This Dickens offering is not set in London, but in the imaginary Northern Industrial town of Coketown – a place of blackened factories, downtrodden workers and a polluted environment, the soulless domain of the strict Thomas Gradgrind and heartless factory owner Josiah Bounderby.  However, there is always Mr. Sleary’s Horse-Riding Circus to lighten things up – a gin-soaked and hilarious troupe of open-hearted and affectionate people who are the antidote to the drudgery and misery of Coketown.  Attacked for its ‘sullen socialism’, it is now regarded as Dickens’ most important statement on Victorian society.