Our Mutual Friend (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics)

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9780679420286: Our Mutual Friend (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics)
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When John Harmon—who has been left a fortune if he will marry the girl his miserly father chose for him—is found floating dead in the Thames, he sets in motion a story overflowing with cases of deception and mistaken identity, of murder and attempted murder, of sin and redemption. The influence of the notorious Harmon inheritance ripples through a large cast of vividly drawn characters from every level of society, including Noddy Boffin, known as “the Golden Dustman”; the one-legged villain Silas Wegg; willful Bella Wilfer; saintly Lizzie Hexam; the sharp-witted doll’s dressmaker Jenny Wren; the social-climbing Veneerings; the ruthless speculator Fascination Fledgeby; and the river-scavenging corpse robbers Gaffer Hexam and Rogue Riderhood. Out of this flurry of invention Dickens creates in Our Mutual Friend a portrait of a city and a civilization that is at once indignant, compassionate, and utterly unforgettable.

Charles Dickens’s last completed novel features one of his most surreal and haunting visions of  London, shadowed by towering dust heaps that supply the corrupting riches at the heart of the plot and washed by the dark river that winds its way insistently through the story.

This edition reprints the original Everyman’s preface by G. K. Chesterton and features forty illustrations by Marcus Stone.

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Review:

Our Mutual Friend was the last novel Charles Dickens completed and is, arguably, his darkest and most complex. The basic plot is vintage Dickens: an inheritance up for grabs, a murder, a rocky romance or two, plenty of skullduggery, and a host of unforgettable secondary characters. But in this final outing the author's heroes are more flawed, his villains more sympathetic, and the story as a whole more harrowing and less sentimental. The mood is set in the opening scene in which a riverman, Gaffer Hexam, and his daughter Lizzie troll the Thames searching for drowned men whose pockets Gaffer will rifle before turning the body over to the authorities. On this particular night Gaffer finds a corpse that is later identified as that of John Harmon, who was returning from abroad to claim a large fortune when he was apparently murdered and thrown into the river.

Harmon's death is the catalyst for everything else that happens in the novel. It seems the fortune was left to the young man on the condition that he marry a girl he'd never met, Bella Wilfer. His death, however, brings a new heir onto the scene, Nicodemus Boffin, the kind-hearted but low-born assistant to Harmon's father. Boffin and his wife adopt young Bella, who is determined to marry money, and also hire a mysterious young secretary, John Rokesmith, who takes an uncommon interest in their ward. Not content with just one plot, Dickens throws in a secondary love story featuring the riverman's daughter, Lizzie Hexam; a dissolute young upper-class lawyer, Eugene Wrayburn; and his rival, the headmaster Bradley Headstone. Dark as the novel is, Dickens is careful to leaven it with secondary characters who are as funny as they are menacing--blackmailing Silas Wegg and his accomplice Mr. Venus, the avaricious Lammles, and self-centered Charlie Hexam. Our Mutual Friend is one of Dickens's most satisfying novels, and a fitting denouement to his prolific career. --Alix Wilber

From the Back Cover:

'Our Mutual Friend' is crammed with narratives of concealment and mistaken identity, of murder and attempted murder, of sin and redemption, and is continually propelled by a satiric impulse and a theatricality almost surreal in their power.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780140434972: Our Mutual Friend (Penguin Classics)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0140434976 ISBN 13:  9780140434972
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 1998
Softcover

9780375761140: Our Mutual Friend (Modern Library Classics)

Modern..., 2002
Softcover

9780199536252: Our Mutual Friend (Oxford World's Classics)

Oxford..., 2009
Softcover

9781857151602: Our Mutual Friend (Everyman's Library Classics)

Gardne..., 1994
Hardcover

9780486812458: Our Mutual Friend (Dover Thrift Editions)

Dover ..., 2017
Softcover

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