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!


  1. I haven't started yet! But I did look to see when it was I read it--1991, so it's been a while. But I do remember both Newman Noggs and Miss La Creevy.

    1. Dickens' characters are always memorable, right? In names as well as personalities. ^_^

  2. "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."
    I agree, and this is something one sees in so much Victorian literature--the men simply dying of shock or a broken heart after getting themselves into a mess, and leaving the poor families to fend for themselves. Though in Nicholas sr's case, it was at his wife's bidding that he speculated though she seems to shift all the blame on him later.
    Noggs is definitely a character I like very much and I didn't remember very much of Miss La Creevy so looking forward to seeing how whether she does turn out to be a good friend to Kate.
    Ralph on the other hand is giving out some very creepy vibes right from the start, and doesn't seem to keep very good company.
    I shall be posting my own thoughts later today. Enjoyed reading yours.

    1. I dislike Mrs. Nickelby! How on earth could Nicholas and Kate be born from such a couple?
      Ralph is the unpredictable character here, right? We know he's not a good one, but, we still don't know yet how bad he is.

    2. I agree on Mrs Nickleby though Mr Nickleby seems pleasant enough. She on the other hand seemed ready enough to shift the blame on her husband when it was she who egged him on to speculate. And then later ( I have read on ahead too), is ready to accept the Ralph's word over her own children.
      Ralph yes, probably we don't know the degree of his wickedness but am not so far getting particularly good vibes from him considering the company he keeps and his business dealings.

  3. Here's my post for the week:

    1. Thanks for posting, Mallika! I have left a comment on it too. Have fun!

  4. Yes, Noggs is certainly an interesting character, and I also think Fanny is an entertaining character, as well. But the one who maybe isn't as interesting but sort of tugs at my heart is Smike. I am sure that is what Dickens intention was, too. Very effective. So I am curious what becomes of Fanny or what trouble she may cause, and what good things may happen for Smike. Things have to work out for the better for him. :(

    1. I have bad feelings about Smike, that's why I don't want to have much expectations about him, except that he really deserves good things after that cruelty!


What do you think?