Our Mutual Friend ★★★★½

Ourmutualfriend (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: Our Mutual Friend
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1021
Format: Digital Edition



A rich dust collector dies and in his will he leaves his inheritance to his son (who he drove away years ago) and to his two faithful servants. A stipulation of the will reads that the son, John Harmon, must marry a young woman by the name of Bella Wilfer, or the entire inheritance will fall to the two servants, Mr and Mrs Boffin.

A body is fished from the harbor by a man who does such things and the while disfigured and sea eaten, the clothes and papers match the description of John Harmon. This leaves the entire fortune to the Boffins. This fisherman, a Mr Hexan, is accused by an associate of doing the deed and while no charges are brought, it brings a stain on Mr Hexan’s two children, Lizze and Charlie.

A young man by the name of John Rokesmith approaches Mr Boffin and offers to be his secretary. Having no need of a secretary, Mr Boffin kindly rebuffs his offer but invites him over for lunch. Mr Boffin then gets rich, becomes overwhelmed by everything, is amazed when Rokesmith deals with every in a matter of minutes and hires him on the spot. The Boffins have also taken on Bella Wilfer since they feel bad that she didn’t get any of the money and that her potential husband died. They bring her out to Society with them, where Bella claims she’ll be mercenary and only marry for money.

Members of Society have their own things going on that while not directly affecting the Boffins, do impact them through Bella. Mr Boffin starts to turn miserly and upon learning that John Rokesmith made an offer of marriage to Bella, turns him out of the house. Bella is ashamed at Mr Boffin’s behavior and begins to realize what a loyal man Rokesmith was to the Boffins and to her. She gives up all claim their money and goes back to her family. Rokesmith makes her an offer of marriage again and this time she accepts.

It turns out in the end that John Rokesmith is actually John Harmon and he and Bella inherit everything and are fabulously wealthy. The miserly Mr Boffin reveals it was all an act on his part to prove to Bella that money really isn’t everything. The man who tried to murder Rokesmith/Harmon is found out but gets his just desserts through another agency.

There are approximately 3 other side storylines going on through it all and they tangentially touch on Rokesmith/Harmon. Maybe I’ll go over them in another decade or so. Or perhaps not.


My Thoughts:

I had not realized that I hadn’t read this since 2001. I was sure I had read it just before 2010 but nope, didn’t happen. Second, while all the editions on Librarything show this as around the 500-600 page mark, my kindle showed it as just over 1000 pages and when I checked my hardcover copy, it was divided into 2 volumes. So this was a big book.

And that is probably my only complaint and the reason I gave this 4.5 stars instead of 5. There was at least twice that I just said out loud “Come on Dickens, get to the point!”. Anyone who complains about bloat in this book is fully justified and I certainly won’t argue with them. This was a 19 part serial and it shows.

Other than that issue, I enjoyed this tremendously. I have come to realize that I simply like Dickens’ work. I enjoy his plots, I enjoy his characters, I even enjoy (in a limited sense) his meandering and descriptions. It all adds atmosphere and when I’m reading it I can’t accidentally think I’m reading something by somebody elese. Dickens is Dickens. His books are shaped in such a way that they slot right into the space I have.

A lot of this book is about Deception, both justified and not. Dickens preaches at the society of his time unabashedly, especially about the Poor Laws and rips away the mask of what some levels of Society are telling themselves. It’s a good reminder for me to not sit too smugly in my own little chair and cast stones indiscriminately.

There was a side story about a Jew and I was surprised at how graciously Dickens treated him as a character. He was kind and loving and not a Shylock. I think part of it is that Dickens had enough scorn to heap upon his own fellows without searching about for others to castigate.

To end, I really enjoyed this and wish I could write more about it but me and longer reviews just don’t mix.



bookstooge (Custom)



32 thoughts on “Our Mutual Friend ★★★★½

  1. savageddt says:

    Dickens wrote a lot of stuf as social comentary I feel. I also feel at least from all of the reviews I have read by you so far that he meant every book as a form of “values and vices” training manual, while trying to have fun… I may be wrong on all of it…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nicole says:

    Glad you enjoyed it, now I can read your synopsis and not need to read the (way too long) book. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sharon Barrow Wilfong says:

    I haven’t read this one yet, although it has been waiting patiently on my shelve. It’s going to have to wait a little more until I finish Martin Chuzzlewit.

    As for long, I have long contended that Dickens was paid by the word.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Oh, he certainly was paid by the word. And the papers wanted him to stretch things out. The more he wrote the longer the serial, the more the papers would sell for longer. Marketing was the same then as it is now 😦


  4. Ola G says:

    I need to get around to reading some Dickens, but his books were written for a different time, when you could sit comfortably in your armchair with your feet by the fire and read books for as long as you wished, and call for a servant when you needed anything else 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  5. salonimore1702 says:

    I haven’t read much by Dickens but his descriptions were certainly very interesting to read. I usually HATE descriptions because sometimes authors write them just for the sake of writing them but Dickens is so damn good at writing them!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Even though I’m sure that Dickens’ prose would not be my cup of tea anymore (there was a time when I was more patient with long-winded narrative, but I’m way past that), this sounds like an intriguing tale.
    Maybe I will keep it mind for some snowbound holidays… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pcbushi says:

    Never heard of this one! Ah – if only I still had time to read…so many great books out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m so curious about this book. It’s not purported to be one of Dicken’s better ones, yet everyone who has read it, has loved it. I can’t wait to find out why, although I might have to wait awhile with all the reads I have coming up (and am behind on). Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I like the “realism” behind the Dickens books you pick up nowadays. Reminds me of how Dostoyevsky does realism but with a different writing style. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thank you 🙂

      Dickens wrote about real life, but the times have changed enough that I can read it without the message overpowering his story. I also just added a bunch of Russian classics to my tbr but am not sure when I’ll be rotating those in…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. haha yeah Dickens is often a little bloated. But glad you enjoyed this one- I’ve definitely been meaning to read it! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. […] Our Mutual Friend – 4 1/2 stars kept the party going! […]


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