Cover Image: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Charles Dickens
Places and Objects of Interest
by Paul Kendall
Pub Date 30 Nov 2021 | 
 Pen & Sword,  Frontline Books
 Biographies & Memoirs  |  History  |  Nonfiction (Adult) 

I am reviewing a copy of Charles Dickens; Places and Objects of Interest through Pen & Sword and Netgalley:

There have been few authors who have had a great impact on British Society than Charles Dickens., his stories in particular have played a role in the way one looked at society.  His many memorable characters highlighted the life of the forgotten poor and disadvantaged within society at a time when Britain was the leading economic and political power in the world.   

Dickens Portrayal of the poor such as Oliver Twist, who dared to ask for more food at the work house, and  Bob Cratchit struggling to provide for his family at Christmas, roused much sympathy and an understanding of the poor and the conditions in which they lived. This led to many people founding orphanages, establishing schools to educate the underprivileged, or to set up hospitals for those who could not afford medical treatment – one such was Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital where one of its wards was named after the great writer.

It is little wonder that Charles Dickens Legacy can be found throughout the United Kingdom, everywhere from the buildings he lived to the inns and hotels he frequented, the streets and towns which formed the backdrop to his novels and short stories, to the places where he gave readings or performed his own amateur dramatic productions to raise funds for his philanthropic causes. Dickensian memorabilia also abound, including his original manuscripts to his famous works and letters to his wife.

If you are looking for a book that highlights the legacies Charles Dickens left behind not only to the United Kingdom but to the world at large, I highly recommend Charles Dickens; Places and Objects of interests.

Five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
Was this review helpful?
Okay, my love for Dickens is not a secret. I have a complete set of late 19th Century copies of his books that I cannot bring myself to actually read, as they’re too precious to me. I know this sounds silly and pointless, but to make up for it, I’ve bought several newer copies to read. I also have a small collection (8-9) of copies of A Christmas Carol - my favourite book - and long to own a first edition. I adore him as a person and a writer, and aim to read as much literature on him as I can, so I jumped at the chance to read this new one by Paul. I thought about writing a book on Dickens myself, but thought there was nothing new to say, but it is clear there will always be Dickens devotees wanting their next Charles chapter - including me.

This book sits as a literary museum of Dickens for those unable to visit the real museum (which is still on my to-visit list) and gives you an insight into the man behind the moniker. 

The formatting was a bit off in this digital version which meant certain things like his life timeline, photos and captions didn’t visually work, so I’d love to see that in the finished product. 

I thought I knew a fair amount about Dickens outside of his books, but Paul has uncovered such niche and fascinating insights to him as a boy and a man, as well as a writer, which makes me further appreciate what he created. Paul has presented such heartfelt insight into his background, as well as the thought and passion that went into each of Dickens’ characters. 

This is a must-read for any Dickens obsessive.
Was this review helpful?
Charles Dickens was and continues to be one of the most iconic literary figures in British history, so it is no surprise that “Dickensia” has built up over the years — memorabilia and relics, places associated with his life and his fiction. This book uses telling the stories of this memorabilia as an entry point to celebrating the man’s life and work. An entertaining and enjoyable read that we highly recommend to lovers of Dickens and of the literary life.
Was this review helpful?
To the publisher: I'm afraid I didn't notice the early archive date and hadn't yet downloaded the book to my Kindle. I'm sorry I won't be able read and review this book because of that.
Was this review helpful?
I love Charles Dickens and this is an excellent book for Dickens fans. This reads as if you’re taking a personal tour of Charles dickens life through London. The book includes photographs of objects, places and buildings which helps the visualization of the tour. It’s truly intriguing. We get to see where he grew up, his family history and what inspired his books.

Literally most of his life events in one way or another influenced his writing and made up a lot of memorable scenes.  All the places he lived at, visited and so on when on to inspire his novels. It was interesting to learned how Dickens works led people to establish many schools, orphanages and hospitals.

