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Book reviews for "Jarvis,_Charles_Efthemios" sorted by average review score:

David Copperfield
Published in Audio CD by The Audio Partners Publishing Corporation (12 March, 2002)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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Martin Jarvis performs a fabulous reading of "David
Copperfield". His interpretation of Dickens's colorful
cast of characters is spot-on.

My only complaint is with the format of the CDs themselves.
Most MP3 players have a feature for moving from folder to
folder and for browsing among MP3 files in a given folder.
This allows one to quickly find one's bookmark, so to
speak. But on each of the "David Copperfield" CD's, all the
MP3 files are collected in one folder, thereby forcing the
listener to manually page through a large number of files on
those occasions (such as power disconnection) where the MP3
player loses its memory of its last stopping point.

Given the quality of the reading, however, the CD formatting
is a minor nit.

David Copperfield
Published in Audio Cassette by Cover to Cover Cassettes Ltd (1998)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
Amazon base price: $149.95
Average review score:

Life Is A Great Storm
David Copperfield, Dickens' favorite child, is an experience. Forget what your high school teacher or college professor told you. Forget all the terribly bad film representations of this book. Forget the glib one-liner reviews about Dickens people being caricatures instead of characters. READ this book. This book is one of the few Real Books in this world.

The great storm scene alone will thunder forever in your memories. You will encounter with Copperfield:
• the evil, chilling Uriah Heep,
• the mental and physical destruction of his mother by a Puritanical,untilitarian step-father,
• the always in-debt Mr. Mawcawber who somehow transcends his economic and egocentric needs into something noble,
• the betrayal of Copperfield by his best friend and Copperfield's shattered emotions by this betrayal,
• the ruination of another close friend's reputation, and her step-by-step climb back out of the mire,
• Copperfield's own passionate step into marriage while too young with an irresponsible, yet innocent child-woman, her death,
• Copperfield's own rise from poverty and orphanhood into worldly success but empty life until mature love rescues him.

Dickens has a real gift for creating people that irritate you, yet gradually you come to love them - just like folks in real life. If you never have read Dickens, come meet David Copperfield. You'll find that your impressions of David from the brief snippets by critics, teachers, reviewers, professors and know-it-alls completely different than the Real Thing.

Life has everything
Charles Dickens is a master at re-creating the world. Throughout most of his books, Dicken's own life is recreated time and again, always with a different plot but with the same basic truths. In "David Copperfield", we go along the protagonist through his troubled and orphane childhood, his sufferings in terrible public schools, his trip to the beach to visit his nanny, his life with the stern yet loving aunt Miss Betsie Trotwood, the intrigues of the despicable yet fearsome Uriah Heep, his marriage to the childish and immature Dora, the betrayal by a trusted friend, success without happiness, and finally the encounter with true love, in the form of a friend from youthness.

The characters are all people you find during your own lifetime: your friends, your aunt, your sweetheart, that woman you love but you can't stand, etc. Copperfield is the story of a good man in his learning through difficulties and setbacks.

No wonder it is still read and probably will stay alive through the decades: Copperfield has something to tell us all.

What characters! What a story!
Oh, I loved it! I finished David Copperfield, finally, of but an hour ago. Oh, that is such a wonderful book! I hold Charles Dickens in a sort of reverence. He has the fascinating ability to spin a web of the most spendidly horrible (here, I refer to, the remarkably AWFUL Uriah HEEP) and the most splendidly excellent (here, I refer to, the exquisite and good-natured Agnes) characters, and then he completes his tale by adding the most unforgettable of ALL people, a main hero, such as David Copperfield. Never have I been so attached to a work of fiction, and I have read a lot. Oh, the things David so heroicly endured, turning him into a most superior man! I love the story! It's most powerful. It moved me to tears and sent me into fits of laughter so many times I can't count them on my hands. And I felt such rapturous joy when Agnes and David professed their love for each other that I could hardly contain myself, and here started to laugh and cry at the same time; and I felt such overwhelming sorrow over the death of Steerforth, for I rather liked the man, even thought he took Emily away; and I love Peggotty's character to death! She was such a glorious figure of devotion and heartfelt love for David; I felt he would not have survived Murdstone and other things were it not for her steadfastness and friendship (I dearly loved her button-poppings! I found them hilarious!). And the grand Agnes, how I worshipped her! She was so real, I can see her cordial eyes looking upon David with the love of a sister, the passion of a wife. It was the most admirable work, I am sure. Dickens made Uriah Heep come alive so vividly, I see him writhing about, with contortions like a caught fish. I see Traddle's hair sticking up on end like a porcupine's, I see Miss Mowcher waddling about, I see Steerforth, tall, dark, and handsome. Oh, how David did admire Steerforth in the beginning! How he did charm! For all the critics: yes, the book was sometimes boring, and at times it was dull. But can't you see the art in it? That all Dickens wanted you to do was enjoy it and fall in love with the characters? Yes, sometimes he got a little carried away but that's hardly the point. It was worth it, because I know I'll never forget a one of them. What more can I say? I want to read the book over and over again, never ending.

