Richard Armitage Achieved The Impossible, Or: I Loved David Copperfield

RA narrating DC

Richard Armitage in narration mode.

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?

 

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On The Chimes as Narrated by Richard Armitage.

Well, hello there! I feel like I’ve been pretty remiss lately. (So you call yourself an Armitage blogger?) Yes, well… it just seems that there’s not a whole heck of a lot going on at the moment, and when I was racking my brain trying to think of non-quilt-related topics, the best I could come up with was that, although I’ve listened to it twice, I haven’t commented on Richard’s sort-of recent narration of The Chimes by Charles Dickens. I think it’s a little telling, the fact that I have listened to it, more than once, but haven’t had much motivation to talk about it. Every time I’d sit down to write my impressions, I’d find my mind wandering back to my quilting.

So let’s start with why that is. On the one hand, I LOVED the narration. Totally, and unequivocally. Richard has never yet let me down in one of his narrations, and this was no exception. On the other hand, as much as I’d love for his narration to have made of me a “Dickens convert”… I just can’t say that he has. Luckily for them, Richard Armitage and Charles Dickens together have another crack at that coming up in less than a week, when his narration of David Copperfield is due to be released by Audible on Feb. 9. Naturally, I’ve pre-ordered that book and I’ve every confidence that I will, at the very least, enjoy one aspect of it. Richard.

I’m not the only one looking forward to David Copperfield despite it being, well, David Copperfield. A couple of days ago, I got an e-mail from Audible with a link to the “Editor’s Select: Books We’re Most Excited About in February.” Here’s what I found when I followed that link: “There are some authors whose genius is so legendary, whose body of work is so vast, and whose renown in the literary world is so immeasurable, that to make a step into their catalogue becomes a daunting task. For me, this was Dickens. What if he didn’t live up to the hype? What if I didn’t get it? To make the plunge, I needed some assistance. Enter Richard “Ear-Candy” Armitage, as he’s become known around the Audible office. As always, his narration is immaculate, bringing Dickens’ extraordinary tale to great heights and voicing its diverse cast with unmatched verve. But Armitage succeeded in bringing David Copperfield to life for me and I can’t wait to dive deeper into Dickens’ brilliance.” — Doug (Audible Editor)

“Ear-Candy” is right. Stepping into Dickens’ catalogue as “a daunting task” is also right. For me, at least. And that’s why I haven’t had the motivation to blog about The Chimes. Can I recommend it to Armitage lovers? Absolutely. I think it’s safe to say that 3 hours of listening to Richard’s voice, in all it’s many nuances, bringing to life such a wide variety of characters and such a scale of emotions, through peaks of happiness and joy to valleys of loss and desolation, will appeal to most of the fandom. Can I recommend it to friends and family? I doubt it. I loved the performance, but the story, for me, was a bit of a struggle.

I listened to it primarily at the sewing machine. I tried to listen to it at other times, (packing for vacation, on the airplane, etc.,) but I just kept getting distracted and losing the thread of the storyline. I needed to be a captive audience in order to stay focused, and the sewing machine provided that. Even so, I would find my mind wandering, and have to back-track. Or I’d get caught up appreciating the voice Richard was doing, picturing his facial expressions or hand gestures as he sat in the studio, and have to back-track. I had to back-track so many times that by the end, I wasn’t even certain exactly where the story had gone. I had a vague notion that an alternate universe had been entered, in which the lead character, Trotty Veck, had died, and the supporting characters had gone down unfortunate paths into ever-more-impoverished circumstances, but I don’t think I had even completely grasped certain details, like the little girl (Lilian) had ended up as a prostitute.

Therefore, I decided to listen again, and that time I was able to stay more focused on the story itself, and recognize the cautionary themes therein. I think what I took away from the actual story was something along the lines of “it is best to trust in the goodness of humanity, the importance of loving relationships, and the hope for a better future, or that better future will be lost” … and this theme was very so-so for me. Not that I disagree necessarily, I just had trouble navigating and wasn’t entirely compelled.

I did love a few parts, entirely due to Armitage’s narrative capabilities. The scene where Trotty Veck’s daughter, Meg, brings him a surprise- a warm meal on a cold winter afternoon- and wishes him to guess the contents of the covered basket on smell alone. Lots of smiles and warm-fuzzies on my part- just a heartwarming scene, and Richard’s ability to bring the scene to life, the deep inhales, Trotty’s eager guesses, Meg’s giggles- it was lovely! Another stand-out scene for me was later in the story, in the alternate universe, when Meg’s former fiancé (Richard), now a broken wreck of a man, comes to visit her on behalf of Lillian, who has evidently fallen from grace but wishes to give Meg some of her earnings. RA’s portrayal of the middle-aged, alcoholic version of Richard, imbued with disappointment and broken dreams, but with a husky undertone of tenderness still reserved for his former love, was just brilliant.

All in all, it was a wonderful performance of a somewhat lackluster story. The fact that I listened to it twice, basically just to relive the joy of Richard performing in all his many voices, bodes well for the upcoming rendition of David Copperfield. Whether I love the story or not, I’m sure to appreciate Richard giving his best to his craft.

So bring it on!

