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Our Mutual Friend (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens , Adrian Poole
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Jun 1997 Penguin Classics

Charles Dickens's last complete novel, Our Mutual Friend is a glorious satire spanning all levels of Victorian society, edited with an introduction by Adrian Poole in Penguin Classics.

Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmon's profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults. With brilliant satire, Dickens portrays a dark, macabre London, inhabited by such disparate characters as Gaffer Hexam, scavenging the river for corpses; enchanting, mercenary Bella Wilfer; the social-climbing Veneerings; and the unscrupulous street-trader Silas Wegg. The novel is richly symbolic in its vision of death and renewal in a city dominated by the fetid Thames, and the corrupting power of money.

Our Mutual Friend uses text of the first volume edition of 1865 and includes original illustrations, a chronology and revised further reading. As Adrian Poole writes in his introduction to this new edition, 'In its vast scope and perilous ambitions it has much in common with Bleak House and Little Dorrit, but its manner is more stealthy, on edge, enigmatic.'

Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions.

If you enjoyed Our Mutual Friend, you might like Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood, also available in Penguin Classics.

'The great poet of the city. He was created by London'

Peter Ackroyd

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Product details

  • Paperback: 884 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (26 Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140434976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140434972
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 12.9 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth where his father was a clerk in the navy pay office. The family moved to London in 1823, but their fortunes were severely impaired. Dickens was sent to work in a blacking-warehouse when his father was imprisoned for debt. Both experiences deeply affected the future novelist. In 1833 he began contributing stories to newspapers and magazines, and in 1836 started the serial publication of Pickwick Papers. Thereafter, Dickens published his major novels over the course of the next twenty years, from Nicholas Nickleby to Little Dorrit. He also edited the journals Household Words and All the Year Round. Dickens died in June 1870.

Product Description


'The great poet of the city. He was created by London' --Peter AckroydAdrian Poole writes in his introduction to this new edition, 'In its vast scope and perilous ambitions it has much in common with Bleak House and Little Dorrit, but its manner is more stealthy, on edge, enigmatic'.

Book Description

With an exclusive introduction by Peter Ackroyd, these out of print editions are brought back to life with a fresh and timeless new look. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IN these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally involving if you give it time 6 Feb 2008
By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I have to admit I didn't immediately feel convinced by this reading, as the author of the first review clearly did.

But after a while, my god it grew on me. Timson is extraordinarily good at getting Dickens' way of writing to work, read out loud. I really felt like I was getting some insight into what it must have been like at the time, hearing Dickens himself read out his new novel.

Timson has a great ear for the different characters, and you immediately fall in love with the Boffins in particular. And he makes the opening scene with the tides of the Thames seem deeply sinister.

38 might seem like a lot for a book but it is about seven weeks of solid entertainment if you drive half an hour a day... Much better than a random night at the theatre you might not even like.

The best thing about it is that it's completely unabridged. So you get every single little detail of the novel - and you can drink it in with so much pleasure (and leisure) because someone else is reading it to you. Rarely have I listened to an audiobook which so much reminded me of the delights of having a bedtime story when i was little. Really good, v v v v v recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely superb reading 30 Sep 2009
By bookelephant TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I am a complete fusspot when it comes to readings of classics - and this is one of the very best. The language is beautifully honoured, and the individual characters superbly brought out.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dickens Last Novel 3 Dec 2009
My first Dickens was Oliver Twist which I found an enthralling book and has remained, with the under-rated Barnaby Rudge in second place, my favourite. Every couple of years or so I get the notion to read another of his many works, and invariably I find the actual reading doesnt live up to expectations. Unfortunately this was the case with his last completed work "Our Mutual Friend".

It lacks the concentrated power of Oliver Twist where the plot is focussed on one character and some of the scenes such as Bill Sykes and Olivers journey through London stick in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf. In Our Mutual Friend the plot is shared out amongst many characters, and I couldn't say with any certainty which one is central to the book. Perhaps it's the two leading ladies of the text Bella Wilfer and Lizzie Hexam. More likely there isn't one.

