The Chuzzlewits are a family divided by money and selfishness; even young Martin, the eponymous hero, is arrogant and self-centred. He offends his grandfather by falling in love with the latter’s ward, Mary, and sets out to make his own fortune in life, travelling as far as America - which produces from Dickens a savage satire on a new world tainted with the vices of the old. Martin’s nature slowly changes through his bitter experience of life and his enduring love for Mary. Martin Chuzzlewit is one of Dickens’s most humorous and satirical novels, and it contains two great comic creations: the hypocrite Pecksniff and the drunken nurse Sarah Gamp.
Public Domain (P)2010 Naxos Audiobooks
I confess I waded through the first hours getting hopelessly confused, but being a Dickens' fan I persevered. Then It occurred to me I could find the manuscript on line and straighten all the characters out in my mind. From then on I was hooked. It's a delicious satire that I enjoyed as long as it was based in England, cringed when it moved to America and smiled as Dickens resolves it all with full appropriate recompense.
Sean Barrett's performance was masterful sorting out the many characters.
The first few chapters of this delightful story center around one nasty character after another. Don't give up because there are dear friends to get to know -- Tom & Ruth, John, Mark Tapley (the best of all), young Martin at last, and more. I didn't want the story to end. The narrator is brilliant, with perhaps the best characterization of all being that of Sarah Gamp, whose fracturing of the English language is outrageously funny. I can't imagine reading her lines -- they must be unintelligible. Hearing them made me laugh out loud. And Dickens' satire of America is broad but true -- where every man has the title of "Major" or "General", befouls every surface with copious quantities of spat tobacco juice, brags about himself and his nation, swindles, and is cock-sure and greedy. He certainly nailed the worst of our faults, and, once again, presents the flaws and beauties of human nature. Enjoy!
This is a wonderful novel with some especially colorful imagery at various points. The narrator is a little bland when speaking as the narrator, but his character voices are rich and varied, and leave nothing wanting.
Written in 1843, this is an excellent Dickens novel that deserves to be as well known as say Oliver Twist or Great Expectations. The author???s typical tongue-in-cheek humour is very present throughout the work. The number of characters is reasonable, they are relatively fleshed out and it is easy for the reader to sympathize with many. Surprisingly in a Dickens work, some live through phases of introspection and evolve significantly.
The plot is characteristically implausible and includes completely improbable coincidences. It does however entail quite a bit of suspense. In fact, the novel may be perceived in some chapters as a prototype to murder mysteries (which of course had not yet been invented when it was written). Accordingly, despite the length of the book, the reader is constantly enticed to read on.
It is quite fascinating to follow major characters as they emigrate to the United States. The narrator???s comments on America are marked certainly by the author???s own British prejudices. The absence of interest towards culture in the New World and the general obsession with money are developed without subtlety. The narrator???s observations are also coloured by the times. So, New York is described as a ???vast, flat city???. Much more seriously, the paradox of slavery in a nation so proud to be founded on liberty is strongly underscored.
Overall, this fascinating, well-written work is strongly recommended to all.
This is the first book I have listened to that was narrated by Sean Barrett. He is an excellent voice actor and brings each character to life. It is very easy to follow even though the plot can be quite complex. A very enjoyable audio book.
I love Dickens and have read all his main works. I'd rank Chuzzlewit about in the middle. Some memorable characters and great dialogue--I especially like Mrs. Gamp. But also the usual flaws-- e.g. authorial coyness that gets tiresome; sentimentality; uninteresting good guys. Sean Barrrett's narration is absolutely excellent: the voices he gives the characters sound perfect.
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I loved this book, and now I'll have the dilemma of choosing between Sean Barrett and Simon Vance for the Dickens I haven't listened to yet. The narration is exquisite; Mr. Barrett has a lovely voice, and when you listen to Dickens's beautiful writing in Mr. Barrett's beautiful voice . . . well, it's mesmerizing. There are wonderful characters in Martin Chuzzlewit: in particular Mrs. Gamp, the alcoholic nurse who repeatedly violates the Hippocratic Oath, and jolly Mark Tapley, who seeks out trouble and misery because there is "no credit in being jolly" when you're in a good situation. The plot is classic Dickens and if you've read much of his work, you're familiar with his devices, but it's the writing, the characters, and the narration that make this one memorable. As is often the case, Dickens gets pretty Hallmark-ish and treacly at the end, and in his handling of Ruth Pinch, but who cares? It's a great audiobook! Go for it.
