Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Report: "David Copperfield"

I struggle with Charles Dickens books and was hoping "David Copperfield" would have the pathos and urgency to connect with me in the way "A Tale of Two Cities" or "The Chimes" could not.

After a promising start I found myself twisting in the wind just as I did with his other books. I felt bludgeoned by his monotonous descriptions and laborious plotlines that sputter and stumble.

The story follows the struggles and triumphs of a man looking back on his life, starting off with poverty and abandonment as a child, abuse and oppression as a student and laborer and the discovery and loss of young love. Life through the lens of David is one of despair, compromise and punishment, but his steadfast self-belief and inner strength of character inch him toward grace. No matter the indignities that befall him, his inner strength continues to develop, along with his character.

Unfortunately, the trek toward redemption is onerous and slipshod, with Dickens' tedious style tugging you along by the scruff of the neck.

Richard Armitage delivers a masterful and enthusiastic performance in the Audible edition, crafting a tapestry of voices and rhythms to give each character its own presence. I respect his effort and skill, but some of the voices are so throaty and wheezy that they physically hurt to listen to. Still, without the interpretation of Armitage, the book wouldn't have been as compelling.

"David Copperfield" may be a worthy literary landmark worthy of analysis and study, but as a storytelling experience it leaves much to be desired. When the book ended I felt a sense of relief, having been set free of the drudgery.

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