Dombey and Sons by Charles Dickens

All the way back in 2012, I migrated from Blogger to WP. In that time, I’ve had multiple blogs, with differing themes, I’ve been self-hosted and I’ve used free sites, and I’ve been generally unable to commit to anything. I’ve decided at this point that I want all of my bookish content to live in one place. So, over the next several months, I’ll be republishing posts that have long been published on other blogs, adding reviews to my review index, and then eventually deleting those old posts & blogs for good.

I’m starting with my first classics club project – the OG of reading projects for me – which ran from 2012 through 2015.

Dombey and SonDombey and Son
by Charles Dickens
Rating: ★★
Publication Date: July 1, 1848
Genre: classic
Pages: 1024
Project: classics club round 1

Paul Dombey is a heartless London merchant who runs his domestic affairs as he runs his business. In the tight orbit of his daily life there is no room for dealing with emotions because emotion has no market value. In his son he sees the future of his firm and the continuation of his name, while he neglects his affectionate daughter, until he decides to get rid of her beloved, a lowly clerk. But Dombey's weakness is his pride, and he falls prey to the treacherous flattery of others. Combining an intricate plot, vivid language, and Dickens's customary social commentary, Dombey and Son, explores the possibility of moral and emotional redemption through familial love


So, I am almost at the mid-point of my Classics Club challenge, so I’ve been going back over and seeing where I still needed to put up posts about books I’ve read. I read this book a long time ago (like, sometime in 2012, if I recall correctly. If not, in 2013) and I didn’t really like it, so I’ve delayed writing a post to the point that I hardly remember the book.

So, what you are going to get here is basically Christine’s thoughts and impressions about a book that may or may not even be remotely accurate. Here goes.

Dombey and Son is basically the story of a Victorian business man – Paul Dombey. He owns a business in London during the Victorian time, and is therefore a Very Important Businessman and the owner of a Very Important Business. The one thing that will make his life complete is a son whom he can mold into an image of himself, who will then himself become a Very Important Businessman and they can run their Very Important Business together, until Dombey dies and the line will continue unchecked ad infinitum, carrying their miserly and materialistic ways into infinity.

Dombey has a lovely daughter as well. Her name is Mary Sue Florence. Mary Sue Florence is all that is wonderful, a perfect flower of Victorian youthful womanly delight. But, pah, she’s a girl. No penis, no value! Begone from my presence, thou worthless strumpet!

See what I mean? She’s lovely.

At last, Dombey’s greatest dream is realized and he has a son. A choir of angels drops blessings on the House of Dombey. He is named is Paul, Two. See what he did there? Unfortunately for Dombey, he is a character in a Dickens novel, which means that he needs to learn a Very Important Lesson.

Mary Sue Florence, flourishes in her beautifully irrelevant uselessness. She dotes on her father and brother. Pah, she’s a girl. No penis, no value! Begone from my presence, thou worthless strumpet.

Paul, Two, on the other hand, kicks the bucket. Oh, noes. All of Dombey’s hopes and dreams are over.

But wait, says Dombey, I still have a lovely daughter, Mary Sue Florence, and I have spent the last long years ignoring her because she lacks a penis. But, what a silly man I am. I can mold her into a Very Important Businesswoman and we shall run my Very Important Business together because misogyny sucks!

Oh, sorry, I got distracted for a moment.

Back to the real story. Dombey loses all his money, because he is apparently not a Very Smart Businessman. Also, because he takes up with a beautiful, haughty woman who is not a perfect flower of self-abnegating Victorian womanhood and she sort of stole from him, and may have also whored around before she ran off with the man who destroyed his business. Bitch!

And, then, we have the redemptive ending. Which Dickens left way to long to convince me. By the time Dombey realizes that Mary Sue Florence has been there for him and that love is more important than money (this is pretty effing convenient, in my opinion, since he no longer has any money), I just wanted him to a die in a fire. Cold, broken and alone.

I know, it would be unlikely that one could simultaneously burn to death, and remain cold, but hey, it’s my irrational and bloodthirsty desire for justice, so I’m going to go with it. I’m all like “screw that asshole, Mary Sue Florence. He just wants to hang out with you because he’s broke, and you’ve got a son you named Paul. Also, we need to talk about your life choices because what the actual fuck you named your kid after that misogynistic asshole who ignored you and assaulted you?

TL/DR version:

This book is basically A Christmas Carol, with ten times as many pages, and one tenth the charm. Also there are no ghosts. Ghosts would’ve improved the thing.

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