This is a long novel, skilfully written, as all of Dickens tales are. It is his theme that puts a little fog and storm throughout: human selfishness. As always, he introduces us to many carefully drawn characters -- and, in this case, many kinds of self-centered behavior. There are a few very good characters, of course-- and those are not the sort of folks the "great ones" even notice. Also there is a gradual but very satisfying growth in the title character throughout his tale.
Another feature of this Dickens novel is the part of it set in America and his critique of the attitudes of many Americans of the time. The author did not make himself popular with them by this open criticism, but, to be fair, the selfish rascals in Britain were painted just as vividly.
Great characters, a fascinating story, lots of humour, brilliantly read and characterised by Sean Barrett.
The novel has one or two chapters that are a bit long-winded (don't be put off by Chapter 1), the American section is surprisingly anti-american.
But you must make the acquaintance of some of the unforgettable characters such as Mr Pecksniff, Tom Pinch and may you never be looked after by Mrs Gamp.
I always enjoy listening to audiobooks - but this reading by Sean Barrett is like a dramatisation. It reminded me that Dickens was famous for his theatrical readings, and how susceptible audience members had hysterics. It is a truly wonderful performance. There are tedious passages in most of Dickens' novels but I was so entranced by Sean Barrett's impersonations, of Mrs Gamp, Mr Pecksniff, Mrs Todger, Bill Bailey (the list goes on) that I did not want to miss a word. As a novel, this one is patchy; but Dickens has the knack of conjuring up truly evil characters, such as Jonas Chuzzlewit and Mr Pecksniff, and Sean Barrett's performance made me feel Dickens' magnificence as novelist even more, I think, than simply reading it for myself would have done. The novel has been on my bookshelves for years and I've taken it down, flipped over the pages and put it back on several occasions. The whole experience of listening to a master in performance bringing to life the work of another master convinces me that there's more to be done, yet, in writing novels for reading aloud, rather than simply reading to oneself. The best of story-telling, like this, needs the human voice!
What a combination - Dickens and Sean Barrett. It was such a joy listening to Sean Barrett reading this book. He made the characters come to life seemlessly. I laughed out loud when Mr Pecksniff became inebriated and was put to bed. Definitely one to listen to again.
"Unusual Dickensian Tale"
Sean Barrett makes a brilliant job of narrating this story especially as the tale moves to the USA. I found that it needs some perseverance as somehow Dickens complex cast of characters struggle to take on depth until the latter end of the first download. The introduction of a transatlantic dimension works well in contrast with the English story and then takes on a pace. My advice is stick with it it is an excellent read with an unusual wider scope for Dickens.
"didn't expect this"
I had never read this novel from Dickens and it's not the sort of story-line that one comes to expect with most of his books. It does have many of the ingredients but somehow the result feels different. Interesting characters and a regular build-up of the story, and then nothing seems to happen. As if a key passage was missing. A nice listen though, with an incredible narrator able to do all of the voices brilliantly.
"A superb rendering of a great book"
Sean Barrett's reading was absolutely fantastic and he certainly brought the book to life.
Everything about it was excellent, great humour, humanity and emotion.
This man could make the phone directory sound interesting. As soon as I finished this book I ordered a number of other books read by him. Probably the best reader I've listened to.
It's 33 hours long so not really practical but I was always eager to get back to it as soon as I could and I have recommended it to other listeners.
A great pleasure. Thank you for making it possible.
"Superb reading of the classic"
What an excellent reading of the novel. Super! The odious Pecksniff makes you want to throttle him.
"Not one of Dickens's greatest"
A fine reading by Sean Barrett redeemed what is one of Dickens's poorer novels: excruciatingly plotted but with a number of entertaining, melodramatic characters.
I doubt it.
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