The Bells Toll, But Not for Me


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The Chimes by Charles Dickens; frontispiece illustrated by Daniel Maclise

Thank you Audible, for giving Richard Armitage fans ( and Audible fans) a free holiday story. That’s the kind of marketing I like. The kind that gives a little something back. From Audible’s point of view, it’s a good teaser for the upcoming David Copperfield and makes customers and fans feel warm and fuzzy.

So, no matter what I think of the story, I appreciate the gesture.

Richard Armitage might have had a blast finding and executing those voices, no doubt making use of some he created for David Copperfield. Still, The narrator was my favorite character/voice.His  occasional sarcasm, was a high point for me and I thought I detected some echoes of  Francis Dolarhyde, Thorin and John Proctor, usually from the narrator. I personally got a kick out of Armitage speaking again about  goblins, dwarves and elves. No dragon this time.

Like Dickens’s prose, the narration is at times overdramatic. Appropriate, though. As usual, after a while, I forgot it was  Richard Armitage who I was hearing, until the narrator would come back in. Forgetting it was Richard Armitage was a detriment in this case. I had to constantly remind myself why I was listening to this.

I don’t like Dickens much and I surely didn’t like The Chimes.  The only fully developed character was the protagonist,Trotty Veck. I can see why the Dickens contemporary public might have enjoyed it, but  I had to use outside sources after the fact to fill in some plot and references , and to understand the full extent of some  of the satire . On my own, I had some difficulty sussing out what sin Trotty committed that triggered  his episode  with the chimes. It seems to boil down to a lack of faith in humanity, or at least his class of humanity.

My familiarity with  A Christmas Carol was a sort of spoiler, since I thought I knew what was real or imagined, and I anticipated the ending. I eagerly anticipated the ending.

The Chimes is a much darker work than A Christmas Carol. It lacks the happy, heartwarming scenes that break up and balance the misery  in the latter.  The  dinner scene in the beginning, when Trotty is presented with a hot dinner of tripe, was the lightest part; but in the end, it turned out that figuratively and literally, it was all a bowl of tripe.

David Copperfield is a lot longer. I’ll do it, but I won’t like it.







9 thoughts on “The Bells Toll, But Not for Me

  1. I’m sad you didn’t like it. I really enjoyed it, it made me cry, and laugh and nodding at the sarcastic, political parts. I consider it far more superior to A Christmas Carol, that is an over sugary, totally unrealistic tale of a bad, greedy man becoming decent (when, how this ever happened?) just for egoistical reasons. He wants to be loved and missed, he couldn’t care less about his loved ones. Trotty, on the contrary, recovers hope in himself just for the wellbeing of his beloved ones, not a selfish feeling. And the two characters of Justice and Friend of the poors are so perfect in describing Tories and Labours, how they both exploit people, decide what people must be, their fate, just to get fat in their rich, privileged positions. Trotty perception of “being bad” because these two opposite factions exploit poor people convincing them they have no right to live happily is finally broken by his “dream” and he breaks free from the damnation. He is the master of his destiny, at least in his soul. Perfectly fit for current times, I’d dare to add.


    • Not a fan of Dickens too, but I liked this one. Listening to David Copperfield will be a looong job, there are some characters I’d like to strangle with my bare hands. 😛


  2. You are not alone, Perry. When the story first came out, the public and the critics were divided as to its worth. There’s a reason why this story isn’t well known, LOL. I also found it boring, overblown, oversentimental and preachy and I felt sorry for Trotty, an almost Job-like character, who is punished and tormented for not very much at all. But, micra does bring some good points to the table and, although the rich people dare not speak as the characters in this story do so directly and rudely to the poor or it would be splashed all over the media, you know that this is how many people think. In the UK, money is being taken from the ‘undeserving poor’ whilst the bankers continue on their merry way. Yes, the story has something to say but I don’t like how he says it here.

    RA, on the other hand, lifts this mediocre story with his reading. He does a great job with Trotty Veck but I especially loved his characterisation of the older, dissolute fiance, Richard. I felt really moved and, listening to the voice here really broke my heart and made me wonder just how many hours RA put into his preparation.


  3. I never do audiobooks, they just aren’t for me and I have never listened to any of Richard’s all the way through, although I do have many of them… and even though I do love his voice. One day I hope to have the patience to listen to them all, all the way through. Kudos to you for already listening to this one, despite your dislike of Dickens!


    • Esther, I also cannot stand audiobooks. It makes me restless to listen to someone reading. I only made it through the poems. But nevertheless, it is a good gig for Richard as he can do it without a big time commitment and it showcases his talents, so it is all good. I’m glad other people enjoy it.


      • Yeah, the poems are also the only thing I have listened to all the way through as well. 🙂 I was never big on being read to either when I was young, I always prefer reading myself, meandering along at my own pace when I love it, or rushing through when I get impatient with something, Hearing someone else read somehow messes with my own imagination and the intimacy between me and the experience of the words on the page. But these audiobooks are great for so many other people and I love that Richard does this!


  4. Pingback: “Barkis is Willin’,” and, sigh, so is Perry ( or what she does for love) | Armitage Agonistes

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