Gosh, I waded through this tome and it is a really large book, think of a doorstep and you have just about got it right! Well, it was worth it. I did learn more about Dickens than perhaps I needed to know, the minutia of his life, but as it so informed his work particularly in the early years I think in balance it was justifiable.
What I found so interesting was that I had to keep reminding myself that he was a man of his time. Many of his observations seem so current today. On the other hand in his later years he was vile to his wife and children ( well most of them) and this is extraordinary when you consider the depth, feeling and social conscience that he portrayed in his writing.
If you really want to look behind the veneer of his writing and contect his life to his body of work then this is the book for you. I was absolutely fascinated!
It is a huge book, and thus I think, it would have to be a very dedicated reading group that read it, but it would be interesting should there be any groups who are choosing to read a selection of his writing in this two hundredth year of his birth.