The Old Curiosity Shop


I suffer terribly from whattoreadnextitis so events like The Classics Club Spin are fantastic for making the decision for me and also ensuring I regularly read books from my Classics Club list. I find I am also more determined to read/finish the book if I know it is for some type of challenge or if there is a strict (ish) deadline. So the second spin came round and I ended up with Charles Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, so that is two spins in a row where I have ended up with fairly lengthy books, both of which I haven’t read before, but my authors whose other work I have read and studied in the past; my first spin book was Charlotte Bronte’s Vilette.

The Old Curiosity Shop follows the life of Little Nell, forced to flee with her elderly grandfather after he loses all his money (and the shop of the title) to a rather maleficent dwarf by the name of Quilp, we shadow their plight to get as far away from their misfortunes as possible. Along the way Nell has to help her grandfather escape from the evil temptations of gambling their worldly goods away. Fortunately they meet many kindhearted people who are willing to help them, from an old lady who owns a traveling wax work company to a kindly old schoolmaster. Meanwhile back in London (dun, dun, dun) Quilp is terrorising whoever dares cross his path, tormenting his long suffering wife and mother-in-law and framing Nell’s old friend, Kit.

I knew very little about The Old Curiosity Shop before I started reading it, apart from one main plot feature that meant I knew the inevitable outcome of the story, but luckily I wasn’t fazed by this. It is a fairly long read, but with really only a handful of characters (in comparison to some Dickens’ novels) so I was able to easily follow the action and keep up with the narrative between school and reading other books for my enrichment. It was an ok read, but I can’t say it is one I will be returning to or strongly recommending to everyone I meet. I just felt it lacked something; the narrative was good, but it wasn’t really exciting; Quilp was a convincing bad guy, but not quite evil enough; Nell was sweet, but not really memorable in my eyes. In fact my favourite ‘character’ in the whole novel was a pony, which pretty much says it all if you ask me. Admittedly he was a very obstinate and stubborn pony, but surely he shouldn’t be the character I remember the most? I read The Old Curiosity Shop on my Kindle and the only note I made was linked to this pony and the first time we meet him.

The pony ran off at a sharp angle to inspect a lamp-post on the opposite side of the way, and then went off on a tangent to another lamp-post on the other side. Having satisfied himself that they were of the same patterns and materials, he came to a stop apparently absorbed in meditation.

Overall an average read and probably not one I will be rushing to pick up in a few years time, but I am now officially 1/5 of the way through my Classics Club list so yay! Definitely in need of something light hearted and modern for my next read!

5 thoughts on “The Old Curiosity Shop

  1. I’m glad to see you enjoyed this even if you didn’t perhaps love it. I also Dickens on the Classics Club Spin. I am reading Bleak House which is a very long novel! I am not sure I’ll finish it for 1st July but I am not too worried. Would rather take my time and enjoy it then rush to make a deadline. Look forward to seeing what classic read next.

    1. I read Bleak House last year and loved it too, but have never tackled Curiosity Shop. Your review doesn’t make me want to add it to my TBR pile either 🙂

    2. Bleak House was one of the novels for my dissertation so I hope you are enjoying it? I’m sorry if I have put you off The Old Curiosity Shop, but it isn’t one of the best Dickens I have read.

      1. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. I might put it on a TBR list, but I have so many huge books I want to read this summer.

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