Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Report: David Copperfield

So here is my first update on my New Years Resolution.

My husband often tells me that one day he wants to write a book about an ordinary guy, just living an ordinary life. He would call it "The Life of an Ordinary Man."  I teased him about it for years. No one is going to read a book like that.  But I have just discovered that that book has been written. It is called David Copperfield.

Oops. I mean:

Here is a summary (watch out for spoilers!!): 

David Copperfield is born.
He goes to school.
He gets a job.
He gets married.
His wife dies.
He gets married again and he is happy.

Sometimes when I read books I have an image that comes to my mind. For instance, years ago, when I read Great Expectations I felt like I was like swimming across the Atlantic Ocean. The book was hard. It was long. I thought several times I would drown.

Later, when I read Jane Eyre it felt was more like eating a beautiful chocolate cake. I savored every word.

David Copperfield is like swimming across the Atlantic while trying to eat chocolate cake.  I could tell there were passages of great genius and humor, but reading it in the midst of my present tumultuous life of five kids and a constantly barking dog, the flow of words and descriptions were at times so overwhelming that savoring them was almost impossible.

(On a side note, if your school-age child keeps coming to you at night telling you they can't sleep, toss them this book. I know from experience that they will be comatose in ten minutes.)

 I did take away some wonderful quotes, though. Here are a few:

"Try not to associate bodily defects with mental, my good friend, except for a solid reason."
"There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitibilty of mind and purpose."
"I never thought, when I used to read books, what work it was to write them."

One of the themes in the book was that it is possible to love more than one person in your life. David adored his first love, Dora, even though she was an annoyingly helpless and useless wife. David realized after marrying her that she required more attention than he expected and she did not have any domestic skills beyond playing games with her dog (something my husband wishes I would develop). That did not diminish his love for her, however, and she remained endearing to him in a child-like way until she met her early death. (I won't tell you how she died, just in case you want to read it, but keep your expectations low. It really isn't that interesting.)
Later, as David matured and experienced some hardships he recognized in his friend Agnes the deeper qualities he yearned for in a wife. He wanted someone who was capable. Smart. Selfless. Someone to inspire him, to lift him up, to help him to be better than he was. (You can tell which wife was my favorite.) Agnes had been doing that for years, but it wasn't until page 712 that he finally figured that out. In the end she made a pretty spectacular wife. 

I must be honest, if he hadn't have married Agnes the book would not have been worth it. 

There is one thing I enjoy about reading a loonnngg novel, and that is that I develop a familiarity with the characters.  Because so much of my own life is lived during the story's duration, the characters (and Dickens always has some quality characters, no matter how boring the book is) weave themselves into my life and become part of my daily thoughts, almost like real people. I thought about David Copperfield quite often during the past two months while I was washing dishes, watching the kids and doing the laundry. He was a gentle soul. 

I think I am going to kind of miss him. Kind of.

Dickens down.
Tolstoy and Mitchell to go.

1 comment:

  1. as ordinary as it sounds, you make me want to read it.