The emotional tale of Little Nell and her doting grandfather was an immediate popular success in 1840-41. Played out against the backdrop of a cold and brutal London, the twosome abandon their home to escape debt and roam the countryside as beggars. Relentlessly pursued by a malicious moneylender and encountering ne'er-do-wells, con artists, and the persevering poor, they also find goodness and generosity, love and loyalty. Dickens' proficiency in creating richly diverse characters are evident in this tale that brims with pathos and villainy.
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