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A Tale of Two Cities | [Charles Dickens]

A Tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known"; so the novel begins and ends with some of Dicken's best-known words, and between the two is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.
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Publisher's Summary

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"; "It is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known"; so the novel begins and ends with some of Dicken's best-known words, and between the two is every Briton's view of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.

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What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (662 )
5 star
 (373)
4 star
 (165)
3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.4 (303 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.5 (294 )
5 star
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4 star
 (71)
3 star
 (22)
2 star
 (5)
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 (7)
Performance
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  •  
    Jefferson Fukuoka, Japan 05-30-11
    Jefferson Fukuoka, Japan 05-30-11 Member Since 2010

    I love listening to or reading books--especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, classics, & historical.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    175
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    87
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A True Classic Marvelously Read"

    This is a marvelous audiobook version of a true classic novel. I was immediately gripped by it from the opening chapters (a vivid set piece depicting a coach traveling through a stormy British night over bad roads in danger from highwaymen) until the very end. It made me chuckle (especially in the scenes involving Jerry Cruncher, the dubious "tradesman" who can't abide his wife's "floppin'" (praying) against him), moved me to tears (especially in some scenes involving Dr. Manette or Sidney Carton), frightened me (especially in the scenes with the implacable Madame Defarge and her knitting needles), appalled me (especially in the scenes involving Saint Guillotine), and impressed me (especially when Dickens gets on one of his patented rolls describing something like when the wine barrel breaks outside the Parisian wine shop and the locals come crowding around on their hands and knees to drink up the wine from between the sharp cobblestones, using their hands and handkerchiefs and pushing mud from the gutters up to form wine dams and generally becoming inebriated and red-dyed, prefiguring the bloodshed to come…). Never a dull moment. Informed with Dickens' hatred of social injustice and systemic brutality and pitiless cruelty and with his love of love in any form.

    And Martin Jarvis reads like a man possessed, giving each of the main characters their own distinct voice, becoming excited or quiet appropriately, bringing out all the nuances of Dickens' text, making the listening experience so vivid and cinematic in the mind.

    I would give this more than five stars (but there is a place in the first part and a place in the second where strange electric noises pop up for several seconds).

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mimi 01-31-15
    mimi 01-31-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    5
    3
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    "Mimi"

    It was an excellent audio of the book. Third time to hear it and enjoy it more each time I hear it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Fullerton, US, Canada 01-23-15
    Rick Fullerton, US, Canada 01-23-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
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    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "All time classic"

    It was even more enjoyable the second time. Has so much depth of detail, emotion and chapters. One of the best ever.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-21-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 06-21-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    264
    ratings
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    Story
    "A TALE OF TWO CITIES"

    Though – A Tale of Two Cities – is considered Charles Dickens’ most famous work, it is not his best. Dickens offers historical and personal perspective in “A Tale of Two Cities” but empathy for his characters is often missing; i.e. empathy that makes one gasp for air or suppress a tear.

    Dickens provides a primer on revolution in “A Tale of Two Cities”. What is seen in today’s Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, and other “Arab Spring” countries are boiling cauldrons. Their societies are roiling at the extremes of the pendulum; the killing continues. New and hopefully better societies will come from their revolutions.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer BAKERSFIELD, CA, United States 04-30-13
    Amazon Customer BAKERSFIELD, CA, United States 04-30-13 Member Since 2012

    K. Hoover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    150
    39
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    5
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A classic made better by Martin Jarvis."

    This is one of my favorite books ever. The first time I had trouble with it, but found it was easier to keep everything straight once I saw one of the movie adaptations. Since I've read this book at least 4 times and is one of my favorites. I am getting ready to read it again. I love the way Martin Jarvis reads the book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 05-30-11
    Jefferson 05-30-11 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1760
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    293
    266
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1193
    15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A True Classic Marvelously Read"

