‘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.
I started reading A Tale of Two Cities back in January when I discovered Serial Reader, a fab App that allows you read classic books in segments delivered to your device each day. I loved the app and the way it performed, but really struggled with the book. I found some of Dickens’ descriptions so convoluted that I couldn’t comprehend what he was writing about. By February I’d had enough and decided it was time to put it down in the hope of picking it up again sometime, possibly in a different format.
A couple of months later I started listening to this audio version narrated by Martin Jarvis, a well known English actor and voice artist. I was hooked straight away by the wonderful voices and emotions he poured into this production. At times I had to remind myself that it was just one man playing all the different characters, English and French, evil and good.
I was familiar with the story, especially the end, having read a simplified version whilst at primary school. I also think I may have studied it for my English Literature O’Level in the ’80s. I knew what was going to happen, remembering certain characters involvement in the story, but I didn’t remember what the twist was or when and where it came.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and feel quite sad that I’ve finished it. I’m really pleased I came back to this book and completed it, as it’s become a new favourite.
I definitely recommend this version, especially if you’re wanting to try a classic book in a different format.