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Editorial Reviews

Walter Covell's deep, craggy voice and dignified tone combine to create the impression that Charles Dickens himself is performing this soap operatic tale of woe, which follows young orphan Nell Trent and her doting but destitute grandfather through the twists and turns of a life best described as a bad hand.

The Old Curiosity Shop, which first enchanted audiences during its serial publication in 1840, remains an enduring testament to Dickens' skill at recording sprawling and thoroughly gripping tales of tragedy; and to hear it performed aloud is to feel almost transported back to the dark and dangerous streets of mid-19th-century London.

Publisher's Summary

Like Charles Dickens' other early novels, The Old Curiosity Shop was a huge success, even eclipsing The Pickwick Papers. The melodramatic saga of the flight of Little Nell and her grandfather captured the public's attention, so much so that people would wait in long lines for the release of the next installment of the saga. For the character of Little Nell, the beautiful child thrown into a shadowy, terrifying world, Dickens drew on a tragedy in his own life, the death at the age of seventeen of his sister-in-law Mary Hogarth. "The desire to be buried next her is as strong upon me now ... and I know (for I don't think there ever was love like that I bear her) that it will never diminish," he would write, five years later.
©1987 Jimcin Recordings

Critic Reviews

"The sorrows of Nell and her grandfather are offset by Dickens's creation of a dazzling contemporary world inhabited by some of his most brilliantly drawn characters." (The Internet Book List)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
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    34
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Performance

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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    7
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    2
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Story

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
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    9
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  • Overall

Wonderful!

The Old Curiosity Shop is essentially a soap opera and so much better than the TV soap operas today as it is filled with memorable characters and events. It was written in installments in England and crowds used to gather at the harbor when the next installment was sent to America. I can see why. I found myself looking for excuses to take a long drive or a long walk so I could listen to what happened next. Some people did not like the narrator but I thought he was great and perfectly fit the book. It was a wonderful listening experience.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful experience

Dickens has the ability to draw you into his fictional world like few others. This was a wonderful book with unforgettable characters. I hated to have it end. Narrator Covell did his usual fine job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wonderful story, painful delivery

One of Dickens' oft-overlooked gems, this is a fabulous story and should have rated a 5. The narration of the tale, however, leaves much to be desired. As the English setting and dialects are so critical to Dickens' works, the Americanized accent of the narrator seems out of place and his imitations of the broad accents of London's working classes are unconvincing. Children are always the focal point of this author's work, and so one would logically insist that a narrator must be skilled in youthful tones and inflections; this narrator, sadly, makes everyone sound downright elderly and strips away any youthful vitality from them at all (the sprightly young Kit sounds oddly like a middle aged undertaker). The main character of this book is a young girl, Little Nell; a great shame that the narrator's deep, extremely masculine voice is so singularly unsuited to it, aping an irritating, "weak" female voice which nears caricature. Dickens adored detail, sometimes to a flaw, but nothing kills his verse more than a s-l-o-w delivery; owners of 4G iPods will rejoice to be able to speed this one up a little... other listeners will at times wish they could get out and push if it would help move the voice along. I loved the print version; at approximately one third through the audio version, though, I wonder if I will be able to stick it through to the end without the narration making me grind my teeth down to stubs. If you can get past those issues, this is a beautiful and memorable story. It's just lacking its wit, sparkle, and energy in this recording.

24 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marilyn
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 11-02-05

A book ruined by its delivery

Although there are some dreadful purple passages, this is a great story, but you'd be hard put to realise it through the medium of this really terrible reader. I abandoned hope part way through, as I realised that far from enjoying it I was starting to feel road rage coming on. At least I know to avoid anything read by this man again.
I hope Audible.com will find another unabridged version with a fine reader

17 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bruce
  • Knoxville, MD, United States
  • 10-17-07

A classic novel but a poor audiobook

This audio version of The Old Curiosity Shop is wooden and dull. I do not care for Walter Covell as a narrator. This is the second audio book I have listened to narrated by him and I won't buy another. The price of the recording was good, but the entertainment value was low. I never got excited or felt any emotions at all. Now that I look back on the experience, I wish I had never listened to this recording. The narrator has a big impact on what they read, and had this been my first Dickens novel, I would not have read any more of them. Fortunatly, I have read most of the others already. I would advise choosing another version if you want to really enjoy this book.

9 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Long

I am finding that Dickens is NOT one of my favorite authors. I read the reviews and how this was so well received when it first came out in the paper and people couldn't wait for the next episode. It was too long and I don't have a clue where the title came from. It was not what I usually enjoy. It seemed to drag and I couldn't wait to get to the end.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Very disappointing

This is a great story, one of Dickens most popular in it's day. Unfortunately this reader is extremely leaden in his delivery, making this audiobook extremely boring, even painful, to listen to. I gave up about halfway through and downloaded one of the others - far superior!

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Sam
  • 09-10-08

Nell's dead

Mr Covell's American accent and uncertain characterisation make this a less than delightful listen. The sound quality is no great shakes either. The novel, however, is very much as usual

4 of 4 people found this review helpful