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3.0 out of 5 starstoo much removed from the original story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 December 2013
This was a really nice sanitised abridged version of Dickens' classic tale Oliver Twist and it seems to have been especially created for those who are easily offended by the Victorian attitude to violence and abuse against orphans, the homeless, the poor and women. It has been sanitised to the point where the story doesn't really make any sense anymore - so much of the text and, therefore, the explanation of what was happening and why was missing.
Oliver Twist seems to have been turned into a Christmas morality story rather than a morality story for the whole year round.
The editing down of the story means that almost all the bad things that were done have been removed leaving the moral of the story as ... erm ... even orphans can get lucky?!
Without the bad things the moral is difficult to determine; without the bad there is little logic to the good things. For example, the story is missing the malfeasance of the midwife who delivered Oliver and was there when his mother died and the fact that she stole a vital piece of evidence which Monks later destroyed in front of witnesses - this was part of the reason that Monks agreed to the deal he was offered - without this there is no logic to Monks giving way.
The audiobook would, however, be a gentler introduction to the story for younger children, but again without the grittier detail you lose the message that Dickens was trying to make as well as the historical context of the story.
It is a shame that they didn't do the book as an unabridged version as Dominic Cooper's narration hit the spot for me. I look forward to listening to him narrate other things - hopefully stories which are not abridged.
Oliver Twist is a classic story. This is an abridged version of it, and lasts for 1 hour 10 minutes. I play it at night for my 6-year-old daughter as she goes to sleep. Here is her summary of the beginning of the story:
* Oliver's mum rose up from the hospital bed and put her lips on Oliver's forehead and died. Then the hospital person said, "she was a nice looking girl, where did she come from?" and a nurse said, "she came here last night, found lying in the street." * Then Oliver was taken to a workhouse. * Then the boys winked at Oliver while his next neighbour nudged him. He was desperate with hunger. * "Please sir, I want some more." * The man was a fat healthy man, but he turned pale. * Then he made about £5 by selling Oliver.
Then her summary of the middle:
* Then when it was morning he decided to run away to London. It took him seven days and seven nights. * The eighth day Oliver sat on a cold door step. Then a boy who passed him returned and said, "what's your out." * Then Oliver said, "I've been walking for seven days and seven nights and I'm cold and hungry." * The boy had manners like a man. * Then the boy said, "You need grub, and you shall have it." * Soon, Oliver learnt his new friend was Jack. * Then Jack said, "I know a man who will give you money for nothing, and never ask for the change." Soon they walked to a shop, or a house that was owned by Fagin. * Then Fagin asked if Oliver could pick a handkerchief out of his pocket without him feeling it like the other boys could. * Then Fagin closed his eyes. And then Oliver took the handkerchief without Fagin feeling it and Fagin said, "Did you take it out? Did you take it out?" * Then Oliver said, "It's here sir," in his hand. * Then Fagin give Oliver a shilling. Then Oliver went to bed with Jack and the other boys.
After a few listens she liked this, and said it is better than her previous favourite from the series,
Bill Nighy Reads The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
because she likes the characters like Mr Brownlow and Bill Sykes, and she likes the voices of the characters, like when Fagin says, "Where is Oliver?"
The scenes in this heavily abridged version of Dickens's classic spin past so quickly that it's easy to get lost. I managed to keep up until about two-thirds of the way through, then found myself lost in a jumble of names. I really had very little idea of what was going on; if I didn't already have some idea of the plot of the novel I should have lost my bearings even sooner. I just about caught up with what was happening by the last scene, but it was a close-run thing.
I can well understand that Oliver Twist - originally a partwork, published in manageable installments - is far too long and daunting for most adults, let alone children, when presented as a single massive novel. The difficulty of paring it down to the barest skeleton is that virtually all the meat of the story has been disposed of: we don't have time to get to know the characters properly, so we don't get properly involved with their stories. The
Naxos unabridged version
(which is not intended specifically for children) stretches to 13 CDs; I would have thought the essence of the book could have been retained in as few as three CDs, but with less than that, there's not really much left.
