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I came home from points east today, a rather horrible journey where the planned travel time of seven hours ended up more like thirteen. However, this meant that I read a lot of books en route, combined with a small backlog from the outbound leg, so there will therefore be much bookblogging this afternoon.

Hard Times was flagged up to me by first F.R. Leavis and then you guys as an interesting Dickens book. I must say I liked it; of course, part of the usual charm of Dickens is where he goes over the top, but it was really interesting to read him being rather restrained in style and concentrating both on characters and background, and aiming at uncomfortable subjects like divorce rather than the easier targets of poverty and cruelty. I wasn't completely convinced by the efficacy of Louisa's final confrontation, but I guess I'll trade a well-written if ot quite convincing scenario for another two hundred pages of fervent exaggeration. Perhaps this is a Dickens book for people (like Leavis) who don't really like Dickens; it's certainly unusual, though still very recognisable as his style, and I found it refreshing.

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