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A Tale of Two Cities

Written by: Charles Dickens
Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
Length: 14 hrs and 18 mins
3 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'; so the recording begins and ends with some of Dickens's best-known words, and between those lines is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

Set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution, the audiobook tells the story of a French doctor who is imprisoned for 18 years in the Bastille in Paris. Upon his release, he moves to London with his daughter, Lucie, whom he had never met. She marries but there is conflict between her husband and the people who decades earlier caused her father's imprisonment.

Set against the backdrop of the conditions that led up to the French Revolution, it depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy and the brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries during the Reign of Terror, towards the former aristocrats.

Dickens was one of eight children from a very poor family, with his father eventually being sent to debtor's prison. Dickens began work at the age of 12 to help clear the family debt. It was this troublesome childhood that provided him with much of the material for his novels and lent him a sympathetic voice for the poor.

Narrator Biography

Martin Jarvis is one of Britain's most admired actors. His audiobook output is legendary. He is described in Vanity Fair as 'the Olivier of audiobooks' and 'genius of the Spoken Word' in the LA Times. Award-winning recordings range from titles by Charles Dickens, P.G. Wodehouse and Michael Frayn to thrillers by Jeffrey Archer, Wilbur Smith, Ian Fleming and Dick Francis. Martin's BBC Just William recordings are worldwide best sellers. He has starred in many acclaimed West End and National Theatre productions and received the Theatre World Award as Jeeves on Broadway. Numerous UK television appearances encompass Law & Order, Doctor Who, Endeavour, Inspector Morse and The Forsyte Saga. In America: Murder She Wrote, Numb3rs, Cosmos and Walker, Texas Ranger. Films include Titanic, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wreck-It Ralph. Videogames: 'Alfred' in Batman, 'Finn McMissile' in Cars. Martin is invested by HM the Queen as Officer of Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

got through it !

I must have started listening to this about 8 times before it stuck. First I couldn't understand the reader. I had to slow him down. We began at 75% and finished at 85% speed. I am sure in Dickens' times they didn't use punctuation the way we do now. All those run-on sentences , with all those extra words, which often have no bearing on the story at all. Was he vilified in his day for defaming the rich ? I'm sure it was they more than anyone that read his books. Well here both get their comeuppance. Not much character development. But hey, I finished it ! :)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • K. Hicks
  • 2007-09-01

A Rediscovery of an Old Friend

My mother, an English teacher for many years, impressed a deep love for the classics upon me. Dickens remains a personal favorite as I love the depth of his characters, the movement of the action, and the timeliness of his stories.

Tale is a perfect example of Dickens' writing at its finest. Weaving an intricate story of family and friends embroiled in the French Revolution, the author leaves the listener on edge at the end of every chapter; one simply cannot hit the pause button but instead must know what happens next.

When I was in tenth grade (many more years ago than I care to admit), my class read this novel, and we actually read it aloud. Suffice it to say, the narrator of this version has much more talent than my classmates and me. :) The narrator absolutely brought this book to life. The character voices were outstanding (although the one for Lucy was a bit odd, but it worked OK). You could not only hear but feel the passion of the marvelous text.

I hope you enjoy this lovely version. I believe it's one you'll want to turn to again and again.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cheimon
  • 2008-11-02

Truly exceptional

This is an absolutely outstanding audiobook. The story is one of Dickens' most enthralling works, and Martin Jarvis' narration captures its essence with unmatched passion. Dickens' wit sparkles in Jarvis' voice as brightly as the darkness and helplessness loom heavily. The characters come to life in all their facets, keeping up with the lively narration. If you are looking for the right Dickens for entertainment, you can't go wrong with A Tale of Two Cities. And if you are looking for the right version of this masterpiece - you will enjoy this one tremendously.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Penelope
  • 2007-12-10

Best made Better

The reader of this book brings it to life in a way far superior to the written word. It's always been a classic and my favorite, but now it's even better.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Doug
  • 2007-08-10

Enchanting, inspiring, exciting

One needs some patience to get used to Dickens' style in the early parts of this wonderful book, but listening to the audio helps make the story understandable. And like so many of life's treasures that require work before reward, this story pays off the patient reader in the end with emotional and intellectual paybacks that top all books I know of except possibly Les Miserables. My first attempst to read the book led nowhere, but finally I listened to the audio and read the book at the same time (more or less) and I got hooked into a book that I rank as one of the two best fiction works I have ever read (and I am a teacher of English with 30 years experience, and a bookworm too...) I have now read and listened to the book about ten times and I plan to revisit it again, at least every two years....it is too good to ignor.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David Dolan
  • 2006-03-08

Excellent In Every Way

This may just be the quintessential audiobook version of A Tale of Two Cities. I have a preference for a single narrator of the classics such as the Dicken's novels (as opposed to multiple actors) and Martin Jarvis is absolutely excellent in this role. His main narration of the text is confident and consistent with no affectations or pregnant pauses and the voices he gives to the characters are spot-on.

If you are new to the great 'A Tale of Two Cities', then you are in for a particularly exciting treat. If, on the other hand, you are returning to it again (as was my case), Martin Jarvis may just make you think you are hearing it for the first time. 'It was the best of times....'

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • The-Organist
  • 2006-11-12

Very well portrayed

An excellent version of this classic tale. The voice is extremely clear and effectively portrays the numerous characters in the book - to the point that, even if you can't remember their names, you recognise them by the reader's tone.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Linda
  • 2006-08-24

Brillant!!

OOhhhhh...such a hard book to read or listen to -- at first - then it is as great as David Copperfield or his other works. The characters are so well exemplified. Mr. Dickens is a wonder to beyond at creating characters and making them so believeable and entertaining. You really get to “know” them. Everyone, give this reading a real chance. This is one of my favorite all-time books. Bravado!

And, Martin Jarvis, reading is fantastic. I question if there was indeed only one reader. He plays each character. I would almost call it a dramatization.

A great story. A heartfelt story. Yet -- history. You learn something in the reading (or listening) of this story. Human nature - be it compassion or barbarism - is human nature and we are probably all capable of both put into certain circumstances.

All in all, this is so worth your time. It is entertaining, enlightening, and pure wonder at the wisdom of Dickens words. I loved it!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • 2007-06-03

Top notch!

For any fan of Dickens, this is a no-brainer. The narration is terrific and it only adds to the story. I will leave the critical review of Dickens' view of the French Revolution to others. For my money, this is one of the best ways to enjoy this classic novel. Highly recommend.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Wolfpacker
  • 2007-04-16

Great Book, Fantastic Narration

This book is a little richer and less formulaic that some Dickens novels (and I like most Dickens novels.) There are some great themes running through it. You might even shed a tear at the beautiful ending.
The narration on this book is one of the best I have ever heard. The voices are so well created and differentiated that the narrator could have never read "said ___" etc and I would have known exactly which of the 5-6 characters in a scene was talking.
Highly Recommended!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Adm George Anson
  • 2007-02-15

Outstanding

A wonderful version. I've started this book several times, but only now finished it. I'm glad I did. This has given me a new appreciation for the power of Dickens' writing. I strongly recommend it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful