Sunday, February 28, 2021

Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021 Week #4 Update

This is the fourth weekly update of Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021, and the story gets more and more spiceful, doesn't it? How do you progress so far? What chapter are you in?

There's a lot going on for me this weekend which, in the end triggered my depression. So this time I will only breakdown here some of the most important scenes/events from Chapter XXXII to XLI just to refresh our memories.

- Nicholas accidentally hears Sir Mulberry Hawk talking rudely about Kate. He confronted him, and it ended in a carriage crash, badly injuring Sir MH.

- Nicholas renounces his uncle's financial support for the family for good (yes, Nick!)

- Nicholas impresses a cheerful, kind gentleman, while looking for job. And here we are acquainted with yet some new characters: the Cheeryble Brothers (who owned a counting house and offered Nicholas a job) and Tim Linkinwater (the clerk). They also provide a cottage for the family. The Nicklebys' honor are finally restored!

- The Kenwigses' reaction on the marriage of Mr. Lillyvicks is pretty hilarious!

- Then there is the eccentric neighbor of the Nicklebys, an old gentleman who likes to throw vegetables over the wall to express his love to Mrs. Nickleby, which reminded me of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot who throws a marrow over his garden wall in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Both scenes are hilarious, by the way, especially when it turns out that the gentleman is actually mad! LOL!!

- Miss La Creevy notices that Smike becomes dejected lately.

- Ralph Nickleby enlists Sir MH and Mr. Squeers' assistant in a scheme of punishing Nicholas. Surprisingly, Lord Frederick Verisopht hates the way Sir MH has treated Kate. Good for you, my lord!

- Smike is caught by Mr. Squeers, but fortunately John Browdie is visiting, so he helps Smike to run away.

- Nicholas recognizes the pretty girl he encountered earlier at the agency office, who is visiting Mr. Cheeryble. Everyone keeps her identity secretly, that Nicholas employs Newman Noggs' help to investigate her name and address. He did, but it's the wrong lady!


Nicholas Nickleby is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of 19th century lit. Do you agree? What is your favorite/most hilarious/most memorable comic scene so far?

For me, the most hilarious one is the "old gentleman in the small clothes" scene in the last chapter. Then there is also the scene of Mr. Kenwigs when he heard from Nicholas that Mr. Lillyvick is married:

Mr. Kenwigs started from his seat with a petrified stare, caught his second daughter by her flaxen tail, and covered his face with his pocket-handkerchief. Morleena fell, all stiff and rigid, into the baby's chair, as she had seen her mother fall when she fainted away, and the two remaining little Kenwigses shrieked in affright.
"My children, my defrauded, swindled infants!" cried Mr. Kenwigs, pulling so hard, in his vehemence, at the flaxen tail of his second daughter, that he lifted her up on tiptoe, and kept her, for some seconds, in that attitude. 'Villain, ass, traitor!'

LOL! Oh Dickens...!!

Newman Noggs is very funny too. I love several of his scenes everytime he gets excited!

Now let us hear your opinion! You can leave comments below, or you can post on your blog if you feel like it, but don't forget to leave the link here so we can visit and read your post! But If you have read ahead, please make sure to restrain from any spoiler.

Hopefully the next chapters are as funny as these. I, for one, am looking forward to read more about the old gentleman in the small clothes. What does it mean by small clothes, anyway?...

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021 Week #3 Update

This is the third weekly update of Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021, and we are halfway through! How do you progress so far? What chapter are you in? 

Chapter XXII to XXXI follows the most interesting adventures of Nicholas and Smike, but also the most pitiable state of Kate.

On their journey to Portsmouth to seek a new situation, Nicholas and Smike stumbled upon a group of theatrical people, with a Mr. Vincent Crummles as the manager. Dickens has dedicated not less than four chapters to entertain us with 19th century theatrical world which had attracted himself. This is my favorite part of this book so far - the stage, the eccentric people, the excitement behind the curtain, and the marketing aspect. Nicholas is first engaged as a scriptwriter, but he then appears on the stage as well, with, surprisingly, huge success. Smike also impresses the audience by his appearance as the Apothecary in Romeo and Juliet. However, the merry adventure didn't last long. A letter from Newman Noggs indicating vaguely on the implorable state of Kate, impelled Nicholas to resign from stage and to take a journey homeward.

Sir Mulberry Hawk & co. change course in their campaigns to "avenge" Kate's rejection by charming the vain Mrs. Nickleby. They made her over the moon with pleasant dreams. In reality, Sir MH forces himself on Kate when she is accompanying Mr. Wititterly to the theater. Mrs. W becomes jealous of Kate and accuses her of flirting with the gentlemen. The indignant Kate pleads her uncle to help her. At first Ralph seems to be a bit touched by her despair, but in the end his business prevails. It's this situation which had forced Newman Noggs to take action by writing to Nicholas.

Approaching the arrival of Nicholas to London, Newman Noggs hires Miss La Creevy's help to soften the blow on the strong-headed Nicholas when he receives the full account of Kate's misfortune. And here we left them with their plot and strategy in chapter XXXI.