This is a thorough biography timeline. The writing is easy to follow which makes the tour even more enjoyable.
Was this review helpful?
A book for fans of Charles Dickens. It covers places Dickens lived in, visited, or used as locations in his books; his books and characters, and objects including his desk, walking stick and his pet raven Grip (now stuffed and on display in the Free Library of Philadelphia). Following in chronological order, with plenty of photographs this is a really enjoyable way of reading about Dickens’ life and work. So many buildings with plaques on them! ( Dickens lived here, Dickens wrote something there etc) A thorough timeline at the start, this is a simplified biography but still detailed. I loved it!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you net Galley for providing a copy of this book to read  and provide a review.
I have to admit the beginning of a list and dates concerned me.  I stayed on and it finally got better.
I did not know how much he seriously felt for the underprivileged and poor..  He even took the characters of his book to bring the condition of people thru his story.  Like Bob Cratchet, in a Christmas Carol where he wanted to provide for his family during Christmas. Then Oliver Twist begging for food.

I was surprised at how he spent his time acting and doing readings in England and France.  He was well know and had a lot of support where ever he showed..  He even had plaques put on bldgs where he visited and stayed.

I was pleased with the book because it gives a view into the man who put so much effort and time into everything he wrote. I have an old collection of his books.

I recommend this story. The author put a lot of research into this book so it is fairly documented.  Some of it is dry but stick with it to get a good description of Dickens.
Was this review helpful?
My love of Dickens started when I was a child, my father bought my older brother a collection of his books but luckily my brother wasn’t interested so I claimed them. I read and reread them over and over again, I never tired of them. My favourite was Great Expectations, I have lost count how many times I’ve read it in total. When I saw this book, I knew I had to read it, after all he is the reason I love to read. 

It is clear the author did an incredible amount of research, this book is filled with a wealth of information from birth to death and everything in between. I discovered many new things I never knew about Dickens and his life from reading this book. The photo’s were such a good addition to the book. The writing made it easy to read and I never felt bored or bogged down with information. 

Overall a fantastic book for everyone, whether you like Dickens or not. I would highly recommend. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Paul Kendall, Charles Dickens Places and Objects of Interest, Frontline Books, Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2021.

Thank you NetGalley and Pen & Sword Publishers for providing me with this uncorrected proof for review. 

Paul Kendall has produced a well written and insightful story of Charles Dickens’ life which is packed with informative and engaging material. Photographs and illustrations abound, stories from a wide range of sources enthrall, and Dicken’s many faceted life is placed before the reader in an accessible and detailed manner. This is a marvelous way to fully engage with Dickens’ novels, theatrical life, the readings that audiences vied to hear and see, his personal life and many lodgings and the locations associated with these and his novels. 

On the practical side, the bibliography is wide ranging and the index thorough. To return to the photographs and illustrations, it is unlikely that an important event, novel, home, or location associated with a Dickens novel, reading or theatrical activity has gone unrecorded in this manner. Many belong to the author, but the diligence in procuring the abundance from other varied sources is a credit to the thoroughness with which this work has been approached. When a writer demonstrates such appreciation for his or her reader it portends well for the whole of the book. This supposition is fully justified in Charles Dickens, Places and Objects of Interest. 

The Introduction is excellent, not only introducing Charles Dickens and his range of activities, ideas, and attributes, but linking some of his strongest ideas to current social concerns. Kendall references the ‘me too’ movement when referring to the sexual harassment that occurs in novels such as Nicholas Nickleby, for example. The relevance of the novels remains intact, as issues raised in them such as child poverty, drug addiction, disease, greed and the balance of wealth and lack of opportunity still exist. I was interested that in linking past and present in the introduction Kendall did not mention the enduring aspects of the production of items associated with the Dickens novels that are so much part of the modern drive to exact every possible financial gain from films, novels, and television series. Nevertheless, I found this an interesting feature noted in the main part of the book. 

Much of the book is arranged around Dickens’ novels and associated locations: those that feature in the novels, and those in which Dickens wrote. Cogently written story lines and descriptions of the characters are included. There is enough detail to entice readers into rereading, or even begin a novel afresh, but nothing that will limit the enjoyment of doing so. I am not an advocate of condemning so called spoilers in discussions of novels, so have happily read about the plots, salient episodes, and characters in this book with great enthusiasm. My belief is that the material thus garnered can only enhance the reading of the complete novel. I encourage readers who might otherwise feel that they prefer to go into a novel with no indications of what might occur to abandon this constraint. Do read this book, do become aware of the characterisation and what led to it – Dickens’ experiences? People he met? Social dilemmas he wanted to highlight? For every time that a reader might feel that the element of surprise has been thwarted, there is the reciprocal thrill of recognising the author’s  motivation. 

