Born to an unmarried woman who dies after giving birth, orphan Oliver Twist seems destined to slog through a dismal life in the workhouse. A rebellious cry for more gets Oliver banished, and ultimately lands him on the dismal streets of London. The young outcast finds refuge with Fagin and his band of thieves before fate intervenes and puts Oliver in the hands of a kindly benefactor. It is likely that Dickens's own early youth as a child laborer contributed to the story's development. Oliver Twist has been the subject of countless film and television adaptations.
Public Domain (P)2013 Trout Lake Media
It's hard to believe that one person alone – Peter Batchelor – is doing all the reading! He does a incredible job! This is one great example in which listening to an audiobook can add a whole new dimension to the story. I could never do all those British accents and tones in my head while reading from a book. It feels like going to the theater. And Batchelor adds just the right amount of comedy without overdoing it. I've watched several film adaptations, and yet this one-man-cast's performance has impressed me the most so far! The pace is a bit quick, though, which could be a problem if you're not a native English speaker (as is my case). I managed fine, but had to put a little extra effort at times.
As for Oliver Twist, it's a great classic and much has already been said about it in other reviews. The only thing that bothers me is that the complex villain Fagin is not only Jewish, but is mostly referred to as "the Jew", as it gives the impression that there could be anti-Semitic feelings behind it. Then again, I've read that Dickens wasn't an anti-Semite and that he later created benevolent Jewish characters. I'd be interested in learning more about it. Otherwise, it's a very touching and often funny story.
At the time I purchased the audiobook, it cost only $1.95, which is quite a bargain.
I was hesitant to get this since sometimes the inexpensive are that way for a reason, but was thrilled with this book, and all for $1.95! Character descriptions are so vivid and the narrator was great.
Oliver Twist was Dickens' second novel (after the Pickwick Papers). I've read a lot of Dickens novels, and while I'm a fan, I think his sophomore work was less polished and a bit more maudlin than his later works (and even his later works could get pretty maudlin). There is also a lot of filler material, typical of when Dickens was writing chapters for serialization.
Oliver, a parish orphan, first gets in trouble with the famous words, "Please, sir, I want some more," in one of the most iconic of all of Dickens' scenes.
Although he was actually put up to it by the other boys, Oliver is sent to work for an undertaker, where he is enraged by insults against his deceased mother (despite the fact that he never knew her), and winds up a runaway on the streets of London. Here he is recruited by young Jack Dawkins, aka the Artful Dodger, and led back to the den of Fagin, who has gathered a pack of young urchins whom he sends out to steal and spy. Oliver spends only a little time as part of Fagin's crew before he is captured after a bungled pickpocketing attempt, winds up in the home of a kindly old gentleman who takes care of the would-be thief, and in a series of remarkable coincidences which were also a Dickens trademark, a dozen different characters have all their subplots twined together before Oliver gets his forever home.
Dickens was known for his social justice advocacy, and many of his novels detailed the hard, grinding life of the poor. Fagin's band in Oliver Twist are all sympathetic little ruffians, except Fagin himself, who is repeatedly referred to as "the Jew" and is one of Dickens' most unflattering caricatures, and probably the most unfortunate Jewish literary villain since Shylock.
Besides Fagin, the other memorable villains of the book are the psychopathic Bill Sikes, one of the originators of the "Kick the Dog" trope (he's equally brutal to his much-abused girlfriend Nancy), and of course, the comically malevolent Mr. Bumble.
People either like Dickens or they don't. Oliver Twist is pretty much the definitive Dickensian tale: a humble orphan who live happily ever after thanks to a fortuitous discovery of rich benefactors, angelic women too pure-hearted for this world, greedy and despicable authority figures who beat and starve orphans, and some very memorable and poignant indictments of Victorian society, even before Dickens was at the height of his powers.
It's definitely worth reading the book, especially if you only know it as a tedious assignment in English class. Dickens deserves better treatment than to be punishment for high school freshmen. That said, while I've enjoyed several movie versions, my favorite adaptation of the book is probably Oliver!.
"Some missing text and detail"
The final moments of Bill Sykes have been omitted for some reason from chapter 51
Great story. Well told. Well read. Loved it. How could you not love Charles Dickens? He makes English sing and dance.
"A story full of twists and turns."
You may struggle at first but keep on reading/listening. This story definitely has a very worth while ending.
A classic which is narrated in fine style, doing justice to a fine Dickens tale.
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