Don Quixote De LA Mancha (Oxford World's Classics Hardcovers)
Published in Hardcover by Getty Ctr for Education in the Arts (1999)
Authors: Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, Charles Jarvis, Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra, E. C. Riley, and Milan Kundera
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A Knight to Remember
I recently read the first part of Don Quixote, and I have to say that I was expecting a real snoozer. And I have to admit that, yes, Cervantes does drag on a bit. But critics of the novel's length are doing the work a misservice. We must remember that this book was written well over four centuries ago, when the very concept of a linked narrative must have been more than enough to hold the reader's interest. Cervantes's energy sizzles off the page at times, and you can tell he's really having fun with the work. I loved almost everything about this book, and while I might have liked to see it trimmed a bit, I still think Cervantes did a bang up job. Oh. One more thing. I lot of people seem to like Sancho more than Quixote. I'm totally the opposite. Quixote is the dreamer, the one who dares to look at things that never were and say " They might be giants ". I for one think thats boss.

Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote obviously centers around the title character, Don Quixote. Quixote was originally known as Alonso Quixano, La Manchan noble, who was content with reading stories of knighthood and chivalry and tending to his estate. Eventually, after reading these books, he decided it is his responsibility to set out with someone else in his village (Sancho Panza, his squire) to right the wrongs of people across Spain. Sancho Panza seems to be a very grounded person, but he admires Don Quixote so much his good sense disappears. In the beginning, Panza agreed to leave his family and travel with Quixote only because he promised Panza he would become the governor of the first island they came to; when this doesn't happen, Panza doesn't leave because he loves to company of the eccentric Quixote.

All the adventures Don Quixote goes on are in the name of his love Dulcinia, and although she never makes an appearance in the book she seems to embody chivalric ideals. Unfortunately for our protagonists, Don Quixote often has confusion with the real and imaginary, mistaking inns for castles, grazing sheep for conflicting armies, windmills for enemy enchanters and traveling monks for wizards transporting a princess against her will. All mistakes are blamed on a powerful necromancer, who is Don Quixote's mortal enemy (since all knights have them.) Although Quixote is mocked by many, in the end they mimic his restlessness and discomfort for what is considered "normal" in society.

Overall, I'm glad I read Don Quixote even though it was longer then I bargained for. The book helped me get a better picture of what life was like in Spain during the Renaissance period. I learned simple things like there actually were windmills in other parts of Europe besides the Netherlands and more complex things like exactly what chivalry and its ideals consist of.

A legend of wit through the ages
The Adventures of Don Quixote is a must read classic for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed the charm and wit of Cervantes tale of misadventure of the great knight. Don Quixote's imaginary spirit and pure devotion to chivalry is a noble quality often lost in this modern day and age. I dearly loved this book, and often found myself laughing aloud at humor written ages past. The world needs more Don Quixote's indeed.

Nicholas Nickleby
Published in Audio Cassette by Trafalgar Square Computer & Audio (1995)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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The Dickensian world
I would say this is "David Copperfield"'s B-side. It is a typical Dickensian book: the life of the Nickleby family from the death of the father until they are rich and happy. One of the most important parts of the book is the study of the horrible boarding schools of Yorkshire, where Nicholas is sent. We can read the dirty intrigues of Uncle Ralph, the adventures of Nicholas and Smikes as travelling actors (a world Dickens came to know very well), the kindness of the brethren Cheeryble.

Definitely, this is not one of Dickens's best novels, but nevertheless it is fun to read. The characters are good to sanctity or bad to abjection. The managing of the plot is masterful and the dramatic effects wonderful. It includes, as usual with Dickens, an acute criticism of social vices of his time (and ours): greed, corruption, the bad state of education. In spite of everything, this is a novel very much worth reading, since it leaves the reader a good aftertaste: to humanism, to goodness.

