Of Charles Dickens, Jane Smiley says that "his novels shaped his life as much as his life shaped his novels." Smiley's Charles Dickens is at once a sensitive profile of the great master and a fascinating meditation on the writing life. Smiley evokes Dickens as he might have seemed to his contemporaries: convivial, astute, boundlessly energetic—and lionized. Charles Dickens offers brilliant interpretations of almost all his major works, an exploration of his narrative techniques and his innovative voice and themes, and a reflection on how his richly varied lower-class cameos sprang from an experience and passion more personal than his public knew.