William Dorrit has been a resident of the Marshalsea debtors prison for so many years that he has gained the nickname "The Father of the Marshalsea". However, his suffering is eased by his close bond with youngest daughter Amy, or "Little Dorrit".
The dashing Arthur Clennam, returning to London after many years in China, enters their lives and the Dorrits' fortunes begin to rise and fall. A biting satirical work on the shortcomings of 19th-century government and society.
What are the keynotes for Anton Lesser's narration of Dickens's classic 1855-57 serial novel? Enthusiasm is one. Lesser's voice carries an excited thrill as scenes unfold the drama of Arthur Clennan's interest in William Dorrit, imprisoned for debt, and in Dorrit's children, who have grown up in the Marshalsea prison. One of these children is the kind and open-hearted Amy, the title character. Another keynote is respect. Lesser lavishes care on every sentence. His pacing is wonderful and captures the suspense and charm of Dickens's masterful storytelling down to each colorful minor character, as memorably personalized by Lesser.
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This novel does not rank among Dickens’ most famous ... probably because it simply is not one of the best.
The plot is completely unrealistic and convoluted. It lacks in continuity and seems to have developed over the months as the novel’s instalments were published. All of a sudden, poor characters become rich. Major characters die. A lady in a wheelchair runs out of her house all the way to a prison. Two first cousins marry.
The characters themselves are one-dimensional and uninteresting.
The whole is barely relieved by few moments of humour.
Thank goodness this was the abridged version!
- Pierre Gauthier