Nicholas Nickleby ★★★★★

nicholasnickleby (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Nicholas Nickleby
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1029
Format: Digital Edition



Nicholas Nickleby dies of a broken heart after speculating all his families money and losing it. He dies and leaves behind a wife and his young son Nicholas and a younger daugher Kate. He leaves them to the tender mercies of his brother Ralph, a rich money lender.

Ralph sends Nicholas to a school master as an aide with the promise that Ralph will take care of Mrs Nickleby and Kate as long as Nicholas stays the course. Said schoolmaster, one Wackford Squeers, is in cahoots with Ralph on various usurous objectives that Ralph has in mind. Squeers uses and abuses his charges and also gets free labor from a simple minded orphan named Smikes. When Squeers begin to beat Smikes almost to death, Nicholas intervenes even though he knows it means his Uncle Ralph will kick his Mother and sister out onto the streets.

Nicholas and Smikes join an actors troupe to earn a living. Nicholas receives a letter from an employee of his Uncle begging him to come back to London.

During this time, Ralph had used his niece Kate as bate to entice a young lord to get money from him. Kate begs her Uncle to spare her the shame of such a thing but Ralph will not relent. Money is his god.

Nicholas returns to London, defies his Uncle, starts a new job with the Cheeryble brothers. He comes across a beautiful young woman and has to contend with his Uncle and Wackford Squeers trying to kidnap Smikes. Many schemes of Ralph all come together around Nicholas and with the help of various friends, Nicholas overcomes all and sees Ralph ruined.

Nicholas marries the beautiful young lady, Kate marries Frank Cheeryble, the nephew of the Cheeryble brothers and everything works out well for the good guys and the bad guys all get their just desserts, whether prison, murder or exile.


My Thoughts:

First, let’s deal with something here. Wackford Squeers. I have been saying that name in dulcet tones for the last 2 weeks. I mean, how PERFECT is that name for a villain? Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers, Wackford Squeers. This could probably have been a 5star book just on the strength of that name alone. Thankfully, the rest of the book carries its weight as well.

The characters, all of them, are fantastic. From youthful, hotheaded and sometimes silly Nicholas to grasping, hate filled Uncle Ralph to poor, pathetic, heart breaking and sympathy inducing Smikes to cruel, petty and cowardly Wackford Squeers. Dickens doesn’t just write ABOUT these characters, he brings them to life, in all their glorious ups and downs. I know that Dickens is shamelessly manipulating me with how he describes poor Smikes but I don’t care because he does it so well. My heart broke for the poor wretch even while I KNEW that Dickens was doing this cold heartedly to bring about just such a reaction from me. And Wackford Squeers, my goodness, such a vile pot of avarice, cowardice and bulliness that I loved to hate him. Plus, singing his name to the tune of ♪Davey,♪ Davey Crockett,♪King of the Wild Frontier♪ fit perfectly and almost had me dancing with glee.

The trials and tribulations of Nicholas, Kate, various other side characters, all tie into a wondrous tapestry that simply enchanted me. Now, this being Dickens, and originally serialized, and Dickens being paid by the word, there were times that I was tempted to skim or let my mind wonder during some of the more descriptive pages or while Mrs Nickleby would wax eloquent about something that nobody cared about, but I overcame and read every word and I must say, I am richer for it. While Dickens isn’t by any means a sparse writer, neither is he a wasteful writer. His descriptions bring the people walking the street alive. His words make the characters as real as real can be. When I was tempted to simply skip anything involving Mrs Nickleby and her pointless reminisces and get annoyed by her, it was what Dickens was aiming for. He wanted a character just like that and he created her from thin air.

While I gave this 5stars back in ’07 and 5 stars again, I don’t know if I’d recommend anyone starting their exploration of Dickens with this or not. First off, it is over 1000pages for the entire novel. Even the broken up edition I read back in ’07 was almost 600 pages for each volume. However, thanks to the likes of Sanderson, Martin and Co, the Mega-Novel (trademark pending) is becoming main stream and the mere size of Dickens might not be quite the impediment it would have been even 20 years ago. The other thing would be this showcases the Victorian ideals to a T(ea) (haha!!!!) and that might be off putting those of modern culture. Nicholas not pursuing Madeline Bray because it wouldn’t be proper as he wasn’t of the same class anymore (she was monied while the Nickleby’s weren’t anymore) and Nicholas persuading his sister Kate to not accept Frank Cheeryble’s proposal (at first) because it wouldn’t look right since Nicholas worked for the Cheeryble Uncles. It is very much outside the egalitarian ideas we carry around today that I can see it turning people away. Now, that being said, anyone who IS turned off from Dickens because of something like that doesn’t deserve to read the Master anyway. So no great loss.

