I am currently reading Hard Times because I have decided that I would like to have read all of Dickens' novels. Hard Times seems to me to be the Dickens novel for people who don't like Dickens -- short, focused, small cast, fast-moving (relatively). I like it less than many other Dickens (so far) because of the lack of expansiveness, but I will reserve final judgment until I'm finished. I am also eyeing the Palliser novels and wondering whether I wish to take on Trollope's other major series. I haven't quite decided yet. If I don't, I'll probably read The Eustace Diamonds some time since it seems to be the most highly regarded and least dependent on knowing the characters from earlier books.
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