The Penguin English Library Edition of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
"Yours is a 'spectable calling. To save your 'spectability, it's worth your while to pawn every article of clothes you've got, sell every stick in your house, and beg and borrow every penny you can get trusted with. When you've done that and handed over, I'll leave you. Not afore"
Our Mutual Friend centres on an inheritance - Old Harmon's profitable dust heaps - and its legatees, young John Harmon, presumed drowned when a body is pulled out of the River Thames, and kindly dustman Mr Boffin, to whom the fortune defaults.
With brilliant satire, Dickens portrays a dark, macabre London, inhabited by such disparate characters as Gaffer Hexam, scavenging the river for corpses; enchanting, mercenary Bella Wilfer; the social climbing Veneerings; and the unscrupulous street-trader Silas Wegg. The novel is richly symbolic in its vision of death and renewal in a city dominated by the fetid Thames, and the corrupting power of money.
The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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A long holiday journey is perfect for unabridged Dickens. Naxos have followed their excellent Bleak House with Our Mutual Friend, his final finished novel, published in 1865. An almost dead man is fished out of the Thames by a scavenger and his daughter. Who is he, and how did he get there? The answer lies deep in London's lucratively managed rubbish heaps, and a gothic mystery worthy of Wilkie Collins unrolls. David Timson makes the cavalcade of contemporary types compellingly real the nouveaux riches Veneerings, the pompous Podsnaps, Boffin the deep and devious king of Dust, the charitable Jew Riah and the touchingly mad Jenny Wren. --Christina Hardyment, The Times
Our Mutual Friend is a rich, dark work, fuelled by Dickens's disgust with the worship of money he saw in the society around him. It takes many days to listen to the complete convoluted story, with Timson relishing every shifting mood and all 58 characters, and capturing the sharp edge of Dickens's satire in set-pieces such as the vulgar dinner parties held by the grotesque Veneerings for their ephemeral 'best friends'. The whole is packed with powerful scenes, such as where pathos is fired by fury when old Betty is forced to give away the last beloved remnant of her family, her orphaned grandson, in order to avoid the workhouse. Unabridged Dickens as gloriously presented as this is the creme de la creme of audio listening. --Rachel Redford, The Observer
The real protagonist of Dickens s murder-mystery novel is the befouled River Thames, which gives up its dead to the scavenging Hexham. Timson's voices for the kaleidoscope of characters, from the dolls' dressmaker to the false friends of the moneyed Veneerings, are the best of the best. --Rachel Redford, The Observer
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Well, if, like me you've been struggling to come to terms with your rampant imagination and like the idea of dead bodies floating in the River Thames, or chunks of dead bodies preserved in glass bottles, well then, I suppose this little number is just for you. Give it a try. Charles.
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