Serial Killer To Serial Filler: Armitage Reassures Fandom

A huge change is in store for fans of Hannibal guest star Richard Armitage, sources say. The actor’s recent electrifying six episode run as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde was critically acclaimed, but many fandom insiders acknowledge the controversiality of the role within the ranks. In a recent poll investigating the fandom’s reaction to Hannibal30% of devoted Armitage respondents claimed they either did not watch at all, or emphatically disliked the show, while another 36% claimed they only watched for Armitage, but would not revisit the show should it ever return for a 4th season.

“I suspect these numbers have been troubling to Armitage,” said one fandom spouse in response to his wife’s confession of unprecedented ambivalence for his latest rumored project, an audiobook rendition of the classic Victorian novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. “My guess is Richard’s looking to offer up more wholesome fare for those who were put off by Francis Dolarhyde. To show that not all biters wind up murdering entire families.”  Her husband’s comparison came as a surprise to the Armitage blogger, who evidently forgot key details of the novel since she was compelled to read it in 9th or 10th grade.

“I hear there’s going to be at least one bite. That’s more action than I remembered, to be honest,” said the blogger with an unmistakable sigh. When asked what she did remember about the novel that Armitage is rumored to be recording for Audible, a long silence ensued. “Um…. I…. ah…. well, mostly fatigue.” According to a review of Armitage blog commentary, she is not alone in experiencing a state of torpor when confronted with Dickens’ classic prose. Another blogger wrote, “I like to listen to [Armitage’s] audiobooks (and others, too) as I fall asleep. I think Dickens may do the job faster than most.” A third commentator, while praising other works by Dickens, confessed, “But there were scenes and chapters that really drag. Geez, he can really blabber on.”

Other members of the fandom attempted to rally spirits by asserting that no matter the reading material, simply listening to Richard Armitage’s deep, alluring voice was certain to appeal. One comedic fandom member expressed this sentiment vividly in a Twitter response to Audible’s #AskArmitage thread: “For voice work, do you aim for a simmering pot of chocolate fondue, or black velvet?” Indeed, some ladies asserted that they’d happily listen to Armitage recite the phone book, while others chimed in that they’d privately wished to hear Richard’s lovely delivery of cookbook recipes, prescription medication side effects, computer software user manuals, and even on-the-job material safety data sheets. “That voice of his is soooo delectable. Who cares what he chooses? I’d quite joyfully listen to Richard Armitage recite the decimals of pi until infinity!”

Still other members of the fandom defended the choice of Charles Dickens, pointing out that the profusion of characters and subplots afforded by the author’s verbose prose will provide ample opportunity for Armitage to display his narrative prowess. “His [Dickens’] books are populated with characters that have to be SEEN. I believe that makes him an interesting choice since Richard’s such a visual and kinetic performer even when using just his voice as an instrument.” This declaration suggests that Armitage’s narration could have profoundly beneficial ramifications in educational arenas.

When asked to recall the disagreeable memories surrounding her adolescent era “required reading” of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, our contact bristled and appeared to be on the brink of becoming combative. Her husband quickly intervened, saying mildly only that “I think my wife’s main recollection of that book was the sound of it hitting the wall when she threw it.” However, the blogger conceded that had she the opportunity to have listened to an Armitage narration of the same infuriatingly dull text as a youth, the outcome might have been different. “Maybe there’s hope for today’s beleaguered freshmen. The idea of Thorin F-ing Oakenshield presenting even a story as painfully long-winded as Great Expectations should diminish the feelings of hopelessness and despondency that I experienced after the first several hundred pages. Right?”

One thing is certain: if the rumors of a Charles Dickens novel are accurate regarding the beloved actor’s impending audiobook narration, the Richard Armitage fandom is certain to have a much-needed change from thriller, to filler. For some, it may be a move from one genre of horror to another, but for most, the portrayal of David Copperfield is sure to make fandom members everywhere sleep easier, come the night.

Looks More And More Like It’s To Be David Copperfield

He picked a more humorous quote this time. If you’re on twitter, you can #AskArmitage anything you like… he’s headed to the studio “soon” according to @audible_com.

No clear time frame as far as I can tell… I don’t think it’ll be a live tweeting session, but perhaps he’ll answer a few questions. I guess we’ll just follow their feed or his.

Never thought I’d have cause to embrace a Dickens book, but life is full of these little surprises. LOL

What’s With These Charles Dickens Quotes, #RichardArmitage?

Trying to figure out whether, as so many on Twitter seem to believe, there is a clue in RA’s trio of tweets from today,

  1. “Never be mean in anything; never be false; never be cruel. Avoid those three vices and I can always be hopeful of you” Dickens D Copperfield
  2. .@audible.com  “There can’t be a quarrel without two parties, and I won’t be one. I will be a friend to you in spite of you…

  3. .@audible.com  So now you know what you’ve got to expect” ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Hmmm. Is he offering literary quotes for some kind of Cybersmile initiative? Why did he tag Audible.com? I immediately went on over to Audible to see whether there is any news there, as my preferred interpretation would always be an unabridged audiobook, and an unabridged David Copperfield is probably adequate for 30 or more hours of Richard-time… but they have at least 25 different audio versions of this book, and some are relatively recent and by narrating heavy-weights. That is to say, some pretty amazing narrators. Simon Vance, Nicholas Boulton are both so good I’ve listened to new authors just to hear them narrate a book.

I guess we’ll wait and see. I must admit, another audiobook, no matter the book, narrated by Richard Armitage is on my highly-hoped-for list. I hope that’s what we’ve “got to expect” because it would be awesome. I’ve missed that voice.