    This is a marvelous audiobook version of a true classic novel. I was immediately gripped by it from the opening chapters (a vivid set piece depicting a coach traveling through a stormy British night over bad roads in danger from highwaymen) until the very end. It made me chuckle (especially in the scenes involving Jerry Cruncher, the dubious "tradesman" who can't abide his wife's "floppin'" (praying) against him), moved me to tears (especially in some scenes involving Dr. Manette or Sidney Carton), frightened me (especially in the scenes with the implacable Madame Defarge and her knitting needles), appalled me (especially in the scenes involving Saint Guillotine), and impressed me (especially when Dickens gets on one of his patented rolls describing something like when the wine barrel breaks outside the Parisian wine shop and the locals come crowding around on their hands and knees to drink up the wine from between the sharp cobblestones, using their hands and handkerchiefs and pushing mud from the gutters up to form wine dams and generally becoming inebriated and red-dyed, prefiguring the bloodshed to come???). Never a dull moment. Informed with Dickens' hatred of social injustice and systemic brutality and pitiless cruelty and with his love of love in any form.

    And Martin Jarvis reads like a man possessed, giving each of the main characters their own distinct voice, becoming excited or quiet appropriately, bringing out all the nuances of Dickens' text, making the listening experience so vivid and cinematic in the mind.

    I would give this more than five stars (but there is a place in the first part and a place in the second where strange electric noises pop up for several seconds).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    InsideADog 06-25-10
    InsideADog 06-25-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
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    "Fantastic"

    I had not read this book before and found I enjoyed every minute. Martin Jarvis is a brilliant reader and brought the story to life. As soon as I finished I started it again as Dickens connects everything and by listening a second time got so much more out of it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard Atlanta, GA, USA 01-05-10
    Howard Atlanta, GA, USA 01-05-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    102
    12
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    "Fabulous"

    Probably the finest tragic romance written in the English language superbly rendered into the audio format. Six stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 10-26-09
    Robert JACKSONVILLE, FL, United States 10-26-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Stick With It"

    It took me a while to finish this novel, and I actually listed to several other audio books before coming back to it. If you stick with it to the end you really do begin to care about what will happen to the characters.

    The narration is excellent although sometimes a bit quick. Which can lead to wanting to replay certain sections for more clarity about what is actually happening.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Dandridge 10-17-08 Member Since 2010

    books & coffee

    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    5
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    "There's a Reason Dickens is so Famous"

    I hadn't read Dickens since high school but now, 30 years later, decided to give him a try. The man really is an amazing author with wonderful characters, great plot and pacing, and a sense of humor. I will definitely read more of his books. The narrator of the audiobook made it even more enjoyable. This is the first time I have sought out a narrator's name so that I can find more of his books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Ms. C. T. Bell
    Belfast
    4/9/13
    Overall
    "Can cause embarrassment!"

    Having struggled in the past with Dickens but having rediscoverd my love of Jane Austen via audible audiobooks - I took the plunge with the Tale of Two Cities since I am planning a trip to Paris soon. Well, what a wonderful experience. The beauty of the language, the devices Dickens uses like repetition, and the laugh out loud humour all came alive in this audiobook experience. All credit goes to Martin Jarvis - what a fantastic talent in voicing these characters, bringing the lyricism out so perfectly. However, I was unprepared for the emotional response the experience evoked - so if you are apt to shed a tear at poignant moments make sure you are on your own for the end of this and not walking home actually sobbing out loud like I was - how embarrassing!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Susan
    Doncaster, United Kingdom
    2/27/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brillant, moving and extremely well read."
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Tale of Two Cities to be better than the print version?

    i haven't read the print version, but I loved this audio one.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It put a personal, human perspective on history and therefore brought the times back to life


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Hard to say, but the most moving was holding hands of condemned prisoners. I shed real tears over that.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no, I preferred to think about it in between readings.


    Any additional comments?

    I have read a number of Dickens and love them. This is the best one yet.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Holland
    10/16/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Tale of Two Cities to be better than the print version?

    Yes. This is mainly due to Martin Jarvis's flawless performance.


    What other book might you compare A Tale of Two Cities to, and why?

    Difficult as I've read (or listened to) very little like this. The closest, albeit a completely different kind of story, would be Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, due to the period setting, vivid descriptive passages and wide range of interesting characters.


    What about Martin Jarvis’s performance did you like?

    He keeps up the pace, brings plenty of mood into the scenes, has clearly read ahead so that he knows exactly how a line should be delivered, but above all, his wonderful voice characterizations, which bring each of these 19th century types to life, warts and all.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Several surprisingly, particularly the exchanges between Carstons and Darnay.


