(P)2009 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
This is a delightful reading of a Dickens classic. The reader dramatises the characters tremendously well, speaks clearly, and infuses Dickens' work with life and colour.
After listening to this book for several weeks during my commute, I was grieved to be leaving the characters behind when it ended.
Alex Jennings brings this wonderful book to life with his wonderful reading. Dickens extraordinary ability to distill the essential elements of the human condition in beautiful succinct prose left me spell bound. I look to listening to it again. For what its worth, Jennings reading of of "Pompeii" by Robert Harris is also a very good reading of an excellent book.
This is certainly one of the best audio books that I have ever listened to. Besides the classic Charles Dickens story, the narrator is stupendous with his many different accents and delivery.
Alex Jennings’ performance of Nicholas Nickleby completely captivated my imagination. I listened to one of the final chapters as I drove home from Walgreens after buying toothpaste… I nearly had to pull over to the curb from weeping.
I can’t imagine a better narrator of the book. There are tons of characters and Jennings’ portrayal makes each distinct… comical, dastardly, virtuous, pitiful, maddening… an entire world created for your listening pleasure. (I haven’t heard it, but I suspect Simon Vance’s performance of Nickleby is also excellent - his narration of “Dance to the Music of Time” was beyond wonderful.)
Mostly a “reader” of classics on Audible, I also enjoyed Anne Bronte’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall narrated by Alex Jennings and Jenny Agutter. Alas, I see that Jennings’ narration of Crime and Punishment is an abridged version… if it was unabridged, I’d buy it today.
Best liked: The parts of the story that moved the plot forward, especially the conflict sections. Dickens' antagonists are the best. Also, his wonderful descriptions of human foibles and vanities are poignant and hilarious.
The narrator is very good. He keeps the numerous characters identifiable and memorable.
Least liked: Truly half of the novel is filler that is almost completely disconnected from the plot. These sections are clearly intended to make the novel come out to a specific length, and most likely were necessary to satisfy serialization agreements. During these entire chapters, the story comes to a complete stop.
Despite nuggets of brilliant satire and beautiful characterization, these sections are essentially character studies a novelist might write to round out the characters in his/her mind. But they would not normally be included in the novel.
No. Even Dickens' weak novels are gems.
Dickens' villains are almost always the most interesting. If I had to pick one here, I'd choose Mr. Squeers, who is consistently and enthusiastically despicable, while at the same time cunning, self-aware and three dimensional.
Probably, knowing that the extra fluff would be eliminated for film.
Jennings brings his Award Winning acting abilities to his reading of, “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby”. I say ‘reading’ rather than narration, because Jennings doesn’t just narrate Dickens timeless classic tale, he literally brings each character in the book to life with stunning voice acting.
When you listen to Jennings’ read, Nicholas Nickleby comes through as young, hopeful, gallant, and defiant; Ralph Nickleby’s cold cunning heartlessness is beautifully captured. The conniving Yorkshire schoolmaster, Wackford Squeers,; the repressed hero, Newman Noggs and all the rest are all brilliantly portrayed and vividly rendered, each with their own distinct personality.
As I’ve listened to scores of narrators over the years read different books and do various characters, Alex Jennings portrayal of the pitiable Smike is one of the most riveting and heart wrenching characterizations that I’ve ever heard. Listening to Smike’s exchanges with Nicholas at the ends of chapters 13 and 18, are simply stunning.The powerful emotion generated by Alex Jennings enlists you into rooting for smike. You can hear the many years of pain and helplessness in Smike’s (Jennings’) voice. These parts are, for me, the highlight of the performance, and makes this audiobook a must have.
No matter how many times you may have read Nicholas Nickleby or have seen a movie adaptation; or if you’re not a big reader and have never had the time to read a Dickens novel; I urge you to go to Audible.com and download a copy of Charles Dickens’ “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby” as read by Alex Jennings. It will be a whole new, incredible experience for you. And one that you are sure to enjoy!
This is one of the finest audiobooks I've had the pleasure of listening to. "Nicholas Nickleby" is one of my very favorite novels-- I'd already read it twice before coming to this audiobook version-- and I approached this recording with some wariness, fearing that an audio version might not live up to my earlier reading experiences. I needn't have worried-- Alex Jennings' rendition of the book is nothing short of astonishing, and his splendid performance only deepened my affection for "Nickleby." Jennings' evident love for the material comes through in his vivid interpretation of the enormous cast of characters-- his vocal characterizations simply could not be bettered. I will listen to this recording with pleasure many times again in the future.
I believe this is one of Dickens best novels. I think Dickens is better heard than read as accents play such a large role in the interpretation. Wackford Squeers and Browdie are from Yorkshire and their accents play a big role in the character. Alex Jennings did an excellent job as narrator and I would seek him out in the future. If you are looking for a film to compliment the book then the 1977 mini series with Nigel Havers in the lead role is an excellent rendition of the book as it follow the book perfectly.
Interesting, captivating, entertaining
Some of the vivid characters
John Browdie, followed closely by Mr. Mantalini. AMAZING!
I laughed and cried. The book was fabulous!
Don't miss this one! I can't believe it took me so many years to finally read it.
