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Showing 1-10 of 236 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 309 reviews
on January 25, 2017
This book was so good I wasn't ready to let it go. In fact after reading it I then went and picked up the audio book and listened to it, and I'm still letting it play through for the second time around. I don't want to let these characters go.

Arthur is this genuine, sweet, good hearted soul who just wants to do the right things.
Little Dorrit is a sweet girl who does her best for her family.
Fanny Dorrit is living the best life she knows how given a disposition that has become a bit bitter.
William Dorrit is a mixture of pompous conceit and fragile pathetic character.
Pancks is the guy who gets stuck doing the dirty work of another and still turns out to be a good person.
Poor Flora is this utterly silly woman who you can tell from her character has a lot of feeling but has little ability to express those feelings without seeming ridiculous-- there's at least one person in everyone's past who has made them come off a little ridiculous, isn't there?

There are so very many characters I can't give you a sketch of all of them, but I can say that many of them are likable, all of them are relatable in one fashion or another.

I can't say the story is exactly believable. Of course there certainly were debtor's prisons, and very likely Dickens would know more about them than I would, that's not the part I find hard to believe. It's the rich dead uncle that rescued them all that is about as far fetched as the fairy tales of poor young women being found and married to a prince. Still it was an amazingly enjoyable tale and I will have to move on eventually, but not tonight. Tonight I'll immerse myself in this story and let it play on and on.
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on March 26, 2017
All of Dickens' novels display a darker side to some degree or another as he explores the social ills of Victorian England, but none are so unremittingly dark as Little Dorrit. Much of the action in Little Dorrit takes place in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. The heroine resides there at the beginning of the novel, and the novel's hero later is consigned to the prison up to the penultimate chapter. The deus ex machina conclusion almost seems tacked on as an anticlimactic ending just so that Dickens can leave his readers with a happy ending despite all of the misery they had endured before.

Dickens had a keen sense of social justice, and his target in this novel is the pervasive poverty in England and the debtors' prisons to which the impoverished were consigned, some through no fault of their own other than making bad investment decisions, and others who voluntarily take up cells in debtors' prisons so that they may care for family members confined there. Debtors' prisons loom large over Victorian English culture and exert a baleful influence.

At just over 800 pages, this is one of Dickens' longer novels, and the florid, ornate, and stilted writing so characteristic of Victorian writing is on full display here. No doubt Dickens was attempting to make his characters and settings as vivid as possible, and in this regard he is extremely successful. In none of the other Dickens novels I have read thus far are the characters, both major and minor, so thoroughly depicted and realized as lifelike figures.

In this work, for the first time, I see Dickens plunge into the psychology of his characters, and his characters "psychologize" other characters in order to understand them better. To be fair, Dickens cannot be faulted for the highly formal manner in which people, especially members of the opposite sex, spoke to each other in Victorian times; he successfully captures the styles of speech from differing classes. He amusingly depicts the linguistic oddities of his characters in order to make them more unique.

Dickens also lovingly and thoroughly brings the settings to life as well. Settings themselves are clues to the meanings and intentions of the novel. Although the Marshalsea debtors' prison had fallen into ruins by the time Dickens wrote of it, he still very well captures its oppressive atmosphere.

Some readers may find the excessive filigreeing of detail to their liking. Personally, I would have taken an editor's red pen and ruthlessly cut lines from this text. A single descriptor works very well; Dickens' mastery of creative prose permits a single phrase to bring a character or setting into sharp relief. The second or even third rhetorical flourish becomes overbearing, for this reader, anyway.

For the devotee of the Victorian novel, however, one who appreciates the extensive degree of filigree work which, admittedly, is impressive, this novel is highly recommended. Some students of the Victorian novel consider this text to be Dickens' finest work, an accolade I do not believe is misplaced.
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on August 4, 2016
“He never thought that she saw in him what no one else could see. He never thought that in the whole world there were no other eyes that looked upon him with the same light and strength as hers.”

I have been told this is the closest to an autobiographical novel that Dickens ever wrote. I have also been told this is one of his funniest novels. While I did enjoy its darkish humor, I think of this book as a love story of two people that thought the other was out of their reach. I am happy to tell you this has a successful conclusion but it is a long time coming.

