The plot follows the life of Nell Trent and her grandfather, both residents of The Old Curiosity Shop in London.
Charles Dickens is arguably the greatest novelist England ever produced. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life - along with his memorable characters - have made him beloved by readers the world over.
Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.
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'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without dissolving into tears...of laughter.'
If this was Wilde's rather unkind view of the novel's main character, then what hope have we, at the beginning of the 21st Century of taking Dickens' novel seriously.
There are however many things to recommend the novel, above all the author's generous sympathy to mankind which suffuses the whole tale with a warm glow. There is the portrayal of the demonic Daniel Quilp, deliciously unprincipled and there is the sense of being transported to another world. Totally alien, this is a time and place where death was expected, prepared for and frequently talked about. What is baffling to a modern reader is why any of Dickens' contemporary readers can have been in any doubt about his heroine's fate would be. She frequents graveyards, talks to sextons and reflects upon an early death so often that the author must have be exasperated that anyone should doubt the turn his plot would take.
Though not the easiest or most appealing of his works for the modern reader, there is plenty here to interest the Dickens devotee and as usual the reliable George Hagan brings the characters to life unerringly.
I am thoroughly impressed with George Hagan's characterizations. He so seamlessly shifts between the voice of a young girl, an old man, an odious villain, a timid wife that it is hard to believe it could be the same voice narrating and reading the characters' lines. I don't mind the occasional slips the other review mentioned. I think at 22+ hours the $6.79 price is an excellent value.
I have listened to this narrator, George Hagan, before, and thoroughly enjoy his performance. I have also listened to just about every Dickens work, most of which were narrated by Marin Jarvis. However, the quality I have come to expect from a paid service like audible was not present in this title. The narrator himself was not quite the problem. It was the post-production efforts that were the aggravation. There seemed to be no editing done for this recording at all. Constant reading mistakes, audible page turns, and even background noise were present throughout the novel (believe I heard airplanes flying nearby). This is the first time that I have experienced such an unprofessionally done work from audible.
"For Dickens' Fans"
You've really gotta love Dickens to stick this one through to tbe end. Lots of great characters (Dick Swiveller and the Marchioness), including tbe horrible (Quilp), but I never tumbled to the point, the life lesson usually embedded in Victorian novels. If you want to read all of Dickens' novels, read it. Otherwise, Pickwick is more fun, Copperfield more coherent, Bleak House, a grand expose of lawyering.
This oral version appears unedited for the reader's ahs and ums. I got used to them, and heaven knows no one could read for 30+ hours without. He has a lot of great accents.
While well read, this book is not well edited. All the minor mispoken passages are in place. Still better than ill read, well edited. David Case aka Frederick Davidson remains the first choice for Dickens.
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