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Editorial Reviews

At 34 hours in length, this is quite an undertaking, but there's no one better qualified than Simon Vance to lead us through this audio journey. He parses the author's long sentences well, pausing sufficiently to make the details easy to follow while still maintaining a quick enough pace to keep the story going. Most enjoyable is his voicing of the myriad characters who appear in the narrative - and characters they certainly are. Vance times their occasionally hilarious exchanges especially well. All of this is delivered in a manner that suggests that Vance revels in Dickens's prose and sly humor, and the listener cannot help but revel along with him. Three cheers for Vance - and not the least for his stamina!

Publisher's Summary

David Copperfield is the quintessential novel by England's most beloved novelist. Based in part on Dickens's own life, it is the story of a young man's journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. Among its gloriously vivid cast of characters, he encounters his tyrannical stepfather, Mr. Murdstone; his formidable aunt, Betsey Trotwood; the eternally humble yet treacherous Uriah Heep; the frivolous, enchanting Dora; and one of literature's great comic creations, the magnificently impecunious Mr. Micawber - a character resembling Dickens's own father.

In David Copperfield - the novel he described as his "favorite child" - Dickens drew revealingly on his own experiences to create one of his most exuberant and enduringly popular works, filled with tragedy and comedy in equal measure.

©1923 Public Domain; (P)2009 Tantor

What members say

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Awesome all around!

What made the experience of listening to David Copperfield the most enjoyable?

Dickens is a master of words -- the way he uses a turn of phrase, writes pictures with words and transitions among numerous characters is very impressive.

Who was your favorite character and why?

David Copperfield's aunt -- she is awesome!

Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not. But I definitely will. He is truly talented. I have no idea how he did such a good job!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Great story and great story line.

Any additional comments?

This was the best narrator I have ever heard. Not only did he do voices that made you believe he was the characters, but he also put appropriate expressions when warranted -- it was truly impressive and I would recommend listening to this book for the narration even if you are not sold on Dickens!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Kristina
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 06-25-12

Any easy way to 'read' Dickens

I listened to 'David Copperfield' while driving to and from work. At stressful times during my shift, I found myself anticipating my escape into this compelling story at the end of the day.
Simon Vance's audio depiction of the multitude of characters in this book is superb. Old or young, male or female, city or country, his capture of the character’s voice is impeccable. Dickens’ prose can be quite wordy and I doubt I would have finished the book if I was actually reading it, but having such a good audio presentation made it easy to enter David Copperfield’s world and travel with him through his fascinating, and sometimes sad, life. If you have never read Dickens, I recommend you meet David Copperfield, Betsey Trotswood, Mr Dick, Mr and Mrs Micawber, Peggotty, Mr Barkis, Thomas Traddles, and of course, the most ‘umble and slimy Uriah Heep.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Geiser
  • Canton, OH United States
  • 04-09-12

Perfection!

This book ranks as my second favorite Dickens novel (behind A Tale of Two Cities). The reader is outstanding, truly flawless in his interpretation of the ironic, the poignant, the humorous, the tongue-in-cheek, the tragic, the hopeful -- everything that makes Dickens one of the greatest writers of all time. The story is long but worth every minute invested. I was sad to have to say goodbye to the characters when it all came to an end.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • T.
  • Japan
  • 10-21-11

brought broad grins and tears alike

While it is of obvious importance that one be exposed to great literary classics in one's youth, I have found that I get so much more out of rereading the classics later in life, as I can now relate more directly to the trials and tribulations, the words of wisdom, and the expositions of reality. I remember reading David Copperfield in middle school and being impressed mostly with the Pegotty's boat house. Now, after living my life to the point of David's at the end of the novel, I have been so touched by so many of David's realizations, particularly about his personal relationships. Simon Vance's narration of this harsh and, at the same time, tender gem of a book is amazing. Every character has his or her own voice, so that the story really comes to heartbreaking, and also joyous, life. Do yourself a favor and read this again for the first time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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stunning

I just finished listening to this . . . although I've read several of Dickens' novels in the past, some for school, some on my own . . . this was by far the most powerful, engrossing and satisfying "read" of any of his works I have experienced. Simon Vance gives an oustanding interpretation of both the widely differing voices of the characters, and of all the range of emotion from almost farcical comedy to sentimentality to tragedy. He reads so beautifully that I often thought I was listening to Dickens' own interpretation. This is an absolute feast of a novel, and I'm so glad my introduction to it came through this Audible edition.

Wow. Just wow.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Bass guy
  • Penn Valley, PA, United States
  • 04-09-13

Simon Vance is a star; the book not so much

Where to start -- when a book gets five-star reviews from so many listeners, when a book is universally recognized as one of the greatest works of one of the greatest writers of English literature, how do I begin to explain how "meh" this story really is?

