A sinister masterpiece, Our Mutual Friend was Dickens' last completed novel. It is perhaps his ultimate vision of a dark, macabre London and the corrupting power of money. Opening with a father and daughter scavenging for corpses on the Thames, the chilling tale unfolds around drownings, disguises and doubles, violence, murder, and triumphant love. Young John Harmon, presumed killed on his return home to England, is very much alive. The heir to a dust merchant's fortune, he goes to work under an assumed name for his father's current heirs, the amiable, elderly Boffins, who are about to be blackmailed by the unscrupulous one-legged Wegg.
So begins the intrigue in a novel that is quintessentially Dickensian in flavor, in its grotesque caricatures, its rich symbolism, and the astonishing realism of its heroine, Bella Wilfer, among Dickens' most splendid female characters.
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Worth six stars
Whitfield/Vance grows tiresome.