This is the story of Amy Dorrit known as Little Dorrit who was born and lived in debtor’s prison with her father and brother and sister. Her mother was dead. It is also the story of Arthur Clennam who is fascinated by Little Dorrit and seeks to help her in any way he can. There is a huge cast of characters and a storyline that encompasses most of the world before returning to debtor’s prison to end the tale.

The many plots of this tale evolve around a con man, a simple man who becomes rich after spending most of his life behind bars, an honest man who is conned and ends up in debtor’s prison because he will not do a dishonorable thing to save his life. A mother who keeps secrets and feels guilt.

I have never read this book before and I have read most of Dickens works. He is one of my favorite authors and does not disappoint here either. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it.
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on September 2, 2014
This was a long slog. Mostly, it was entertaining and engaging. Sometimes it got tedious. I believe I read somewhere that authors should show, not just tell. Therein lies the problem here. Little Dorrit contains two characters, Little Dorrit's father and Flora the one-time intended of Arthur Clennam, who blather incoherently and excessively, and we get the full experience of that blather...over...and...over...again. I wanted to choke the both of them.

Other than that, the story is fairly interesting, as is usual for Dickens. There are lots of weird, interesting characters, lots of wry comments on the human condition, especially as it relates to law or government, and so forth. Although there is an orphan in the book, we don't realize it until 80% of the way through, and then, she's not exactly a major character, although an important one. We do, however, get our fair share of eccentric old maids, grifters, ne'er-do-wells, shady lawyers and all the other characters who make up Dickens' menagerie, and of course, a couple of poor but extremely good hearted people.

While this is not my favorite Dickens book by a long shot, it is still well worth reading.
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on March 22, 2017
The book is thick and wordy, but the setting and characters are so well developed. Amy Dorrit is such an amazing character, so loving and full of grace in circumstances that would test the patience of Job. While it is true that this novel was written during a "dark" period for Dickens and the scene is rather rough (as are many of the characters), the two main characters have such redeeming qualities that it is worth the long ride.
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on May 19, 2017
The book is great, but the marketing is false. The "Free Audiobook" turns out to be a link to librivox that does not interface with the Kindle book.
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on September 6, 2010
Thia review will focus on the differences between the 2003 (Penguin ISBN: 978-0141439969), 2008 (BBC Books ISBN: 978-1846076008), and 2009 (Penguin ISBN: 978-0143115878) book versions of Little Dorrit that are the most recent versions of the novel. Many of the other reviewers have provided adequate summaries of the storyline of the novel so I will skip that in my review. The 2003 version is a revised edition of Penguin's 1998 version of the novel. It expanded on the supplementary material from the earlier version that were provided by Stephen Wall and Helen Small. When comparing the most recent three versions, the 2003 version is the most comprehensive. The 2008 version does not have any supplemental material (nor the H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustrations) other than an introduction by the 2008 Little Dorrit TV screenwriter, Andrew Davies. The 2009 version only has the Notes after the novel and all of the H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustrations (except for the very last illustration titled "The Third Volume of the Registers").

The 2003 version has the following that is missing from the later 2008 and 2009 versions.

A Dickens Chronology vii
Introduction xi
Further Reading xxviii
A Note on the Text xxxiii
Appendix I The Denouement of Little Dorrit page 861
Appendix II The Number Plans page 863
Appendix III The Marshalsea page 906
Appendix IV Map of London page 912
Appendix V Running Headlines from the 1868 Charles Dickens Edition page 914

The BBC Books 2008 version is also missing the H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustrations and Notes. The Penguin 2009 version is missing the very last H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustration in the final chapter (most likely an oversight by the publisher). With these differences, the obvious choice of many readers would be to select the version with the most material. However, there is one "warning" about the 2003 edition that may make the reading of that version less satisfying for someone new to the novel. Anyone who reads the Stephen Wall introduction of this version will know much of the storyline BEFORE you even begin reading the novel. This is one rare case where the introduction to the novel provides major "spoilers" about the plot. I was surprised when I read it and thought that it should have been located as an epilogue and not as an introduction. I thought that the most helpful of all of the supplemental material in this version was Appendix I. It provided an explanation of the past events before the beginning of the novel, so as to provide a more clearer picture of the entire story time line. Some viewers of the recent BBC/WGBH production of Little Dorrit were unclear about how the Dorrits and Clennams were tied to each other. Appendix I helped to "unravel" the confusion.

