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Our Mutual Friend (with an Introduction by Edwin Percy Whipple) (Kobo eBook)
First published serially between 1864 and 1865, “Our Mutual Friend” is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens. The death of a wealthy miser, who is estranged from all except his trusted employees, Nicodemus and Henrietta Boffin, brings his son John Harmon back to London in order to claim his inheritance. The patrimony carries with it one condition, that he marries a woman he has never met, Miss Bella Wilfer. When a body is found floating in the Thames, it is presumed to be John, and the inheritance instead passes to the Boffins. The kind-hearted working class Boffins take into their household the disappointed bride to be Miss Wilfer and treat her as their own daughter, pampering her with their newfound wealth. They also accept the generous offer of John Rokesmith to attend to their financial affairs for free. Rokesmith, who also goes by the alias of Julius Handford, is in fact the heir John Harmon, presumed to be dead. Dickens’s novel is a thematically rich one, addressing the struggle of man between societal expectations and the desire to follow one’s heart. Rich with a symbolism of rebirth, “Our Mutual Friend” brilliantly dramatizes the impact that wealth plays upon society. This edition includes an introduction by Edwin Percy Whipple and a biographical afterword.