Hard Times (Barnes & Noble classics)

Hard Times - Charles Dickens, Karen Odden The premise for this story is really cool! The story opens with a collection of businessmen deciding that they will only abide by Facts, not by sentiment or emotion. Meaning that marriage is decided by one's own objectivity, no complaining, and no decorations (an interesting argument is made against floral wallpaper). How's that for a twisted opening? From then on, actually living in a world of Facts becomes impossible and all of the characters are shown to be (at their best) emotional or (at their worst) liars. My favorite character is Sissy Jupe, whose emotional tendencies make her the strongest character in the story. Because this is Dickens, things end in the most bittersweet way possible. There's death, bad marriages, and judicial misunderstandings. I think Mr. Gradgrind could have more page-space, since he evolves so much as a character. I do think that Mr. Harthouse is cliched as the traditional, one-dimensional rake. The other, more complex characters make up for that, though.