This might be a bad idea, but I read the first fifty pages and found them very captivating. I occasionally feel nostalgic for Dickens, though I’ve definitely read better and worse books by him. I really enjoyed Great Expectations, Bleak House, and David Copperfield; sort of enjoyed (but was also intermittently bored by) Little Dorrit, Nicholas Nickleby, and Hard Times; and absolutely disliked Oliver Twist.
Dickens is a weird one. There’s no other writer quite like him. On a sentence- and scene-level, there’s no writer who trusts his readers quite so much. Dickens doesn’t explain everything. He expects you to just get it. If a character is saying nonsense, he doesn’t say, “This character is saying nonsense,” he just expects you to see the nonsense. And his characters are incredibly memorable, of course.
The problem is that he veers suddenly into absolute tedium and then you’re just down there, wallowing in it, until he hits his stride and decides to be interesting again. Even David Copperfield, which is almost perfect, has a pretty dull patch right around when he gets married. And in a Dickens-length novel, a dull patch can easily be a hundred pages. It’s pretty tortuous. So yes, I am afraid. Our Mutual Friend is over 1000 pages long and it could, literally, at any moment turn awful.