There are still some splendid scenes with dialogue that speaks in your head - though the devils (Silas Wegg and Rouge Riderhood) seem to have got the better lines. The good characters, as is customary in novels in general and Dickens in particular tend towards the insipid. Having said that there were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me reading through to the 796th page which is no mean feat, but especially as one gets close to the end there is a unsatisfying sense of the overly contrived nature of the conclusion, or conclusions.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece 22 Oct 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have to admit that of all Dickens' novels this is probably the one that I have read the most. This was his last completed novel and he shows an amazing insight into society and its workings, as well as psychological analysis. It also has some of the darkest humour of any of his novels.

When a body is fished out of the Thames it is presumed to be that of John Harmon, a beneficiary under the Harmon will, providing he marries a certain woman. With John Harmon out of the picture the Boffins' inherit and really are at a loss what to do with their inheritance. Mr Boffin wishes to learn to read and is imposed upon by one scallywag.

There is a lot to take in here, and of course there are the brilliant characters that only Dickens could invent. Of course there is quite a convoluted plot as with all Dickens' works, but remember this was originally published serially in parts and you had to have a 'hook' to get readers to buy the next installment. But mainly the novel is about the role money plays in society, and about rebirth. This is probably the most sophisticated of all his works and may help to give a glimpse into how his last unfinished novel may have proceeded.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I was influenced to purchase this book by a recent serialisation on BBC radio, it, like a lot of Dickens is dark but is interposed with some flashes of humour that made me chuckle as I as reading it. I have not yet finished it so cannot give a full review but it promises to keep me interested to the end. I would recomend it, especially this the Everyman edition.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tight production 15 Oct 2007
By Lulamae
Format:Audio Cassette
Such a dense story but the radio adaptation is tight and pacey and the production effects are excellent (I am listening on Radio 7 at present). Good characterful voices (some famous actors in this production), the Dollmaker, Jenny Wren is wonderful as are Wegg, Venus, Twemlow and the Boffins, but they are just the standouts, it is an well-cast and performed production.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining 8 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Jenny Wren, the crippled doll's dressmaker, who knows everyone's "tricks and manners", Wegg, the one-legged sheet-music salesman, the Veneerings, who are all veneer, Mr Venus, the anatomical craftsman who makes skeletons and keeps Hindoo babies in jars, Boffin, the upwardly mobile manservant who has come into "dust", Sloppy "who do the policemen in different voices", Fascination Fledgeby and Bradley Headstone, the homicidal schoolteacher; I defy anybody to study the cast of characters and not want to read the book. And with the characters comes a very entertaining and well-worked plot.
I have to say I approached this book with some trepidation, and there were certainly longuers - Lizzie Hexham is unutterably boring and I wondered why Bella Wilfer didn't batter Boffin and divorce her husband for all the deceptions they concocted against her - but it was immensely entertaining, a real relief from the everyday.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 days ago by NMac
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 days ago by Rhiannon Charlton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 16 days ago by Bex
5.0 out of 5 stars Good with intro and notes
A brilliant book with intro and notes in this edition. Worth paying for a copy rather than just the text, which is of course free.
Published 2 months ago by J. Chow
4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Dickens story.
Charles Dickens novel "Our Mutual Friend" is by far the best novel I've read to date. It has everything from romance to mystery to drama.
Published 2 months ago by Pixel
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Book was really good , would recommend this book to anybody. I have enjoyed reading this book it kept me reading
Published 4 months ago by Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
One of a great novelist's more neglected works. What wonderful description of both place and character. It made me laugh aloud in parts.
Published 4 months ago by NormanP
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Book
Great book - lovely story and for a change the main female characters find happy endings rather than being killed off by Dickens.
Published 5 months ago by MsSteeple
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
Typical Dickens characters, seedy streets and murky waters but not the best DIckens I've ever read. However it still stands the test of time and is a slow read but eventually gets... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dunx
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting idea but long winded
Some unbelievable characters, especially Sloppy. I did like Mr Inspector though. Charlie Hexham should have been mentioned near the end.
Published 5 months ago by Geoff
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