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Summary

This exclusive recording of Martin Chuzzlewit starts with a unique introduction written and narrated by William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart and A Good Man in Africa.

First published in 1842, Martin Chuzzlewit is the last of Charles Dickens' picaresque novels. Despite poor sales at the time, Dickens considered it his best work, and it is now regarded as one of the most significant literary depictions of 19th-century America.

Horrified by the ongoing use of slavery in the self-professed 'land of the free', Dickens returned home after his first trip abroad with an extreme distaste for American laws and, equally, their frequent use of spitting tobacco. Dickens turned to his pen once again and created a story which satirically centres around the selfish and greedy Chuzzlewits.

About the book:

Deeply distressed at thought of his singularly money-minded family circling around his inevitable death bed, when Old Martin Chuzzlewit comes across a young and kindly orphan girl, he immediately decides to take her into his employment. Offering her a comfortable living in exchange for her care and protection, Martin rests easy in the knowledge that her comfort will last only as long as he does; upon his death, Mary the orphan will find herself on the cold and dirty streets from whence she came. To his great dismay, Old Martin's plan is foiled when his own grandson and main heir, Martin Chuzzlewit Junior, declares his undying love for Mary and his consequent intention to marry her.

This novel follows the Chuzzlewit household from this point on, as relationships are born and tested, old feuds are reignited and the ever-present vultures start to close in. A lesson in the dangers and consequences of looking only after number one, the narrative remains highly relevant to this day and is expertly narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi.

About the author:

With his father incarcerated, Charles Dickens had to abandon his studies at a young age and set to work in a factory so as to support himself. Despite his short-lived education, Dickens went on to write 15 novels, various articles, novellas and short stories. These include Hard Times, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became the ultimate self-made man.

About the narrator:

Sir Derek Jacobi is an English actor and stage director, best known for his illustrious stage career and his appearance in films such as The Day of the Jackal, Gladiator, Gosford Park and, most recently, Murder on the Orient Express. He is the recipient of two Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony Award and a Primetime Emmy, and in 1994 he was knighted.

Sir Derek has also recorded over 100 audiobooks, including Roald Dahl's George's Marvellous Medicine, Anthony Horowitz's Moriarty, and many works of classic fiction. A lifelong Dickens fan, Sir Derek is delighted to lend his dulcet tones to this recording of Martin Chuzzlewit as part of Audible's definitive Dickens collection.

©2018 Charles Dickens (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Martin Chuzzlewit

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Wonderful Book - Worth Persevering

I tried to read this book some years ago and didn't make it past the first 50 pages which are full of very airy-fairy early Dickens writing. Little structure, little solid plot.

This nearly happened again with the talking book but I stayed with it and gradually the most wonderful novel emerged with tremendous characters and a plot with plenty of surprises.

It almost seems as though this was the moment when Dickens developed from his Pickwickian sketch-writing into the amazingly powerful author of novels he became. You can sort of see the change happening. Many of the characters will stay with me for the rest of my life, they are so well-drawn and so particular.

Excellent reading, as you would expect from Derek Jacobi. He sounds as though he really enjoyed the book.

12 people found this helpful

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Tour de force

Some of the passages of this remarkable book dragged for me - particularly the American sections - but how deliciously the whole thing came together in the end

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a little hard going

the book, contrary to the jntroduction, is about 2 characters called Martin Chuzzlewit, the grandson and geandfather. while tbe overall story is good, tbe lengthy verbal passages we have to work tbrough ti gef to salient points can be very tedious and I think the BBC version much more interesting to sit through.

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Not Dickens's most enthralling

Lovely narration. Too little plot and too much description
too many minor characters. with very very odd named

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strange story

struggled to finish. poorest of his books thus far but brilliantly voiced by Derek Jacobi

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Boring

I tried for over 8 hours with this book and in the end i have had to give up. It just seemed so boring and drawn out. i realise Charles Dickens is one of our best writers of all time but for me this one was just a no no . sorry

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Brilliant

I dont understand why the boring poorly delivered preface is the sample of such brilliantly comic novel

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Plodding uninteresting storyline

I'm afraid I just could not find any interest in this story. The characters were extremely uninteresting and it seemed to me that Dickens was just "showing off" his wonderful descriptive writing style on a storyline with no real substance? Proud of myself for not giving up and actually getting to the end!

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Get past the early chapters and one is hooked

Get past the early chapters and one is hooked and captured by the book until the ending of the tale.

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Derek Jacobi gives a flawless performance!

The introduction to this book states the oddness of calling the book Martin Chuzzlewit when he is only one of the characters focused on. And as always there is the most wonderful pieces of descriptive writing by Dickens and some plot development that feels forced. That said nothing should be taken away from Dickens or the performance of Derek Jacobi.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kevin S Greenwood
  • 25-09-19

Hard to hear

The volume of this work goes from inAudible to shreiking-loud. It’s not well compressed or polished.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Brain
  • 06-12-18

Least enjoyable Dickens' books I've ever read or listened to.

Derek Jacobi usually does a reasonably good job with narration of traditionally British works, but this time, not so. His characterizations and general narration are so over-the-top bad and bawdy, that they tend toward poor satire of a Dickens book, rather than a proper and honest reading of one.

To get my meaning, compare his reading of CS Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader vs. this reading of Martin Chuzzlewit, and ask yourself whether you want to invest nearly 100 hours of listening to this .......sigh

12 people found this helpful

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  • Ricardo Avila
  • 10-07-21

A great actor doesn't always = a great narrator

For as deadly dull as the first third of this book is, the rest of it pays off. Derek Jacobi is obviously a tremendous actor, skilled at voices and tone. But, often and frustratingly, he modifies his voice to whispers, shouts, bellows, and mumbles, so that it's actually hard to listen to his narration. It's like listening to classical music with its abrupt changes, except there it's not as important to hear every note. Lots of rewinding to turn up the volume and hear what was whispered, then hastily lowering it again as the voice returns to loud.

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  • randall
  • 28-06-21

Narrator Par Excellence!

The best narrator I have had the pleasure of listening to. Extraordinary!! The novel is not Dickens’ strongest though it has wonderful comic touches. But the narrator transforms it into a masterpiece of listening literature

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  • Kathy
  • 26-04-21

Narration ruined it for me

This narration is so over the top that I couldn’t pay attention to the words. I only made it to Chapter 3. I can’t imagine making it through 30+ hours of it. Do yourself a favor: if you want to “read this book” get the Sean Barrett version. Pleasant voice, decent characters and I’m already enjoying it and I’m still on chapter 1.

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  • dobby
  • 09-04-21

Martin chuzzlwitt

very wordy even for Dickens. Story is good but not as good as some of his other works.