by Charles Dickens


Haanya M. Abbasi, National Winner
The Iris School, Karachi
‘A Tale of Two Cities’ is an ancient, gripping novel written by the legendary author Charles Dickens, who lived in the times of Queen Victoria, in the 1800s. The Oxford version was published first in 1992, then in 2006. A Tale of Two Cities is a historical romance, tragedy and drama set in two cities as the name suggests, London in England and Paris in France. Both places are worlds apart and each cities’ laws, ways of life, and people are going to change vastly. Lucie Manette, the main character, believes that her father, Dr Manette, is dead. But one day, a stranger who used to know her father tells her that she is wrong—Dr Manette has been in the dreadful Bastille prison for eighteen years. Lucie travels to Paris and finds her father trusted with an old servant, Defarge. The ailing Dr Manette returns to London with Lucie. But when they come back to Paris half a decade later, everything has changed—the French Revolution has begun. Lucie’s husband, the noble Charles Darnay, is the descendant of one of the most callous noblemen—the Evrémondes. But now the Defarges are planning to end him. Only the greatest love of all, hope and courage can rescue him… The storyline was fantastic, but I wish the characters were more developed and personalities more detailed, especially in the case of Lucie Manette. She is the character who binds everyone together, but we don’t know much about her personality in the story, except that she is sweet and everyone loves her. Also, in the original novel there were many crucial parts that the Oxford version missed out on. But I adored the dramatic moments in which the characters were literally hanging on the line between life and death. And their ending was picture-perfect and truly tragic—the beautifully woven words ended the long, complicated story. The moral of the story is that great courage and outstanding selflessness outshine everything and to cherish the people you love because you could lose them before you know it. All in all, this was a grand novel and should belong in a shelf in every library. The different point of views has inspired me to broaden my outlook and now I feel the urge to read the rest of the compelling works of the still-famous author Charles Dickens.