Hello for another day of blogging!

I am sure you have all  heard of Charles Dickens, the famous English novelist born this day in 1812?

For those who are not sure who this man might be, think of the movie  ‘A Christmas Carol’ which was based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens and is probably the most well-known.  Also, there was “Oliver” the movie based on another Dickens’ novel: ‘Oliver Twist’. And there are more that you would know.

The world is celebrating 200 years today since Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England and despite the poverty into which he was born, he rose to great heights becoming the most famous novelist of the Victorian era.

I was aware that Dickens’ Anniversary was coming up. My local library has been advertising February as a special month for all things Dickens. They have all day reading of Charles Dickens novels and a display to celebrate the occasion. I also heard a lot discussion this morning on our ABC local radio talkback where it would appear Dickens continues to be read and loved. Of course, there is also various Charles Dickens Societies throughout the world.

The announcer talked of the novel ‘Tale of Two Cities’ as having the best opening line of all time and even though I have not read this book, I too know the opening. It’s a great line. You may have heard it. Here it is:

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

Also, when I was at High School, I remember studying the classic ‘David Copperfield’. This was my first introduction to Dickens and I was blown away by the epic story, vivid characters (especially the ‘umble Uriah Heep) and it’s depiction of life in contemporary England at that time. I fell in love with Dickens and all the other books we studied during those years.

I have always loved reading.  I have wonderful memories of receiving books for Christmas and birthdays. Nothing would please me more and my mother knew this and indulged me by buying them. The first thing I would do was open it and smell the inside because I loved the particular smell of a new book.  And do you know, it is something I still do to this day when I get a new book?  Nothing has changed!

My love affair with books often got me into lots of trouble. I would be relegated to go and clean the bathroom or my brother’s room, while the boys stood and watched (boys did not do housework in my mother’s mind!) but often I would think it was all too much and go missing. I could usually be found somewhere cosy, hiding away with my nose in a book.

Oh dear, it was a running joke with my family and is still told within the family to this day. Since then, I have learned a bit more discipline but I have never again cleaned a boy’s room while THEY watched!!

I loved the books by Louisa M. Alcott such as ‘Little Women’ and it’s sequel ‘Good Wives’ and ‘Little Men’. Of course, Little Women has been made into a movie several times over the years, but I did love the latest 1994 version which was directed by the Australian Gillian Armstrong, starring  Susan Sarandon who is wonderful as “Marmee” and Winona Ryder as the tomboy writer “Jo”  It would seem America never gets tired of doing remakes of this movie which is just an all-round beautiful story. If you have not read it or seen the movie, do it; you won’t be sorry! But be prepared to cry.

Why is it we get so caught up in the make-believe stories of a novel? If it is well written, you somehow get ‘taken over’ by the story and if you are like me, you lose all track of time. One of the callers on the radio this morning, made the comment that “reading is like having a conversation with a friend” as we find ourselves thinking about it and reacting to it in our mind. I thought this was rather interesting and true.

Also, a lot of us could tell stories of how as young people, reading a particular novel changed our life. Has that ever happened to you? It has happened to me. I wish I still had the book that changed my life. I have tried to buy a copy from second-hand book stores with no luck. Even searches world-wide did not unearth it.

The book was called ‘The Pen and Pencil Club.’ It changed my life because, at the age of 13 years, it lead me on the path to writing. The novel was about a group of school girls who formed The Pen and Pencil Club. All of the girls wrote stories and published them (not sure exactly how?) to distribute to their friends. I loved this idea. Right there and then, I decided I was going to become a writer. I haven’t stopped writing ever since. But now, I would like to be published … one day!

I began by keeping a diary on sheets of paper which then led to writing intermittently in a Shorthand Notebook until 1978 when I progressed to keeping a daily Journal in an exercise book. From about 1990 I then progressed to nice spiral bound notebooks which has continued to this day. And yes, I have a Diary written secretly during the two years I was in the Convent! Interesting eh? I have Diaries tucked away everywhere!

So today, on this 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, I thought it was fitting to write about my love of books; my love of reading and my love of writing. So for me, I am going to honour Dickens by reading one of his books – the only one I have in my collection – Oliver Twist. I will let you know how it goes for I plan to savour it.

Last year, my Book Club (which I attend monthly at the Library) read the book “Pip” which was a rather good read too. So there folks, I have given you a little education today on Charles Dickens and books in general. Oh, just to wrap up, Dickens died at 58 years of age, far too young for such a great writer.

Still, he did leave us a wonderful body of work and during his life he visited American twice on reading tours, and also had a great love for all things Australian. Two of his sons came to Australia to seek their fortune; one is now buried in  outback Moree in New South Wales. Charles died before he got a chance to visit.

So I want to say: thank you Charles, for the wonderful stories you left behind to delight all of us! This was “the best of times.”

For those of us who love great literature, we are grateful…

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