4.0 out of 5 starsVery short reading of a classic.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 29 November 2013
I am confused what age group this very well read story is aimed at. It starts with a baby born in a workhouse, into "This world of sorrow," whose unmarried mother dies at birth. The orphan is called, "An item of mortality." The child is poised between this world and the next. The mother had been found lying in the street.Oliver's guardians spend the money for looking after him on themselves, without ever giving him a kind look or word. Starving, he asks for "More." He gets beaten and sold to an undertaker for £5, where he gets beaten even more. At nine years of age he breaks down in tears and decides to run away. He meets the artful dodger who leads him into a life of pick-pocketing. He is now in the care of Fagan, who enjoys wielding the cane, and so the story continues. It's a laugh a minute. Great characters and a great story; but for which age group? Probably starting at bright eight year olds. The historical background would have to be explained. An adult can enjoy it. I did. The unabridged version is a classic, of course.
Dominic Cooper has the perfect voice for reading Dickens. It is a mature story for such a childish cover.
4.0 out of 5 starsNice for getting children interested in Dickens
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 November 2013
This audiobook of Oliver Twist is very well read and engaging, which should hopefully keep the attention of any children who listen to it. Obviously, aimed at the young, the full length work would be much too long and convoluted to hold attention all the way through, so this is an abridged version. That is definitely not an understatement, as large sections of the plot seem to have been reduced to mere sentences. As it is, you get the main parts of the story and can still follow it through, but there is nowhere near as much depth as the original.
I would personally recommend this for children as a way of hopefully getting them interested in Dickens and English 'Classics'. When I was younger I remember getting abridged Shakespeare picture books from the library and now, as an adult, have read many of the full length texts. This would be much the same I imagine and pique the interest of those listening, hopefully meaning they explore the full text when a little older.
A nice reading, but not for adults or those who love the full original, as it has been reduced down a lot in the editing.
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat, abridged, version of of the original-thoroughly enjoyable.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 October 2013
An abridged version of the original story written by Charles Dickens and published in 1838. The reader is Dominic Cooper and the CD lasts for approximately one hour and ten minutes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this re-telling of Oliver Twist. Dominic Cooper does a great job of managing the drama without once falling into the trap of becoming too 'melodramatic'. The characters are well rounded, individual, and it's easy to tell them apart from start to finish.
It might be worth mentioning, just in case you've only seen a musical version of Oliver, Dickens highlights the tragic and often brutal life of the poor, especially the plight of poor children, throughout this story which makes it a slow and quite tragic tale compared to the colourful, energetic stage and screen versions. Dickens was a master at recording social history and if you listen carefully to this wonderful, classical story you can't help but be moved by this desperately sad, yet ultimately uplifting, tale of morality.
Not at all an audio CD 'just for children'. I enjoyed this one so much I've found a space for the disc in my own collection.
Great way to chill out and lose yourself for an hour - nice tale for a dark, winter evening.
4.0 out of 5 starsDon't judge and audio book by its cover
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 November 2013
Oliver Twist - one of Dickens' best known and best loved works - needs no introduction. However, knowing that this is an approximately 1 hour version and that it is heavily abridged and seeing the cover illustration that looks targeted to a young audience you might suppose that this is an adaptation for smaller children. My 6 year-old loves audiobooks in the car and we have several other titles from the AudioGo range including the rather wonderful
Treasure Island )
, the solid
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
and the touching
Russell Tovey Reads Black Beauty (Famous Fiction)
. All have similar looking cover style. This is the first which has been completely out of reach for her comprehension. That said, I rather enjoyed it (she'd fallen asleep pretty near the start).
Certainly it's suffered from the abridgment but the reading is skilful and nuanced and the overall result is pretty good. I'd say that it would be better for the older child but shouldn't irritate an adult audience and, if you don't know the book, gives a flavour of the masterful language of Dickens without some of its verbosity.
I must concur with other reviewers who have commented that the narrative has been cut and edited to such a degree that the relatively important segments of the `original' narrative are almost glossed over. The very development of the plot and the various characters that make up this great social comment on Victorian poverty, exploitation, crime and other social ills of the Victorian England are very heavily diluted, in some cases missed altogether, while the resultant narrative does tell its `tale' - the flavours, smells and colours of Victorian England are lost, in my opinion.
I have no qualms over the way the narrator Mr Reads accomplishes his delivery, in fact it is rather good. The quality of the production is good there is no `hiss' or other artefacts' to spoil you're listening pleasure, unlike some poorer quality Audio CDs out there. However, turning to the subject of the packaging, and as another reviewer has commented, the cover art to this audio CD is rather `twee' and does not really reflect the subject matter.