Mr. Lillyvick is indignant by old Mr. Snevellicci's free familiarity toward his wife (winking, blowing a kiss, kissing), but Mrs. Lillyvick doesn't mind at all (even Nicholas is astonished by Mr. Lillyvick's reaction).

Why do you think flirting with single woman is an offence, while with married woman is mere flattering? Do you find same treatment in present society? What will you feel if you're in Mrs. Lillyvick's position?

I'm not married, but I think I would be as offended as I were a married woman; or maybe even more? I understand that Mr. Snevellicci's conduct is more playful than that of Sir MH, but still, I think Kate would have been uncomfortable too by this treatment had she were the target. Does different classes/society view the same treatment differently? Or is it related with one's virtue? I think it's between culture and education.

Now let us hear your opinion! You can leave comments below, or you can post on your blog if you feel like it, but don't forget to leave the link here so we can visit and read your post! But If you have read ahead, please make sure to restrain from any spoiler.

Now I'm really curious about how Nicholas would respond towards Sir MH, and how the Kenwigses will react on Mr. Lillivyck's marriage news - that one will be hilarious!! 

See you next week!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021 Week #2 Update

This is the second weekly update of Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021. How do you progress so far? What chapter are you in?

Chapter XI to XXI brought us to Nicholas' and Kate's further persecutions in their respective situations. At the Dotheboys Hall, Nicholas has had enough of Squeers' cruel treatment to the children, especially poor Smike, of whom he is most affectionate. Smike was about to be beaten, probably to his death, had not Nicholas intervened; and in his rage and indignation, he struck Mr. Squeers (who really deserves it!). Fanny Squeers turned out to be a true manipulator, and to avenge her "humiliating" rejection by Nicholas, she accused him of theft, besides, of course, of beating her father.

The penniless Nicholas ran away, helped by a new character Mr. John Browdie (fiancee to Tilda Price, Fanny Squeers' friend), who I hope will reappear in further chapters. Fulfilling Newman Noggs' premonition, Nicholas seeks his help, and thither he goes with Smike (I'm so relieved at his deliverance!!) Here we were introduced to some fresh interesting charcters from Newman Noggs' circle - The Kenwigses, Mr. Lilyvick the collector of water-rates (I didn't know such profession existed in Victorian era), and Miss Petowker of the Theater Royal in Drury Lane are some of them. Nicholas is hired by Mrs. Kenwig as private tutor for her children, after he rejected a seemed-to-be-promising job as a parliament secretary, which he got from the General Agency Office. However, another promising future character made an appearance here: a pretty young woman seeking job as governess, whom Nicholas saw in the office - would she be his future love interest? Let's hope so. However, after Fanny Squeers' letter of accusation met Ralph Nickleby - who, of course, believes her more than his own nephew - Nicholas is forced to leave home to avoid bringing disgrace to his family, so that they can still hope of Ralph Nickleby's support for Kate and her mother.

Kate, on the other hand, is facing another kind of persecution at Madam Mantalini's. Her colleague envied her for having a better opportunity. Mr. Mantalini, who I predict will give Kate inappropriate attention, turns out to be much less worrying than these new antagonists we are introduced in chapter XIX. They are guests to Ralph Nickleby's dinner party, of which he required Kate to attend. And this is a further proof of Ralph's selfishness and love of money. He "offers" his own niece as business proposition to his two big customers: Sir Mulberry Hawk (a hawk indeed!) and Lord Verisopht (very soft?). After this disgraceful evening, Kate is discharged from Madam Mantalini's due to its bankruptcy. But soon she finds another situation as a lady companion to yet another new character: Mrs. Wititterly.

What awaits Nicholas and Smike ahead? What kind of situation they will stumble upon? And can Kate get deliverance from her two pursuers after entering her new job? Let's see... but for now, I have another topic that we can discuss:


The ill-treated pupils in some cheap boarding schools in Yorkshire during Victorian era - how do you think can it happen in the first place? And for quite so long time before Dickens brought it up?

I think the main reason is because the pupils are unwanted children. In the earlier chapter, there's a man who was interested in Dotheboys Hall because he wants to "get rid" of his wife's children from previous husband. It makes sense, for after you get rid of them, you won't be interested to know more about their welfare; you'd only make sure that they stay where they are, pay the little sum only to soothe your conscience that it's all for the children's sake. The children could not tell their stories, and even if the could, no one would believe it, because they don't want them anyway. It's terribly sad and tragic, and we must thank Dickens for bringing this up in this book.

Now let us hear your opinion! You can leave comments below, or you can post on your blog if you feel like it, but don't forget to leave the link here so we can visit and read your post! But If you have read ahead, please make sure to refrain from any spoilers.

See you next week!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021 1st Week Update

This is the first weekly update of Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021, and Charles Dickens birthday! Have you started the book? How do you progress? What chapter are you in?

