"...and so do things pass away, like a tale that is told." When I started this novel I got all excited, thinking it might be even better than Great Expectations, my favorite Dickens novel to date. What always happens to me with Charles Dickens, though, is that my interest starts to fade about 2/3 of the way through the book. He has many sub-plots going all at once, and he abandons some of them for so long in order to focus on just one. Often the one he favors is the one I'm least interested in, so I have to slog through just to get back to the characters I like better. Part of the problem is the serialized nature of the original stories, and part of it is just me and my impatience as a 21st-century reader. I won't belabor the plot. It's been done to death. There's much to love about this book, most important of which is Dickens's tongue-in-cheek descriptions of what would otherwise be dry details. I found more sneaky humor in this novel than in any other Dickens I've read so far. I especially enjoyed his many ironic references to the mannish Sally Brass, e.g. "the beautiful virgin" and "that fascinating woman."Honestly, this was a 3.5 star read for me. I'm semi-grudgingly rounding up to four stars because there's no denying the genius of the writing, and especially because I appreciated the comic relief in an otherwise sad tale.