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Great Expectations (The Classic Collection) Audio CD – Unabridged, August 25, 2005
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|Audio CD, Unabridged, August 25, 2005||
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An absorbing mystery as well as a morality tale, the story of Pip, a poor village lad, and his expectations of wealth is Dickens at his most deliciously readable. The cast of characters includes kindly Joe Gargery, the loyal convict Abel Magwitch and the haunting Miss Havisham. If you have heartstrings, count on them being tugged. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up—A young man's burning desire to fulfill his "great expectations" of fame and fortune is presented in Charles Dickens's classic tale of love, madness, forgiveness, and redemption. Simon Vance's masterful narration brings to life such diverse personalities as Miss Havisham, the old woman who was abandoned on her wedding day and is determined to wreak revenge through her beautiful adopted daughter Estella; Joe, Pip's lumbering and slow-witted, but emotionally wise and faithful friend; the mysterious Magwitch, a convict who turns out to be Pip's financial benefactor; and Pip, the boy who longs for a destiny greater than that of living out his days as a blacksmith's apprentice. The companion ebook features automatic start-up, keyword searching, PDF printable format, and table of contents. An exceptionally skilled rendering of this classic.—Cindy Lombardo, Cleveland Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
From the wastrel Sydney Carton, who became the ultimate hero to Jarvis Lorry, who saw himself as only a "man of business" and who developed a love of Dr. Manette and his family that lead him to endanger himself, and even to the bumbling, Jerry--Mr. Jarvis' messenger at the Bank and part-time grave-robber, each character came alive for me.
I never fully realized before the horrors of the French revolution which was a reaction to the horrors of the way the aristocracy treated the poor. Although this was a stark example of how low the human being can sink in to depravity, the nobility of some of the characters shone in contrast.
I enjoyed "A Tale of Two Cities" so much I will probably read it again some day--and reading something twice,I rarely do.
Story does pick up speed by third part of book and book becomes pager turner. While end is predictable almost from first moment you get hint of escape plan, build up is laid out well and last chapter ends on emotionally high note. Dr. Manette's letter was a surprise twist. Overall, okay read and not bad.
Most characters are consistent but some characters and episodes could be dropped. Like events around Jerry's wife and episode of lawer planning to marry Lucy and then dropping the idea could be edited out. Only other problem is that book has too many too many well timed coincides. Madam Defarge turns out to be the wronged sister. No explanation is given why Sydney Carton is in France just at right time, and he happens to be conveniently placed where Solomon Pross is recognized as Barsad, the spy, and also overhears Madam Defarge's plan to have Lucy killed. Jerry digging the right grave is also coincidence. And so is Miss Pross's killing of Madam Defarge at right time.
Three aspects make this book a hard read. Firstly, the historical backdrop. The story is set in London and Paris of late 18th century when French was in a social turmoil that culminated in the French Revolution, while England was in a peaceful bliss God can ever bestow on a country. If the French Revolution sounds so remote and unfamiliar to you, which is mostly likely true to a lot of people, you must find yourself lost at even the beginning of the book and can’t proceed any further. So, some reading of this event beforehand is necessary. Secondly, the language. Dickens wrote this book in 1859, close to the end of his career, when Victorian literary language was still in fashion. His descriptive language is especially darker, more rambling than what I know of it in some of his other novels such as The Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. Thirdly, part of the story is told through a series of seemingly unrelated episodes that come only together at the later part of the book. To some, this structure may be perplexing if they don’t read earnestly. This aspect is likely to cause one to lose patience or stop reading it all together if he doesn’t know this effort will be surprisingly paid off at the end.
Though challenging to read, it’s a moving and thoughtful story, thus worth the effort. Dickens creates a host of vivid characters caught up in a chaotic era in depicting the French social upheaval through their love, loyalty, compassion, sacrifice and vengeance. It is a relentless display of human morality, of its bright and dark side. It’s said this story has helped popularize this historical event for generations. But reading this book without studying this event from other sources can hardly tell if Dickens has presented an accurate picture of history and its significance. So, it’s a work worth re-reading and studying than simply reading once for fun and forgetting.
Now a sketch of the main story.
This is year 1775. From London, Mr. Jarvis Lorry and Miss Lucie Manette take a journey to Mr. Ernest Defarge’s wine shop in France to bring the French native Dr. Alexandre Manette back to England after he has been unjustly imprisoned in the notorious Bastille for 18 years. Lorry is a bank agent, a venerable old fellow with high integrity and loyalty to his business. Lucie is Dr. Manette’s young, beautiful and loving daughter. After 18 years of life in prison, Dr. Manette is on the brink of madness and has lost his memory and his only activity of interest is making shoes by himself. Under the tender care of Lucie, her father is gradually brought back to normal life though with occasional relapses.
After five years, a young French tutor named Charles Darnay is on trial for his crime of passing secrets pertaining to the American Revolution to the French. Lucie and his father are witnesses to testify Charles’s innocence based on their impression of him when they came to England on the same ship. But due to his physical resemblance to the lawyer Sydney Carton in court, he is acquitted and they all become friends. Lucie and Charles fall in love with each other. Carton is not a professionally successful person. He also shows considerable admiration for Lucie. Though his bold proposal to Lucie has been declined, she is always special in his heart. Charles and Lucie are married with a lovely daughter.
Now the roaring wave of the French Revolution is surging high. French aristocrats and their descendants become the targets of attack of the revengeful revolutionaries. Charles Darnay is from an aristocratic family with the true name Charles Evremonde. One day he receives a letter of his family’s former tenant begging him to come back to Paris to save him from prison under unjust accusation. Charles leaves London for Paris on this mission, but his true identity is immediately detected in Paris and he is thrown into prison. Lorry is on his business too at this time in Paris, but he doesn’t know this mishap initially. Lucie, Dr. Manette and Carton come to Paris with special travel passes to rescue Charles. Luckily, Dr. Manette enjoys a high popularity among the revolutionaries due to his sufferings in Bastille. His words in court have magically saved Charles’s life and they reunite. However, fate makes a quick turn against Charles. He is immediately arrested again before they return England and incriminated with evidence contained in Dr. Manette’s own secret notes he wrote when in jail. In the court, these notes are read.
Dr. Manette’s notes record how he was imprisoned: One day he was intercepted by a carriage when he was walking. The carriage belonged to Evremonde brothers, and they carried him to see a patient. When there, he saw a young girl and her young brother, both badly wounded and were dying. As he was told by them, they were tenants of the Evremonde family and one of the brothers raped and tortured the girl and the boy was fatally wounded in a sword confrontation with the Evremonde brother who wronged the girl. This Evremonde was also Charles’s father. Both the girl and the boy died very soon. Dr. Manette wrote a letter to the government to reveal Evremonde family’s crime but it fell into their hand and he was incarcerated in Bastille. In these notes, Dr. Manette vowed to bring the Evremondes, including their descendents, to justice.
After these notes are read, Charles loses the last ray of hope to win against the overwhelming urge from the jury for his death. People are furious about the crime of his aristocratic ancestors. His living as an emigrant in England only does him disservice. The verdict is made and he will face execution on guillotine.
Through a spy, Sydney Carton secures admission to the prison cell in which Charles is confined and causes him to temporarily lose consciousness and exchanges their clothes. Thus Carton stays on in the cell and Charles is stolen out of the jail and flees to England using Carton’s travel permission in the company of Lucie, Doctor Manette and Lorry following the design carefully conceived by Carton. Charles’s life is spared while Carton perishes heroically on guillotine for his love and compassion.
It’s a touching story. I give it a four-star rating since it’s such a brilliant, though a bit challenging, literary masterpiece.