Sunday, October 23, 2011

Audiobook Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Buy from the Book Depository
Author: Charles Dickens
Narrator: Martin Jarvis
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Edition: Unabridged
Duration: 17 hours, 27 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Considered by many to be Dickens's greatest work, this is a timeless story where vindictiveness and guilt clash with love and gratitude. Enriched by a cast of unforgettable characters, from the orphan Pip to the convict Magwitch and the bitter Miss Havisham.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Of all the works I have read by Dickens so far, Great Expectations is the best, hands down. The plot is interesting -- Pip falls in love with Estella when they are very young and develops "expectations" to be a gentleman so he can be worthy of her. Later on, he gets a sponsor who pays for him to become a gentleman. It's a typical coming of age story, focusing on Pip's growth and development and his realizations about the mistakes he's made in life. What makes this novel extraordinary is the characters. Each of them is complex and multi-dimensional, with full backgrounds and oddities that make them unique. Pip's brother-in-law Joe is by far one of my favorite characters of all time. Because the characterization is incredible, I was completely involved with this story, my emotions changing along with the novel's progression.

I'm not a fan of the tacked-on ending. All the characters got what they deserved, which I appreciated, but the last chapter felt especially rushed. However, the pacing for the rest of the novel was perfect, so I would say that this is a minor complaint.

If it hadn't been for Jarvis's narration, I don't think I would have given Great Expectations five stars. Jarvis's impressions of all the characters (especially Joe) really brought this novel to life for me. The personality and emotion he put into his performance made the funny parts funnier and the sad parts sadder. It's a bit on the long side for an audiobook, but I would definitely recommend listening to this rendition of Great Expectations.