Nicholas Nickleby - The young Dickens at his best.
Nicholas Nickleby is a marvelous novel. It is the young Dickens at his best. I almost feel guilty for giving it four stars, but giving it five would be unfair, I think, because his later works, such as Great Expectations, are bettter. The novel is written enthusiastically and contains some of Dickens' best humor. I especially found funny the character Mr.Lillyvick, the revered and dignified water clerk. And I will never forget Ralph Nickleby. Mr.Squeers and Arthur Gride were detestable and colorful villains, but they pale before Ralph Nickleby. He is such a cold and heartless character that he steals nearly every scene he is in. He has a certain magnetism that most of Dickens' good characters lack. And his suicide at the novel's end is so perfectly written that I read over it several times before I finished the novel. My only problem with the book was Nicholas's lack of psychology, but let us remember that this was written by a young man, not the mature artist of Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend. The novel's strengths easily make up for its weaknesses. Nicholas Nickleby will be enjoyed by fans of Dickens and all other readers for centuries to come.

One of the most entertaining novels ever
I read criticisms of this book that it is not one of Dickens' best. For me, it is up there with Great Expectations and David Copperfield as one of his most enjoyable novels (A Christmas Carol is a short story).

The social axe that Dickens had to grind in this story is man's injustice to children. Modern readers my feel that his depiction of Dotheboys Academy is too melodramatic. Alas, unfortunately, it was all too real. Charles Dickens helped create a world where we can't believe that such things happen. Dickens even tell us in an introduction that several Yorkshire schoolmasters were sure that Wackford Squeers was based on them and threatened legal action.

The plot of Nicholas Nickleby is a miracle of invention. It is nothing more than a series of adventures, in which Nicholas tries to make his way in the world, separate himself from his evil uncle, and try to provide for his mother and sister.

There are no unintersting characters in Dickens. Each one is almost a charicature. This book contains some of his funniest characters.

To say this is a melodrama is not an insult. This is melodrama at its best. Its a long book, but a fast read.

Martin Chuzzlewit
Published in Audio Cassette by Trafalgar Square (1994)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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this book suffers from the lack of a central character to carry the story. young martin chuzzlewit, the book's namesake, only appears in about a quarter of the book. old martin chuzzlewit appears in even less. seth pecksniff and sairey gamp are both amusing, but their characters are not central to the story. jonas chuzzlewit is central to the story, but he doesn't show up until halfway through. without a character to draw the reader's interest, a character the reader can follow the fortunes of, the book wanders. it's not a surprise that the installments of this novel didn't sell well.

the prose is gorgeous, as usual, but the story drags. worth a read, but not if you're new to dickens. best to start off with nicholas nickleby which doesn't suffer from the same defect.

This is Dickens' tale (and some would say lecture) about selfishness. Dickens' presents characters that embody different aspects of this vice, from the hypocrisy of Pecksniff and Mrs Gamp, to the thoughtlessness of young Martin Chuzzlewit and Mercy Pecksniff, the suspiciousness of old Martin Chuzzlewit, to the vengefulness of Charity Pecksniff, from the villainy of Jonas Chuzzlewit, to the duplicity of Tigg Montague. But Dickens doesn't stop here: the book also explores this theme on the larger institutional and national scales, as well. The American detour can be seen as a condemnation of the hypocrisy of the U-nited States of the early 1800's. And the Life Assurance Co scam is clearly an indictment of selfishness when its ambitions grow to encompass those beyond one's immediate circle. To his credit, Dickens doesn't lay these latter evils at the abstract feet of 'countries' and 'companies', but shows that even in these suprapersonal entities, the original sin lies with individuals.

Dickens does the murder mystery and comes out on top!!
Martin Chuzzlewit gets its start much like any other Dickens novel--we are introduced to the rather blase main characters and the amusing minor characters, and Dickens slowly--and I mean slooowly--weaves the web of his drama. We meet the Chuzzlewit brothers, Mr Pecksniff and his daughters, and (among others) the lovable Tom Pinch, who is utterly devoted to Mr Pecksniff. "Another middle-period Victorian comedy of manners," we presume, and read a few pages at a time, until BAM! the novel kicks into high gear. I won't spoil the unforgettable final half of the novel for you, but suffice it to say that I read it ALL in one day, spellbound. Any would-be author of pageturners could learn a lot from the story of Jonas Chuzzlewit, masterfully spun by the greatest novelist in the Englsih language. Enjoy it, one and all!

