This was my first Charles Dickens; I think the review "Dickens in Full Sentimental Mode" captures my reaction well. The characters were brilliantly drawn and vivid. I think it could have been trimmed a bit without being hurt, and a few of the resolutions of story lines and the happy ending did feel a bit contrived, but I loved spending time with these characters. I stand in awe of Simon Vance's narration, and wish I could shake his hand. By chance I listened to the interview with Lemony Snicket that's available (free) on Audible just as I started this novel. Snicket narrated three of his wonderful "Series of Unfortunate Events" novels but, as he describes in the interview, he found it the most grueling experience of his life and had to pass the job over to Tim Curry (too bad, as we loved Snicket's readings). He conveyed how very difficult it is to narrate a book, which made Vance's narration of Copperfield seem all the more awesome. Vance can do voices, and brought them all to wonderful life. All in all, a great listen!
Allow me to admit my bias: David Copperfield is my favorite novel from my favorite author. The intricacies of Dickens's plot requires one to heed even the seemingly banal events of his earlier life. Nothing is irrelevant. His characters typify virtues and vices and are at times among the most amusing in literary history. I identify more with David than any other character in fiction which accounts for my love of his story. The retrospective chapters and "The Tempest" are the most heartfelt and emotionally tumultuous chapters in my reading. Simply, I love this story.
Simon Vance is the voice of Dickens. To my brain, this is quite literally true: Vance has become one with Dickens so that I cannot hear his voice without sensing that it is Dickens speaking. When I read Dickens, I sub-vocalize in the voice of Vance. After reading one of his novels I inevitably add Vance's reading to my audio library so that I can return to it during my bike rides, hikes, long drives, and some leisurely afternoons as a layabout (somehow it's easier to justify sloth if I have Dickens playing in my ears). Vance has an appropriately British accent, neither pretentious nor guttersnipish (I like to imagine that the reader is the author himself). As narrator he is consistent and matter-of-fact, but still interesting. Vance really shines as a character reader. He has very distinct voices for each character which serve to interpret each very accurately. His voice helps immerse me in the story allowing me alternately to love, despise, or laugh at the various characters. In my experience, there is no reader who distinguishes different characters so sharply nor who brings them to life like Vance. I will continue to add Vance readings until I have all of his Dickens recordings. I could never listen to another narrator of a Dickens novel. Master-writer, meet master-reader.
Simon Vance was born to do Dickens. And his performance here is truly extraordinary. He captures the essence of the writer, the characters, the time. I felt very sad when I finished listening to the book. It was like saying goodbye to intimate friends. Congratulations to Mr. Vance for a tour de force performance.
GRI, SME, CDPE, Broker
I ordered this audio book for two reasons. One, I love classics ... and two, a previous reviewer raved about the narrator's outstanding skill (Simon Vance). I agree 200%. Mr. Vance made David Copperfield literally come alive for me, performing each voice with extreme skill and precision - even women and youngsters. And Charles Dickens' reputation needs no further endorsement. The story was so gripping, I felt as if I actually knew the characters and was greatly disappointed when it concluded. I could have read (listened, in this case!) and read and read and read.
This audible book was a delightful companion during my summer driving through the deserts of the west. Dickens was brilliant - funny, opinionated, compassionate, and moving. Simon Vance did a marvelous job of bouncing between David, Dora, Aunt Betsey and the rest of the characters. The people of London must have so looked forward to the next installment of this series. We are so fortunate to be able to turn on an ipod and be taken back a century to another land. People have not changed over the centuries, but the talent to write like Dickens seems to have disappeared. This book is a gift.
The book is a classic and the reading is truly inspiring. Simon Vance truly has a gift. But maybe Audible should let customers into a little secret: Simon Vance IS Robert Whitfield; and Richard Matthews and John Richmond. He has used different names for the different publishing houses he has worked. Whitfield was his chosen name while working for Blackstones. So, it's funny to see him competing with himself among the reviews. They are all very good versions.
There are a few of audiobooks where the narration truly improves the story (Shutter Island is one). Since we're talking Dickens, and one of his greatest works, improvement may not be in the cards. But Vance matches the material. Tolstoy cited Chapter 51 of DC; to my mind it (and the rest of the book) ably represent what makes us human, at our best and worst.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and this reading and was sad when it was over. I like Dickens but reading his novels (or even listening to them being read) can sometimes be a chore. Not so here. Vance's reading of the first-person narrative--an adult David recounting his youth--strikes just the right note. His performance of all the many characters and their various dialects is superb.
Okay, I'll be the Black Sheep and say I disagree with all the ravings about how this is Dickens at his best (all of you can start flinging mud at me now). My chief complaint is that I felt that I had met every one of these characters in a different Dickens book and that the