The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (commonly known as The Pickwick Papers) is the first novel by Charles Dickens.
The novel's main character, Mr Samuel Pickwick, Esquire, is a kind and wealthy old gentleman, and the founder and perpetual president of the Pickwick Club. To extend his researches into the quaint and curious phenomena of life, he suggests that he and three other "Pickwickians" (Mr Nathaniel Winkle, Mr Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr Tracy Tupman) should make journeys to remote places from London and report on their findings to the members of the club. Their travels throughout the English countryside by coach provide the chief theme of the novel.
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Enough has been publshed elsewhere about The Pickwick papers by better writer and critics than I, so I shall confine myself to a review of the narration of this huge Dickensian comic epic.
It is not simply the length of the piece which challenges the narrator, it is the daunting list of characters; all of whom require a unique and identifiable voice. On top of this, the narrator has to somehow solve the problem of reading period comedy to a modern audience with all the difficulties of cultural and linguistic context to deal with. Mr. Coburn more than meets this mighty challenge. His range of vocal innovation is truly remarkable and his characterisations are both brave and effective. I particularly loved his depiction of Sam Weller, the comic genius of the piece.
It may be true that just once in a while, there is the slightest hesitation in the delivery, perhaps due to a slowish turning of a page and once or twice, I'm sure I heard Mr. Coburn snatch a quick sip of something, but this is mere nit - picking.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book and have no hesitation in recommending it.
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