Audio is a great way to enjoy Dickens, especially as he himself believed the best way to deliver his material was to read it aloud. By turns darkly humorous, horrific, and poignant, this is great entertainment. Narrators Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher more than hold their own with the complex story and multitude of characters. Gallagher breathes new life into young Esther, portraying her with charm and intelligence and avoiding the cloying sweetness she is frequently accused of. Barrett gives weight and voice to the loftiest and lowest members of mid-nineteenth-century British society, while drawing out every ounce of humor in what can be, in the right hands, a very funny novel.
The long, drawn-out case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce provides the background to this novel, which takes us into Dickens' world of impoverished people on the street, lovers fallen on hard times, and the grand riches of the upper classes. It is read movingly by Sean Barrett.
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"Vigorous satire....[with] a host of interesting minor characters." (The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature)
Dickens can be hard to understand, because there is a huge culture gap between his time and ours. His verbosity, convoluted syntax, and strange vocabulary can make reading difficult and listening even more difficult--to say nothing of his excessive sentimentality and over-dramatization.
According to Wikipedia, Bleak House has 18 main characters and 36 minor characters. Evidently, this did not tax his readers, but it is a bit much for me. I needed a short explanation sometimes, to remind me who some of these people were.
I had little trouble understanding the male narrator, but I could hardly understand the female narrator, she read so quickly. She seemed to think she was reading to a Victorian audience, not someone in the American colonies.
A Dickens' story wonderfully told! Two narrators were selected and for the length of the work able to be captivating.
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