Length: 2 hr, 44 min
Reader: Glen Hallstrom
The book: How can I really review a book so well-loved, widely-read, and continuously-adapted as A Christmas Carol? I first read this book as a school assignment in the sixth grade. Apart from seeing innumerable dramatic performances ranging from a stage musical to a Muppets' movie, this is my first return to the actual book.
The two things I have always disliked about Charles Dickens, in spite of his skills as an author, are (1) his tendency to drag out a story with wordiness and meaningless subplots and (2) his use of blatant sentimentalism to force a reader to think a certain way. The first fault is largely avoided in this novella, since Dickens' inability to find a publisher limited him on how long he could make his story. In thinking about the second fault, I have to admire Dickens' ability to manipulate our emotions, even when we know it's coming. In this book, he deftly induces fear, laughter, sympathy, and disgust. Yes, this is a sentimentalist novel, but it is Christmas after all, and I think that allowing a little sentiment is part of the season.
The reader: Hallstrom affects a deep theatrical voice that enhanced my enjoyment of the novel. In his LibriVox disclaimer, he sounds American but he takes on an actor's British accent for the narration and characters. I'm not sure how accurate his accent is, but as a Southerner myself, I found it pleasent to listen to. Hallstrom really performs the novel rather than reading it and this performance brings out the humor and suspense to their fullest potential. By subtly altering his voice he distinguishes the characters admirably; his Scrooge voice is particularly excellent.