Number of pages: 880
This is one of Dickens' less well-known novels, and revolves mainly on the family with Mr. Dombey, who is obsessed with finding an heir to take over the family business. It doesn't have a cheerful start because, shortly after his son Paul is born, his wife dies.
Mr. Dombey proceeds with his attempts to bring up Paul as the heir to Dombey and Son, while shunning his daughter Florence.
I wasn't really sure where the plot was going to go, but it took a few turns I did not expect...
[Spoiler (click to open)]
What really took me unawares was when Paul Dombey died quite early into the story; the book also introduced further tragedy in the life of Florence, though.
Her lover Walter joined the crew of a boat quite early in the book, and later on was said to have been drowned; I suspected correctly though that he would show up alive later on in the book. Florence's relationship with Mr. Dombey was what I found most gripping throughout, since it was shown to be very difficult, with her refusing to speak to her father for several chapters before a reconciliation.
I thought that was the end of that, but after Mr. Dombey married his second wife, Edith, things got worse. The book made it clear quite fast that Edith was gradually coming to hate her new husband, and eventually ran away. Mr. Dombey blamed Florence and struck her, and then she ran away from him. At this point, it really did look like things could never be right again between father and daughter.
The amazing thing was that they did finally make up with each other.
I found this book to be quite difficult at times, mostly because it felt quite long-winded with the language that it used. Then, of course, there was the usual large cast of characters that I'm used to seeing in Dickens' novels.
I started to find Mr. Dombey to be a completely dislikeable, and hence irredeemable character, due to his treatment of Florence, and found myself wondering if the book would just end in him getting his comeuppance. The book also got quite bleak later, and I did not expect it to end cheerfully.
I think this is the longest Dickens novel I have read yet, and though there were several chapters where I could not follow what was going on, I was glad I didn't give up half way through.
Next book: First Among Sequels (Jasper Fforde)