"In these times of ours," are the opening words of this book, which was published in England in 1864-65. The scene is laid in London and its immediate neighborhood. All the elaborate machinery dear to Dickens's heart is here introduced. There is the central story of Our Mutual Friend, himself the young heir to the vast Harmon estate, who buries his identity and assumes the name of John Rokesmith, that he may form his own judgment of the young woman whom he must marry in order to claim his fortune; there is the other story of the poor bargeman's daughter, and her love for reckless Eugene Wrayburn, the idol of society; and uniting these two threads is the history of Mr. and Mrs. Boffin, the ignorant, kindhearted couple, whose innocent ambitions, and benevolent use of the money intrusted to their care, afford the author opportunity for the humor and pathos of which he was a master. Among the characters which this story has made famous are Miss Jenny Wren, the doll's dressmaker, a little, crippled creature whose love for Lizzie Hexam transforms her miserable life; Bradley Headstone, the schoolmaster, suffering torments because of his jealousy of Eugene Wrayburn, and helpless under the careless contempt of that trained adversary— dying at last in an agony of defeat at his failure to kill Eugene; and the triumph of Lizzie's love over the social difference between her and her lover; Bella Wilfer, "the boofer lady," cured of her longing for riches and made John Harmon's happy wife by the plots and plans of the Golden Dustman ...
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