A Tale of Two Cities
Published in Audio CD by Chivers Audio Books (2000)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
Amazon base price: $110.95
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"It was the best of books, it was the worst of books."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Perhaps no first line of a book describes the book better than A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. This novel really is a mix of good and bad. It all starts with Dr. Manette, who, after being 18 years in jail, is retrived from France by his daughter Lucie and an old friend named Mr. Lorry. The Manettes live safely in England, where Lucie meets Charles Darnay, a man who herself, her father and Mr. Lorry were testifying against at his trial of treason. Lucie and Charles fall in love, devasting Carton, who loves Lucie and was Charles' lawyer, and get married unaware that Charles' family put Lucie's father in jail. One of Darnay's old servants is thrown in jail back in France, so Charles goes there, during the revolution and gets himself thrown in jail. The Defarges, wineshop owners in France who were taking care of Dr. Manette, are after Charles and his new family because of a deep dark secret that Madame Defarge holds against the family. This book holds much info, many names, dates and places, but the reader catches on quickly. The characters seem to constantly move back and forth from France to England, and the story junps back and forth from the Manettes and the Defarges. Dickens makes the transitions from person to person, and place to place easy for the reader to understand by adding tags to the characters and introducing the setting in the beginning of the chapters. One problem is the length. The book seems to drag on. The chapter entitled "Hundreds of People" repeats the same phrase or idea over and over again wearing out its initial symbolism. Granted A Tale of Two Cities could not be condensed into 20 pages, but Dickens pushes the reader's attention span and the use of details to the extreme. There is such a thing as too many details. One character that seems too "lady-like" is Lucie Manette. Her constant fainting and crying make her an unlikeable character, and Madame Defarge, the tyrant, is more likeable. Overall, A Tale of Two Cities is a masterpiece. It is a reflection of Dicken's genius and a period of time lost to us, but remembered through the pages of this novel.

A tale you'll love, citizen..
Having read Les Miserables and the Scarlet Pimpernel, I thought I must read this one. Although by far I enjoyed Les Mis much more, this book gives an objective view. Dickens describes both the sufferings of the poor before the revolution and the injustice done to the nobility under the Republic. Dickens' writing style is fascinating, I loved it. Yes, it's difficult and tedious; I'm a bit slow myself but enjoyed it far too much to give it up. The descriptions of the misery of the peasants, the attack on the Bastille, the murder of the nobles, the thirst for revenge, are all painfully expressive. Dickens often uses dark humour and irony, it makes it all funny and painfull at once: "who kissed La Guillotine, looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack." What a picture!

But it is mainly a story of love, revenge and self-sacrifice rather than a commentary on the revolution. Dr. Mannette is released after being unjustly imprisoned for 18 years, and he finds he has a perfect angelic little daughter, Lucie. Charles Darnay is a young, dashing, but good French aristocrat who reliquished his title in France, and is exiled in England. Sydney Carton, the "idlest and most unpromising of men," has become one of my favorites in literature. He's an unhappy alchoholic, who appears incapable of achieving anything good. I liked him from the first, because he didn't like Darnay much and, neither did I! Carton is in love with Lucie, unrequitedly. Lucie marries Darnay. Darnay's antipathy towards Carton becomes of major significance at the end. As the French Revolution erupts in France, duty calls Darnay back to Paris, where he is captured and tried. The ending is the grandest I have ever read; poignant, tearful, prophetic, bittersweet. It takes days to recover! It ends in perhaps the most unselfish, heroic of sacrifices in fiction. With Dickens' beautiful use of prose this becomes truly unforgettable. I recommend it for everyone, young and old, as long as you can handle the language. I can't believe I waited this long to read it!

A Tale of Two Cities as seen by a 7th grader
I started reading this book because of a suggestion from my Language Arts teacher. I was immediately taken in by the descriptive words used by Charles Dickens. You first meet Mr. Jarvis Lorry, whose "credentials, entries, and memoranda are all comprehended in the one line, 'Recalled to Life'", who is sent to France to retrieve a man who has been held a prisoner for 18 years. As you go on, you are shifted back and forth from England to France, and back again. You see many of the aspects of the French Revolution in the late 18th century. Now you may not listen to my advice, because of my age, but I can tell you that I am at least at a 10th grade reading level, and I can read and understand this book with great ease. This book is probably a great book for anyone in high school or over, and I wish I could rate it 6 stars!