    Any additional comments?

    I shall certainly be listening to more Dickens read by Martin Jarvis. Great!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    SHIFNAL, United Kingdom
    4/19/13
    Overall
    "Possibly the best book in the world"

    I tried to read this as a young man but struggled with the language. So it was with trepidation when I purchased this Dickens.



    I will not review the book because my words can not do it justice but I will congratulate Martin Jarvis on a fabulous performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Hilary
    Haifa, Israel
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Old friend revisited"

    I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book - It is superfluous to rate this classic tale, but it is became freshly accessible in this format. Martin Jarvis does an excellent job of distinguishing the many voices, male and female, and the pace of narration turned it into a real cliff-hanger. I was sorry to reach the end and will be looking up Martin Jarvis' other work,

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Knock, Ireland
    4/7/13
    Overall
    "A reading that truly does the text justice."

    One of the main reasons I listen to audio books is to reacquaint myself with novels I have read in the past. I loves books, not just for the stories they contain, but because they are books. I love the feel and the smell of the paper. I love the sense of anticipation of what the next page turn will bring.



    But there are so many good books out there, and so little time. I won’t be on this Earth long enough to read all I want to read even once, let alone to re-read any of it! To do so would be at the exclusion of some other great story.



    However some books demand re-reading, and that is where audio books have found their place in my life. Now, as I walk, drive, prepare dinner, do my ironing etc. I can re-visit some of the worlds greatest literature, and what better example of such a story than A Tale of Two Cities?



    This is a remarkable book. The story is meticulously constructed and the world is described with Dickens’ trademark poetic attention to detail. It also suffers from the usual flaw in Dickens’ work, in that the characters are what E.M. Forster describes as being ‘flat’ and not ‘round’. However the story unfolds with such confident style and momentum that you are breathlessly swept along to the books immortal closing lines.



    The text of A Tale of Two Cities speaks for itself. However, when Martin Jarvis speaks it, the story comes alive in a whole new way. He breathes such a distinct voice into each character that at times I was sure there was more than one person reading. He doesn't just read the story, he becomes it. During the storming of the Bastille I was so overwhelmed that I had to stop in the middle of the street, and I stood there enraptured until the siege had ended.



    While I would always recommend just reading an actual book, especially if it is your first encounter with a story, this Martin Jarvis rendition of A Tale of Two Cities is definitely worth your time and money. Unquestionably five stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Jenny
    8/23/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Excellently read with totally believable characters.brings Dickens to life with great authenticity.sorry it has ended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Y. Jones
    7/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vivid performance"
    Would you listen to A Tale of Two Cities again? Why?

    Yes, indeed I am listening to it again straightaway. It's so nicely performed that I had to check if it was read out by really just one person (!) ... - Good work. Thanks


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Brighton
    5/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Sublime"

    A wonderful story that is unenriched by a masterful performance from Martin Jarvis. One of the best audiobooks I have heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Corinne
    Crewe, United Kingdom
    4/7/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Jarvis of a Dickens"
    Would you listen to A Tale of Two Cities again? Why?

    Yes I would as I always pick up on the little things in life, the way things were done and tools and of course attitudes to some extent. Although this is the least favourite of Dickens's books I will still find there were things I missed first time round.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Tale of Two Cities?

    One of the first images of the old Doctor and how incarceration had affected him. It's so like the descriptions of how modern day ' house of horror ' type victims feel, I don't feel I should mention them by name but we all know who they are.


    What does Martin Jarvis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    I did read this book many years ago but Martin Jarvis does a lovely job of voice acting as he does on any and all of the audio titles I have heard of his.He completely draws you in to the whole story be it character, atmosphere or action.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I find the whole book moves me which is why I find it the least of my favorite Dickens. I have to listen in segments as I am pretty sure the whole depiction is as near to a true one as actually happened regarding the political climate, poverty filth and squalor. The fictional characters are the vehicle that brings all to life.


    Any additional comments?

    Although fiction the whole atmosphere, is a dark a Dickens as you could find.There are sad, bad, difficult and downright squalid parts in all of the Maestro's works but for me this is the blackest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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