I have long considered Dickens's writings as somewhat akin to Steven Spielberg's kind of art.
They both seem quite at ease with their appeal to the mainstream audience; no flirting with the highbrows here (well, mostly no flirting..!).
They share modest yet undeniable educational ambitions and something of a political conscience.
They are both of them more into action than finely tuned psychological portraits; their characters are frequently shallow yet endearing.
Sadly, all of the above result in my dislike of them both.
On 'Hard Times' as such :
Dickens's violent anti-utilitarian, anti-industrialist views render this frankly unpalatable.
Besides, the endearing characters I boasted in the previous paragraph are here merely shallow, followed from afar, not even remotely likable.
The plot - another of Dickens's usual fortes - is slow, uneventful and predictable.
In short, the title pretty much sums up my reading experience.