Oliver Twist (Classics Collection (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.).)
Published in Audio Cassette by Media Books (2001)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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A Page-Turner
A novel of this size can be daunting for the reader. "If I start this book, I'm going to have to spend the next month finishing it". That's what I thought anyway. But in Oliver Twist I sailed through the pages. It's rare that a classic, and I have read many of them, becomes a page-turner but this one did. Maybe I was lucky in not having seen the film versions prior to the reading of the book because I desperately wanted to find out what happened to Oliver and the multitude of other brilliantly written characters who inhabit the pages of Dickens' classic.

The plot is simple. A boy escapes his orphan home to live in London with a group of thieves and pickpockets. He's saved from this depraved life by a kindly, lonely old gentleman. But the villains, Bill Sykes and especially Fagin, fear that the boy may rat them out and so they kidnap him back. Can Oliver make it back to the life he deserves?

Oliver's story is not a very originally one, but it is enlivened by some of the greatest characters I've ever seen written. My personal favourites and there are many, are Noah Claypole who becomes a principle player and a very funny one at that, near the book's conclusion; and Mr. Brownlow, who's catchphrase "I'll eat my own head" had me bursting into laughter.

The book is diminished by its excessive sentimentality at the conclusion. Its female characters, apart from the courageous Nancy, are written in a golden light so as to become fantasies rather than the gloriously dirty reality of their male counterparts. A sub-plot between Mary and her boyfriend is ridiculously excessive.

Against these weaknesses, the book is a triumph of character. Often memorably played on screen, the two villains have become more famous than the title character, who is slightly simpering. Fagin is deliciously smarmy and Sykes is evil incarnate. They get their comuppance in justifiably brutal fashion. Dickens like most of us was a sucker for a happy ending.

Forsaken child
The creative novel Oliver Twist, written by Charles Dickens in 1838, defines a classic of all times. This intense story reflects a young boy's life in London with no family or place to go. Oliver's mother dies while giving birth to her son in the beginning of the book. Oliver's father remains unknown. Throughout the book the reader sees constant struggles. Oliver is befriended by Fagin and his company. Fagin, along with the Artful Dodger, invite Oliver to stay with them and become a thief. During one of Oliver's pick pocketing adventures; he is caught by Mr. Brownlow. Instead of reprimanding the young lad, Mr. Brownlow decides to raise him. Oliver desperately searches for the answer to his past while trying to stay alive on the streets of London. Ironically, Mr. Brownlow is Oliver's grandfather. A dominate theme of Oliver Twist examines the importance of family. Oliver's early years taught him to fend for himself and he suffers from never experiencing a loving and nurturing childhood. The setting of the book plays a powerful role as the story unfolds. Dickens describes the setting of London and all the places that Oliver stays very descriptively. "The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odor. The walls and ceiling of the room were perfectly black with age and dirt..." (page. 56). Dickens explains the facilities that were available to poor Oliver and makes them sound unbearable. He does an excellent job making the setting come alive and allows the reader to plight. I would recommend all readers at some point in life to delve into this classic. I found Oliver Twist very moving and towards the end hoping only the best for poor Oliver.

Thieves, Murderers and all of their Ilk
This book surprised me, not by the quality of its writing, which one can expect from Charles Dickens, but by the violent, lusty primal quality of the story. This is no dry musty tome, but a vital novel that arouses both passion and intellect. A literal page turner, I found myself having more than one sleepless night when I just couldn't put it down.

Inside are some of the major characters in the realm of fiction; Fagin and his gang of child thieves, including the Artful Dodger. Nancy, the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold. Master Charles Bates (was this a pun even then?) Bad Bill Sikes, who shows the darker edge to all of this dangerous fun, and the innocent, pure Oliver Twist, who is the very definition of nature over nurture.

A great book, and one that I am glad to have finally read.

