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Vicar of Wakefield

Narrated by: Patrick Tull
Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
4 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Editor reviews

Patrick Tull’s lively performance of The Vicar of Wakefield shows contemporary listeners why Oliver Goldsmith’s novel was one of the most popular works of the 18th century.

The 1766 novel’s title character, Dr. Primrose, is the kind and generous man of the cloth whose prosperous and happy family life is upended when his money manager leaves town with his savings. As a result, the wedding of the vicar’s son is cancelled and the family is forced to relocate to a poorer parish owned by caddish Squire Thornhill, who takes an interest in the vicar’s daughter.

Tull’s briskly paced performance animates this gentle story of human decency triumphing over treachery.

Summary

Oliver Goldsmith earned instant acclaim when he published The Vicar of Wakefield, a marvelous mixture of burlesque and satire.

The simple village vicar, Mr. Primrose, is living with his wife and six children in complete tranquility until unexpected calamities force them to weather one hilarious adventure after another. Goldsmith plays out this classic comedy of manners with a light, ironic touch that is irresistibly charming.

Public Domain (P)2007 Recorded Books

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Profile Image for Douglas
  • Douglas
  • 14-06-12

Charming and engaging...

in the way of Trollope and Austin, a delightful romance full of intrigue and gentle assurance that all will work out in the end for this good little family. Goldsmith is at his clever best in his portrayal of the blustering but good-hearted Reverend and the rogues and heroes that come and go in his life.

I usually don't care one way or the other about the narrators, but this one has such a good time with Vicar that one can't help but add that he adds a richer flavor to an already delicious bit of classic fiction.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • beatrice
  • 10-03-10

classic entertainment

Still a good yarn, some 250 years after it was written. The energetic narrator is wonderful as the good-natured Dr. Primrose, but I was a bit discomfited to find that all the characters, even 17 year-old-girls, have basically the same bluff and hearty voice. The story sags a bit in the middle, when the eldest son is relating his adventures, but he's also a mouthpiece for Goldsmith's observations on life, so it's all worthwhile. Some of the 18th-century ideas about women's honor are mind-bending--um, we're supposed to be glad to learn that this girl is married to a loathsome cad?--but it wasn't too long ago that a good marriage was still considered a woman's ticket to a good life; there's some food for thought here.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joseph R
  • 26-12-09

Snidely Whiplash Ravishes Hapless Maidens

Patrick Tull had a glorious romping time performing this story. One can imagine him gesturing and contorting his face wildly as he put his whole self into it. College dinner theatre comes to mind; melodramatic overdrawn evil Snidely Whiplash villain; greasy hair and black mustache; and some sweet, hapless, naive to say nothing of extremely pretty heroine. There is totally excellent kidnapping and ravishing of maidens and other sporting activities. The author lands some mighty comic and satirical punches on the contemporary legal system. His ideas about justice and punishment seem very modern. In fact, an occasional act of summary justice might be good for our system.

This is a pre-modern novel, before Miss Jane Austen who in the company of others transformed fiction into today's form i.e. before "Sense and Sensibility". Goldsmith's characters and plot devices feel a bit strange to us. Just go along with him. If you are fan of Trollope, Hardy, Austen, the Brontes, etc., you'll find the trip worthwhile. He is not for everyone, but if you like your Scotch whiskey straight and your literature uncorrupted then try him: a little sip here, a tiny taste there. Heck, I have even learned to like Mrs. Ann Radcliffe's "Mysteries of Udolpho". Austen's "Northanger Abbey" is to blame. A guy gets tired of wondering what the heck Catherine Morland keeps going on about.

Goldsmith presents the most compelling arguments for monarchy I have ever heard...The general idea is that it is a good thing to have a ruling tyrant in a far off capital city busy chopping off the heads of other would be tyrants and as result having no time for messing with ordinary mortals. This is said with the tongue almost firmly planted in the cheek. With the growing tyranny of the American judiciary, bureaucracies and victimnoids it may be time to dust off Goldsmith and let the heads roll!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 11-07-19

Wish There Were More Stars to Give

There are two types of 18th Century novel: the ones we “get” and the ones we enjoy. We “get” Gulliver’s Travels: we humans are pathetic animals. We “get” Moll Flanders: life was hard for women back then. (Though I suspect both takes owe much to the reductive nature of undergraduate English Lit courses.)

Then there are the novels we enjoy: Tom Jones. Evelina. And, The Vicar of Wakefield. Like Fielding and Burney, Goldsmith manages to tell an engaging story that is, by turns, both touching and laugh-out-loud funny — and stuffed with much good sense and telling observations:

“The pain which conscience gives the man who has already done wrong, is soon got over. Conscience is a coward, and those faults it has not strength enough to prevent, it seldom has justice enough to accuse.”

“But as men are most capable of distinguishing merit in women, so the ladies often form the truest judgments of us. The two sexes seem placed as spies upon each other, and are furnished with different abilities, adapted for mutual inspection.”

Whether Goldsmith intends us to sympathize with or laugh at his main character and narrator, the tension between those two reactions lends the book much of its attraction. At once innocent and wise, charitable and spiteful, we are drawn to Dr. Primrose because he is drawn from us.

Patrick Tull is the perfect vehicle for all this, having what I can only call a voice and delivery straight out of 18th Century England. My only gripe is with the organization. Though the original text is divided into 32 short chapters, the audio version collects these into seven roughly hour-long “chapters”, no doubt reflective of the recording’s original cassette or compact disc format. How hard would it have been to break those down?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Erin Glover
  • 16-02-08

lost me

I couldn't even get through it... it just would not grab me, which is rare.

0 of 12 people found this review helpful