The boys and I read about the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror in The Story of the World yesterday (which, of course, prompted all sorts of CC history sentence songs and connections, including the realization that George Washington became president the same year the French Revolution began).
As I was collecting corresponding books from our shelves (notably The Royal Diaries: Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles, Austria-France, 1769 and The Scarlet Pimpernel), I sighed a happy sigh when my eyes landed on A Tale of Two Cities. What a masterpiece.
Can you think of any other book that has such famous first and last lines?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
“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.”
Just typing those words gives me the chills.
The metaphors and picturesque language in A Tale of Two Cities are exquisite. It is a tale of redemption that rivals Les Miserables. And it is my favorite Dickens novel.
So I decided to read it aloud to the boys. I don’t know how far we’ll get, but I want them to hear the words. They are capable of reading so much on their own, I want to read something together that will challenge them. Something we can spend time on and discuss. [The boys have listened to A Tale of Two Cities retold by Jim Weiss, so they know the basic story line.]
I read the opening passage:
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…
Leif’s comment? “That’s an upside-down world.”
Yes. Yes, it was.