This is a collection of character studies that combine to portray life in 19th century Dublin. Each story stands alone and describes some element of the virtues, ethics and morals prevalent in those times.
James Joyce (in his inimitable style) discusses people, personalities, dirt, values and manners. In the end the Dubliners is neither upbeat nor sad; it is both. It is a brilliant, well written collection of essays about the drudgery and elegance of life in Irish cities in the early 1800's.
This is probably the most readable of Joyce's work.
It's a good book.