My senior year of high school I read a book that changed my life. That’s not an exaggeration either–during the final three chapters, I had some sort of weird literature-spiritual fantasy.It changed who I wanted to be as a writer and who I wanted to be as a person.
It was an assignment in my AP English Literature class– Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities (shout out to my awesomely chill teacher who was also enamored with this story.)
Written in 1859, the 45-chapter novel weaves together the darkness and the light leading up to and during the French Revolution. I know what you’re thinking….45 chapters. In addition to being one of my favorite literary works of all time, it also happened to be one the hardest for me to read. It challenged me as a reader, but the second time I read it it was more fulfilling, less daunting and the last three chapters still sent chills down my spine. Don’t ever be intimidated by the size of a book, you never know what’s inside those pages.
Dickens touches on poverty, social injustice and the brutality of humans against other humans. He ends the novel at the guillotine–a place where many perished during and after the French Revolution. In this grey scene, where death awaits the selfless hero, his last thoughts become the final words of this tale:
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.”
As a writer myself, I’m very critical about endings. A great book that ends poorly just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When I read the ending to A Tale of Two Cities, however, I felt like I was flying.
(p.s. apologies to those who actually read my blog–been kind of a slump of a week. not a lot of laughs going around. people come and go so quickly sometimes, but i know i always have my books. hope to have a QOTD soon! Stay tuned.)