Great Ambitions: A Story of the Early Years of Charles Dickens provides young adults with an interesting and well-written account of Charles Dickens's life, beginning when he is twelve years old and working in a blacking factory and ending when he is twenty-seven, married, a father, and a successful writer. While the details apply to Dickens's own life, they also become universal in that he experiences typical adolescent disappointments, romances, failures, ambitions, and successes. Determined to better himself, when he is not working as a reporter for the London Chronicle, he spends his time reading and studying in the British Museum, and when he decides to become a court reporter, he spends long hours mastering the difficult court shorthand.
Great Ambitions also examines how Dickens's experiences affect him as a writer. All writers are influenced by the world in which they live, and Dickens is no exception. Kyle not only takes the reader through the London streets with Dickens, but she also selects and unravels those interesting details and characters that Dickens would use when he began writing fiction. For example, in Oliver Twist and Bleak House he incorporates material from his trips into London's slums and night world with Inspector Field. To appreciate how Dickens selected his fictional material and to gain an insight into his literary world, a world that people still describe as "Dickensian," Kyle's Great...
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