The story. The characters. Dickens' writing. Simon Vance's voice.
Of Human Bondage by Somerset Maugham. It is the story of a young boy's journey into manhood, traversing the pitfalls of his own vulnerabilities and insecurities.
His many and extremely varied ways of giving voice to the characters in ways perfectly consistent with each person's trait.
No! This was an audiotape that I did not want to have come to an end.
I am an audible book fanatic. I love all genres but prefer non-fiction or historical fiction. I have delved into classic science fiction.
I loved the rich descriptions of the people and the scenery. Dickens is a wordsmith. I loved the tale that was spun around and around in seemingly concentric circles moving forward through time carrying us with the characters as they meet again and again through time and space.
The most memorable moment for me was when David left the bottle washing and headed out for his aunts knowing not what was going to come of his trip. Maybe when Murdstone is put in his place by Davids Aunt.
I enjoyed the pace, the clarity of his voice and the fun he has with the various characters. A truly wonderful ride we were carried on by the reader.
I was particularly moved on several occasions while reading this book. I think the times when he is evaluating his decision to marry Dora post marriage when things simply aren't as he would have hoped. He married for beauty and he got beauty but not much else.
Next up, tale of two cities. I was recently inspired to begin listening to the classics, I started with Hemingway and then moved on to Dickens. This is a wonderful tale of treachery and triumph, of love found and lost and found.
Heartfelt, detailed, human.
Periodic style with well-developed personal interactions, growing in depth through the time of the story. Fruity and convoluted phrasing was good fun, but not terribly efficient at times; a product of it's time.
Uriah Heep - be he ever so humble - comes across very clearly as a grubby character.
For me it was more of a review after having read it years ago at school. Probably better with the reading of characters in the audio format, by a good narrator. A few good chuckles, but no tears.
Simon Vance is masterful in his performance of this Dickens classic. His skill at creating fully developed distinguishable characters is a delight
You have to listen more than once. The story is so intricate that it is easy to miss something while you are laughing out loud.
This is a story about true life back in the those times. Hardships that are hard to imagine today, gut wrenching tragedy and hopelessness. Told with a sense of humor that was necessary to keep you from falling into depression.
I could go on and on about Simon Vance forever plus two days. He is a true narrator. He is what every narrator should ascribe to be. So many voices to perfection. He brings characters to life so strongly, you see them, loving some and hating others just by the tone of his voice. Listening I feel so fortunate that this combination of Dickens and Vance exists.
Its hard to pick one moment. I laughed, I cried, I cheered and I jeered. So many great characters you never want it to end.
Greatest thing I find about getting older is that in a few months I can go back and listen to it again and it will be just as new to me as the first time! Ahhh senility isn't so bad after all.
Yes. Especially if they have long road trips ahead.
Complexity and detail
no no no no no. 32 hours?! are you kidding?
The book is lengthy but worth it. At times, I thought to give it up, but pressed on and am grateful for having done so.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I read some Charles Dickens during my school days, but I’m not sure that really counts. When one has a 16-year-old’s limited experience of the world, it’s hard to understand what’s so great about the “great” literature our teachers make us read. Approaching David Copperfield as an adult, though, I’m much more able to perceive Dickens’s gifts as an observer of the world, a social critic, a humorist, and a storyteller.
This novel was, of course, originally serialized entertainment, meant to have the same effect on audiences as Mad Men or Downton Abbey do now -- i.e. readers would get hooked and eagerly await the next installment. Being from Victorian times, the content is a lot tamer than what we’re used to on Netflix, but there’s some serious drama, as well as observations of human nature that are as astute as ever.
This tale follows the coming-of-age of young David Copperfield, who endures the loss of his parents, a cold stepfather, a poorly-run boarding school, and the workhouse, but gets by with a little help from friends, such as the generous family servant, Peggotty, his eccentric aunt, Betsey Trotwood, and the ever-grandiose, ever-indebted Mr. Micawber. As he comes up in the world, David falls in love (with varying degrees of good judgment), finds employment, faces some schemers with bad intentions, and becomes a writer.
Dickens’s cast of quirky characters is written with imagination and flourish, with such colorfully distinct mannerisms and proclivities that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter denizens feel like cheap imitations. It was impossible for me not to enjoy the absurdly melodramatic and irresponsible Micawber, the opinionated Ms. Trotwood, or the addled-brained Mr. Dick, who has trouble keeping Charles the First (died 1649) out of his personal memoirs. The villains are vividly drawn and memorable, as well, such as the obsequious, creepy Uriah Heep, or the affable, manipulative golden boy, James Steerforth, the template for a character that’s seems to have appeared in every prep school story since.
Also notable are Dickens's liberal views (for the time) of society. The trials of the destitute and downcast are examined, with most of the good-hearted, honest characters coming from the working class, while the colder, more duplicitous ones are those that grasp at wealth, power, and social standing. Dickens makes no secret of his feelings on the ineffectiveness of tyrannical schoolteachers, or towards those that seduce young women and leave them to unjustly face the slut-shaming mindset of Victorian society.
Dickens also gets his share of bashing from modern readers, and I don’t totally disagree. Yes, he can be long-winded and maudlin, and tends to lead his readers by the hand towards how he wants them to feel. For me, the book lost steam in the second half, after it became obvious where the different threads in the story were headed, and the charm of the caricatures that are the supporting characters began to wear off. And David himself becomes a bit grating, having little to do in the latter part of the novel besides receive adoration from others, be in love, and write novels -- it felt transparently self-serving on the part of the author.
Still, I can't find too much fault with this novel for being what it was, a work of popular entertainment. The writing is so immersive that I have little doubt its scenes and characters will leave an impression on my memory for years to come. Dickens's droll sense of humor and his attention to the world around him are still a pleasure. For a trip back into mid-19th century England, it may be difficult to do better.
Lastly, I have to commend audiobook voice actor Simon Vance for nailing the narration. From Mr. Peggotty’s salty accent to Uriah Heep’s groveling, he really brings out the characters.
Simon Vance did a beautiful job of narrating this classic Dickens novel, which I had never read. But I confess to disappointment in the book. The good guys were too virtuous, the bad guys too slimy (although I loved the scene where Micawber keeps saying "Heeee-eee-eeep...Heee-eeee-eeep"), and it kind of went on and on and on (33+ hours). I am a big fan of several Dickens novels--Great Ex, Two Cities, Oliver Twist--but perhaps for a longer book like this, you are better off reading it on the page, where you can skim over the slow parts.
I've always heard of this book, but never did get around to reading it. With audible and 2 hours of commuting a day, I could finally make the commitment to give it a go.
It is a solid work. Although not terribly exciting in terms of todays works (action, violence, sex, etc.), the story flows well and the characters are rendered exceptionally well.
As with most works of this period, they can be overly descriptive, but perhaps that is more me being a tainted b y our own societal perspective of needing brevity and speed.
As always, Simon Vance is spectacular as a narrator. He really is one of the best in the business.