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Publisher's Summary

This Audible Exclusive production revisits one of Dickens' popular novels: A Tale of Two Cities. In Dickens' driving narrative we see many themes that permeate life today as well as characters who provide a window into the past. This, coupled with Simon Callow's expert narration, is a treat for those new to Dickens and lifelong fans alike. Featuring an exclusive introduction written by Callow, whose passion for Dickens shines through. 

This release marks the start of the Dickens Collection, an exclusive series of unmissable performances available throughout 2018. 

About the book 

'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' 

So begins Charles Dickens' most famous historical drama: a gripping tale of war, social injustice and the choice between darkness and light. After being unjustly imprisoned for 18 years, French doctor Manette is released from the Bastille jail in Paris and embarks upon a journey to London in the hope of finding the daughter he never met. Young Lucie Manette is a pretty and dutiful girl who soon attracts the attention of two very different gentlemen. Now reunited with the father she believed to be dead, happiness appears to be within reach. But as they are all drawn back to the bloodstained streets of Paris, misery and the threat of La Guillotine loom once again. 

In Callow's introduction, we discover how Dickens' own volatile personal circumstances of the time are mirrored in A Tale of Two Cities. He tells of Dickens' personal feuds and explains why this novel sees Dickens at his most theatrical. 

About the author 

With his father incarcerated, Charles Dickens had to abandon his studies at a young age and set to work in a factory so as to support himself. Despite his short-lived education, Dickens went on to write 15 novels, various articles, novellas and short stories. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became the ultimate self-made man. Dickens had strong values, and they pervade A Tale of Two Cities, which can be seen as not only an inspirational text but one which will continue to stand the test of time. 

About the narrator 

Simon Callow is a multi-award-winning actor, writer and theatre director. He is best known for his performances in Amadeus, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Simon has vast stage experience and clearly loves what he does. His fervour began at a young age working as box office staff, and it wasn't long before he made the transition from behind the scenes to centre stage - never looking back. 

Callow is also known for his literary talents and has published various biographies including those of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and Orson Welles. He has narrated over 20 audiobooks and brings his wealth of experience and characteristic charm to this exciting performance.

Public Domain (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about A Tale of Two Cities

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classic Dickins

love the story, so unlike most of Fickins novels. a social commentary with little comedy. fabulously narrated.

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Breathing

The story of course is wonderful but the narrator has a habit of taking deep breaths that I found very distracting especially while listening with headphones.

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Tale of two cities

Beautifully read!!! I even shed a few tears at the end. It is worth the listen.

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  • Gillian
  • 2018-02-08

Very Good But Not The Best On Audible--

Just look it up: A Tale of Two Cities has been done in a gazillion different versions on Audible. And while I enjoyed Simon Callow's version very much, I have to say that Simon Vance and John Lee turn in better performances of this superb work. Heck, I even appreciate Simon Prebble's narration far more.
The only thing is, and perhaps I'm the only one here: Callow, who has a background in acting on the stage, is a bit over the top. He brings a grand, grand, GRAND theatricality to this book by Dickens that sometimes gets in the way of a marvelous book of obsession, love, intrigue, and sacrifice. The man obviously loves and respects Dickens and totally brings in his acting chops, and yes, sometimes the work wallows in melodrama, but I was taken out of the story a few times by having to lower my volume because when a character bellows, Callow bellows. When a character shrieks, Callow shrieks. You get the picture.
Still, I appreciate the effort, and I did indeed enjoy my 15 hours with Dickens (and Lucie, and Dr. Manette, and especially the finally eloquent Carton... and oh yes: the shifty, wicked Defarges!).
It's just that Simon Vance is a tad, maybe only a tad, better...

41 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel E. Lieneck
  • 2018-03-11

Love it

It was great renewing my love for this book. Well narrated and an enjoyable listen.

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  • Cat Substrate
  • 2020-09-24

The foreword spoils the last line straight away.

The editor arrogantly puts his commentary essay as the first chapter. His essay just barges right into the listeners ears full of spoilers. This forward should be an afterword.

