Our Mutual Friend is a ‘must read’ for anyone who enjoys the brilliant satire and gloriously rich language of Charles Dickens, or for anyone who would like to venture for the first time into Dickens’s noteworthy work.
Dickens’s supreme gift for description in Our Mutual Friend centers on an unusual inheritance – Old Harmon’s profitable dust heaps – and those who inherit, the young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and Old Harmon’s kindly assistant dustman and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults.
Through Our Mutual Friend, Dickens transports us into the dark and macabre London of the Victorian era, and takes a pointed look at the corrupting power of money. Using the highly polluted River Thames as the central symbol of death and renewal in Victorian England, he gives us the opportunity to glimpse into the multiple levels of Victorian society through such individuals as Gaffer Hexam who scavenges the river for corpses, the social-climbing Veneerings and their hangers on, the unscrupulous “self-employed” Silas Wegg, the curiously eccentric Mr. and Mrs. Boffin – amongst a wide corps of varied and superbly well-developed characters.
Our Mutual Friend was Dickens’s last complete work, and this reviewer believes one of, if not, the best examples of his satiric and storytelling talent. As is Dickens’s gift, though Our Mutual Friend is set in Victorian England, his varied and masterfully interlinked characters give us a glimpse into the human strengths and foibles present in any era. Our Mutual Friend is a page-turner not to be missed.
Review by Michele P.