Yes I have now read my first ever Dickens book, and yes I do realise that this has taken me nearly 20 years to read one of England's classic writers. What's always put me off is the idea that Dicken's books can be quite long winded and very descriptive with alot of non relevant information in them. I'm not too sure where I've got this misconception from but it was there, and thankfully I was proved very very wrong. Dicken's characters are so well written, as is the narrative, that with a few exceptions Oliver Twist just makes you want to carry on reading and find out what happens to Oliver and to the host of other characters too.
It was sort of strange reading Oliver Twist when I have grown up watching the musical Oliver! And have even played a role in it during House Drama at my school, so I knew roughly what was happening. Other than the fact that there are a few character cuts between the book and the musical (Monks, Rose and Mrs Maylie and related characters in particular) the story is more or less the same, or the events in the musical DO all happen in the book. Part of me felt like I already knew many of the characters, though I think everyone would be familiar with the character of Fagin, I just see him portrayed as the man in the film version of the musical when I was reading the book, as well as the Artful Dodger, and even though it was irrelevant as Dickens describes him so anyway, the Dodger in my head had a long blue coat and a black top hat. Interestingly when reading the book I imagined Nancy (and so Bet too) as younger than they are portrayed in the film. and Bill Sykes in my imagination is so shady and evil that he never really took form in my head.
All in all I think that Oliver Twist is a good read, and I suspect that at some point when I have quite a bit of time on my hands I'll put my DS back on and look at the other Dickens novels (or maybe I'll branch out to a Bronte or Dumas book...)