on 27 October 2009
This is a fantastic book to introduce upper primary age children to the story of Oliver Twist. The language is quite simple and none of the plot is sacrificed in an effort to abridge the story further. The chapters are relatively short, the longest being about 4 pages.
As a teacher, it is sometimes difficult to find decent abridged versions of classic texts - they are often still to long or complicated or are over simplified. This book gets it just right.
on 21 March 2011
Was looking for a version of this classic that was easy enough to be read within a week but wouldn't lose the essence of the story for my daughter who had to review it for her 11+ course. The problem was finding one that was written in a way that kept her interest but one that also hadn't been watered down too much which would lose the quintessential feeling that this book provides.
After reading another review on this book which basically told me that this was ideal for my needs, I took a chance (as one persons ideal could be anothers disgust) and was pleasantly rewarded. My daughter loved the story and was able to write a high scoring review.
I would recommend this book without hesitation to anyone in a similar position of wanting their young child to be introduced to this wonderful story.
on 24 June 2004
Having read quite a lot of Dickens novels, I came quite late to Oliver Twist. I had read a children's version of it and since I knew the story, I thought I might not find it very interesting. How wrong I was!. The first chapters, although they are a very good critic of the poor workhouse conditions, were a bit dragging. But once Oliver goes to London and meets Fagin's gang, it was a pleasure to read. As in most of Dickens' works, the villains are the ones who make the story interesting. The dingy places that they live, the squalor and filth is so well described as the evil turn of their minds that the "good" people in the story, including Oliver, are quite dull compared to them. It seems Oliver is just an accessory that the plot evolves around but the bad people are the ones that draw us into it. Especially the murder, the haunting conscience and the death at the end are one of the best that I have ever read.
on 19 February 2013
At time of writing, I've read Great Expectations, Tale of Two Cities and Pickwick Papers. Oliver Twist,although one of the best-known and most popularised of Dickens' novels, is, in my opinion, not as good.
Some well-drawn characters, but Rose is unbelievably saintly (especially as described by Harry in his besotted proposal!). As others have said here, some 'amazing coincidences' make the plot seem implausible, annoying me a little, and I started to lose track a little towards the end when Dickens uses the meeting of Mr Brownlow with Monks to 'explain' to us past events.
So, with just a few pages to go, I've found the novel a little disappointing! But interesting to see how very different the novel is from 'Oliver!' and the like... Have ordered Alan Bleasdale's 'Oliver Twist' for enrichment!
on 4 August 2013
My 7 year old was really interested in reading some Dickens when she came across the original version of Oliver Twist on my Kindle. I found her this copy and she devoured it in a few hours - really good introduction for young children. I would recommend this product for confident, young readers.
on 16 April 2016
I thought I knew a lot more about the story of Oliver Twist than I actually do, I thought I'd at least seen a film adaptation or something similar, but I barely knew anything about it.
I'm going to start this review a little different and give you a list of things I learnt while reading Oliver Twist.
1. Fagin and the Artful Dodger are not the same person.
2. Fagin is not in the book as much as I expected.
3. The "Please Sir, can I have some more" is not the main plot point of the story.
4. There's actually a lot of death, including a murder in the story.
5. The whole story does not revolve around a jolly band of pick pockets.
There may have been a couple of other things, but these were the main things that stood out to me from what I thought I knew about the story.
I really struggled reading this book due to the way it was written, I had a feeling that Dickens would not be for me and I was right. It's not that it's badly written, it's just not written in a way that I like. I also really didn't like any of the characters except possibly Mr Brownlow, so I found it very difficult to care what happened to anyone and yes that includes Oliver. There's nothing exactly wrong with Oliver, but he's just so bland that he doesn't really stand out to me at all.
Overall the book was just ok and that's why I've given it three stars instead of two. It was just perfectly average throughout. The only thing that has come from this is that I can say that I have finally read some Dickens.
on 5 April 2014
Dickens is one of the greats, and plenty of people won’t say a word against him – I’ve read a few of his novels and I’d beg to disagree. His work often falls wide of the mark and it doesn’t always age well, but Oliver Twist is a great example of Dickens at his finest, a writer who managed to capture the essence of the Victorian age in which he lived in like no other.
I won’t bother going in to detail about the plot, because it’s one of the most famous stories ever told and you should already be familiar with what happens, but I’ll avoid spoilers just in case – suffice to say that most of the adaptations that I’ve seen fail to do Dickens justice, because it’s too difficult to capture all of the intricacies of his writing in a stage play, a film or a TV series.
In fact, if you’ve enjoyed the musical or some similar adaptation then I strongly encourage you to read the novel if you haven’t already, just to see where it started – sure, Dickens’ writing is heavy going and it’s easier to read it in small chunks than in a couple of long sittings, but it’s like that with all of the greats. It took me nearly two years to finish The Lord of the Rings trilogy because Tolkien has the same problem, if you can call it that – both authors are lovers of language, and so their work can be daunting to the casual reader.
