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Publisher's Summary

Samuel Pickwick, founder and chairman of the Pickwick Club, engages three fellow members to accompany him on a journey. By coach they’ll travel to the outreaches of London to explore, observe, and report back on the quaint wonders of the English countryside. What transpires is a picaresque romp of misadventures, hair-raising challenges, and romantic follies entangling the fates of a riot of colorful characters - a passel of villains, spinsters, poets, and sportsmen - and the unworldly Pickwick himself, who has much to learn about life outside his gentleman’s club.

At once a slapstick farce and whip-smart social satire, Charles Dickens’s debut was a publishing phenomenon that catapulted its author into inimitable fame.

Public Domain (P)2020 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Simon Vance's narration of this Dickens classic promises to please listeners with its array of eclectic characters whom Mr. Pickwick meets during his adventures. Vance is masterful in voicing Dickens's expansive cast. From the good-natured Mr. Pickwick to the crafty Mr. Jingle, Vance makes each character's voice distinct and natural. His portrayal of the ever-loyal, perceptive servant Samuel Weller captures the young man's idiomatic speech, and the exchanges between Sam and his father are wonderfully entertaining. For Mr. Pickwick, Vance adopts a good-natured and kindly tone that suits the old bachelor. Vance's adept narration especially highlights the absurdity and wit in Dickens's dialogue.” —AudioFile Magazine

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Simon Vance does it again!

OK, I admit it: every new recording of The Pickwick Papers I listen to is my favorite. It's one of the weaknesses of being such a fan of audiobooks, especially audiobooks of Charles Dickens novels. In that spirit, this is my new favorite reading of The Pickwick Papers.

Simon Vance’s performance joins a handful of other excellent productions of this book available from Audible: Rory Kinnear, David Timson, and Patrick Tull have all given notable readings of the novel. Listening to Simon Vance’s version was a delight. And it was also educational, because it helped me understand what makes Vance such a reliably effective narrator. He recognizes that the “narrator” of a novel, the alleged teller of the tale, is himself a character, and in this case he imbues him with a geniality and open-heartedness that I believe Dickens himself intended his narrator to possess.

Vance gives appropriate voice to all the characters, although he is somewhat more restrained than Kinnear in this regard. Where Kinnear’s performance is studded with star turns (and I admit that sometimes that's what I'm in the mood for), Vance’s is an ensemble production where everyone is a supporting player, and what they're supporting is the graceful flow of the narrative as a whole.

Everything I've said about the novel elsewhere remains true here. It's one of my favorite of Dickens’ novels, certainly his funniest, yet even here at the very beginning of his career he's able to get the knife in and force us to confront the gross injustices of the British economic and judicial system. Dickens was terrible to his family, but he was a great writer, and his words have made the world a better place.

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