Audiobook Review: David Copperfield

I received this book for free from Audies in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: David CopperfieldDavid Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Length: 38 hrs, 55 mins
Published by Audio Connoisseur on October 31, 2011
Genres: Classics
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audies

First published in 1850, David Copperfield was Charles Dickens' eighth novel. Like most of his work, it had been previously published in serial form in 1849. It is said to be the most autobiographical of all his novels, and Dickens late wrote of it, "… like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield."

The story traces the life of David Copperfield from infancy through adulthood and is told entirely from the first-person point of view, that of David. It has been greatly praised by some of the world's greatest authors, including Tolstoy, Lawrence, and Dostoevsky. So powerful is its allure, it has been filmed nine times since 1911.

Once again, I listened to the audiobook of this classic. Thank goodness for that, as I do not know whether I would have made it through the novel had I been reading it, or, if I did, it would have taken a matter of months. It’s funny how though listening to audiobooks is slower than reading it can, at times, be much faster.

The reason this would have been a really slow novel for me to read was the complete lack of plot. It is the autobiographical fictional biography of the title character. He begins with his childhood and goes into his old age. There is no narrative to speak of. What I expected was that it would be about how David Copperfield overcame the incredibly evil Uriah Heep, since the only thing I knew about the novel was that he was the bad guy, but that’s not really how it was.

While the story wasn’t bad, and I am glad that I managed to get through it just because of its fame, I definitely was never anywhere close to loving it. I never connected with the characters and saw a lot of the plot twists coming from a ways away. If interested in Dickens, I would recommend instead the rather less well-known Bleak House (and watching the miniseries…so good!).

There are a number of audiobook versions of this novel, I do believe. I would certainly recommend this one, although I have not listened to the others, for one determined to get through the classic novel David Copperfield. For one thing, you get to listen to fancy classical music at the beginning and conclusion of each of the 60 chapters. I love that, although I do regret that an already incredibly long book is made longer. The production seems to have been fairly good, although they did miss editing quite a bit of Griffin’s breathing.

Griffin does a really good job as a narrator, as his pompous voice fits quite well to the lofty air of Dickens’ writing. He also is remarkable at doing voices, not to Robin Williams’ level, but his various characters were generally quite distinct. In fact, many of the voices did not much resemble his his regular voice, so much so that it was sometimes difficult to believe that the whole thing was recorded by this one man.

Unfortunately, some of the voices were rather creepy or annoying. Uriah Heep, of course, is intentionally given an irritating, writhing voice, but creepiest by far is the voice he uses for young Davy Copperfield. I will be haunted by this voice for a while.


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