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Johnathan KeatesBowen rightly emphasizes the social volatility of the early Victorian years, but needs more space for his opening perspective than this comparatively short study seems to allow. It is in the chapters devoted to individual novels that the notion of a young Dickens engaged with his times, as something more serious than a crude muddle of types and tableaux, strikes us most convincingly...Bowen's opening chapter, what is more, too obviously reproduces, in its moments of dawdling and impressionism, those very features of Dicken&39;s opening phrase for which he has been condemned. Such a passionate assumption of its subject's manner is nevertheless vindicated in this book by what follows. Seldom has Boz looked more frighteningly coherent.
—The (London) Times Literary Supplement