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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

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What listeners say about A Tale of Two Cities

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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...

50 people found this helpful

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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.

34 people found this helpful

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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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Love it

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

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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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Fantastic Narrator

Such a high quality production! This gentleman really feels out emotional timing and carries this book in a superb way. I cried during the ending: he was that great at communicating Dickens’ tone. A must listen!

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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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Chapter separation

I have a hard time keeping my place in books with no real chapter separations. I listen mostly at night, and I fall asleep. Although I do keep the sleep timer set, it is always too much work to find the place I left off. This is something that I would really appreciate Audible paying attention to.

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Simon Callow is fantastic

Simon Callow does a wonderful job of reading this! His narration has just the right amount theatre in it. I even appreciated his stops for breathing. I tried this book with another narrator and couldn’t get past the first chapter. Well done Mr. Callow!

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Great Reading

Simon did a great job reading, however, I just could not get into the book.

Being a classic, I wanted, so badly, to enjoy the book. I tried for a couple of hours on a couple of days and just so bored by the story, I finally gave up.

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  • Kristoffer
  • 02-14-19

A good story, well-performed

I have just finished listening to the book. The book itself is rather good and the performance is very good. I have on issue with this edition of the book; my issue is that there is an introduction which gives away key parts of the book and I had to tear my headphones off and skip to the next chapter, the beginning of the actual book, to not have it ruined for me. That introduction may be very good, but I feel it would be a lot better to have it at the end of the book for those people who have not read or listened to this book before.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Phil Culmer
  • 03-07-18

A classic story, by a master storyteller

And with the perfect person to read it. "It is a far, far, better thing I do..." Amazingly moving writing, teamed with the ideal voice for Dickens.

26 people found this helpful

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  • LadyV
  • 02-28-18

A Tale of Two Cities

Excellent narration by Simon Callow. Thoroughly recommended even for those who think Dickens may not be for them. Take a chance - you won’t be disappointed!

18 people found this helpful

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  • Roly
  • 03-02-19

Cracker of a story and box set of the day - pity about the spoiler in the preface

I’d read Tale of Two Cities before, in my teens, and have continued my current run of Dickens w Audible 40 odd years later...so it was a pity that Simon Callow reads the preface ( not much choice here as listener) revealing a key element of the plot....! - Could Audible try avoid these spoilers !? Nevertheless I did love the characterisations and the historical nature of the drama. Dickens was really the HBO/Netflix - “box set “ of the day !

12 people found this helpful

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  • jac
  • 03-28-19

it was the best of books,it was the worst of books

Callow brings the book to life, his characters voices are exactly how I imagined them to be........just didn't want it to finish, and so it is a far far better listen that I have heard now than I have ever heard before.......

10 people found this helpful

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  • Andy Bowman
  • 10-18-18

Tour de force

A wonderful story narrated by someone who obviously loves his suject matter. Simon Callow is masterful in bringing the story to life. I sometimes felt there was an ensemble cast. I can't rate this audiobook high enough. Magnificent.

10 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 04-20-18

Callow brings Dickens to life

I've never had much time for the classics authors like Dickens, often finding them boring and drool but Simon Callow' s performance breathes real life in to this story.
The story of faith, rebellion and the contrast between the privileged few and downtrodden majority is as poignant today as it was then. I think I'll need more of both!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle Bridge
  • 03-14-18

Loved it!!!

It had me in tears. It’s a Wonderfully tragic story and fabulously narrated. I’ve just recommended it to my Mother-in-law.

8 people found this helpful

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  • mrs caroline j parker
  • 02-20-18

Epic storytelling

Epic storytelling by an epic teller of tales. Be transported across the centuries to two close but opposing worlds and travel between the two following at the heel of the people while the tale is woven.

5 people found this helpful

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  • mrs e jackson
  • 02-13-18

A great classic

Having read this in my teenage years I looked forward to hearing it,hoping to get a greater understanding. Sadly although I enjoyed the book I found Mr Callow at times hard to follow. His enthusiasm for the story can not be denied but unlike other narrators his ability to differentiate between characters was sadly lacking.

5 people found this helpful

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  • SB
  • 08-06-19

Narrators voices great, yawns off-putting

It is a beautiful story, well worth the read/listen. The narrators voices and accents were read well, however he frequent yawned which broke the flow

1 person found this helpful

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  • Prue Raos
  • 05-16-18

It's been a grand few weeks

This story resonates through time. Simon Callow provides such insight in his reading. Listening to Dickens in the car has been transformative : I look forward to my commute because I can think about the characters and feel close to the storyteller and the narrator. Listen to this because it takes all the tedium out of driving and replaces it with a chance to seriously reflect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-23-22

was dubious

Bookclub choice and a bit dubious I'd enjoy it but I did, great storyline. it was really good to read up about each character partway through also helped put it all in perspective.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-20-22

Outstanding. Amazing novel,

OUTSTANDING. Amazing novel, brilliantly read and produced. Thoroughly recommend this book. This would have to be Dickens at his best

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  • James Allen
  • 02-15-21

Sublime

Simon Callow's reading of this wonderful, captivating work of genius is itself a work of genius: dramatic genius. Whether it's Miss Pross or The Vengeance or Stryver, all characters are given their full value. This book was as good as anything I have ever read or seen or heard. Astounding. Mr Callow deserves the highest praise for his efforts.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-13-18

Dickens wisdom again

Not an easy listen - I sometimes became a little lost, but it all came together in the end and was infinitely rewarding - as Dickens always is.

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