Plugging along through David Copperfield, I'm on page 170, having just finished Chapter 11: I begin Life on my own Account, and don't like it. Poor David has now been orphaned (I'm assuming everyone knows this? That's got to be as much of a spoiler as telling you Darth Vader is Luke's father. Right?) and is working in a warehouse in London.
What I loved this week: The amazing ending to the chapter in which David's mother and baby brother have died unexpectedly while he was away at boarding school, leaving him an orphan in the care of his nasty stepfather.
From the moment of my knowing of the death of my mother, the idea of her as she had been of late had vanished from me. I remembered her, from that instant, only as the young mother of my earliest impressions, who had been used to wind her bright curls round and round her finger, and to dance with me at twilight in the parlour. . . . It may be curious, but it is true. In her death she winged her way back to her calm, untroubled youth, and cancelled all the rest.
The mother who lay in the grave, was the mother of my infancy; the little creature in her arms, was myself, as I had been, hushed for ever on her bosom.
Doesn't that just break your heart? Every mom lives with the knowledge that her early death would devastate her children beyond her comprehension. And here's David, who hasn't lived with his mother for quite some time--and yet her death clearly marks the death of his innocence.
What I don't love: It's hard for me to pinpoint David's age at any given time. On page 154 he finally refers to himself as being ten years old, so now I know, but before that I was mystified. He seems so young in some scenes, and then refers to being smitten with a girl. I didn't think boys as young as ten got smitten with girls? Certainly my boys don't. But I'm willing to roll with it. I just want Dickens to be sure I understand how much time is passing, so I'll know when dear David hits puberty.
More to love: Some of Dickens' characters are hilarious and he really makes you see them, through their dress and their actions. Take good old Mr. Barkis. He's courting David's beloved nurse, Peggotty, but is too shy to speak more than one repetitive sentence to her. One evening he stops by with a bundle of oranges for her, but instead of giving them to her he just sets them down and leaves.
After that occasion he appeared every evening at exactly the same hour, and always with a little bundle, to which he never alluded, and which he regularly put behind the door, and left there. These offerings of affection were of a most various and eccentric description. Among them I remember a double set of pigs' trotters, a huge pin-cushion, half a bushel or so of apples, a pair of jet earrings, some Spanish onions, a box of dominoes, a canary bird and cage, and a leg of pickled pork.So, next time someone presents you with one of those gifts that makes you go, "Huh?" you can say, "Oh, how Dickensonian of you! Thank you!" and be grateful it isn't a leg of pickled pork. Unless of course it is a leg of pickled pork, in which case, be grateful it's not the trotters.