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Extended Audio Sample Great Expectations Audiobook, by Charles Dickens Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.93 out of 53.93 out of 53.93 out of 53.93 out of 53.93 out of 5 3.93 (44 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Dickens Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2011 ISBN: 9781470804572
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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.”

    Atlantic

  • “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 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 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 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 David | 2/11/2014

    " Same as always good story but too wordy. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maitri Patadia | 2/7/2014

    " What great classic novel ! Read it lots of times but not satisfied . Still gonna read of again. Hats off to Charles Dickens = ] "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jer Hogan | 1/18/2014

    " I liked it the best of all the Dicken's novels I've read. It seems more mature than say Oliver Twist where the main character was high-born all along and ends up taking his place in society. It has an appropriate ending with hope but not with all problems solved but with Pip and Estrella maturing. Many of the most sympathetic characters are low-born unlike Oliver Twist. In fairness in Hard Times it is the same and obviously its what Dickens is reknowned for but in this book the characters are also realistic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauren | 1/14/2014

    " I adore Dickens. It's amazing how the reader can connect to characters written so long ago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alicia | 1/13/2014

    " This book had an incredibly slow beginning but by half way through I was hooked. I can see why it is a classic and one of Dickens finest novels as it surely transcends time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cheryl | 1/10/2014

    " I read this for the first time when I was in high school but I didn't really remember this book. I found this time through that the novel had so many themes that related to modern day life, like trying to fit in somewhere you don't feel like you belong, that aren't always as easily relateable in other Dickens novels. I felt like the book had a good flow to it, was easy and enjoyable to read, and that the story and the characters lacked maudlin sentimentality that Dickens frequently lets pervade his stories and particularly his female characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 1/8/2014

    " Great book - it may be hard to get over the language at first. This book has a great way of working the story slowly and subtley building the tempo - mystery and intrigue. Dickens's descriptions really bring you into the world and immerse you in the atmosphere of the book. He takes a simple story and seemingly normal characters and makes them his own - each character is interesting and relatable and you are hooked in the story before you know it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom Burka | 1/8/2014

    " Can't believe I only read this just now. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ella Alden | 1/5/2014

    " Al principio me dio medio de fiaca y el personaje me ponia de mal humor con eso de "soy pero no soy lo suficientemente bueno", pero despues se vuelve muy bueno y el final me gusto mucho... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Toni Apicelli | 12/31/2013

    " How can you miss with Dickens? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pratyanchaa | 12/26/2013

    " really,an increadibly written book by charles dickens "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shayne | 12/26/2013

    " This is my favorite Charles Dickens. I can get lost in this book over and over! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robert Spencer | 12/16/2013

    " Absolute masterpiece - what can you say about it that hasn't already been said? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan Zapal | 10/27/2013

    " Behavioural economics in practice, 100 years before we started to think about it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Silvanty Nova | 10/27/2013

    " Ay, ay, ay. It's quite heavy and slow. However, I'm amazed that this book became an inspiration for many authors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julian Elliott | 10/9/2013

    " I also read the movie book(with Gweneth and Ethan, lol, Lived that flick. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amber Wucki | 9/16/2013

    " I loathed this book. To me it was boring and repetitive. I hated that we were required to read it and I will NEVER read it again. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie Becher | 8/31/2013

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sylvie Fox | 5/9/2013

    " Dickens, a master of characterization and social commentary. Always good. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deann Doolittle | 4/17/2013

    " I decided to tackle Great Expectations this year because it was on my shelf. I liked the plot of the book and the ending. Sometimes I had a hard time understanding what was being said. I'm glad I can add this classic to my have read list but I think I liked Tale of Two Cities much better. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Michelle Garrison | 2/22/2013

    " Though the writing was of high quality, the book was depressing overall. Although I sense the point Dickens' is trying to make through Pip's unwise choices and attitudes, those same choices and attitudes (as well as those of many other characters) irritated me and made me dislike the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cara Showers | 2/16/2013

    " I actually loved this book. I love that the entire book was written in first person and was such a breeze to read through. Highly recommended! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moinak | 11/14/2012

    " Well, we all are Pips these days... somewhere... somehow... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Jackson | 11/9/2012

    " great book, surprised by the ending. would read again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Aliesha Peterson | 8/3/2012

    " I re-read this every January and each year find out funnier. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maged Abdelkhalek | 7/6/2012

    " Your most wanted dreams and life motivations strangely change over time in a very unique way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 3/4/2012

    " A "Dickens" of a book, haha, but seriously, not having had "great expectations", haha, get it? I was surprised to find this to be a "pip" of a book, hahah! Seriously, though, this book is fucking awesome, primly ensconcing itself in at least my top 20 novels of all freakin' time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Walter Schretz | 2/9/2012

    " I am one of those who consider this old Dicken's greatest work. A beautiful book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sabrina Depue | 1/5/2012

    " This was another book I read for school. It was an okay book, but I found it hard to understand, taking away from the book's plot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jo Redman | 11/24/2011

    " I absolutely love this book. I can't quite put my figure on why but something draws me in each time I read it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lindsey Vaughan | 10/22/2011

    " Much to much superfluous detail for my taste. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adriana Reyes | 8/1/2011

    " The book is very well written. The plot twist was great. I probably wouldn't read the book again, but it was good. I enjoyed the book but not to the point to tell people to read it. It is not my type of book. I usually wouldn't read a book like this,but it was good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Beekman Library | 5/16/2011

    " We loved this book! Charles Dickens' writing is not the least bit dated even though we read the book 162 years after it was published. The book was both funny and heartbreaking and Pip's growth from a self-absorbed, pompous boy to an admirable and loyal man makes for an absorbing story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nivas | 2/18/2010

    " Charles Dickens is one of the finest authors from England. Read these books in school. Timeless classics "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melinda | 3/7/2009

    " I read David Copperfield and found it delightful. I had no idea I would like it so much. I'm taking a break from Mr. Dickens but can't wait to read some of his other stuff. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tyrene | 8/21/2008

    " Though I didn't read this exact version, I have read these all unabridged and these are probably my top five favorite Dickens works. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 2/19/2008

    " This was my first post-high school Dickens and it is incredible! - That guy could write - Highly recommend
    "

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About the Author
Author Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was born in Landport, Portsmouth, England, the second of eight children in a family continually plagued by debt. A legacy brought release from the nightmare of debtors’ prison and child labor and afforded him a few years of formal schooling. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his early writings brought him the amazing success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. He was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature’s most iconic characters.

About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received over twenty Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.