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Historical fiction novel. The story begins with an actual historical tragedy - the 1672 lynching of the Dutch Grand Pensionary (roughly equivalent to a modern Prime Minister) Johan de Witt and his brother Cornelis, by a wild mob of their own countrymen - one of the most painful episodes in Dutch history, described by Dumas with a dramatic intensity.
The Bleak House is Dickens' satire of a decaying society. Its story draws together a group of disparate people through the interminable suit of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce at the Court of Chancery. Often described as a savage, though also comic, critique of Victorian society.
Call of the Wild is London's most read book. The protagonist is a dog, but the themes and action are quite dark as it tells of the misadventures of 'Buck' and the breakdown of his domestication after he is kidnapped and sold as a sled dog.
The Decameron is a collection of 100 very readable novellas finished in 1353. It is known for its bawdy tales that span the spectrum from erotic to tragic. The tales are told by a party of ten fleeing the black plague, on each of 10 days they each tell a tale on a particular theme. The stories remain compelling for the modern reader while providing a unique window into medieval life.
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