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Oliver Twist | [Charles Dickens]

Oliver Twist

After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences' imaginations for more than 150 years.
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Publisher's Summary

One of Charles Dickens' most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, "Please, sir, I want some more". After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences' imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

Rife with Dickens' disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation - and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

(P)2008 Tantor

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (376 )
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4.5 (242 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 08-12-10
    Neil San Francisco, CA, United States 08-12-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "First Rate"

    This is an incredible story made into a number of movies. It is my favorite Dickens novel. The narration was incredible. It was like being in a play. He moves between Characters Sikes, Fagan, and the Dodger with ease. It is better to hear this book then to read it. It is a must hear!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julien MINZIERFrance 07-03-10
    Julien MINZIERFrance 07-03-10
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    3
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    "Outstanding narrator"

    Although I found the story a bit outdated, the narrator's choices of pitch for each character was incredible !

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dielle 04-26-10
    Dielle 04-26-10 Member Since 2012
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    "a good recording of a good story"

    I am an avid Dickens fan and enjoyed this recording.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 02-04-15
    Laura 02-04-15 Member Since 2009

    I am a former high school English teacher, a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom, and a childbirth educator. Audiobooks are my way of dealing with the daily, boring tasks of life. They help me squeeze in "reading" time, which is hard to find these days!

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    "It's so much easier to love Dickens as an adult."

    This was a really enjoyable listen. Dickens is a master at creating memorable characters. I remember being made to read his works in high school and hating them! But with a little more maturity and experience, under my belt, they are quite enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa 10-01-12
    Lisa 10-01-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Classic"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I think most have read this, but it was one I'd neglected, and am so glad that audiobooks allow me to "catch up" on the things I've missed, but don't have time to sit down and enjoy.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Simon Vance is a stellar narrator, bringing stories to life w/ his flawless transitions between characters. What a pro! His narration made this story for me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colleen 09-25-12
    Colleen 09-25-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I would listen to Simon Vance read the phone book."
    Any additional comments?

    I absolutely love Simon Vance as a reader. After listening to his reading of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, I decided to try something a bit more classic, and went with Oliver Twist, since, despite being an English major, I had only ever read one Dickens novel (Great Expectations) and then with a looming exam deadline so it wasn't fun at all.

    Simon Vance made the book come alive, made the humor in Dickens' descriptions and dialog funny, made it easy to keep track of a wide cast of characters in all of his different voices.

    Any flaws in the book are more a weakness of Dickens...it gets off to a good start and has a riproaring set of climaxes, but there is a pretty badly sagging middle where not a lot is going on, some mawkish sentimentality and a few needless episodes that I chalk up to the book's origin as a serial and a need to have some sort of "cliffhanger" to lead to the next segment. Also, as many others have noted, Oliver is such a paragon of meek and grateful innocence that he pales in comparison (as do all of the "good guys", pretty much, except for the surgeon and the friend of Mr. Brownlow who constantly threatens to "eat his own head") to the vivid villains and lowlifes who oppose him.

    But trust me, even with these weaknesses, Vance makes it worthwhile. I have added all of his Dickens books to my wishlist and plan to start on Nicolas Nickleby as soon as my next credits arrive!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LifetimeRoad 06-12-12
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    "Simon Vance! Wonderful Narration!"

    Hard to improve on this combination of Dickens and Vance! I almost cried at one point in the book, when little "Dickie" request a pen and paper so he could express to Oliver his love.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AMY Washington, DC, United States 01-08-12
    AMY Washington, DC, United States 01-08-12
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    8
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    "memorable"
    What did you like best about this story?

    It' a great story, a brilliant social critique, and a keen observation of human nature that holds up.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Mr. Bumble


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to Oliver Twist on audible while I also read it as a paperback novel. My reading experience was enhanced by the terrific voices and phrasing of Simon Vance. If you haven't read any Dickens, try this one,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krzysztof Easton, PA, USA 09-24-09
    Krzysztof Easton, PA, USA 09-24-09
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    "excellent quality"

    great narration and great quality recording, unlike the other "Oliver Twist" audiobook from RNIB

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 07-07-13
    Dan Harlow Fort Collins 07-07-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Please, sir, don't make me read Dickens again"
    Any additional comments?

    I'll eat my head if I ever read Dickens again.

    What was the point of this novel? Entertainment I suppose, something to read to while away the time every month when a new chapter was printed. And I kept asking myself if Dickens was trying to get at a deeper meaning here but, alas, there is nothing here to be found, my dear. We've been robbed.

    But let's take a closer look anyway.

    The end of the novel is telling. We're led to an island where the meanest, dirtiest, lowliest scum of all London, nay all Christendom, live. Here too is where Sikes - the worst of the worst - is hiding. Dickens begins by describing the people here as just mean, dirty castoffs, but then employs them in the right honorable task of bringing a murderer to justice. All of a sudden the dregs of society are miraculously reinvented as a willing army of angels; God's brigade.

    And that's just one of countless examples of coincidence too convenient to catalog here.

    Yet why did Dickens turn pretty much all of England into a 'wretched hive of scum and villainy' if the one goal he must have hoped to reach was to show how poorly the lower classes are treated. By the end it's the upper-classes who come to the rescue, who possess the means to investigate Oliver's past, who have the social connections to connect the dots and notarize the appropriate paperwork.

    Who was Dickens writing for? Was he making fun of England's citizens while at the same time claiming he was sticking up for them? Who in this book of meager circumstances comes off as righteous? Nancy, perhaps, and maybe Master Bates (wasted pun, by the way) and none else. Oliver, orphan that he seems, is no pleb by blood, and everyone else who raised him was a wretch, a criminal, a tool, and a coward.

    So how does Oliver's story tell us anything about society? What's the point of Oliver existing in the first place?

    As always, my biggest complaint with a lot of writers is that just because they write down that a character is having an emotion doesn't automatically mean the author no longer has to do any work to earn our emotional engagement. Saying a character is sad, or glad, or even possess a trait, does not mean the author gets a pass for the rest of the story - they have to SHOW that a character is sad, is mad, or whatever.

    Yet this is the problem with too much popular writing. An author can say 'Bella was depressed' and readers will eat it up even though nothing has been done to show that she's depressed - it's only enough to know that someone says someone else is depressed.

    Bollocks.

    Good art requires work. Good reading requires work. Dickens did not do much work. Dickens got paid a lot. Dickens was a literary thief and an orphan of good taste.

    And the real shame is that there were moments when the writing was quite good, where if he had utilized his characters more sympathetically we could have really had a good book here, but because he just wanted to poke fun on one page and then be expected to be taken seriously the next, that we get an uneven, and undeserving entry into the cannon.

    I wonder what author's work was turned aside in the serial publication to make room for this? I wonder what great literary talent we'll never know about was swept aside for Dickens?

    There probably was a real Oliver Twist in 19th century England, and he was probably an author who never got the chance to prove his talent or be taken in by a benevolent benefactor willing to give him a chance. We are poorer for it too.

    Disappointing.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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