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Cover image of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

As the last published novel of a writer whose career spanned over a dozen novels, innumerable short stories, plays and nonfiction, Our Mutual Friend is indeed a great composition by Charles Dickens.Considered to be one of his most mature, insightful and refined works, Our Mutual Friend takes a long, hard look at what many Victorians loved but hated to admit they did—money. Dickens uses satire, irony, symbolism and biting wit to portray this unlovely picture of a society obsessed with material comforts and its hypocrisy about the means it uses to achieve its ends.In his fourteenth novel Dickens is writing at the height of his abilities. He brings all his legendary gifts for plot and characterization to bear in this book. It tells the story of young John Harmon, who inherits the fabulous fortune of his dead father, a miserly millionaire who made his fortune literally from garbage, as a dust contractor. However, the nasty and ill-tempered old man had alienated his entire family including his son. John Harmon, the heir will inherit provided he marries the woman his father has commanded him to. He lives away from England and is on his way home, but goes missing en route. A body is found floating in the Thames and presumed to be his. The entire fortune passes on to his father's servant, Nicodemus Boffin (aka the Golden Dustman), a naïve and gullible man. However, John Harmon is far from dead. The rest of the story follows his quest for the truth, how he finds true love and true riches.In Our Mutual Friend, we encounter some of Dickens' most horrifying villains and also some of his most noble characters. Unforgettable people like the sweet Jenny Wren and Bella Wilfer, the evil Bradley Headstone, the repulsive Silas Wegg, the avaricious Fascination Fledgeby and a host of others populate this wonderful Dickensian universe and keep the reader enthralled. In addition to these, the River Thames itself features as a wonderful symbol of renewal and resurrection.Dickens was inspired by several incidents in his own life and in the lives of his friends while creating the plot of Our Mutual Friend. During the writing of it, his personal life was marked by several huge upheavals and he was involved in a serious railway accident.Our Mutual Friend is indeed a brilliant novel, sweeping in its scale and scope and would certainly appeal to readers of all ages.

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