Great Expectations
Published in Audio Cassette by The Audio Partners Publishing Corporation (1998)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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mystery, romance and suspense
Charles Dickens was one of the most popular writers of all time, creating some of the best-known characters in English literature. In the book "Great Expectations", the protagonist and narrator, Pip begins the story as a young orphan boy being grown up by his sister. I like this book, because Charles Dickens takes you right inside the Pip's mind and you live through the events and discoveries of his life with him. Pip is passionate, romantic and somewhat unrealistic at heart. That makes the novel interesting. Of course, you cannot forget the great love story (Pip and Estella). The other characters Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Joe Gargery, Miss Joe, Estella, Mr Jaggers and Mr Wemmick are all unique and special in their way and they add to the novel's richness. Another thing I really liked was how all of the characters are interrelated to each other in ways that you may not discover until you get to the end of the novel. This novel will make you sometimes laugh and sometimes make you feel sad, but it is always entertaining. Latif Dose simplifies the texts. The language is very clear. There are not old English words and this gives the reader much pleasure while reading the novel. I think most young people would like this novel because it's not as hard to read as an other classic books. I recommend Great Expectations to anyone who wants to read a good, classic book because Great Expectations has a little bit of everything in it, mystery, romance and suspense. You cannot easily find all of these properties in other novels, which makes "Great Expectations" a special and a classic one.
. That makes this novel very different. It is probably one of the top ten English novels of the 19th century. Some of the passages are beautiful. I cannot forget Pip's response to Estella when she says "You will get me out of thoughts in a week."

A "Great" Book
Great Expectations, a book that Dickens ironically considered as one of his "little pieces." Though it is small compared to other works by Dickens, what this novel lacks in size it makes up for in quality. Great Expectations succeeds beyond almost all novels of its time in exploring the roots of character and moral behaviour. Charles Dickens makes the case for there being the potential for good and evil within everyone. Evil and sin follow from a combination of being self-absorbed and selfish. What is remarkable about the way these themes are handled is that they are clearly based on an assessment of human psychology, long before that field was established. The book is also remarkable for its many indelibly memorable and complex characters. Miss Havisham, Pip, Magwitch, Mr. Jaggers, and Estella are certainly some of the most complex characters ever created by Dickens.
Though a novel founded on philosophic concepts, the story is full of action to keep the plot moving. An escaped convict, an attempted murder, and a mysterious benefactor all add to the sense of mystery that exists throughout most of the novel and forces the reader to continue. Murder, deceit, jealously, and revenge also help to hold the attention of the reader while Dickens explores the depths of human nature.
As you read Great Expectations, raise your expectations (sorry, I couldn't help myself) to assume that you will receive answers to any dangling thread. Every detail is important, if not to solve the mysteries of the characters then only to enhance the "sense of place." Although the England described here is long gone, it becomes as immediate as a nightmare or a dream that you have just awakened from.
This story by Dickens is a must-read and deserves five-stars.

The Best Book In The Pantheon of English Literature
I must admit, this review is slightly prejudiced. I am a high school student, and I read this book for fun. I had tried to read Dickens before, but found myself having a hard time ploughing through the complex vocabulary and intricate parlor dialogue of Hard Times. But I decided to take another stab at Dickens, perhaps with something a little more palatable. All of Dickens' novels, I realized at the end of Book I!!, are VERY, VERY SLOW -- AT FIRST. Then Dickens decides to play on his own soporific introductions!!!!! There is a crucial turn in events for Pip, and the book takes off. Every few paragraphs, there's another handhold so to speak, to keep the reader's suspense and to keep the plot building. Both the language and the many interwoven plots are delectable and unavoidably magnetic -- your hands just can't seem to put down the book, no matter what you do. This book has it all. It also helped me understand why I hated reading the Odyssey for English. (Translations always lose some of the vivacity and fullness that the author has pumped his or her very original work full of, and it is this fullness that made the work so great in the first place.) It is a long read, and you have to be willing to be patient with the beginning. But it's definitely worth it. And the more you read, the easier it gets. After reading this book, I feel inspired to read all of Dickens' works!

Hard Times
Published in Audio CD by The Audio Partners Publishing Corporation (2003)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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Worth the time
I always had a revulsion when I was forced to read Dickens in high school, and I was never able to get past the first chapter of any of his books, including this one. Now that I'm in my mid-30's, I want to re-visit a lot of the works that I had no patience for as a teenager, so I read Hard Times. Although there are many flaws to this book, I felt proud to have finally cleared the Dickens hurdle. Dickens is excellent at creating sympathetic (and evil) characters, even though they may be slightly cliche or wooden. The fact is, Dickens is able to hook you in with his plots and create a profound concern on behalf of the reader that the good guy (or girl) wins and the bad guy suffers. A lot of the twists in this book were a little "too convenient" and implausible to make it a crowining work of literature, but nevertheless it has motivated me to move on to Dickens' larger, more daunting works. If you are having any trepidation about tackling Dickens, Hard Times is a good place to start.

