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Our Mutual Friend (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens , Marcus Stone
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 1998 Wordsworth Classics
Our Mutual Friend, Dickens' last complete novel, gives one of his most comprehensive and penetrating accounts of Victorian society. Its vision of a culture stifled by materialistic values emerges not just through its central narratives, but through its apparently incidental characters and scenes. The chief of its several plots centres on John Harmon who returns to England as his father's heir. He is believed drowned under suspicious circumstances - a situation convenient to his wish for anonymity until he can evaluate Bella Wilfer whom he must marry to secure his inheritance. The story is filled with colourful characters and incidents - the faded aristocrats and parvenus gathered at the Veneering's dinner table, Betty Higden and her terror of the workhouse and the greedy plottings of Silas Wegg.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853261947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853261947
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,303 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


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

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
By S Wood
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this one! 23 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Our Mutual Friend opens with Gaffer Hexam and his daughter Lizzie discovering a dead body in the Thames. The body is assumed to be that of John Harmon, who was on his way to London to marry Bella Wilfer. John's father had recently died and one of the conditions of his will was that unless John married Bella, he would not be allowed to claim his inheritance.

Bella is disappointed when she learns that he has drowned. It's not fair: not only has she missed out on the money, now shes going to have to wear mourning for a man that she's never met and who died before they were even married! Mr and Mrs Boffin, the kind-hearted couple who inherit the Harmon fortune in John's absence, feel sorry for her and invite her to stay with them. However, the Boffins soon become the target of fortune hunters and blackmailers such as Silas Wegg and Mr Venus.

Being almost 800 pages long, and being Dickens, this is only one small part of the story. There are several other plots and sub-plots which eventually become woven together - and some very memorable characters, including Jenny Wren, the 'Dolls' Dressmaker', Mrs Higden, who lives her life in terror of the workhouse, and Bradley Headstone, a murderous schoolmaster who falls in love with Lizzie Hexam.

Although I did enjoy this book and found most of it entertaining and gripping, I did struggle with the chapters that took place in the 'fashionable world' of the Veneerings' dining room. This world of dinner parties and politics contrasts sharply with the other main setting of the book, the River Thames, where most of the action takes place. We meet the people who earn their living from the river, we spend some time in the riverside inns and taverns, and in a way the river becomes the most important 'character' in the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month ago by Geoff
3.0 out of 5 stars Our Mutual
Fine, for the price I paid, but wish I had chosen a better publication to build up a library, which gave helpful notes and information.
Published 2 months ago by Janet Perkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Twist and turns galore
Another classic Dickens yarn. Some moments in this book made me laugh out loud and tell others just what a funny guy Dickens can be. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rahena Bibi
3.0 out of 5 stars Shortcomings in Structure.
The usual Dickens weaknesses: too verbose in descriptions, especially of atmosphere, characters entertaining but not convincing and denouements and coincidences too forced.
Published 4 months ago by B Mayes
2.0 out of 5 stars wordy
I like Dickens in general but this has to be one of hi less absorbing books. Just too many characters and too much jumping about makes it difficult to get into the story
Published 4 months ago by Alan.t.Chappell
4.0 out of 5 stars How do you rate a genius ?
I am glad that apart from A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield I first came to these mature works of Dickens in my thirties. Read more
Published 5 months ago by ZOWEECAT
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