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Nicholas Nickleby Audiobook

Nicholas Nickleby

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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

One of Dickens' early works, Nicholas Nickleby combines comedy and tragedy in a tale of triumph over adversity that is interspersed with Dickens' moving condemnation of society's mistreatment of children and the cruelty of the educational system. Young Nickleby struggles to seek his fortune in Victorian England, yet succeeds despite social injustice, in a story that mirrors Dickens' own rise from poverty to great success.

One of eight children, Dickens came from a very poor family, with his father eventually being sent to debtor's prison. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to start work in a blacking factory in order to help clear the family debt.

Dickens depicts a funny version of his own mother in the character of Mrs. Nickleby, his feelings towards her dark and complex. He never forgave her for trying to keep him working against her husband's wishes.

Hailed as a comic triumph with a cast of incredible characters, it firmly established Dickens as a 'literary gentleman'.

Full of typically Dickensian elements, the book is well suited to dramatic adaptation.

It is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of 19th century literature and continues to entertain its fans to this day.

Narrator Biography

Whilst training at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, John Rowe did his first radio plays for the BBC before spending several years acting in repertory theatre. He then joined the BBC's Radio Drama Company at Broadcasting House and after a three year stint on stage with the Prospect Company at The Old Vic he became a committed radio actor. He is well known for his role as Professor Jim Lloyd in The Archers. He has not only worked extensively in radio but also in television and film, as well as narrating many audiobooks. His film appearances have included The Heart of Me (2002) and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001). He has most recently appeared on onscreen in the Netflix series The Crown (2016) and the BBC TV series Broken (2017).

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (189 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom 06/09/2009
    Brian Richmond, Surrey, United Kingdom 06/09/2009
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    "Old warhorse fighting fit"

    What a joy it was to revisit this old favourite in the hands of such a consumate artist as the reader Alex Jennings.
    His characterisations are without peer and I would tentatively suggest could not have been bettered by The Great Man himself in his famous readings - just listen to his delivery of
    Ralph Nickelby's death as an example - chilling.
    Anyone who feels they aught to read Dickens but have been reluctant to try should give this one a try.
    Superb.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Val Pope 16/01/2010
    Val Pope 16/01/2010 Member Since 2013
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    "Laugh Out Loud Funny!"

    If you haven't disovered Nicholas Nickleby, then you're in for a huge treat. This is one of Charles Dickens's finest and funniest novels - a hugely entertaining account of the trials and adventures of Nicholas and his impoverished family and their treatment at the hands of their unscrupulous and wicked Uncle Ralph. It has everything! Idiotic characters (check out the Infant Phenomenon and Miss la Ceevey, the miniaturist); dastardly villains (Wackforth Squeers is the worst headmaster in the world) and poor Smike, whose faithful devotion to Nicholas will surely move the hardest heart to sympathy and maybe a few tears. Reading the book many years ago was a revelation to me, but hearing it is something else! A brilliant performance throughout and characters who live in your imagination. Buy it - you won't be disappointed.

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison Burnham-on-Sea, United Kingdom 19/04/2013
    Alison Burnham-on-Sea, United Kingdom 19/04/2013 Member Since 2017
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    "From a Dickens 'virgin': a perfect five stars"

    I was put off CD because I imagined the stories would be dull and difficult. I was wrong. At least so far, NN is my first but it will not be the last.



    To my slight shame, I had no idea that Dickens was so funny - and also so moving in so much of his writing. This tale, which is long and populated by dozens of amazing characters, is not, despite that, complex, it just slowly unfurls.



    Pathos, even tragedy do take their parts, but the humour is always threaded through the story, often with pleasant little diversions away from the main plot simply, I assume, for the enjoyment of the writer and reader.



    Alex Jennings is one of my favourite readers. His voice is perfect when he's just reading but when he gives each character its own 'voice' it's very hard to imagine they are all being read by the same person. He brings out the life and the humour. Another reviewer said that he reads the twin brothers as a Tony Benn impression - it's true! I would like to add that he reads the Squeers family as various Les Dawson incarnations - hilarious.



    If, as I was, you are a Charles Dickens virgin (and at my stage of life, I really had no excuse, Lord knows how I avoided it at school), I urge you to try this download and persist beyond the first 45 minutes or so, because after that, I believe you will be hooked.



