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.
Whilst training at the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, John Rowe did his first radio plays for the BBC before spending several years acting in repertory theatre. He then joined the BBC's Radio Drama Company at Broadcasting House and after a three year stint on stage with the Prospect Company at The Old Vic he became a committed radio actor. He is well known for his role as Professor Jim Lloyd in The Archers. He has not only worked extensively in radio but also in television and film, as well as narrating many audiobooks. His film appearances have included The Heart of Me (2002) and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001). He has most recently appeared on onscreen in the Netflix series The Crown (2016) and the BBC TV series Broken (2017).
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Brian on 06-09-09
Old warhorse fighting fit
What a joy it was to revisit this old favourite in the hands of such a consumate artist as the reader Alex Jennings.
His characterisations are without peer and I would tentatively suggest could not have been bettered by The Great Man himself in his famous readings - just listen to his delivery of
Ralph Nickelby's death as an example - chilling.
Anyone who feels they aught to read Dickens but have been reluctant to try should give this one a try.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
By Val Pope on 16-01-10
Laugh Out Loud Funny!
If you haven't disovered Nicholas Nickleby, then you're in for a huge treat. This is one of Charles Dickens's finest and funniest novels - a hugely entertaining account of the trials and adventures of Nicholas and his impoverished family and their treatment at the hands of their unscrupulous and wicked Uncle Ralph. It has everything! Idiotic characters (check out the Infant Phenomenon and Miss la Ceevey, the miniaturist); dastardly villains (Wackforth Squeers is the worst headmaster in the world) and poor Smike, whose faithful devotion to Nicholas will surely move the hardest heart to sympathy and maybe a few tears. Reading the book many years ago was a revelation to me, but hearing it is something else! A brilliant performance throughout and characters who live in your imagination. Buy it - you won't be disappointed.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Richard on 19-06-09
Wonderful tale, wonderful reader
This is a delightful reading of a Dickens classic. The reader dramatises the characters tremendously well, speaks clearly, and infuses Dickens' work with life and colour.
After listening to this book for several weeks during my commute, I was grieved to be leaving the characters behind when it ended.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
By robert on 05-12-09
Such a Pleasure
Alex Jennings brings this wonderful book to life with his wonderful reading. Dickens extraordinary ability to distill the essential elements of the human condition in beautiful succinct prose left me spell bound. I look to listening to it again. For what its worth, Jennings reading of of "Pompeii" by Robert Harris is also a very good reading of an excellent book.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful