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Books I’ve Been Reading: Highway Girl and A Tale of Two Cities

Highway Girl

Orphans Dominic and Susannah one day decide to go their separate ways, Dominic going to America to make a fortune, Susannah going to live with distant cousins, waiting for him to return. When she finally arrives at the house of her relatives, she finds them quite… well, annoying. She lives in an apparently hanuted cottage on the estate and tries to live independently. Then she receives a letter from America saying her brother is very ill and needs money to be cured. Susannah has nothing of her own to sell, so she turns to highway robbery to get the money she needs.

This is a really quick and easy book to read. After finishing A Tale of Two Cities (and Horrible Histories Gruesome Guide to London), I wanted something awesome to read. When I read the first pages, I really hoped that this book wouldn’t disappoint me. It didn’t! The story appealed to me when I first added it to my Amazon Wishlist but then, after a flurry of books, most notably The Eagle of the Ninth Chronicles, I forgot about how much I luuuuuuuuuuuurve highwaymen. They are quite glamorous πŸ˜€ So anyway, I started the book and I was surprised to see how alike it was to my writing style. I was like ‘I could have written this book!’ and it was cool. Susannah was a great lead character because she is like a lot of people: she really wanted to be independent but her ‘family’ kept barging in on her life and messing up her plans. I know it sounds so cliche and stupid, but I felt like I connected with her (especially with the independence thing).

Also, there are a few descriptions in the book, but they are very good, so you can really see where Susannah is and visualise the story. That was a nice addition. There’s also a section at the end that has information about highwaymen and England around the time the story is set. A lot of it I had read in HH, and the whole thing was interesting. That made me realise how glamorous and charming highwaymen are πŸ˜‰

Basically, Highway Girl is, in the words of someone, ‘a glorious romp’. Maybe it was in the words of me? Well, it’s a pretty glorious romp and it appeals to really any age. I give it… 10/10!

A Tale of Two Cities

If someone asks you for the plot of A Tale of Two Cities, you can only answer ‘It’s about the French Revolution’. This book is about the lives of people in… two cities. How can you explain the plot of peoples’ lives? Lives are complex and eventful and do not take one path, like in a lot of books. I suppose the main characters are Lucie Manette and Charles ‘Evremonde, called Darnay’ (reference to the book there!), and maybe Mr Jarvis Lorry, Sydney Carton and Doctor Manette, but there are so many characters. But anyway, all that aside, this book is just SO AWESOME. It has probably the best opening and closing lines ever:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

Amazing right? It’s true even for now. And here are the closing lines (just as amazing as the first):

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

If you know who said those kinda moving words, you may agree with me when I say that who said the words was definitely telling the truth; after a certain event in the book, they have basically lost a lot, and they just end up going with everyone else, but inside, a bit sad. That’s the impression I got anyway.

So, to the whole book. One word: WOW. After I finished it, I almost got the feeling I got when I finished The Lantern Bearers (and the whole Chronicles): you are literally breathless, but so happy you finished it (because it was AMAZING), but then you are really glum because you have finished it too. I got that feeling, but not quite as badly as when I finished TEOTN (The Eagle of the Ninth [Chronicles]). That’s an indicator for how awesome this book is.

There is one bit where Dickens describes this huge crowd of angry peasants storming the Bastille as a huge surging sea. That was just awesome. I was like ‘YES! THIS IS AMAZING!’ when I read that.

The whole book is like a SAGA of peoples’ lives (as I said). It spans across about eighteen years and never gets boring. My dad said that he found it really hard to get into Dickens’ books, but for me, it was not hard at all. He also read an article saying Dickens was too advanced for kids to read (and not just young kids, like older kids too… like me), and it was not at all too advanced. I guess the news people think kids’ brains have turned to much thanks to TV and the media. Thankfully, I am immune to that stuff.

Back to the book: at first, you don’t really know how the book is going to all end, or what will happen, so you just go along and get into the lives of everyone. It changes which character is being focused on, and eventually they all come together and the action starts really getting exciting. Then you have to watch in awe as you see how expertly Dickens crafts his amazing sentences to make you feel every emotion he meant you to and to visualise every setting he puts us in. He basically has control over you with his amazing writing.

The book makes you think about everything, and it teaches you a lot about the French Revolution. It is a classic, and deserves to be read by everyone that can read! I could say a lot more about this book, but it would take a while. Just READ IT! I give it… 100,000,000,000/10!

So as you can see, I loved these two books. Btw, random fact, if I was around in the 1700s, I think I would be a highwayman… a French highwayman. They seem more glamorous (I have used that word three times in this post). Yes, glamorous. I know they were ruthless killers with ruthless killer’s hearts (from HH), but you have to love that. They are baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad boys. (And girls, in some novels) I amΒ  a screaming highwayman fangirl. πŸ˜€ Also, I would love to meet Dick Turpin (if he was alive right now, I mean). He seems REALLY awesome. Well, from what I saw in HH, with Mat Baynton wearing guyliner and a tricorn hat. Gotta love it πŸ˜›

OK, that was weird.

Your highway girl, Jaz

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2 comments on “Books I’ve Been Reading: Highway Girl and A Tale of Two Cities

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