Saturday, 24 January 2015

Charles Dickens by Simon Callow

"This was pure bliss for Dickens: making things happen by throwing all his energies at them, performing the role of the director - and indeed the role of the character in the play - to the hilt, leading his band of players and prompters to the top of the theatrical mountain."

I liked this book so much I bought it twice. Let me explain. I was supremely fortunate enough to witness first hand Simon Callow's address to the Melbourne Writer's Festival on Charles Dickens and quickly snapped up a copy post speech. That copy sat in my to read pile through 4 moves - namely because I have a large to read pile.

I finally cracked the covers some time last year and was immediately enchanted. So much so, that the book accompanied me on buses, ferries, trains and taxis and at page 160, that is no doubt where the ill fated tome ended up.

When its replacement arrived recently, I figured it was time to make haste while the sun shined and was not disappointed. Callow's joy in Dickens' works and portrayal of the importance of theatrical performance and character study is fantastic.

I have to say that after listening to his speech, I started reading a number of Dickens novels that I had avoided to date - intimidated by size and language. One unforgettable message is the power of reading Dickens aloud - something which has the power to truly alter your experience, if like me, you had been a little reticent to jump in.

The life, loves, performances and personal history of the author is delightfully captured and Callow's prose is easy to devour.

5 out of 5 best of times.

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