I actually finished the novel some time ago, but haven't had a chance to write about it until now.
So . . . this was not one of my favorite Dickens novels. But I didn't expect it would be. I generally favor mid- to late Dickens. And beyond that, a lot of the criticism that this book gets is pretty accurate. Doctor Who, for instance, was spot-on about the "American bit." I know I can't help being a little biased, but the parts about America went far beyond the kind of satire he usually does, and were just plain heavy-handed. Once again, I'm grateful that he at long last made up his quarrel with us, and inserted that conciliatory postscript into the book! But he really should have held off writing this until he was in a bit of a better mood, I think.
Also (spoiler alert) . . .
As for Ruth . . . okay, I admit Dickens wrote a few irritating heroines (though not quite as many as some people say), but Ruth was way beyond the pale. What with her becoming little vanities, and busy little hands, and charming little laughs, and wicked little stomacher, and roguish little dimples, and fluttering little heart, the woman nearly drove me around the bend.
But for all that, I'm not sorry I read Martin Chuzzlewit. Not for worlds would I have missed Mrs. Gamp, or Pecksniff, or Mark Tapley, or poor dear Tom. And it's interesting to see where Dickens was at this stage of his development, and how much he was about to develop. When you consider that David Copperfield was just two novels away, honestly, the mind reels!
And now, a confession: I never did figure out whether the Martin of the title was old Martin or young Martin. Anyone know the answer to this?