It has been a number of years since I read most of the more famous of Dickens' works. It's obviously time for a reread, or relisten, but based on recollections, this is my favorite Dickens' to date, and probably in the top 10 of all books I have read or listened to. No doubt this is partly a function of the amazing job by Alex Jennings, who brings great energy and wonderful characterizations of most of the players. But the novel itself is remarkably modern in its insights, language, humor, farce, melodrama and at times a sense of the absurd. Really worthwhile and fun!!
"Old warhorse fighting fit"
What a joy it was to revisit this old favourite in the hands of such a consumate artist as the reader Alex Jennings.
His characterisations are without peer and I would tentatively suggest could not have been bettered by The Great Man himself in his famous readings - just listen to his delivery of
Ralph Nickelby's death as an example - chilling.
Anyone who feels they aught to read Dickens but have been reluctant to try should give this one a try.
"Laugh Out Loud Funny!"
If you haven't disovered Nicholas Nickleby, then you're in for a huge treat. This is one of Charles Dickens's finest and funniest novels - a hugely entertaining account of the trials and adventures of Nicholas and his impoverished family and their treatment at the hands of their unscrupulous and wicked Uncle Ralph. It has everything! Idiotic characters (check out the Infant Phenomenon and Miss la Ceevey, the miniaturist); dastardly villains (Wackforth Squeers is the worst headmaster in the world) and poor Smike, whose faithful devotion to Nicholas will surely move the hardest heart to sympathy and maybe a few tears. Reading the book many years ago was a revelation to me, but hearing it is something else! A brilliant performance throughout and characters who live in your imagination. Buy it - you won't be disappointed.
"From a Dickens 'virgin': a perfect five stars"
I was put off CD because I imagined the stories would be dull and difficult. I was wrong. At least so far, NN is my first but it will not be the last.
To my slight shame, I had no idea that Dickens was so funny - and also so moving in so much of his writing. This tale, which is long and populated by dozens of amazing characters, is not, despite that, complex, it just slowly unfurls.
Pathos, even tragedy do take their parts, but the humour is always threaded through the story, often with pleasant little diversions away from the main plot simply, I assume, for the enjoyment of the writer and reader.
Alex Jennings is one of my favourite readers. His voice is perfect when he's just reading but when he gives each character its own 'voice' it's very hard to imagine they are all being read by the same person. He brings out the life and the humour. Another reviewer said that he reads the twin brothers as a Tony Benn impression - it's true! I would like to add that he reads the Squeers family as various Les Dawson incarnations - hilarious.
If, as I was, you are a Charles Dickens virgin (and at my stage of life, I really had no excuse, Lord knows how I avoided it at school), I urge you to try this download and persist beyond the first 45 minutes or so, because after that, I believe you will be hooked.
The book of course needs no review. It is a masterpiece. However, I cannot praise Alex Jenning's reading highly enough. A witty, insightful, intelligent and moving reading that puts him, along with Martin Jarvis, amongst the very best of readers.
"One of the best audiobooks I've ever heard"
It is with reluctance that I have put this audiobook aside but I know it will only be temporary as it has been such a pleasure to well, inhabit; and this is due to the brilliant reading by Alex Jennings of this novel about the true goal of life.
Dickens on the page can be almost over-florid for me, but the sensitivity of Jennings reading gave life and a humane perspective to this well-loved author and his characters became much more alive for me. The proposal 'a comfortable couple' and the doctor's dandling the baby are just two highlights. Definitely one of my alltime favourites.
This book really comes to life in the reading by Alex Jennings. The characterisations are really well done and make this a really gripping story. Just right for a long commute.
"Top of My List"
Magnificent novel read with such excellent characterisations by Alex Jennings. His accents were spot on and I loved the way he used an Anthony Wedgewood Benn style of voice for the brothers Cheeryble. Alex almost seemed to raise Dickens' splendid prose to Shakespearian levels.
Classic wonderfully narrated
Written so long ago about an England which is like a foreign country yet deals with so many contemporary themes. Dickens makes you laugh out loud one minute and has you on the point of tears in the next. The narration by Alex Jennings is the best I have heard in any audiobook. He brings the book alive and "interprets" the somewhat archaic language in a way which makes it intelligible to a modern audience.
Both in alternation.
I think most people would regard me as well educated but I have always struggled when I have tried to read Dickens. The narration by Alex Jennings was wonderful and reminded me that Dickens wrote not only with a view to his books being published by instalments but also with a view to his works being the subject of public readings. I would highly recommend this audiobook.
"Best reader & perfect for Dickens"
What a great reader Alex Jennings is. I wish he'd read more Dickens titles. Nickleby isn't my favourite from the great master, but I don't see how anyone could better Jennings' masterful interpretation. Highly recommended.
"Expert and enjoyable narration of a classic"
I have wanted to listen to NN for years, partly because it's a classic and partly because I so enjoyed the award-winning 80's RSC stage production. But I always put it off because the book is so long and the Victorian style of dialogue and descriptive writing sounds so overblown to modern ears. I needn't have worried - Alex Jennings' narration is so beautifully judged that I found that I "tuned in" to the period quickly. The characters were brought to life with energy and credibility. In fact, he reads so expertly that I will now check out which other books he has narrated. In summary, a truly great book, wonderfully read.
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