I think I can safely say that after A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby is my favorite Dickens novel! I thoroughly enjoyed this one, although I wasn’t sure I would. Just goes on to show that you should never be prejudiced about anything! Nicholas Nickleby is part romantic adventure and part satire, and you’ll find yourself laughing in quite a few places!
Nicholas is a regular guy, a young man who is honest and loyal, but who also has a bit of a temper! He has to support his mother and sister after his father dies, leaving them in debt. His relations are mean, and Nicholas doesn’t seem to find a job he likes either. Yet, you can’t help rooting for him, probably because he’s quite likeable, and also because we’ve all been in similar situations. Trying to find a job when you don’t have too many influential friends or relatives for support; not having a place to call home; facing all kinds of abuse at the work place – it’s all there in the life of Nicholas Nickleby. But there is an unmistakable optimism about the fellow, and it keeps you invested throughout.
There is a whole array of supporting characters, and each of them has their own peculiarities. Dickens doesn’t go into elaborate characterization, but each person has his or her place in the story. His typical writing style is also perfect for the genre. Here’s a sentence about a cruel, one-eyed schoolmaster: “He had but one eye, and the popular prejudice favour runs in favour of two.” Yes, that should give you a feel of the book!
Incidentally, this schoolmaster is based on a real person, although not many of the characters are autobiographical. There are many references to human nature, and you can’t help but smile at some of the ironies that existed then, some of which still exist today! If you ask me, Nicholas Nickleby is a book you can enjoy in any era!