birth stories called Simply Give Birth, edited by an attachment parenting mom and cartoonist named Heather Cushman-Dowdee.
I’m glad to be going back to Dickens though.
These thick novels are perfect for the cold winter nights we’re having in Ashland these days. Just the thing to curl up with when you have a new baby to nurse and a long lightless evening.
Published: December 3, 2009
Last update: January 28, 2020