Rosie said, "You should read Barnaby Rudge." So I got it down off the shelf where it had resided in untouched splendor amidst all the other Dickenses that I had had shipped out from England long ago.
The spine was much faded but the illustrations were lovely. The pace of the opening was somewhat slow --as it could be before Twitter and all that -- but the typeface was tiring so I went all 21st century and downloaded the novel for 99c onto my Kindle....
Then I started looking at all the illustrations in all the other hitherto untouched volumes.... Note the fug of smoke and wonderful long pipes.
and came upon poor Little Nell looking pretty damn abject. In my laziness, I had always sort of assumed that the books came from my father's family who lived in Kent so was surprised to discover who had really been the first owner.
Here is the rather grand bookplate of my grandmother Gretchen's favorite brother Leslie who died young of diabetes as people did in those days.
So I turned to my greatgrandmother Sarah Bayley's little date book where she recorded his life.
I half wondered if I should give all the Dickens away, but realise now that I probably won't even though I doubt I'll ever read them.