I was reading this for two reasons: I had seen somewhere that it was about trains, which I love; and it was also supposed to be a Christmas tale for a Read Dickens At Christmas mini challenge. The trains were well represented throughout the book, with the best descriptions coming in the early pages of Barbox Brothers.
Mugby Junction is another collection of short stories, the first four from Charles Dickens and the latter four written by Andrew Halliday, Charles Collins (brother of Wilkie), Hesba Stretton and Amelia Edwards.
Here I am, telling this person who wanted to know what I thought of these Dickens collaboration things that I'm going to help her out with her research, and I'm left with egg on my face because I have a book that sucks! The Gutenberg Project has all eight chapters, and I'm going to print the last four, and read the bitch, and fulfill my promise, just try and stop me! And it looks like some of the other stories I read for this project are also missing the contributions from the other collaborators... That's one of the things about Dickens that makes him great: his ability to take something otherwise mundane and make it interesting. He decides to live in Mugby Junction so he can woo sideways face and be close enough to visit dimples. I swear he coined the saw "it's a small world." Chapter three leaves the first story behind, and this is my favorite (of the ones I've read so far...). I understand this chapter came about from an experience Dickens had in a refreshment room where he was snubbed, and the result is a pure delight to read. One thing I noticed is that Dickens can't write an American patois for shit even though he visited us once. It was Mark Twain in The Rifleman. I Dew. I oughter ha seen most things, for I hail from the Onlimited side of the Atlantic Ocean, and I haive travelled right slick over the Limited, head on through Jee-rusalemm and the East, and likeways France and Italy, Europe Old World, and am now upon the track to the Chief Europian Village; but such an Institution as Yew, and Yewer young ladies, and Yewer fixins solid and liquid, afore the glorious Tarnal I never did see yet! This came close to being my favorite part, but I still leave that honor with chapter three for now. (I'll revisit this if I ever read the last four chapters.)
(Spoiler: Now happy, he returns to marry Phoebe and care for Polly.) 3 Main Line: The Boy at Mugby - Narrator serves atrocious snacks in typical British "Refreshment Room". (Spoiler: Victim who dies is signalman himself.) 5 No.2 Branch Line: The Engine Driver by Andrew Halliday - The complete how-to daily grind of professional and home life. (Spoiler: After marrying real daughter, years later, meets impersonator, really daughter of politician involved who forbade marriage, for funds.) 8 No.5 Branch Line: The Engineeer by Amelia B. (Spoiler: Years later, Matt's ghost stops Ben from revenge, killing Gianetta and her Duke, now husband, by driving runaway train.)
Dickens opens well until the story hinges on a ridiculous coincidence.
With the exception of the sketch tacked on the end, there is not much of Dickens' usual hyperbole and sarcasm.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was a writer and social critic who created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms. A printed epitaph circulated at the time of the funeral reads: "To the Memory of Charles Dickens (England's most popular author) who died at his residence, Higham, near Rochester, Kent, 9 June 1870, aged 58 years.