My partner used to make fun of me for being such a Charles Dickens fan. He thought Dickens was all picturesque urchins and holiday sentimentality. Then I convinced him to read Bleak House and he discovered how much there was to love. He sent me hilarious up to the minute reactions to the book via text. His exclamations about Lady Deadlock were some of the best texts I’ve ever received.
We’ve had a kind of Dickens book club ever since. We don’t read them at the same time- but between us, we are both reading a Dickens novel and each of us reading one that the other has read before. I am reading Oliver Twist. He is reading Our Mutual Friend. And we are enjoying one another’s mutual journey through our respective books. We don’t talk much about politics or current events. We don’t talk about other people. We talk about Fagin and Riderhood, Mr. Bumble and Mr. Venus.
Now my partner rails at a culture that led him to believe that Dickens was a twee author reserved for carolers and ceramic villages.