I have started on chapter 12 while typing this post, and so far... I love it! I have read from the back of my copy that NN "is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of nineteenth-century literature." And indeed, I could see from the first few chapters the sign of it being comical and witty.

The first eleven chapters are an introduction to the Nicklebys. Godfrey Nickleby had two sons: Ralph and Nicholas (senior) - each with unique character which is complete opposite of the other. Ralph is selfish, with passion in money, while Nicholas is gentle, kind, and dreamy. Ralph grows to be a successful businessman, and an unmarried miser. Nicholas? Well, he finally married, but one imprudent investment washed away all his money (has he never learnt about never putting all your eggs in one basket?!) Anyway, too heartbroken by his ruin, he died, leaving his widow and children without money. How convenient it is to just "die" after terrible thing happens, that you don't have to face the consequences, and let your family solve their problems by themselves, since God will take care of them. Well, I have no patience for these kind of people! It is a selfishness of another kind.

The Nicklebys are then forced to beg Ralph Nickleby for his support. He procured Nicholas (the son was named after the father, but oh boy, how his character turns out to be far from his father - thank Heaven!) a position of assistant teacher in Dotheboys boarding school in Yorkshire. For Kate, the daughter, Uncle Ralph secured a situation of milliner in Madam Mantalini's the dressmakers.

The boarding school appears to be a minimum budgeted institution for unwanted children, where they are treated inhumanely. Everyday Nicholas must witness the schoolmaster Mr. Squeers' cruelty towards his servants and pupils; and if that's not enough, Mr. Squeers' daughter had a crush on him. Considering Nicholas' rather blunt honesty - remember his first comment on Ralph Nickleby about his fathers' death: "Some people, I believe, have no hearts to break." (brava Nick!), I predict this romantic predicament will put more misfortunes in Nicholas' position when he must break Miss Sneers' heart! Kate too, I think, will have her own work trouble, considering the pervert of Mr. Mantalini who couldn't take his eyes off the beautiful Kate since she steps into his house!

Now I was eager to read through next week to chapter XXI. But before that, I have one topic that we can discuss:

From chapter I - XI, who do you think is the most interesting secondary character(s) that you want to get to know more? Why?

My favorite is Newman Noggs. I loved him the moment he secretly gave the letter on Nicholas' departure. I knew that at least there is one person who will care for Nicholas - and this from a stranger. Later that I know he used to be a gentleman, I loved him even more, and interested to know his history.

Miss La Creevy is another interesting character, though at first I wasn't certain whether she is selfless enough to befriend Kate Nickleby. But an eccentric female painter adds more colour to the story indeed!

But, I'm also interesting to learn why or how Mr and Mrs. Squeers (and others such schoolmasters) became so inhuman towards the children. Is it pure business greediness? Or something else? What do you think?

Now let us hear your opinion! You can leave comments below, or you can post on your blog if you feel like it, but don't forget to leave the link here so we can visit and read your post! But If you have read ahead, please make sure to refrain from any spoilers.

See you next week!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021 Master Post

Welcome to the Nicholas Nickleby Readalong 2021! For the next six weeks we will read the 70 chapters of Charles Dickens' third novel which was originally published as serial (monthly installments) in March 1838 - October 1839, titled: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.


in six weeks

1st week (February 1~February 6): Ch. 1-11
2nd week (February 7~February 13): Ch. 12-21
3rd week (February 14~February 20): Ch. 22-31
4th week (February 21~February27): Ch. 32-41
5th week (February 28~March 6): Ch. 42-51
6th week (March 7~March 13): Ch. 52-70

March 14~March 20: REVIEW/WRAP UP


⭐ I plan to publish an update post every weekend, along with one or two questions/topics for discussion from the chapters we have read for the week. You are welcomed to join the discussions in the comment box, but if you are already chapter(s) ahead, please refrain from any spoilers!
⭐ You are welcomed to post quotations or updates, etc. in either blog or Twitter during the readalong. I may pick several to be featured in my update posts. Just remember to put the hashtag: #NicholasNickleby2021 or mention me @fanda_a.
⭐ I don't use linky for this event, so just drop link to your posts on the comment box of any of my master/update posts or mention me on Twitter, and I will link back to your posts from my update posts.


✔ Dickens started writing Nickleby while still working with Oliver Twist.
✔ A Mr. William Shaw of Shaw's Academy was long been believed to be the inspiration of Mr. Wackford Squeers, the brutal schoolmaster of Dotheboys Hall in this book.
✔ Within two years after Nickleby's publication, almost all the cheap and inhumane schools had been closed down, thanks to Dickens.
✔ in 1838 Dickens and Phiz (Hablot Knight Browne), Dickens' illustrator, visited schools in Yorkshire in secret to investigate. During this visit, they found a cemetery with gravestones of the dead schoolboys who were victims of the inhumane treatments of the schools. This visit later inspired Dickens' character: Smike.
✔ Nicholas Nickleby is the book that set Dickens' place in the high society of Victorian society, and brought him fame.

Now... are you ready to have this six weeks journey with Nickolas Nickleby? Let's do it!