    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John brightonUnited Kingdom 14/03/2010
    John brightonUnited Kingdom 14/03/2010
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    "Perfect reading"

    The book of course needs no review. It is a masterpiece. However, I cannot praise Alex Jenning's reading highly enough. A witty, insightful, intelligent and moving reading that puts him, along with Martin Jarvis, amongst the very best of readers.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon 29/03/2010
    Sharon 29/03/2010 Member Since 2017
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    "One of the best audiobooks I've ever heard"

    It is with reluctance that I have put this audiobook aside but I know it will only be temporary as it has been such a pleasure to well, inhabit; and this is due to the brilliant reading by Alex Jennings of this novel about the true goal of life.

    Dickens on the page can be almost over-florid for me, but the sensitivity of Jennings reading gave life and a humane perspective to this well-loved author and his characters became much more alive for me. The proposal 'a comfortable couple' and the doctor's dandling the baby are just two highlights. Definitely one of my alltime favourites.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Fairlight, United Kingdom 18/03/2010
    Richard Fairlight, United Kingdom 18/03/2010
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    "Incredibly entertaining"

    This book really comes to life in the reading by Alex Jennings. The characterisations are really well done and make this a really gripping story. Just right for a long commute.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane London, United Kingdom 12/09/2012
    Jane London, United Kingdom 12/09/2012 Member Since 2012
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    "Top of My List"

    Magnificent novel read with such excellent characterisations by Alex Jennings. His accents were spot on and I loved the way he used an Anthony Wedgewood Benn style of voice for the brothers Cheeryble. Alex almost seemed to raise Dickens' splendid prose to Shakespearian levels.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    T Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom 15/07/2014
    T Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom 15/07/2014 Member Since 2014

    Over 1000 titles since July 2005. Fairly eclectic tastes: award-winning literature, page-turning pulp plus non-fiction. I don't sight-read.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Expert and enjoyable narration of a classic"

    I have wanted to listen to NN for years, partly because it's a classic and partly because I so enjoyed the award-winning 80's RSC stage production. But I always put it off because the book is so long and the Victorian style of dialogue and descriptive writing sounds so overblown to modern ears. I needn't have worried - Alex Jennings' narration is so beautifully judged that I found that I "tuned in" to the period quickly. The characters were brought to life with energy and credibility. In fact, he reads so expertly that I will now check out which other books he has narrated. In summary, a truly great book, wonderfully read.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Leeds, United Kingdom 28/11/2013
    David Leeds, United Kingdom 28/11/2013 Member Since 2011
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    "Superb"
    If you could sum up Nicholas Nickleby in three words, what would they be?

    Classic wonderfully narrated


    What did you like best about this story?

    Written so long ago about an England which is like a foreign country yet deals with so many contemporary themes. Dickens makes you laugh out loud one minute and has you on the point of tears in the next. The narration by Alex Jennings is the best I have heard in any audiobook. He brings the book alive and "interprets" the somewhat archaic language in a way which makes it intelligible to a modern audience.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both in alternation.


    Any additional comments?

    I think most people would regard me as well educated but I have always struggled when I have tried to read Dickens. The narration by Alex Jennings was wonderful and reminded me that Dickens wrote not only with a view to his books being published by instalments but also with a view to his works being the subject of public readings. I would highly recommend this audiobook.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mrs 15/06/2013
    Mrs 15/06/2013
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    "Best reader & perfect for Dickens"

    What a great reader Alex Jennings is. I wish he'd read more Dickens titles. Nickleby isn't my favourite from the great master, but I don't see how anyone could better Jennings' masterful interpretation. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Richard
    Eastwood, NSW, Australia
    19/06/09
    Overall
    "Wonderful tale, wonderful reader"

    This is a delightful reading of a Dickens classic. The reader dramatises the characters tremendously well, speaks clearly, and infuses Dickens' work with life and colour.

    After listening to this book for several weeks during my commute, I was grieved to be leaving the characters behind when it ended.

    14 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • robert
    Melbourne, Australia
    05/12/09
    Overall
    "Such a Pleasure"

    Alex Jennings brings this wonderful book to life with his wonderful reading. Dickens extraordinary ability to distill the essential elements of the human condition in beautiful succinct prose left me spell bound. I look to listening to it again. For what its worth, Jennings reading of of "Pompeii" by Robert Harris is also a very good reading of an excellent book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Bonny
    West Brattleboro, VT, United States
    30/05/16
    Overall
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    "Great book, terrific narration"

    As if we needed another terrific narrator of Dickens! But here is Alex Jennings, and he is just that. This was my second time through Nicholas Nickleby; the first time, I listened to Simon Vance's narration (also marvelous). The book was great the second time around, and Alex Jennings' acting and narration skills made it equally delightful. The range of characters portrayed is vast, and each one is beautifully done, female and male. Where to start? The utter creepiness of Ralph Nickleby and Wackford Squeers, the always-going-off-on-a-tangent and very funny Mrs. Nickleby, the heartbreaking Smike . . . the conversations between Fanny Squeers and her friend Tilda had me laughing out loud, as did Mr. Mantalini and Miss Knag. I could go on and on. The book has no end of fascinating and fully-drawn characters, and Jennings does them all justice.

