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Dickens' first real novel and the one in which he found his voice. The general assertion about the book is that the work was too conventional until the arrival of Pickwick's delightful cockney servant, Samuel Weller, but I rather like the earlier chapters of pastoral tomfoolery on the part of the four friends in late middle age. But Weller is wonderful in his own right and helps to impart to this work the great gusto, the sheer overpowering joy of life, that Chesterton found the essence of Dickens. It is a wonderful grab bag of a book--part picaresque, part meditative--and delightfully written. A fine introduction to Dickens and this reviewer's favorite, though perhaps not as great as Our Mutual Friend.