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A beautiful and virtuous young girl of not-quite-fourteen, Nell Trent is the novel's main character. An orphan, she lives with her maternal grandfather in his shop of odds and ends. Her grandfather loves her dearly, and Nell does not complain, but she lives a lonely existence with almost no friends her own age. The novel was such a big hit that Dickens' fans were reported to storm the piers of New York City, shouting to arriving sailors who might have already read the last instalment in England, 'Is little Nell alive?'