by Charles Dickens
It's book 3 in my quest for mastery of the novels of Dickens. And so far, it is my favorite.
This novel contains everything that a Dickens novel should contain: lots of exaggerated characters with silly names, a complex plot, and a mixture of comedy and tragedy.
The plot (in a nutshell): Mr. Dombey has always wanted a son, for business purposes, of course. How else can the firm continue to keep its name? So, Paul Dombey is born, and the elder Dombey is ecstatic. Unfortunately, his wife dies shortly after giving birth to Paul. Also unfortunate is Paul's older sister, Florence, who will now be ignored forever, as she is the daughter, not son.
To add to the tragedy, young Paul Dombey is very weak. In fact, he dies at a young age. By page 200, the son is dead. What follows is a series of rejections of Florence, heartbreak, a ridiculous second marriage for Dombey, and all other sorts of nonsense and bad behavior.
Will Dombey learn his lesson and learn to cherish his daughter? Will Florence rise above her awful family situation and find love and acceptance? All will be revealed, but you must be very, very patient.