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Our Mutual Friend  By  cover art

Our Mutual Friend

By: Charles Dickens
Narrated by: Simon Vance
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Publisher's summary

A sinister masterpiece, Our Mutual Friend was Dickens' last completed novel. It is perhaps his ultimate vision of a dark, macabre London and the corrupting power of money.

Opening with a father and daughter scavenging for corpses on the Thames, the chilling tale unfolds around drownings, disguises and doubles, violence, murder, and triumphant love. Young John Harmon, presumed killed on his return home to England, is very much alive. The heir to a dust merchant's fortune, he goes to work under an assumed name for his father's current heirs, the amiable, elderly Boffins, who are about to be blackmailed by the unscrupulous one-legged Wegg.

So begins the intrigue in a novel that is quintessentially Dickensian in flavor, in its grotesque caricatures, its rich symbolism, and the astonishing realism of its heroine, Bella Wilfer, among Dickens' most splendid female characters.

(P)1999 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What listeners say about Our Mutual Friend

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth six stars

What I enjoy most about Dickens is the quality of his writing. And this book, to me, is his best. It seems like Dickens managed to squeeze every character he ever came up with into this book, and I loved each and every one of them. And the narrator -- well, if you haven't heard anything performed by Robert Whitfield (whose real name is Simon Vance), just get this book. By far my favorite narrator, reading Dickens at his best. Who could ask for more?

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29 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Masterpiece

For my money, Our Mutual Friend is the best novel Dickens ever wrote--a bit darker than the others, but all the more powerful. Although it presents the usual cast of caricatures, there are no throwaways, the themes they represent are not trivial. Dickens (sorry, no apostrophe function) attacks on snobbery and greed are unusually vicious as well as funny, and there is a new depth to the main characters--especially in the darker romance (there are two). Lizzie Hexam is a breathtaking character--serious, beautiful, redemptive. Dickens sentimentalism (to my mind the serious flaw in his works) is kept to a minimum in this one.

And--The reading is perfect. Robert Whitfield is a talented and sensitive reader. I will be looking for more of his work.

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19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb

Worth every penny. Robert Whitfield is an excellent narrator. Tip: Always listen to the sample.

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14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Mutual pleasure

In this audiobook, Charles Dickens and Robert Whitfield (the narrator) mutually conspire to deliver audio pleasure to the listener. Superbly written and read, the Thames winds through this tale of class difference, greed, social frippery, mystery, murder, financial skullduggery and love. Do yourself a great favour and listen to it. You'll love it.

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13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Whitfield/Vance grows tiresome.

My review goes against the ecstatic judgment of the crowd. The vastly popular and nearly ubiquitous Simon Vance/Robert Whitfield (the same man) strikes me as among the most tiresome readers out there. I find this so in large part because of the generic 'extra' emotion he inserts and sometimes slathers all over the place in whatever he reads -- without sufficient sensitivity to the genuine subtleties of any text. To me it sounds like sight-reading much of the time, highly practiced, very smooth, applause-gaining quite professional sight-reading, but I want way better than that. Or at least I do not want to be distracted. If Vance/Whitfield were to read aloud that "two bridges cross the river, one to the north and one to south," his voice would rise and fall and rise, for his habit is to offer a three-act play when none is wanted. His voice is a pleased, singing voice and not a speaking one, and dulcet tones which aim to impress finally get on your, or my, nerves. A matter of taste, yes. Some people hate Fred Williams' profoundly respectful and ultimately magnificent reading of THE FORSYTE SAGA. He is a reader with no singing tones in him (few Forsytes would ever sing, anyway) and he has no tricks at all, except for deep respect and perhaps love for his text, which, I bet, he knows by heart in places. Or try Eileen Atkins's MILL ON THE FLOSS for a supremely intelligent reading that inflicts no dazzle. As far as OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, I spent $38.47 (I am not yet a subscriber) on a reading I could not endure -- and then I went to the David Timson narration (also on Audible), which is good, so good that much of the time you forget the reader completely, which is how some people like it.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Classic Dickens, Extremely Well Read

This is a great story whether read, listened to, or watched on BBC version. I have done all three and never tire of the story. The characters are at times caricatures (as always in Dickens), but always bring to mind people we have known. Reading Dickens is like reading a manual on human nature and foibles. This is one of the author's best works, in my opinion. You will love and hate these characters.
The narration is superb and well-fitted for this book.

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Right up there with "A Tale of Two Cities"

This was Dickens' last finished novel, and he was at the height of his powers. The plot deals with the death of an heir to a fortune, and the effects of this fortune being settled upon a working-class couple. Along the way we have a couple of love stories, greed, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder. The threads of the plot are woven together beautifully and the characters are very much alive. I didn't want the book to end.

Simon Vance, as usual, does a superb job with the narration. His reading of the characters brings them to marvelous life. There is plenty of humor in the book, and Vance presents it with exactly the right touch of dryness. And his reading of the darker parts of the novel is extremely effective and affecting. I think this is one of his best narrations.

On to the next Dickens/Vance audiobook! Perhaps "Little Dorrit."

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Our Mutual Friend

This is a wonderful reading of Charles Dickens's last and greatest finished work -- truly an extraordinary performance by Simon Vance.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Nobody narrates Dickens like Vance

What made the experience of listening to Our Mutual Friend the most enjoyable?

Simon Vance emotes really well. And his voice is amazing.

Any additional comments?

I have listened to half a dozen narrators across the various Dickens' audio books. Nobody comes close to Simon Vance.

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Classic Dickens, Well Read

I was unfamiliar with this Dickens book, but thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator is great. Editor could have been better (several repeated lines or phrases that should have been eliminated). But the story is classic Dickens (I sure enjoy his phrasing) and the narrator's rendering has such a flow that far surpassed some other Dickens audiobooks I've heard in the past. Wegg sounded just as smarmy as he should have (rather Uriah Heep-ish) and Mr. Boffin seemed a genuine, right jolly old fellow. An enjoyable listen, and of course long enough to make friends of the characters and not feel the visit was cut unnecessarily short.

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5 people found this helpful