Category Archives: Charles Dickens

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

There is little I love more than having a thick book to read over a long period of time.   Some of my siblings are scared of big books, but I love picking one up and starting into it.  A hot cup of tea and a thick book is the perfect recipe.  Our Mutual Friend was a just such a big book, and it was by far my favorite Dickens.

There are so many plots and subplots in Mutual Friend (as in all of Dicken’s works) that it would take too long to go over them all.  But here are some of my  thoughts.

One set of characters I loved was John Rokesmith and Bella Wilfer.  Bella was betrothed to marry John Harmon, the one condition for him to inherit his father’s estate.  At the opening of the book, Harmon is found drowned in the river.   So the estate passes to the Boffins – an elderly couple who worked for Harmon’s father.  They take Bella in and there she spends time with Rokesmith – who is serving as the Boffin’s secretary.

Rokesmith tries to court Bella, who runs him off because of his low status.  She herself is poor, and was excited about marrying into wealth.  Now she finds that taken from her, and refuses to treat Rokesmith with respect.  As time passes, the money begins to affect Mr. Boffin and he becomes a miser with the wealth he inherited.  When he begins to abuse Rokesmith, Bella realizes what money can do to a person and flees their house, after defending Rokesmith.

A little while later you realize that Mr. Boffin had faked being a miser so that Bella would realize how trivial money really is in life.   Mr. Boffin is such a good, kind older man who loved Bella enough to run her off and keep her away from the lure of money.

~Warnings~  Really there is nothing to warn people about.  If you are brave enough to read Our Mutual Friend, you can handle the “thematic elements”.  There are a few dead bodies, 2 murders (not graphic), and the job of one character is to scour the river for bodies.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars