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One of Dickens' early works, Nicholas Nickleby combines comedy and tragedy in a tale of triumph over adversity that is interspersed with Dickens' moving condemnation of society's mistreatment of children and the cruelty of the educational system. Young Nickleby struggles to seek his fortune in Victorian England, yet succeeds despite social injustice, in a story that mirrors Dickens' own rise from poverty to great success.
One of eight children, Dickens came from a very poor family, with his father eventually being sent to debtor's prison. At the age of 12, Dickens was forced to start work in a blacking factory in order to help clear the family debt.
Dickens depicts a funny version of his own mother in the character of Mrs. Nickleby, his feelings towards her dark and complex. He never forgave her for trying to keep him working against her husband's wishes.
Hailed as a comic triumph with a cast of incredible characters, it firmly established Dickens as a 'literary gentleman'.
Full of typically Dickensian elements, the book is well suited to dramatic adaptation.
It is widely regarded as one of the greatest comic masterpieces of 19th century literature and continues to entertain its fans to this day.
Three-time Olivier Award winner actor Alex Jennings has had an extensive career with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. His recent stage performances have included Willy Wonka in 2014's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical and Professor Henry Higgins in the 2016 Australian 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady. In 2006 he played Prince Charles opposite Helen Mirren in The Queen and has had other roles in films such as Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006) and The Lady in the Van (2015). His television work has included the BBC TV series Cranford (2007) and long running legal drama Silk (2011-2014). In 2016 he featured in the Netflix series The Crown and the ITV series Victoria. He has narrated many audiobooks including Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which in 2008 was chosen as one of the top 40 audiobooks of all time.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great narrator - this is the “Nicholas Nickleby you want.
Alex Jennings, the narrator of this audiobook is absolutely superb, I can’t say enough about him. He’s a British actor with a drop-dead amazing vocal talent. He reads male and female characters with equal aplomb and he seems to be able to imitate every dialect and peculiarity of speech known in the British Isles. He breathes new life and vitality into this old classic.
“Nicholas Nickleby” itself, is another matter. Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors and this is one of only a few of his novels that I’ve missed. It’s an early work, written 1838-1839 as a serial. I don’t know about the iTunes description of it as his most “theatrical” novel, but it’s certainly the most melodramatic of his that I’ve read. I know purists will be outraged by my temerity in giving it a mere 4 star rating - but all of us, even great authors, have our B Lists. “Nicholas Nickleby” lacks some of the maturity of Dickens’ later work, but it’s accessible and features a fine cast of memorable characters. It actually has a lot of humor to it, which Jennings reading helps to highlight for the modern reader. The story is predictable in that melodramatic way. Its atmosphere has that edge of reality that I love so much about Dickens, for all its 19th century manners, it conveys a strong sense of the realities, harsh, pleasant and mundane, of the era it was written in.
It’s a good old book, polished up by the loving professionalesm and care of a great narrator. It’s a little longer than other audiobook editions of “Nicholas Nickleby” because Jennings takes his time with it. If Brit narrators have a fault, it’s a tendency to briskness that can make 180 year-old prose seem even more dense than it naturally is.
I highly, highly recommend this audiobook edition for anyone who wants to experience “Nicholas Nickleby” at its best.
A wonderful performance by Alex Jennings
A beautiful, subtle, affectionate reading. Alex Jennings (Charles, Prince of Wales in "The Queen") does an amazing job with Dickens' usual broad-gauge cast of characters. Some of his performances (the sadistic Yorkshire schoolmaster Wackford Squeers and the gigolo, Mr. Mantolini) seem inspired by the legendary Royal Shakespeare Company production 30 years ago. I'm also pretty sure I heard the the nightclub owner from Monty Python's Piranha Brothers skit a couple of times.