Hard Times-A Commentary on Industrial England
If you read Hard Times for the sole purpose of being entertained you will probably be highly disappointed. However, if you understand what was happening during this time period, you will realize that Hard Times is in reality, a long commentary. The Industrial Revolution was starting to show its down side. There was rampant poverty and disease, from the overcrowding of the cities. Children of the poor had to work long hours in unsafe factories rather than go to school. The gulf between the haves and the have-nots was very wide. The middle class was only beginning to be a distinct group.
This then was the backdrop of Hard Times. Dickens is making a social and political statement. This is a statement against the mechanizing of society. It starts with Dickens repeated use of the word fact. It is facts that have meaning. Human conventions like feeling, compassion or passion have no meaning or looked down upon as an inconvienent waste of time. If a situation cannot be put down on paper as in an accounting ledger it should not be considered.
This is where the conflict of the book comes in. Which helps humanity more compassion or fact. Is Bounderby a better person than Blackpool? Bounderby, who by his own admission was a self-made man. Untrue as this was he said it enough to make it his own reality. Or Blackpool, a weaver with an alcoholic wife, who was in love with another woman. Facts made Bounderby rich, compassion made Blackpool human.
Louisa presents another conflict. Louisa was educated only by fact. No wonder or inquisitiveness was ever allowed. She was the perfect robot. Doing what she was told when she was told. Just another piece of the machine, however, the piece broke, emotions came out, and they broke down the wall of fact that Mr. Gradgrind had so carefully constructed. Because the feelings have finally been acknowledged things really break down. She finds that not only has she married the wrong man but also the man she did marry is a buffoon whom she cannot respect nor live with.
The reader is left wondering if there is no one who will not be ruined by all the worship to fact. The whelp has certainly been ruined to the point he feels no responsibility to anyone but himself. If a situation can not be used to his advantage then he has no use for it, as a matter of course, he will run when he believes he will have to take responsibility for his own actions.
The gypsies have not been ruined by fact. But only because they live outside of society, they do not conform to the rules of society. These are the people who value character over social status. The gypsies do not value Bounderby and Bitzer with all their pomp and egomania. Rather they value Stephen Blackpool and Cecilia whom can show compassion and kindness no matter a person's station in life.
Hard Times can be used to look at today's society. Are we, as a society more worried about our computers, cell phones, faxes, and other gadgets than our neighbor's well being? Do we only get involved to help others when there is a personal benefit? Or, are we like the gypsies who can look into the character of the person and not worry about the socio-economic status? While Dickens' wrote Hard Times about 19th century England the moral can easily fit into 21st century America

Dickens creates a novel that virtually revolutionizes literature of the 1800's. At a time where most writers wrote in a stuffy prose full of unrealities and a jaded outlook, Dickens dares to tell with honesty what he sees through his window.

Hard Times has yet a misleading title. It gives one ideas of harshness, depression, poverty, and social decline--although the actual reality of then-London, still not something you would choose to read. However, Hard Times has as much depression and poverty as any of Dickens' other works. It is just in this case that Dickens chooses to remind the world that in the deepest despair there is beauty yet to be seen.

Dickens was a strange author. In his supposedly inspiring books, you get an overdose of sadness, and in his depressing books, you find beauty. It is this case with Hard Times.

It is a poor, honest man's search for justice in a world where only the rich have merit. It is a girl's search for true love while battling the arranged marriage for money. And lastly, a woman's search for recognition against her favored, yet dishonest brother. It is these searches that at last come together and become fufilled. And, while at the same time telling a captivating story, it comments on the then--and still now--presence of greed and total dishonesty one has to go through for money.

The title of this review sums up Hard Times. Its beauty comes from the pure searches for truth, the sorrow comes from the evil the characters most overcome to get there, and the honesty is both the truth with which Dickens portrays life and the the overwhelming truth that these protaganists create.

Holly Burke, PhD.

Clinical Psychologist, Abnormal Psych. Professor

Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins Inst.

Charles Dickens Classics: A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist
Published in Audio Cassette by Media Books (2002)
Authors: Charles Dickens and Martin Jarvis
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