Reading a Classic with Ralph Cosham: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (Audio)

Cover image of David Copperfield audio editionThe Blackstone Audio edition of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, narrated by Ralph Cosham, comes close to being a perfect audiobook! Actually, I can’t think of anything wrong with it except that I listened to it too soon after The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, also narrated by Ralph Cosham. The voice of Mr. Murdoch (a bad guy) in David Copperfield sounded just like the voice of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (a good guy) in The Beautiful Mystery, which threw me off during the parts near the beginning of David Copperfield where the bullying Mr. Murdoch appears.

Listening to the audio edition read by Ralph Cosham, I felt as though I were sitting by an English fireside listening to the story of the early life of this engaging young man, David Copperfield, read aloud to me by a skilled storyteller, even though I was mostly driving in my car to and from work. It amazed me that a book first published in 1850 is still so engaging to a modern reader. Each time I had to stop listening, I could sympathize with the original readers who read it in serialized format and had to wait impatiently for the next installment.

I don’t think I’d read David Copperfield before, but many of the characters were familiar from hearing about them over the years: Uriah Heep, the ‘umble, obsequious sneak; Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield’s formidable aunt; and, of course, the perpetually penurious and unemployed Mr. Micawber, who’s always waiting for “something to turn up.”

Since David Copperfield is written in the first-person, as if it were a memoir, it is already one of my favorite kinds of audiobooks. A first-person story with a believable narrator eliminates that stumbling block that some readers have with the first-person voice: How did this book come to exist as a physical book if we readers are supposed to believe in this narrator as a real person? It seems easier to suspend those niggling thoughts when you can just allow the voice of the audiobook narrator to become the story’s narrator in your mind. David Copperfield is supposed to be the most autobiographical of Dickens’ novels and his personal favorite, so it was no surprise that the character David Copperfield has a difficult childhood and eventually becomes an accomplished writer, which had the added bonus of explaining how the main character was able to write such a detailed and skillful “memoir.”

If you have somehow missed out on reading David Copperfield, like me, I highly recommend listening to this audio edition. It was so long it had to go on three MP3-CDs, but I was sorry when I came to the end.

David Copperfield
Charles Dickens, author
Ralph Cosham, narrator
Blackstone Audio, 2012
978-1-4551-3606-3
approx. 34 hours, on 3 MP3-CDs
$59.95 list, on sale at $26.99

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this audiobook from the publisher through Audio Jukebox.

8 thoughts on “Reading a Classic with Ralph Cosham: David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (Audio)”

  1. I am starting to blame you for a LOT of audiobook recommendations! I am going to listen to Bleak House nextmonth and if that goes well, I will try this Dickens after.

    1. Bleak House is the only Dickens I’ve read, and I loved it and meant to read so many others…And then years went by before David Copperfield arrived in my life. It seems kind of silly to rave about Charles Dickens since everyone’s been doing it for 150 years, but I just had to.

  2. I’ve never tried a classic on audio but this sounds like a good one to try. It always takes me a little while to get into a book like this because of the language and I thought that might hinder my audio experience.

    1. Either Ralph Cosham is very well educated or Dickens is still very readable (or both), but the language sounded completely natural, even though it seems a little old-fashioned now.

  3. I’ve not listened to Ralph Cosham narrating a book yet… looking at his body of work, he’s quite the accomplished narrator. I just listened to a sample of him and one of Simon Vance narrating David Copperfield. I may have to go for good ol’ Simon though.

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