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The Expedition of Humphry Clinker is another delightful 18th century romp, although it has little or nothing to do with Humphry Clinker, who turns out to be a minor character. The framework, as with other novels of the period, is a journey around the country by the squire Matthew Bramble, his sister Tabitha, his niece and nephew (Liddy and Jery), and Tabitha's maid Win Jenkins. Along the way they pick up Clinker, an honest and religious man, as a footman.
The story is told in the letters they write to their particular friends. And the joy of the audiobook - and it is a joy, first to last - is the excellence of the ensemble cast. Unfortunately, though the four people in the cast are named in the credits, there is no guide as to who reads which part. Squire Bramble - Hywel Simons? Ioen Meredith? - is an especially brilliant performance.
Plot? There's no plot. There's lots of movement, though, and a few surprises and coincidences; and plenty of conflict, and a happy ending. If you decide to try this one out, just sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy the wonderful trip and the engaging characters. As with any good journey, the real pleasure comes from the diversions and digressions.
And don't bother trying to remember the names of the people addressed by the letters. Liddy unfortunately writes to someone named Letty, which occasioned some confusion in the beginning. But the people written to never write back, so the only people you really need to keep straight are the six letter writers themselves - and Humphry Clinker.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
If you love Dickens, you'll be amazed at the amount of prototypical Dickensian characters and situations you will meet with in Smollett. Here is savage social satire, picaresque adventure, some of the most memorable characters in English literature, with a novel portmanteau for the whole, being letters from five different characters, each seeing the action from a different angle and speaking in a different voice. The writing is crisp, lucid and hilariously funny, as such subjects as air and water pollution, food processing, social climbing, moronic influence peddling politicians, profligate estate management, arrant husband hunting, tiresome proselytizers, over rated pleasure emporiums, pretentious literati, uxorious husbands and terrifyingly dangerous wives, are individually skewered. This book is a joy and has convinced me not to rest until I have read each and every one of the novels produced by this comic genius.
I must also recommend the delightful performances by the entire cast. Altogether splendid entertainment.