This enormous story goes by quickly as you become more and more connected to David, his friends, and family. Even Dicken’s viewed this book as his best and I couldn’t agree more.
Hugely admired by Tolstoy, David Copperfield is the novel that draws most closely from Charles Dickens’s own life. Its eponymous hero, orphaned as a boy, grows up to discover love and happiness, heartbreak and sorrow amid a cast of eccentrics, innocents, and villains. Praising Dickens’s power of invention, Somerset Maugham wrote: “There were never such people as the Micawbers, Peggotty and Barkis, Traddles, Betsey Trotwood and Mr. Dick, Uriah Heep and his mother. They are fantastic inventions of Dickens’s exultant imagination…you can never quite forget them.” from Goodreads.
NOT A REVIEW (BECAUSE, REALLY? IT’S DICKENS!) BUT TIPS
There are over 4000 different editions of David Copperfield. Consistently rating one of the top classics and beloved by so many, I was confused as to why this incredibly popular book wasn’t more widely read…..and then I held my copy in my local bookstore. This is a tome. My mass-market paperback has teenie tiny print and the story came in at 821 pages. And that doesn’t include the introduction!
The size alone is not the only hurdle. Dickens doesn’t shy away from large and varied words. And he seems to favor naming characters with similar letters – this book is rife with D names and M as well – so keeping track of everyone requires focus.
But that effort is absolutely worth it. I started reading David Copperfield September 1st and I wanted to be finished by early October. It took me a bit longer than that but, as I closed the book today and said goodbye to everyone, I was overjoyed to have read this wonderful story.
But this isn’t a review! Instead, I want to encourage everyone to read this book. It is an absolute joy and a journey. So, here are my three big tips.
CUT THE BOOK INTO MANAGEABLE SECTIONS
If you are in school then you know the teachers are always trying to encourage you to read the book (or do any large project) in small chunks. I figured out when I wanted to finish the book and used page tabs to mark the sections. The tabs were a revelation for me! It was a visible end goal and it kept me from looking at what page I was on, rolling my eyes, and forcing myself to dig back in. With the tabs, I just kept reading until I ran into one. Each section was about 25 pages and when I got to the end I didn’t let myself read any more. That kept me always wanting just a little more.
MAKE YOURSELF A CHART OF THE CHARACTERS
This story starts at David’s birth and winds itself through his entire life. Many characters turn up hundreds of pages later and, as mentioned above, so many of them have similar names. Keeping track of the characters meant that any big story moments later in the book had meaning for me because I actually remembered the name of the Doctor that delivered David as a baby.
IF YOU CAN, READ WITH A BUDDY
I had a buddy read for this book and while my buddy and I weren’t always in the same place on the book we were close enough to chat about it. David Copperfield is like an elegant Days of Our Lives and there was many a time that I gasped and then called my buddy to say, “WHAT?!”
GET READY TO FILL A JOURNAL FULL OF QUOTES
David Copperfield is brimming with wonderful quotes. One of my favorites, “The most important thing in life is to stop saying, ‘I wish’ and start saying, ‘I will.'” I didn’t start keeping track of my quotes until far into the book and I regret not starting sooner.
And there you have them! These are my top tips for successfully reading, and enjoying, the masterpiece that is David Copperfield.
Tell me, please! Have you read this book? Do you have any tips to add?