And, to be honest, it's not just that the story is "meh" (more of that later), but the story is actually kind of arrogant and dishonest -- which is disheartening when you consider that Dickens himself considered this to be his most autobiographical of novels. In other words, if this novel is a window into Dickens's character or soul, I'm not sure he's someone I'd ever want to meet.

You start with David Copperfield, who has a wonderfully engaging voice and early story to tell -- the death of his father and later his mother, the abuse by his stepfather, the series of schools and menial jobs followed (eventually) by his real life's work and success. Ok, all of that is pretty standard stuff, and you can read the exact same thing in a million other autobiographies, from the Glen Miller story to Howard Stern. So far, not too impressive.

After a while, however, as you are reading more and more about David Copperfield's many travails and disappointments, you start to get the sense that this is all a form of backwards, subtle bragging. David had so much difficulty mastering shorthand, but with courage, determination and hard work, he mastered it. David had no money to support himself, but with courage, determination and hard work, he saved what he needed and was able to live. David had no friends at school, but with courage, determination and hard work, etc. etc. You get the idea. And the book goes on like this forever.

On top of all this, you also notice that no one else in the book can reach any kind of resolution or crossroads in their own lives without FIRST checking in with David Copperfield and receiving some kind of magic blessing or words of wisdom from him. In fact, this gets kind of comical towards the end of the book. David has basically done all of the growing and changing that he's ever going to do, and so all that remains is for each of the books other characters to show up for "meetings" with David all over London and bring him to taverns or homes so that they can talk about their problems with him. Give me a break.

And so let's go to all of the other characters in the book -- the ones that are so captivating to other reviewers. Frankly, they are only captivating because Dickens has figured out a way to populate his book with a series of one-dimensional, mechanical robots whose every word, gesture and even name is an expression of a single, monolithic, unchanging character trait. David's first wife is a CHILD-BRIDE, so of course she acts like a six year old in every possible setting and in every conversation, without any variation or departure whatsover. David's stepfather is a CHILD ABUSER, so of course he acts like a medieval torturer in every possible setting and in every conversation, without any variation or departure whatsoever. Ditto Mr. Micawber, the LOVEABLE DEBTOR, ditto Uriah Heep, the EVIL LAWYER. I was going to write that all of the characters are like cardboard cutouts, but even cardboard sometimes does what you don't expect -- wind might blow it over once in a while, rain might make it droop a bit. These "people" are not people at all but clockwork automatons put into the story to further flatter and show off the admirable qualities of David Copperfield, which they sorely lack.

So other than that, was it a good read? Well, I'm happy I got through the book, as I can now always say that I finished it, but other than the fact that it is "David Copperfield" by the great Charles Dickens, I wish I had spent the time listening to something else. Frankly, Dickens is an egomaniac, and this book is all the proof that you need of this fact. I'm sure that Dickens can write well, and I've enjoyed other of his books (particularly Bleak House), but this one is a disappointment.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful narrator

One of the best readings I have heard. What sets it apart is the narrator's ability provide different voices for each of the characters that are truly spot-on. This is huge in adding to the enjoyment of listening to a story that relies so much on what it's characters say and do.

This is also probably my favoriter Dickens novel.

10 of 14 people found this review helpful

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The Perfect Story

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” So opens the greatest story ever told of a youngster's journey into adulthood and amour.

Nearly 20 years after writing David Copperfield, Dickens wrote that, "like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield."

In no novel did Dickens have as colorful a set of characters and character names as in this one - from Peggotty, David's childhood maid and lifelong friend, Wilkins Micawber, his melodramatic landlord, James Steerforth, the cad of a school friend, Uriah Heep, the all-time most despicable sycophant in all of literature, and his love Dora (“Lovers had loved before, and lovers would love again; but no lover had ever loved, might, could, would, or should ever love, as I loved Dora.").

As with most of his novels, Dickens brought to light a social evil--here, the working conditions of minors, as David was (8 or 9) when his evil stepfather Murdstone took him out of school (after David's mom died) and sent him to work in London.

“I know enough of the world now to have almost lost the capacity of being much surprised by anything.”

It's nearly indescribable how much I identified with this novel. It may not be the best novel of all time (structure, conflicts, character development and all that jazz - I think that's "Anna Karenina"), but I think's Charles Dickens' DAVID COPPERFIELD is the best story. If you haven't read it or it's been a while, you should pick it up.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA, United States
  • 01-23-14

Transported

What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Thank you Mr. Vance. It was lovely to spend so many hours with you. The pictures you and Mr. Dickens have put in my head are as welcome as a good friend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ultimate Dickens!

Any additional comments?

"I was born." Dickens has the most iconic first sentences of any author because they are perfect. Any novel by Dickens is an undertaking and commitment. A pleasurable one. Having the combo of kindle edition with the audible is the way to go. You need to get busy with chores, don't stop reading; just start listening. This is also a great choice for long commutes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful