Audible – Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, narrated by Peter Batchelor on Audible is the unabridged story of Samuel Pickwick, his servant, the amusing and witty Sam Weller, and a group of associates and friends (mainly Tupman, Snodgrass and Winkle), and the entertaining stories and tales that surround them. At 29 hours long, I initially found it a bit of a slog, but after a few hours, and with a good few long drives and runs listening to it, I soon got into the flow.

The story itself has a lot of memorable characters, Mister Alfred Jingle (and his servant job Trotter) in particular, and his entertaining methods of speech, short snappy and often funny sentences and statements, as he tricks and blags his way through the story, until the Pickwickians have had enough, and try to hunt him down.

For something written 22 years shy of two centuries ago, I was impressed with the story itself, and how many times I laughed out loud in the car, or indeed on the treadmill. Pickwick himself is a thoroughly likeable gentleman, and his servant, Sam, is so loyal and protective of Pickwick, that it’s almost loveable. Even going so far as to get himself jailed alongside him in the Fleet Prison for debtors.

With tales of Pickwick being caught in compromising situations (sometimes after being falsely led down the path by Jingle), or even just the many coach travels from through the countryside where they discuss events, or ongoing themes. A particularly memorable one involves the antics of Bob Sawyer, drunk on milk punch (sounds horrific to me, but apparently it’s pretty popular!) calling out and waving from the top of the coach, while Mister Pickwick and Ben Allen frown upon his clowning. After a short while, Bob offers the punch to them both, and they find the antics far more amusing. The japery continues at the house of Mister Winkle senior, and had me laugh out loud on several occasions.

Not to be entirely light-hearted Messrs Dodson and Fogg, two unscrupulous lawyers, make up a mean yet funny duo, who are stitching up Mister Pickwick for a breach of promise.

All in all, it’s a superb novel, and all the better being listened to. I said in an earlier post that I’d always struggled to read Dickens, but listening to it is so easy, and it makes long journeys and running pass far quicker than they would with music. Bravo, Dickens!

One thought on “Audible – Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens

  1. Glad you enjoyed The Pickwick Papers! You might like to take a look at my forthcoming novel Death and Mr Pickwick, which tells the story behind the creation of The Pickwick Papers – in my view, Pickwick has the most fascinating backstory of any work of fiction I have encountered. Three sites will tell you more about my novel: – the novel’s website, with links to the publishers’ sites (Random House in the UK, Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the USA) – the first pre-publication review – the novel’s facebook page, where I regularly post bits and pieces of Pickwickiana

    Your mention of milk punch makes me think that I should dig out the recipe for that, and put a piece about it on the facebook page. I did something similar a short time ago for a drink from the 1820s, called a Tom & Jerry, which is a milk-and-eggs based cocktail. It’s not featured in The Pickwick Papers, but it was invented by a man called Pierce Egan, whose work was an influence on Pickwick.

    Best wishes

    Stephen Jarvis


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