Tag Archive: charles dickens


61zxRCSGv7L._SL500_Oliver Twist
By: Charles Dickens
Narrated by: Simon Vance
Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
Release date: 07-29-08
Publisher: Tantor Audio

In this day and age everyone pretty much knows Charles Dickens work, and the same could probably be said about Oliver Twist. On occasion I like to revisit classic stories, especially revisit in audiobook form. Most of the time I pick up on something I missed whether it’s because of the age difference (yeah I’m Old now, so what.) or maybe just because I do the audiobook version when revisiting and just listening to the story and letting it flow over me, either way it’s nice to discover something new each time.

While on the subject of the audiobook version, let’s talk about the narrator, Simon Vance. Vance is one of my top 5 audiobook voices. He can give each character a unique voice while reading, that at times it seems as though more than one person is narrating. Sometimes it is just enough to know it is another voice but Vance can give the story that extra oomph that will help the listener get lost in the story.

In case your not familiar with the story, this Dickens novel was a social commentary on how poverty affects all, not just the poor. Oliver is an orphan sent to live at the workhouse where his mother gave birth to him and experiences the abuse the workhouse caretakers express on the children in their care. He is then sent to be an apprentice for an Undertaker where Oliver gets abused and runs away. Once on the streets Oliver begins working for the shady Fagin while learning the tricks of the pick pocket trade from the Artful Dodger.

Through Oliver Twists misadventures with the criminal element the reader/listener is taught that poverty creates problems for everyone and that we are all affected somehow. If you ask me, you definitely learn that crime does not pay, although you have to get through nearly all of the book for that to surface.

Publisher’s Summary:

One of Charles Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please, sir, I want some more”. After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

Rife with Dickens’ disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation – and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

(P)2008 Tantor

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“A Christmas Carol”
by Charles Dickens
Read by Jim Dale
Produced by Random House Audio (2003)
Approx 3 hours

Yep, I had to get into the holiday spirit, and with the crass commercialization I was not feeling very Christmas-y.  I was very close to saying, “Bah, Humbug!”  My small hometown put their OVERLY DONE Christmas decorations up the day after Halloween, and all the department stores had begun putting out Christmas items back in September.  “Bah, Humbug!” Indeed.   So what better story to get me back into the Christmas spirit than this Dickens classic.

There are many versions out there to choose from and I’m not sure why I loaded this one onto my iPod, but I did, and no matter what the reason, It turned out a great choice.  First of all the talent of the reader Jim Dale, was enough to get me into the Christmas Spirit.  His vocalized perfectly all the parts, from the charity collectors, to the two talking Spirits of Christmas Past and Present, and Marley’s ghost and of course, Scrooge himself.  Jim Dale’s acting was more than just acting out the voices and characters, he also was able to put just enough change in his vocalization of Scrooge to show the moments he changes and then the contrast between old Scrooge and reformed Scrooge were perfect without losing the character himself.  Glad I discovered this version.

The story itself is a great one that tells that a man can change his destiny, and one man’s life affects many.  Scrooge, the stingy, business only, owner of Scrooge & Marley’s money changing, thinks Christmas is just another day and doesn’t think anyone should raise a fuss.  When approached to make a donation to help the poor, his response of asking, aren’t there prisons? shows what kind of man he is.  He doesn’t even allow family to share in this cheer.  On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by his former partner who died years past, Jacob Marley.  Marley warns Scrooge he could end up like himself with heavy chains to bear, unless he changes his way.  Scrooge only sees this as a nightmare caused by indigestion.  Marley then warns Scrooge about the 3 coming spirits that will show him the true spirit of Christmas.

The first is the Ghost of Christmas Past who reminds Scrooge of how he used to be and how he gave up cheer for business, making his love interest a thing of the past.  Scrooge begins to see what is meant by the Spirit of Christmas.  The second, the Ghost of Christmas Present, is the one that shows how what he does affects those today.  Scrooge begins to see even more when he is shown the home of his employer, Bob Cratchit, and their disabled son, Tiny Tim.  When the spirit uses Scrooge’s own words about the health of Tiny Tim, Scrooge is determined to change.

The real Change comes when Scrooge is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-come.  This ghost is a haunting spirit that never talks.  Scrooge is shown his dismal future and all at once the man knows what he must do.  Upon waking on Christmas day Scrooge is a changed man and begins a new life by helping his fellow man and spreading Christmas Cheer.

A classic you can’t miss and especially with Jim Dale narrating.

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