Wealthy shipping merchant Paul Dombey runs his family like he runs his business, with coldness and calculation. When his wife dies giving birth to their second child and long hoped-for heir, Dombey remains preoccupied only with the importance of passing the firm along to his son. Lost in this narrow, obsessive view is Dombey's older child, Florence, who yearns for his attention but receives only an indifference that eventually curdles into outright hatred.
Published midway through the author's career, this 1848 novel marked a new maturity in Charles Dickens' writing. Less an examination of socioeconomic conditions and more of an exploration of emotional deprivation and fulfillment, it offers the satirical indignation of the storyteller's early fiction with an added darkness and narrative complexity. An absorbing plot and memorable characters combine to form a compelling tale of greed, poor judgment, and the redemptive power of love.