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  • Anne A Stearns
  • 2020-03-06

Exercising the mind

The tale of two cities kept me entranced as I exercised. It kept me coming to continue the story

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  • Austin Barker
  • 2020-10-24

Among the best in its class

I have meant to read Tale of Two Cities for some time. I love Dickens' style. It was not for nothing that at the end of the book I put this book in tandem with Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. Dickens' tale thoroughly acquainted me with the barbarous realities of the French Revolution, and provided an eery mirror into the class warfare of 2020 America. The battle between the haves and have-nots, the antipathy toward political opposites, the irrationality of the proletariat, the blood-lust and casual disregard for human life, the distrust for neighbors, and the hypocrisy of exchanging one oppressive tyranny (aristocracy) for another (anarchy) all seem eerily familiar.
This was the right moment (as if there were a wrong) to re-acquaint myself with the perils of social revolution without a moral compass to guide the effort.
Sydney Carton is marvelously admirable. The pacing of the plot is vintage Dickens. You'll need a program to make sense of the cast of characters and to untangle the web of connections. One of my favorite scenes is the stalwart Miss Pross resisting and defeating the despicably evil Madame Defarge. I was cheering Pross on! It was in this section that Dickens illustrates a hallmark of great authors. Woven into the action was this nugget about how "the strength of love is always stronger than hate." I love it when an author drops heavy, compressed doses of truth into the flow of the story! Similarly, I could not help but agree every time Miss Pross showed her contempt for the French language, accurately regarding it as "nonsense."
(this, partly in jest on my part, how much in jest and how much in sincerity I do not myself know).
In summary, this book (which I enjoyed as an audiobook) was worth the wait, and is a worthy candidate for re-reading someday when I'm old, and maybe retired, and have nothing better to do than re-read well-written classic novels of yesteryear.

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  • Ann M Toebbe
  • 2019-05-29

Totally enjoyable

Great story, wonderful performance. The reader’s characterizations are deep and dramatic but even more, his relish of every word, every sentence, every pause brings this great work’s humor, suspense, and moral depth
alive.

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  • Peppy le Pew
  • 2021-02-27

A masterpiece

This book, in my humble opinion, is a masterpiece. The narrator is the best I have heard on Audible.

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  • user.777777
  • 2021-02-20

Terrible narrator

Reader mixes up voices and characters - it’s impossible to follow at times. Seems like the reader never read the book before he picked it up for the recording.

Characters that grew up entirely in the UK got French accents, then briefly switched to British only to be changed back again.

Super hard to follow who’s talking when it’s two men of the same class. I don’t know if the narrator himself is confused — either way, really frustrating to try to follow

Don’t recommend this version at all

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  • J. S.
  • 2021-02-18

Not the best classic

I've been binging a lot of classic novels. This one definitely ranks lower on the totem pole. It's very tedious, and just excessive in its use of flowery language. Reads like it's a bit too aware of its own importance, or attempt at importance.

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  • slashusr
  • 2021-01-15

The greatest narration of a classic of literature

I say “greatest” because I could not better describe in one word the rich and soulful performance of Simon Callow reading this Dickens classic and literary masterpiece if I were I locked in 105 North Tower, Bastille, for ten years armed with thesauri in both English et en française, a quill, and parchment.

I have listened to so many and varied narrators who’ve either become my favorites many times over or (the very few) whose names cause me to avoid adding titles no matter how much I'd like to have them. After 900 audiobooks you develop an ear, so to speak, and a stable (what’s the collective noun for narrators? A “dialogue?” No, a “reading”, perhaps, or an “audition?”) of narrators in your collection, each with their own strengthens and weaknesses, who become your favorites.

Simon Callow is a cut above them all and, if you’ve loved this book as much as I have my life long (since first being "forced" to read it in school), it will never be the same for you after this performance. Truly. Callow is THAT good, from the opening series of paradoxical statements to the final whispered words of "a far, far better thing."

If you’re new to this Tale of Two Cities, prepare yourself for an adventure, a mystery, an account of events both sublime and evil, selfish and selfless, appalling and exalting, of deepest love and abiding hatred — you’ll never hear it better told!

This is my first review. After 900 Audible titles. Should mean something. Hope it helps