Reading Oliver Twist is like experiencing high definition video when you’re used to watching things on an iPhone – characters like Bill Sykes take on new dimensions and become even more realistic, while Jack Dawkins, better-known as the Artful Dodger, seems almost tragic. He’s certainly a much darker character in the novel than the happy-go-lucky pickpocket that we’re used to from popular culture.
Oliver Twist was Dickens’ second novel, but it reads like one of his more accomplished works – some of his other novels are tedious, time-consuming and unenjoyable to read, but Oliver Twist is a genuine pleasure and a lot of fun for a serious reader. If you’re a more casual reader, though, then you’re probably better off looking at a truncated version – you’ll be missing out, but you’ll be able to power through it a lot faster. It’s better to read a shortened version than to never get to the end of it.
The ending will leave you feeling satisfied too – there’s a stunning resolution that brings all of the characters slowly back to centre stage for the written word’s equivalent of a final bow. I don’t want to ruin things for you by going in to too much detail, but I can promise you that it’s worth sticking to your guns and reading to the end.
on 24 February 2013
I have been fortunate for my opinion not to have been tainted by the numerous adaptations of this book. In particular the famous musical version. I know of various scenes and have watched the beginning of many adaptations, but I never knew the story until I read this book.
What I liked most about this book was the fact Oliver is played as a minor character. He is shifted around from situation to situation almost as if he were a macguffin for the other characters. Which is a good thing because Oliver himself is a terrible character. I never thought I'd say that about a Dickens character, but it's true. While he's okay at the beginning while he's poor and miserable, when he gets rescued, he becomes a disturbingly happy person who cries at everything. It's annoying to read.
The rest of the characters are, however, brilliant. Mr Bumble is a man you just love to hate, while Mr. Brownlow is a great fatherly figure who takes pity on the boy he accused of stealing from him. The villains are the best though. The Artful Dodger walks out of the page and is completely unforgettable; a very streetwise boy who speaks in strange slang that leaves Oliver (and the reader) at a loss as to what he's saying half the time. Fagin has become infamous in the world of Dickensian villains and it's no wonder why. He has recruited a gang of mostly boys and sending them out to thieve for him. But he doesn't seem a detestable character. He looks after his workers, but is still a child labourer as bad as Mr. Bumble. It is also due to this subtle villainy that when Bill Sikes appears, the latter man seems the most evil person alive. You really feel that this man is dangerous. A feeling you would not have without Fagin.
As for the plot, it jumps about the place. As was done with most of Dickens' work, it was originally published in instalments and you can see this effect. But it works as you witness how the lives of other people are affected by Oliver. But, like many other Dickens' novels, I have to take issue with the ending. It was all wrapped up in a neat little exposition by Mr. Brownlow with more than a few major coincidences thrown in. What I did like though, and what I thought was one of the strongest portions of the novel was the second to last chapter talking about Fagin in his cell. It gives a vivid description of his feelings as the days crept by and the date of his execution grew nearer.
All in all, a decent book containing unforgettable characters and villains, let down by a terrible titular character and a completely unbelievable ending.
on 3 April 2012
This was only Dickens' second novel, but it features most of the themes and characteristics that would be the hallmarks of Dickens' literary output. So, Oliver Twist take a high moral tone in seeking to draw attention to the desperate conditions that the poor lived in, populated by a succession of memorable and memorably named characters.
The book tells the story of the orphan Oliver Twist, born in a poor house and subject to mistreatment by a long succession of people. Oliver is twice saved by the intervention of wealthy individuals, and although he can at times be a somewhat blank character, he serves as a good vehicle to explore the failings of the institutional support that should serve to assist him, rather than treating him as an inconvenience. This book is full of powerful, biting sarcasm, especially in the earlier chapters before Oliver travels to London to escape the misery he endures as an undertakers apprentice.
Once in London he is drawn into the activities of a criminal gang, and this really opens up the opportunities for Dickens to create a memorable clutch of characters. The master criminal Fagin and his "head boy" the Artful Dodger are two of Dickens' most famous characters, but Bill Sikes and Nancy, Mr Grimwig and Mr Bumble and his future wife are all well drawn, well named and ultimately hugely enjoyable.
This is a book that is driven by anger at the lack of attention that society gave to the poor, but novel frequently reaches beyond this. The is especially true of the vicious murder of Nancy, which still retains the visceral power that so shocked contemporary readers. There is also much humour to be found throughout the book, with Mr Bumble's descent into marital strife really standing out.
For me personally, the ending somewhat detracted from the earlier anger at Oliver's mistreatment - things are put right through a plot twist leaving a saccharine taste in the mouth of the reader. However, Oliver Twist still packs a punch in attempting to alter our perception of the poor and highlight the way that society can sometimes treat them as a problem rather than a group somewhat more deserving.
on 19 February 2014
I am working my way through Dickens - have seen the film but am glad I read the book too although it's not easy reading - the descriptions of characters and scenes are much bleaker than in the film.