Here are my pros and cons of each edition.

2003 - Pros - lots of supplemental material, contains all Phiz illustrations; Cons - Introduction provides too many "spoilers"
Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics)

2008 - Pros - Commentary from Andrew Davies, the screenwriter for the TV version of Little Dorrit, cast of characters and their description list, attractive glossy cover, the companion edition to the BBC TV broadcast in the UK; Cons - missing all H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustrations and supplemental material
Little Dorrit

2009 - Pros - Attractive outer cover (feels more durable), no Introduction that could spoil it for readers, the companion edition to the PBS TV broadcast in the USA; Cons - missing nearly all of the supplemental material except for the Notes and also missing the very last H. K. Browne (Phiz) illustration (probably a publishing omission).
Little Dorrit
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on February 22, 2013
I did not find it long.

I learned a lot about Dickens and his social conscience from reading this. I also saw the Masterpiece Theatre TV series a few years ago, but what was lost there was Charles Dickens' incomparable authorial voice and his sense of humor.

The TV version did help me anticipate the plot somewhat, but Dickens can still kill people off in one paragraph, and it does not seem contrived.

The mental decline of the overly prestige-conscious Father of the Marshalsea debtors' prison and his ho-humming pronouncements was wonderfully done.

So much so that his final breakdown came as no surprise.

The speech patterns of the fat Flora, said to be modeled on Dickens' wife, and the dialogue involving others were also excellent.

I think the plot has been changed a bit in the TV version.

However, Little Dorrit is still one of the best works for anyone to read who wishes to paint on a large canvas and handle serious, societal issues.

I was able to relate to it more because as someone born in Burma with its Gulag of military-operated prisons and its prison of a country, I could relate to the Marshalsea more.

The audio version, judging from the sample, is also excellent.

People should read the classics more. They should not impose their 20th and 21st century values on the 19th century.

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VINE VOICEon October 11, 2013
Having discovered Dickens fairly recently, Little Dorrit is my latest plunge into these great books. Every time I pick up a new Dickens novel, I luxuriate in rediscovering all the things I love about Charles Dickens, especially the way he slips bits of humor into his writing. Its funny because its true. For example:

"He had a certain air of being a handsome man--which he was not; and a certain air of being a well-bred man--which he was not. It was mere swagger and challenge; but in this particular, as in many others, blustering assertion goes for proof, half over the world. "

I especially appreciated the Amazon reviewer who discussed the fact that the book is not only about physical imprisonment but about how we ourselves can be in prisons of our own making. This book was a thoughtful commentary on that with many good examples, as well as being a riveting love story that had me quite worried about the resolution, a mystery, and much more.

I find that I have been associating it with Middlemarch more than with Dickens' other books. Perhaps that is because Little Dorrit adds a gentle touch of domesticity wherever she goes. More likely it is because it is hard to pigeonhole Dickens from one book to the next. What a genius. I am so happy that I have so many of his books yet to read as shiny, "new" discoveries.

I also want to mention that I have become a fan of Modern Library publishers. Their books are inexpensive but nicely flexible to stay open at the page I'm reading. The typesize is pleasing. And so forth.
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on August 18, 2015
Dickens is the great Soial Critic of the Industrial Revolution and its effects on human society--He reidcules both the idle poor and idle rich and his heroes and heroines are indiioduals who are hard working midle class types contributing to others and who are kind and humane--the greedy and the social snobs are ridiculed unmercifully. His plots are complex thrillrs full of surprises and his characters grow and become moe complex with each page. little Dorrit, his critique of the prison seystem is perhaps his greatest knowledge bur since it is full of surprises i dont want to give anything away.
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