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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally involving if you give it time
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...
Published on 6 Feb 2008 by emma who reads a lot

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dickens Last Novel
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...
Published on 3 Dec 2009 by S Wood


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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 (London) - See all my reviews
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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 (London) - See all my reviews
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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
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S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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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.

As ever Dickens heart and brain is in the right place as regards his criticisms of the society he lived and wrote and lands a few reasonable and half-decently placed blows against the Poor Law, the Act of Settlement, the omniscience of money and the attitudes of "society". On occasion he does make a little heavy work of doing so.

Not the best of Dickens, nor the worst of Dickens, but very definitely Dickens . . . Warts and All. Not bad.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 22 Oct 2010
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Mutual Friend (Kindle Edition)
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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read by Charles Dickens " Our Mutual Friend", 17 Jan 2010
By 
T. R. Skellern (UK) - See all my reviews
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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
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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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling!, 12 April 2007
By 
Rufusred (Madrid, Spain) - See all my reviews
I was quite simply dazzled by this book and zoomed my way through it in a few days. I wanted more, even after this race through its nearly 900 pages, taken in by the breathtaking scope not only to be found in the diversity and credibilty of even the most eccentric characterisations, such as Wegg or Podsnap, something only to be expected from Dickens, but by the moral flux of so many situations and in the thoughts of the likes of Mrs. Lammle or Bella Wilfer. The cruel satire encarnated in the figure Mrs. Wilfer alone had me laughing out loud and the Society scenes around the Veneering's table are so marvellously observed that they had me wondering how on earth Dickens could have had a friend left in Victorian 'polite society'! Brilliant. The river-shore scenes are amongst the most wonderfully atmospheric I've come across in his work: one wonders again what manner of 'field work' Dickens did to to depict this strangely amphibious half-world and it's population. The tone of the prose, too, was in marked contrast to the only very slightly earlier Great Expectations; greater in breadth of style and scale, with far sharper social criticism and biting humour. In fact, it's the humour, and its very darkness, which I felt most stood out in this tour-de-force. Yes, it's a whopping great book: yes it might take you time to get through, and yes again, the very wealth of its style, the range of personalities, settings, motives and dilemas will inevitably mean that one's attention becomes selective. Yet this only means the challenge is greater and, for this reader anyway, the rewards higher. I really loved it, and would encouarge anyone who's enjoyed a Dickens to have a bash.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great reading, 24 Sep 2007
By 
Justin Murphy (Luxembourg) - See all my reviews
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With 28 disks, this is a monster of an audiobook but it is worth the space. Timson reads brilliantly, and appears never to get tired. I'd like to know how long it took him to record it.

This isn't really the place to review Our Mutual Friend itself, nor am I worthy to do so. I can believe that some people who have trouble with reading Dickens, because of the length and the wordiness, might find an audiobook an easier introduction to him.

By the way, I was "encouraged" to read Dickens at school and hated him. I tried again a few (well, about 15) years later and now I can't get enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bobbing along on the flow, 14 Sep 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Our Mutual Friend (Wordsworth Classics) (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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Our Mutual Friend (Wordsworth Classics)
Our Mutual Friend (Wordsworth Classics) by Charles Dickens (Paperback - 1 Jan 1998)
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