This is one Dickens novel which I have never read, so I am really excited by the possibility of coming to it without preconceptions, and the first instalment is certainly one to whet the appetite. The first impression is that this is a scenesetter for things to come, and I have been drawn in straight away with the mood of episode one. A rather grim political and social picture of society, where no one is safe, and this is carried through to the scene of the action, as the stage coach struggles up the hill, with the mud, the mist and the countenance of the travellers all combining to a sense of foreboding and mystery.However, Dickens does not let me down – his humour is there ensuring that it is not too heavy, even offering me a wry smile about how things never change, as he describes the Captain, a city trader by day, a highwayman at night – a note for our times, perhaps?! The author colludes in establishing the sense of mystery at the beginning of chapter 3 as he speaks of everyone being a secret, an interesting commentary on us all, perhaps, but there was something in the amusing description of the messenger’s eyes being so close together, “as if they were afraid of being found out in something, singly, if they kept too far apart ” which reminded me of Wemmick’s ‘post box’ mouth in Great Expectations. No one can have airs and graces here. And then on to a nightmare of being buried alive.
However, I was so engrossed that I read on, and suddenly realised I was now into an article about something completely different! I am now impatient to find out what this nightmare is about, what is the meaning of the mysterious return message, who is the man in the coach, and will we see Tom, Joe or Jerry again….?