After arguing with myself in the above paragraph, I have realized this book not only gets my unadulterated acclamation, but my highest recommendation AND the first of the year Best Book of the Year tag. I wish I could praise this book more, I really do but this will have to do.






bookstooge (Custom)



37 thoughts on “Nicholas Nickleby ★★★★★

  1. Grandfather of the Mega-Novel?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Ha! I was thinking of that actually while I was reading it. Several of Dickens’ works are this size and it made me realize how pathetic we are today, when we think that Sanderson paved the way for the mega-novel. The paucity of our understanding of what has come before staggers me.

      Most definitely the Grand-daddy of the Mega-novel 😀


  2. saloni says:

    I’ll definitely add this to my TBR list. All those names sound wonderful! They simply roll off the tongue!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree about Dickesn bringing characters to life! I recall experiencing this with Oliver Twist as a child and still feel it every time I revisit A Christmas Carol. I need to explore more of his work. This may be a great way to dive back in! I am now sitting here at my work desk saying “Wackford Squeers” over and over 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. H.P. says:

    Classic literary fiction? What in the Dickens!?

    I’ve never read Dickens. I really need to at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Considering how you write about Tolkien, I’d definitely recommend trying at least one Dickens just to see if he works for you.
      Plus, I’d be interested to see what you think of him as an author.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. HCNewton says:

    Not sure which is a better (worse?) earworm – Wackford Squeers or the Davy Crockett theme. Either way, this post will be heavily featured today when my mind wanders.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Reviews with that kind of passion must be what authors lie awake dreaming of 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Or lie mouldering in their graves 😉

      I don’t tend to get too enthused about modern books. Even the 5stars just don’t get my literary engine revving like these classics do…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I know exactly what you mean but some do! I loved Jane Eyre but enjoyed it even more after reading Wide Sargasso Sea too. There’s a couple in England also who are tv presenters and they have their recommended reads ‘The Richard and Judy Book Club’ I’ve never been disappointed by any of their recommendations

        Liked by 1 person

  7. that’s one huge book! Never read Dickens but I’ve been thinking about starting at some point. Which book would you recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have to admit, in general the classics don’t really excite me, but I suspect it’s because I was ruined by my high school AP English lit class. It was very rigorous, and I especially did not like Dickens since we were assigned so many of his novels which were originally published in serial format. Even as a teen I could tell the guy was paid by installments because of his longwindedness and every time the prose got description heavy I would just skip half a dozen pages and still feel confident that I didn’t miss anything important 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bookstooge says:

      Yep, it is very obvious 😀 However, I have found that while I can skip pages and still hold the narrative thread unbroken, it is much fuller if I do take the time to read everything.

      that being said, it wasn’t until I was in college that I really read Dickens for the first time. I’m not sure how I’d feel about him if I’d had him shoved down my throat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Having any kind of required reading shoved down your throat is no fun. I was glad I took that course because I ended up reading a lot of classics, but for years after that I didn’t pick up a book on my own. I didn’t start reading for pleasure again until after college, which I kind of regret.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Trang says:

    OMG A 5 stars from Bookstooge? It’s a must read for me ! Especially if it’s a classic 😏 LOL at that villain name I wonder if it’s going to get stuck in my head too 🧐

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ola G says:

    Wow, a 5 star review, and Dickens to boot! 🙂 Never even heard of this book before, and now I have to add another 1000-page brick to my TBR wall 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. savageddt says:

    Wow 5 stars… i’d say if people who do not know better when saying “I love Dickens” would be looking at you shaking their heads and thinking you might be Wackford (S)queer(s)…. I’m joking of course… i got my head in the gutter most times… great review as always

    Liked by 1 person

  12. bkfrgr says:

    Yes!! Dickens is the king of great character names! This is one of the few Dickens I haven’t read, but I just love the name Wackford Squeers so I’m on it! Some of my favourites are Thomas Gradgrind (bad guy, right?), Hiram Grewgious, Cornelia Blimber, Tommy Traddles, Mr Pumblechook, and Magwitch, (of course). You’ve made me want to read some Dickens immediately … thank you! *bumbling off downstairs* 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My brother’s name is Steve, and he had (maybe from an old David Letterman show?) a list of “books about guys named Steve”. One of them was “Stevolas Stevelby”. I don’t remember all of them, but I recall “The Grapes of Steve” and “The Steves of Wrath”.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. FictionFan says:

    Superb review of one of his very best novels! Whenever I wonder what the point of humanity is (a thing that happens several times a day at the moment), I remember Dickens and that I’m so glad to live in a world that had him in it! And thank goodness for the printing press… 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love that the purple prose is actually a good thing in this one. Wonderful review, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

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