Dickens's last completed novel is one of his greatest. It has at least three stories in one: a murder mystery, a sweet romance, and a portrait of Victorian society, with characters that belong in each and cross over into the other uneasily. Bella Wilfer is left to depend on the good graces of the Boffins after her fiance John Harmon is apparently drowned on his way home to England. Various unscrupulous characters scheme after Harmon's fortune left in Mr. Boffin's hands. Eugene Wrayburn, a listless young gentleman, becomes taken with Lizzie Hexam, a woman far below his station, whose father trolls the Thames for corpses and other salvageable goods. The Veneerings and the Lammles represent some of the social climbers of society. Surrounding all are the dustheaps of London, on which fortunes are made (garbage equals money), and through it all flows the Thames, taking and returning bodies, some the better for wear, some the worse.
This report prepared by David Loftus