In this classic tale, Dickens narrates the story of young orphan boy Oliver Twist, born in the workhouses of an English village, and his mother dead within hours. he was raised in an environment of abject misery and petty cruelty. He had been told from the beginning that he would come to no good end and that he should be grateful for what little he had. He was eventually apprenticed to a coffin maker, where he was treated with the same neglect and meanness he had always known. Finally, following the straw that broke the camel's back, he ran away to the streets of London where he met up with a band of thieves and thugs and is forced to join them. Somehow through it all, Oliver persisted with an uncommon kindness of spirit and manages to survive, and by the end, prosper.
Oliver Twist is exactly what I expected it to be - a great tragedy on the cruelty afforded the poor, indigent, and just plain down on their luck. It is less a story of the young boy Oliver than it is a commentary on social programs, which while begun with good intent often fail due to the cruelty of the smallminded and cruel men and women who weasel their way into positions of power. I found the first half to two-thirds of the book to be slow reading. I could only read so much of the injustices done to our hero before I would need to put it aside. And while the end was almost too optimistic, too neatly concluded in a manner which would never happen in real life, at least something happened. If you are a fan of Charles Dickens or other Victorian authors, then Oliver Twist is a must read, for everyone else, Oliver Twist is one of those books I wouldn't feel the worse for having not read, but at the same time feel good about completeing.