    Speaking of going off on a tangent, do you suppose Victorian women burst into tears and fainted quite this much? The fainting may have been largely due to their tight corsets; if you can't get enough oxygen, you get faint. But the crying? Pretty much every time something happens, the women all burst into tears and sob uncontrollably. How could they get anything done? Dickens has some strong female characters, but I wish he had more. Thomas Hardy does much better on this front.

    Anyway! Highly recommended, both the book and the narration. And very cheap, if one uses the buy-the-Kindle-book-first method.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Michael
    San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago
    10/08/10
    Overall
    "One of the best"

    This is certainly one of the best audio books that I have ever listened to. Besides the classic Charles Dickens story, the narrator is stupendous with his many different accents and delivery.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Judd Parkin
    Los Angeles, California USA
    28/11/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Outstanding Interpretation of "Nickleby""
    Would you listen to Nicholas Nickleby again? Why?

    This is one of the finest audiobooks I've had the pleasure of listening to. "Nicholas Nickleby" is one of my very favorite novels-- I'd already read it twice before coming to this audiobook version-- and I approached this recording with some wariness, fearing that an audio version might not live up to my earlier reading experiences. I needn't have worried-- Alex Jennings' rendition of the book is nothing short of astonishing, and his splendid performance only deepened my affection for "Nickleby." Jennings' evident love for the material comes through in his vivid interpretation of the enormous cast of characters-- his vocal characterizations simply could not be bettered. I will listen to this recording with pleasure many times again in the future.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Leni Ramberg
    Los Angeles, Ca, United States
    11/04/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb!"

    Alex Jennings’ performance of Nicholas Nickleby completely captivated my imagination. I listened to one of the final chapters as I drove home from Walgreens after buying toothpaste… I nearly had to pull over to the curb from weeping.

    I can’t imagine a better narrator of the book. There are tons of characters and Jennings’ portrayal makes each distinct… comical, dastardly, virtuous, pitiful, maddening… an entire world created for your listening pleasure. (I haven’t heard it, but I suspect Simon Vance’s performance of Nickleby is also excellent - his narration of “Dance to the Music of Time” was beyond wonderful.)

    Mostly a “reader” of classics on Audible, I also enjoyed Anne Bronte’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall narrated by Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter. Alas, I see that Jennings’ narration of Crime and Punishment is an abridged version… if it was unabridged, I’d buy it today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John B. Veach
    09/08/10
    Overall
    "Spectacular surprise"

    It has been a number of years since I read most of the more famous of Dickens' works. It's obviously time for a reread, or relisten, but based on recollections, this is my favorite Dickens' to date, and probably in the top 10 of all books I have read or listened to. No doubt this is partly a function of the amazing job by Alex Jennings, who brings great energy and wonderful characterizations of most of the players. But the novel itself is remarkably modern in its insights, language, humor, farce, melodrama and at times a sense of the absurd. Really worthwhile and fun!!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • R. Ohr
    Huntington Beach, CA
    14/07/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dickens, a genius!"
    If you could sum up Nicholas Nickleby in three words, what would they be?

    Extraordinary story! Only Dickens can write so well you can "see" the characters. His character development is one of the greatest I have ever read! I'm so glad I "read" this book. I also bought the English movie version and can't wait to see it now!<br/>


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Nicholas Nickleby?

    I loved when he saved Smikes.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The romantic one.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The scenes in the school house.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Loud and opinionated
    California
    26/04/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Alex Jennings is an extraordinary narrator"
    What did you love best about Nicholas Nickleby?

    Dickens is famous for his idiosyncratic & grotesque minor characters and NN is no exception. They are superbly brought to live by Alex Jennings, who is a comic master. I didn't think anyone could have made Mr. Mantalini real, but he is the highlight of this audiobook.


    What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I'm truly sorry that Jennings hasn't read the Pickwick Papers or another of the more comic Dickens novels. I just paid for Our Mutual Friend, but what I wouldn't give for a David Copperfield!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Caritas
    Minneapolis, MN
    22/12/16
    Overall
    "Brilliantly Narrated"

    Alex Jennings narration of this wonderful epic novel is most impressive. His voice for each character captures the essence of each character. The accents and speech patterns of each character are consistent and recognizable throughout.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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