Arguably the greatest Victorian author and creator of some of our best-known characters. Charles Dickens work was both popular during his lifetime and in the present day, where it continues to be widely read, studied and reproduced. His vivid characters and depiction of Victorian England have given us some of our most loved stories. Audible has a great collection of Charles Dickens Audiobooks read by well-known Brits such as Matt Lucas, Jeremy Paxman, Rory Kinnear, and Miriam Margolyes. Choose your favourite from the list below.
1. Great Expectations
“There was a long hard time when I kept far from me the remembrance of what I had thrown away when I was quite ignorant of its worth”
Regarded as Dickens best novel, Great Expectations is a tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward. Told through Pip, an orphan working in a forge but dreaming of becoming a gentleman, Pip must make a decision that will shape the course of his life.
2. A Tale of Two Cities
“You have been the last dream of my soul.”
After being wrongfully imprisoned for 18 years, French doctor Manette is released from the Bastille jail and sets out on a journey to London in the hope of finding the daughter he never met. Lucie, his daughter is entangled in the love of two very different men, and all are drawn back to Paris, to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. Unlike most of his work, all humour is removed, this is a serious darker story.
3. A Christmas Carol
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
This has to be one of the most reproduced and adapted stories. Billy Murry, Mikey Mouse, and The Muppets have all had versions of this Dickens classic. Christmas is just another day for Ebenezer Scrooge. But all that changes when the ghost of his long-dead business partner appears, warning Scrooge to change his ways before it’s too late. You probably watch this in one form at least once a year but the Christmas Carol Audiobook is fantastic and features Sir Derek Jacobi, Roger Allam, Jenna Coleman and Miriam Margolyes.
4. Bleak House
“And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.”
The plot of Bleak House is centred around a long-running legal battle between Jarndyce and Jarndyce whose legal fees gradually eat away at their inheritance. It is alternately narrated by the orphan Esther Summerson and an omniscient third person and is often regardest as one of Dickens best works. This 900+ page book was adapted into the 2005 award-winning BBC drama of the same name.
5. Oliver Twist
“As he spoke, he pointed hastily to the picture above Oliver’s head; and then to the boy’s face. There was its living copy. The eyes, the head, the mouth; every feature was the same. The expression was, for an instant, so precisely alike, that the minutest line seemed copied with startling accuracy”
There can’t be many people who haven’t seen the 1968 musical classic Oliver! or one of the more recent but lesser successful adaptations. Oliver Twist is the shocking tale of the underbelly of Victorian Britain and its treatment of orphans. The story follows Oliver who is sold into an apprenticeship with an undertaker. Prior to this, he spent years of miserable servitude and mistreatment at an English workhouse. Hoping to find a better life, he decides to escape his new, equally dreary surroundings and head to London. This audiobook is a brilliant rendition and expertly narrated by Jonathan Pryce.
6. David Copperfield
“I hope that real love and truth are stronger in the end than any evil or misfortune in the world.”
David Copperfield is the story of a young man’s adventures on his journey from an unhappy and impoverished childhood to the discovery of his vocation as a successful novelist. He encounters villains, saviours, eccentrics, and grotesques – including the wicked Mr. Murdstone, stouthearted Peggotty, formidable Betsey Trotwood, impecunious Micawber, and the odious Uriah Heep. Dickens’ great novel (based, in part, on his own boyhood and which he described as a “favourite child”) is a work filled with life, both comic and tragic. The audiobook is performed by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Spooks, Robin Hood).
7. Our Mutual Friend
“And this is the eternal law. For, Evil often stops short at itself and dies with the doer of it; but Good, never.
A mysterious boatman on the Thames, a drowned heir, a dustman and his wife, and a host of other Dickens characters populate this novel of relationships between the classes, money, greed, and love.
Read by Meera Syal.