A classic tale of poverty and hope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 January, 2010, 12:00am

Oliver Twist
Charles Dickens
Published by Penguin
ISBN 9780141439747

There are quite a few books which have been turned into TV series, films and a musical. But the story of Oliver Twist, the Victorian orphan who asked for more, has captivated audiences in all these forms.

The fact Charles Dickens was both a storyteller and a journalist helped him create such a vivid picture of London in Oliver Twist.

Dickens lived during a period when London went through huge and rapid changes. In the Industrial Revolution, vast numbers of people moved to the city to work in the factories. They earned very little and had to live in slums.

Dickens wrote Oliver Twist as a criticism of the growing gap between rich and poor, the hypocrisy of those with money, and the glamorisation of criminals in the press. But his bitterest attack is on a system that simply abandoned children like Oliver. Oliver's character stands for all those children whose childhood and innocence was lost and forgotten in a broken city.

But, despite the bleakness, this is a novel packed with excitement and emotion. Its portrayal of the fog, the crime, the darkness, and also the hope, in what has become known as Dickensian London captures both your heart and your imagination.