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Our Mutual Friend (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 May 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853261947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853261947
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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


A long holiday journey is perfect for unabridged Dickens. Naxos have followed their excellent Bleak House with Our Mutual Friend, his final finished novel, published in 1865. An almost dead man is fished out of the Thames by a scavenger and his daughter. Who is he, and how did he get there? The answer lies deep in London's lucratively managed rubbish heaps, and a gothic mystery worthy of Wilkie Collins unrolls. David Timson makes the cavalcade of contemporary types compellingly real the nouveaux riches Veneerings, the pompous Podsnaps, Boffin the deep and devious king of Dust, the charitable Jew Riah and the touchingly mad Jenny Wren. --Christina Hardyment, The Times

Our Mutual Friend is a rich, dark work, fuelled by Dickens's disgust with the worship of money he saw in the society around him. It takes many days to listen to the complete convoluted story, with Timson relishing every shifting mood and all 58 characters, and capturing the sharp edge of Dickens's satire in set-pieces such as the vulgar dinner parties held by the grotesque Veneerings for their ephemeral 'best friends'. The whole is packed with powerful scenes, such as where pathos is fired by fury when old Betty is forced to give away the last beloved remnant of her family, her orphaned grandson, in order to avoid the workhouse. Unabridged Dickens as gloriously presented as this is the creme de la creme of audio listening. --Rachel Redford, The Observer

The real protagonist of Dickens s murder-mystery novel is the befouled River Thames, which gives up its dead to the scavenging Hexham. Timson's voices for the kaleidoscope of characters, from the dolls' dressmaker to the false friends of the moneyed Veneerings, are the best of the best. --Rachel Redford, The Observer --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Charles Dickens' classic tale of mystery, read by Alex Jennings --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 Feb. 2008
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 2 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This last year I have been engaged in reading all of Dickens' novels as he wrote them, so 'Our mutual friend' should have been the last to read but for some reason or other I skipped A Tale of Two Cities (Oxford World's Classics) along the way. But apart from that it has been a glorious experience and a journey fully worth taking. All of his novels share certain characteristics but also have their own special appeal, and 'Our mutual friend' is no exception.

In fact, I found this novel one of the most disturbing of them all. The plot itself is fairly straightforward: John Harmon has been living abroad for years separated from his miserly father, but now that this father has died John Harmon travels to London to find that even from beyond the grave his father continues to taunt him: in order to inherit his father's vast fortune, John must marry a particular girl (Bella Wilfer). If he does not, he inherits nothing. However, by a freak accident a murdered man is mistaken for John Harmon which allows John to assume another name and personality and observe Bella Wilfer without her knowing who he is: is she worth having? And what if she isn't? Now that in itself is surely a disturbing conundrum, and not just to John Harmon. What of Bella Wilfer? Should she not feel that this will turns her into a sort of product to be bought and sold? If she accepts John Harmon, won't people think she took him for the money? And if she refuses him, will not many consider her a silly girl? Is it still possible to come to an honest decision about a suitor, knowing that you'll be not only marrying him but also his money?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By S Wood TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Charles Dickens begins and ends his book, which he wrote late in his career, with assembled members of `society', an institution for which he has little regard. His real interest is in the lower-middle rank of people, such as lawyers, schoolteachers and young people with either not enough or too much money, and the working poor. There is much sentiment expended on those deserving members of the poor who are able to fend for themselves, but there is equal vilification of people who end up on the wrong side of the law. Everything with Dickens has a moral dimension.

In this novel Dickens actually gives two women leading roles and others supporting roles that display them as thinking creatures rather than blowsy grotesques or silly taffy-heads. Bella Wilfer, by far the most attractive of Dickens's heroines, begins by thinking that money will solve all her problems, but proves to have a heart of gold once it is touched by love. Having read a Dickens novel, one seems beset by the clichés and the pleasantries that pepper his prose like grapeshot! It is attractive, lucid writing, with a kind of shorthand of the writerly vanities built in. Seductive and charming as this style is, one does tend to helplessly go along with the flow.

I have to say I was charmed and seduced, almost against my will, as time and again Dickens wasted paragraphs of his talent and wit on rather makeweight scenes. Nevertheless, his portraits are strong and persuasive. The names are suggestive of the psychologicial types - Bradley Headstone the schoolmaster/murderer; Mr and Mrs Boffin, the upper-working class gentle-people, Veneering and his wife, the noveau-riche dilettantes; Lizzie Hexam, the working-class girl made good; the society buffers, Twemlow, Boots and Brewer; Jenny Wren the crippled little doll's dressmaker.

It is all exceedingly good reading, with a surprisingly clever twist in the tale. Wonderful, character-driven, highly-charged, late Victoriana.
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