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Extended Audio Sample Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (226,565 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Dickens Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Set in Victorian London, "Great Expectations" introduces audiences to the orphaned boy Pip, who lives with his sister and her blacksmith husband, Joe. While out in the marshlands, Pip runs across a convict who has escaped from Newgate prison. The felon still has irons on his leg, and he needs a file and food to help him continue his escape, although his escape is short-lived.

Pip goes to work for an eccentric spinster who dresses entirely in white, Miss Havisham. The wealthy Miss Havisham wants Pip to be a friend and playmate to her niece, Estella. Pip thinks that Estella is beautiful, and she quickly wins Pip's heart. Estella is prideful, vain and shuns the affections of the young lad.

As the novel progresses, Pip's future comes into play, and an unknown benefactor helps Pip improve his lot and place in society. Full of twists and turns, mysterious, unknown entities and the romance that only a Victorian novel can bring, it is little wonder that this novel remains one of Dickens' most endearing creations.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812 in Portsea, England into a relatively well-to-do family, or at least they were at the time of Charles's birth. However, like Mr. Micawber in David Copperfield, Charles' father was not very good at managing his finances. As a result, he was placed in debtors' prison in London, a location that shows up in "Great Expectations" as Newgate prison. While his father was imprisoned, Charles was forced to work at a very young age in a factory, thus laying the groundwork for many experiences covered in some of his best-known novels.

Dickens gained considerable popularity both in England and in the United States. He made frequent tours to promote his works. Most of his novels were put out in serial form.

Most critics agree that "Great Expectations" is Dickens' best novel. "David Copperfield" remains a favorite, and "A Tale of Two Cities" is widely assigned in high schools despite its serious subject matter.

One of the most revered works in English literature, Great Expectations traces the coming-of-age of a young orphan, Pip, from a boy of shallow aspirations into a man of maturity. From the chilling opening confrontation with an escaped convict to the grand but eerily disheveled estate of bitter old Miss Havisham, all is not what it seems in Dickens’ dark tale of false illusions and thwarted desire.

Raised by a humble blacksmith, Pip is recruited by the wealthy Miss Havisham to be a companion to her ward, the cold but beautiful Estella. There, Pip learns to despise his rough origins as Estella torments him about his low prospects. When Pip is informed that an unknown benefactor expects to make him his heir, he sets off to London to realize his “great expectations.” But true gentleman stature, he will find, is a matter of character, not fortune.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Observe how finely the narrative is kept in one key. It begins with a mournful impression—the foggy marshes spreading drearily by the seaward Thames—and throughout recurs this effect of cold and damp and dreariness; in that kind Dickens never did anything so good…No story in the first person was ever better told.”

    George Gissing, English novelist

  • “Altogether we take great joy in recording our conviction that Great Expectations is a masterpiece…In our opinion, Great Expectations is a work which proves that we may expect from Dickens a series of romances far exceeding in power and artistic skill the productions which have already given him such a preeminence among the novelists of the age.”


  • “Considered by many to be Dickens’ greatest work, this is a timeless story where vindictiveness and guilt clash with love and gratitude. Enriched by a cast of unforgettable characters, from the orphan Pip to the convict Magwitch and the bitter Miss Haversham.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “Unlike many nineteenth-century novels that rely upon the stale plot device of a surprise legacy to enrich the fortunate protagonists, Great Expectations probes deeply into the ethical and psychological dangers of advancing through the class system by means of wealth acquired from the toil of others.”

    Masterpieces of World Literature

  • An Oprah’s Book Club Selection for 2010

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Joey Robinson | 2/15/2014

    " Though it is expertly written, and has some interesting moments, Great Expectations is boring for most modern readers. It hasn't aged well. Still, it is a classic, and you should expect it to be in a classic style while reading it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Angie Becher | 2/13/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this classic. I can't believe they make young people read this. So many references may be list without "life experience". The dialect and old country way of speaking took some time to get used to but after the halfway mark it moved fairly quickly. So glad I read this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Mimi Gates | 2/13/2014

    " This is just horrible... This book was so slow and boring it's unreal... I've had this book since January and really all the chapters are fucking stupid. Can't believe we have to write a book report on this shit here. All copies of this book needs to burned and never to be read again! 0 stars for me >:(~! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by David | 2/11/2014

    " Same as always good story but too wordy. "

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