A secondary theme is Dickens’ appearances on stage, in plays and reading parts of his novels. This is an appealing part of his repertoire, and well described, again with numerous illustrations and photographs. Here there is more detail about Dickens’ American and European tours, his attitude towards reading from his works and acting. 

The latter brought him into contact with the much younger woman with whom he was in love in the later years, finishing his twenty-two-year marriage, but remaining a steadfast father to his many children. This part of the book is dealt with sympathetically for all the people involved, together with some references to the reality of Dickens’ public persona and its impact on the relationships. 

If you do not know Dickens’ work, and would like to know more about the man, his world, and his motivation, this is a wonderful resource. For those who have read him, but not yet become opinionated about Dickens’ work, this is a worthy introduction to new ideas and information. For me, it has been a transforming read. Despite my own reflections upon, and Dickens’ commitment to social commentary, its relevance even today and his thoroughgoing fight for decent behaviour which compels so much of the positive characters’ actions, I must admit that I have not been a great admirer of Dickens’ work. However, I am now tempted to revise my opinion. I am looking forward to the Dickens novels I have not yet read. Paul Kendall’s Charles Dickens Places and Objects of Interest is the source of such a reassessment. Thank you, Paul Kendall, this is a fine book.
Was this review helpful?
I received an advance copy of, Charles Dickens, by Paul Kendal.  I really enjoyed this book.  I liked learning and seeing the places where Charles live, so long ago.  The pictures are great too.  I learned so much about Charles Dickens.
Was this review helpful?
"Apostle of the poor", Charles Dickens wrote about gender inequality and the London poor with such conviction which comes from personal experience.  He lived in London for much of his life and many buildings and locations have associations with this incomparable writer.  Not only did he write books, he was a magazine editor and journalist.  He also held public readings and enjoyed acting them out.  Of course his most known writing about poverty and the workhouse are Oliver Twist and Little Dorrit.  He wrote with such passion and highlighted the vast chasm between the classes that it has endured from the 1800s to the present...and there is no signs of it disappearing, either.  Dickens was partially responsible for improving conditions and orphanages as his writing brought issues to the forefront.  

Dickens' father was imprisoned for debt so he was responsible for his family.  He worked at Warren's Blacking Factor as a boy and the resulting shame affected him for years after.  He walked past a sign of a dog's head in a pot on his way to work.  There is a replica in place of the original.  He also worked as a law clerk at Gray's Inn which was dismal and bleak.  He assumed the pseudonym of Boz at first.  There is bust and plaque at Furnival's Inn where he wrote Pickwick Papers (one of my personal favourite works of his).  Various signs, statues and busts are distributed all over London and abroad.  I've seen many but would dearly love to re-visit London for a tour of all things Dickens.  

No. 48 Doughty Street in London is a very important address as it evinces his success, a much larger house and is now the Charles Dickens Museum.  For his research in the docklands, the police escorted him as the area was rife with danger.  A Jacob's Island plaque commemorates this.  Yet another plaque was erected at the Albion Hotel where he wrote part of Nicholas Nickleby, my very favourite.  Statues and busts stand outside England, too.  He stayed in Paris, Switzerland and Italy.  Elizabeth Gaskell, George Meredith and Wilkie Collins contributed to the magazine Dickens edited.  What an era for writing!  How I would love to hear these greats interact with one another, preferably in Gad's Hill Place.

I loved learning more about Dickens and where he wrote, his family, society and class.  The illustrations and photographs are fascinating and incredibly useful.  The sketches of characters from his books bring them to life!  The author includes letters and tickets to his readings as well.  His traveling cutlery kit and walking!  Details like this elevate a book from great to sublime.  Paul Kendall's meticulous research is really appreciated.

Anyone with one iota of interest in Charles Dickens, do read this unique and remarkably thorough book.  You will surely fall in love with Dickens' writing all over again.

My sincere thank you to Pen & Sword and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this important book!
Was this review helpful?