Yes, so as a huge fan of Richard Armitage, and a huge fan of audiobooks, I was pretty underwhelmed with excitement when the news first broke that Richard was to narrate the Charles Dickens classic David Copperfield. In fact, I expressed my frustration with the choice of material in a spoof in which I suggested that I had previously read the novel, but couldn’t remember much about it. I know I read Great Expectations all the way through, and disliked it intensely, and at the time I wrote the spoof, I really did think I’d also read DC, but now that I really have, it’s clear to me that instead at some point I must have been assigned to read some excerpts… probably in high school English, which is why some of the story seemed familiar to me. However, after the first several hours, I was certain that I had never read the entire book!
There. That paragraph has been in my drafts folder for WEEKS. Why!? I really did love David Copperfield– the narration was superb and it was the best storyline from Dickens that I’ve encountered to date, definitely kept me engaged and eager for more. It took me about 3 weeks to listen all the way through, starting almost as soon as it was released. Which means it’s been about a month since I finished it, and have nothing but good things to say… but I’ve been struggling, really struggling, with motivation to blog lately. And damned if I haven’t forgotten most of what I thought I’d write about.
So let’s see… if I had to pick a favorite characterization (meaning, Richard’s voicing of the character rather than Dickens’ descriptions here) I would have to go with one of the villains. I loved his Edward Murdstone voice- so low, and darkly sinister, and controlled. I particularly loved it when he’d reprimand his sister, the way he’d say “Jane Murdstone” with such careful, vicious enunciation when she’d interrupt him. Fabulous! I hated and dreaded that character to the fullest degree. But then there was also the villain of the latter part of the novel, Uriah Heep. Oh, what a weird, “writhing” and undulating voice Richard created for this character when in the throes of his overwrought humility! I would have loved to see what kind of neck and mouth contortions Richard might have used to achieve such strange tones! (When I try to re-create them I become almost lantern-jawed in the effort!)
Really, there was not one voice that he chose from an enormous cast of characters that was not consistently and instantly recognizable! Another thing I’m pretty sure I wanted to mention was his ability to deliver humorous content- makes me so wish to see him take on if not a comedy, then a somewhat comedic role. I was surprised at the number of times I smiled and even snorted out a laugh. Something about his delivery of Betsy Trotwood’s eccentricities, in particular her war on donkeys! And the ups and downs in the life of Wilkins Micawber… very entertaining… especially the heights of passion achieved when Wilkins Micawber finally blew his gasket over Uriah Heep’s embezzlements.
I was definitely leery when we learned it was to be 36+ hours, but by the time I’d been through about a 3rd of it (the average length of most of my audiobook material), I was fully involved and just grateful to have all that time of sublime narration out in front of me. I think RA himself suggested that he’d been the one to choose this book to narrate, and at the time I couldn’t imagine why, but now I understand. It’s a massive undertaking, but I thought, an outstanding achievement. Bravo! The Audible Editors were spot on to include this one in their list of February selections (and I’ve since listened to several of their list, and enjoyed this one the most!)
Who would have ever thought that the best audiobook of 2016 to date would be a Charles Frickin’ Dickens? LOL
All I have to say is… when is the next one?