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Perils of Certain English Prisoners   By: (1812-1870)

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Perils of Certain English Prisoners by Charles Dickens takes readers on a captivating journey through a tumultuous period of history. Set during the height of the Napoleonic Wars, this novella delivers a gripping narrative that intertwines elements of adventure, romance, and political intrigue.

The story follows a group of English prisoners held captive on the island of St. Mary's, off the coast of South America. As they navigate the harsh conditions of their confinement, readers witness the characters' resilience and determination to survive against all odds. Dickens beautifully captures the prisoners' camaraderie and their unwavering spirit, which becomes an essential element of the plot.

One of the standout features of Perils of Certain English Prisoners is Dickens' masterful portrayal of the diverse cast of characters. From the swashbuckling Captain Maryon to the enigmatic Brazilian beauty Seraphina, each persona is intricately developed, making them distinctive and memorable. Their personal stories are seamlessly interwoven into the larger narrative, adding depth and complexity to the overall reading experience.

Dickens also skillfully incorporates his signature social commentary within the novella. Through the interactions between the English prisoners and the indigenous people of St. Mary's, he explores themes of colonization, cultural differences, and the impact of power dynamics on individuals and societies. This thought-provoking exploration adds another layer of richness to the storyline.

The plot of Perils of Certain English Prisoners is driven by a series of unexpected twists and turns. As the characters navigate treacherous conspiracies, daring escapes, and dangerous encounters, readers are kept on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning the pages to uncover the next thrilling development. Dickens' ability to maintain a suspenseful atmosphere throughout the novella is truly commendable.

While Perils of Certain English Prisoners may be shorter than most of Dickens' other works, it does not lack in depth or quality. The writing style is captivating, displaying the author's remarkable ability to create evocative descriptions and vivid imagery. The pacing is well-balanced, ensuring that the story flows smoothly despite its relatively concise format.

In conclusion, Perils of Certain English Prisoners is a captivating novella that showcases Charles Dickens' literary prowess. With its adventure-filled storyline, well-developed characters, and thought-provoking social commentary, this book is a must-read for both fans of the author and those seeking an engaging historical fiction tale. Dickens' ability to transport readers to the heart of the story, capturing their imagination and emotions, is truly exceptional.

First Page:


Transcribed from the 1894 Chapman and Hall "Christmas Stories" edition by David Price, email



It was in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty four, that I, Gill Davis to command, His Mark, having then the honour to be a private in the Royal Marines, stood a leaning over the bulwarks of the armed sloop Christopher Columbus, in the South American waters off the Mosquito shore.

My lady remarks to me, before I go any further, that there is no such christian name as Gill, and that her confident opinion is, that the name given to me in the baptism wherein I was made, &c., was Gilbert. She is certain to be right, but I never heard of it. I was a foundling child, picked up somewhere or another, and I always understood my christian name to be Gill. It is true that I was called Gills when employed at Snorridge Bottom betwixt Chatham and Maidstone to frighten birds; but that had nothing to do with the Baptism wherein I was made, &c., and wherein a number of things were promised for me by somebody, who let me alone ever afterwards as to performing any of them, and who, I consider, must have been the Beadle. Such name of Gills was entirely owing to my cheeks, or gills, which at that time of my life were of a raspy description... Continue reading book >>

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