The story of "A Tale of Two Cities" is set in the late 18th Century in London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution. It was a time when injustice was met by a lust for vengeance, and rarely was a distinction made between the innocent and the guilty. It was published in weekly installments from April 1859 to November 1859 in Dickens's new literary periodical titled 'All the Year Round'. This novel is regarded as one of Dickens's most popular and most innovative works.
After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the aging Dr Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England. There, two very different men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer, become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette. From the tranquil lanes of London, they are all drawn against their will to the vengeful, bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine.
The book is perhaps best known for its opening lines, «It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," and for Carton's last speech, in which he says of his replacing Darnay in a prison cell, «It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.»