Continuing consideration of Dickens' Hard Times I find the novel to be surprisingly readable. There is something to be said for Dickens' economy of words, paragraphs and chapters as compared with most of his earlier (and later) novels. Unfortunately the economy is achieved at the expense of fun, the wonderfully wild and jovial, bumbling blunderbusses and curious characters that made much of Dickens so much fun are not present (sad!). That having been said it is a fine sentimental story -- ironic in its' aggressive stance against sentiment. The character of Louisa, in particular, seems to be one of Dickens' favorite types: the young woman beset by fate sharing her plight with the likes of Esther Summerson. She comes up short as does this novel in most aspects, when compared with the rest of Dickens' oeuvre.