Our Mutual Friend Book Review

From its darkly atmospheric opening scene on the Thames at night, where ‘Gaffer’ Hexam and his reluctant daughter, Lizzie, ply their grisly trade of fishing for drowned bodies in the river, Our Mutual Friend will keep you turning the pages…

Who is our mysterious ‘mutual friend’? Who will win Lizzie’s affections, the indolent but charming lawyer Eugene or the intense and driven schoolmaster, Bradley Headstone? Will Silas Wegg, one-legged purveyor of street ballads, ever get his other leg back? These, and many more mysteries abound in the multiple strands of the story and, in his mature and last complete novel, Dickens turns away from many of his stock character types and peoples his story with some lesser-known but captivating characters, such as Mr Venus, articulator of bones, in his shadowy shop full of skeletons; Jenny Wren, the sharp-tongued but good-hearted dolls’ dressmaker; the charming, capricious but ‘mercenary little wretch’, Bella Wilfer, and the incomparable Mr Sloppy, child of the workhouse, who is ‘a beautiful reader of a newspaper and do the police in different voices’…

At the height of his powers as a novelist and social commentator, Dickens satirises the hypocrisy of well-to-do ‘Society’ and champions the cause of the poor, not by lecturing us but by engaging us in the utterly absorbing tale of Our Mutual Friend.

Sue, Room Steward

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