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Synopsis

Dombey and Son is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in monthly parts from 1 October 1846 to 1 April 1848 and in one volume in 1848. Its full title is Dealings with the Firm of Dombey and Son: Wholesale, Retail and for Exportation. Dickens started writing the book in Lausanne, Switzerland before returning to England, via Paris, to complete it. Illustrations were provided by Hablot Knight Browne.

The story concerns Paul Dombey, the wealthy owner of the shipping company of the book's title, whose dream is to have a son to continue his business. The book begins when his son is born, and Dombey's wife dies shortly after giving birth. Following the advice of Mrs Louisa Chick, his sister, Dombey employs a wet nurse named Mrs Richards (Toodle). Dombey already has a daughter, Florence, whom he neglects. One day, Mrs Richards, Florence and her maid, Susan Nipper, secretly pay a visit to Mrs Richard's house in Staggs's Gardens so that she can see her children. During this trip, Florence becomes separated and is kidnapped for a short time by Good Mrs Brown before being returned to the streets. She makes her way to Dombey and Son's offices in the City and is guided there by Walter Gay, an employee, who first introduces her to his uncle, the navigation instrument maker Solomon Gills, at his shop the Wooden Midshipman.

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