I've finished David Copperfield finally. LOVED it. I'll just copy & paste what I wrote on Goodreads, if everyone will pardon me:
"I've spent several weeks slowly reading through this book. If it weren't for A Christmas Carol, this would be my favorite by Dickens. It's a long book. A sink back and feel cozy book. Little David finds himself alone in the world, half-heartedly and cruelly raised by a horrific man named Murdstone. He's sent to boarding school and the guy who runs the place is horrible to little boys, and then the really respected kid at the school (Steerforth) befriends little David, and he has to stay up nearly all night reciting books to him.
The dramatic question seems to be -- will this poor little fellow thrive despite his awful circumstances, and keep his heart, and if so, how? Dickens answers this question by the end of the book, but the novel isn't tightly plotted. It's more a series of plots involving characters who have passed through or contributed to David's life, while he steadily goes on, loving some, appalled by some, and slapping one square in the face. Much of the novel is spent sitting in rooms with incredibly weird and hilarious characters, visiting, discussing the past, and trying to relate to one another the goings-on off the page.
I loved little David. He's so quiet and kind and observant. I pretty much wanted to scoop him up and hug him for the whole first half of the book. I didn't find the second half of the book as interesting, because I think some of the pathos is lost when David grows up. I still care what happens, but not in a "come and give me a hug, you poor little fellow" kind of way. But it is good to see him grow up, and I love that we're with him for so long. The tension is pretty much gone by the second half of the book. There are all sorts of plot twists with other characters, but they're almost always delivered to the reader after the fact in conversation.
There are a wealth of incredible characters in this novel, and that's (for me) what makes this book quite excellent. I LOVE Aunt Trotwood. She is so smart and kind, and possibly my favorite Dickens character so far. DO NOT CROSS HER LAWN ON A DONKEY. I love waiting for what she'll say next. I also like Mr. Micawber. He always has to write everything in a dignified and long-winded letter -- even something mundane like "pass the salt." Mrs. Micawber will NEVER LEAVE MR. MICAWBER. Also, the villain in the story! He's very 'umble. Mrs. Gummidge. And Dora. She's so sweet and well-meaning. She wants so much to be what she isn't. I love the scene where she sits with David as he writes, so happy to hold the pen for him. Agnes is also a great character. I love that David craves her rational mind in his life.
In conclusion, I loved the book! I'm glad I spent several weeks with it, but I'm a little sad to say goodbye. I've been with the characters for so long. This novel is about the people who made David. The people who helped him, changed him, held him up, and pushed him forward. Just typing that makes me a little teary-eyed. x
(Also, Mr. Dickens should have written a whole novel starring Aunt Trotwood.)"
Now I'm beginning Middlemarch by George Eliot, and per our conversation (above) about novels on historical women, I'm reading Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln by Janis Cooke Newman. So far it is fabulous! The story leaps off the page. Voice? Yes.
Here's the description from Goodreads:
"Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. The first president’s wife to be called First Lady, she was a political strategist, a supporter of emancipation, and a mother who survived the loss of three children and the assassination of her beloved husband. Yet she also ran her family into debt, held seances in the White House, and was committed to an insane asylum. In Janis Cooke Newman’s debut novel, Mary Todd Lincoln shares the story of her life in her own words. Writing from Bellevue Place asylum, she takes readers from her tempestuous childhood in a slaveholding Southern family through the years after her husband’s death. A dramatic tale filled with passion and depression, poverty and ridicule, infidelity and redemption, Mary allows us entry into the inner, intimate world of this brave and fascinating woman."