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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.

5 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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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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Didn't like Derek Jacobi's narration style

I listened to the preview sample before purchasing - but this is taken from William Boyd's introduction. One does not actually get to hear a sample of the Derek Jacobi narration until you have committed to the purchase. Beware! Sadly, I found the Jacobi narration style too 'flowery' for my taste. More that of a songbird with a vocal range from top C to lower E. I wouldn't expect or enjoy narration in a monotone, but this was too much for me.

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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.

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An extraordinary achievement .

Absolutely a tour de force. Really great acting and Dicken's wonderful narrative and humour make this the best audible book possible. Relax and allow yourself to be transported to another world where laughter and sentiment have there own peculiar charm.

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Dull book enlivened by great narration

I can’t think of anyone who’d have done a better job with this than Derek Jacobi. He hit the right note throughout, and made the listen well worthwhile. I did enjoy parts of the book, but I believe a lot of the humour in it no longer works eg Mrs Gamp is unbelievably tedious rather than funny. I’m glad I continued to the end, as the final chapters were good, and throughout you’ll find phrases and sentences that makes Dickens’ writing a joy.

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Disappointing

I found the American passages in this book somewhat uninteresting and took away from the main storyline. Not one of Dickens best efforts so not surprised it didn’t sell well at the time of writing. Overly descriptive at times and some of the conversations were ridiculously drawn out. I wouldn’t recommend this book except to a diehard fan of Dickens.

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  • V
  • 07-02-19

One of Dickens best. Well read.

A really good piece of writing. Dickens never fails! He is a master of story telling and continues to be relevant to today.

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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.

4 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

7 people found this helpful