A Bastille Day Gift-Giving Guide

What to Get Your Favorite A Tale of Two Cities Characters


It snuck up on you again this year, didn’t it? July 14th, Bastille Day?

Understandable, with the pandemic’s effects still swirling around like the red hot winds of revolution. Luckily, our shopping gurus have made gift-giving easier than ever this year, with this handy-dandy guide. More reliable, even, than the Dover mail. And whether it’s been a best-of-times or worst-of-times year for you, there’s something here to fit every budget. Here’s what your favorite characters from A Tale of Two Cities are wishing for this July:

Jerry Cruncher

The old grave robber would be well-served this year with a can of Rust-Oleum, or at least a fishing pole and tackle to keep up the appearance of fishing when he’s up to his overnight no-goodery. And a large beanbag chair would be perfect for his wife, Aggerawayter, to flop upon whenever she’s moved to spontaneous bouts of prayer for his doomed soul.

Sydney Carton

It’s never easy to shop for a man who, no doubt, has attained heaven with his ultimate sacrifice. That being said, a moratorium on all idiomatic language relating to one’s head is highly recommended for our hero.

Including, but not limited to:

— Have you lost your mind?

— You’re really sticking your neck out, aren’t you?.

— Stop running around like a chicken without its head.

And especially:

— You’d forget your head if it weren’t attached.

If you feel our hero deserves the chance to experience the adulation that’s his due, consider getting him yet another doppelganger of himself to send to the guillotine in his stead. An android look-alike would also fit the bill, though it would make for a far, far less emotional ending to read than we’re used to.

Miss Pross

At the very least, a set of ear plugs is a must for her show-down scene with Madame DeFarge. The jumbo pack of British flags in all sizes is also an easy last-minute gift. And if you have even an iota of political influence in Britain, interrupt the reading of hate mail for Harry and press the king for either damehood or double “0” status for this lady. She’s earned it!

Jarvis Lorry

A new, well,…old desk, extra wormy, outfitted with dozens of little drawers and secret hidey holes is this staid old gentleman’s heart’s desire. A ream of personalized stationery with Recalled to Life watermarked on each leaf would also fit the bill.

Charles Darnay

Gifts for inmates in maximum-security prisons are tricky. Consider opening up a commissary account for him, allowing him to buy the things he needs the most: a bar of soap, a hunk of hardened cheese, or new shoes (maybe even a pair from Dr. Manette’s Big House line of fashionable footwear for felons).

Lucie Manette

Now, here’s the person who has everything: a loving husband; her father freed from unjust imprisonment in the Bastille; a maidservant with the protective instinct of a lionness; a child with her same perfect good looks. I mean, what does she need?

Start with the Do-It-Yourself-Fake-Passport-Kit with Laminator. Great for last-minute sneaks across the border.

A set of Tupperware is also a perfect gift for this fair lady. She’ll need to make those leftover croissants last, since, fake passport or not, she probably won’t be getting back to Paris for more anytime soon.

Ernest Defarge

Let’s start with what not to get him this year: hand-knit anything. Clearly, the Madame keeps him well-stocked in this category. Hats, scarves, gloves, long underwear. She’s even knitted the days of the week into each pair of his briefs to streamline washing day down at the Seine.

Go for the custom T-shirt this year with the Liberte, Egalitie, Fraternite logo and French flag colors. For that matter, get one in several sizes so he can hand them out to Jacques One, Jacques Two, and his entire band of spies.

He’d also appreciate bumper stickers for easy slapping-on to aristocratic coaches passing through San Antoine. Preferred messages include Proud parent of a passel of peasants!, complete with impoverished stick-figured family, or My other carriage is a tumbrel, or even #frenchrevolutionlife.

Madame DeFarge

The easiest to shop for on this list, since she’s down to practically nothing. A set of rose hair barrettes in assorted colors is a must for when she needs to pass secret messages to her revolutionary acolytes. (Red for Go for this guy’s throat!; Yellow meaning Emergency! Everybody out!; Blue for Mon Dieu, husband, I’m starving here! Hussle me up a brie and baguette instead of holding another secret meeting!)

Also high on her wish list this year is the yarn store gift card. Her husband would appreciate this, too, tired as he is of her plucking a hair off his head and knitting it into socks every time he says the name Evremonde. But since they have no francs with which to play this version of You Owe Me a Quarter, he is going bald quickly.

And that gift card had better be for a local supplier, because corporate giants like Michael’s or, heaven forbid, Walmart, would send your head rolling across the town square faster than you could say Hobby Lobby.

Bon Shopping!