For the background to this historical novel, a tale of mystery, suspense and unsolved murder, Dickens chose the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. Mayhem reigns in the streets of London, vividly described by Dickens, and the innocent Barnaby Rudge is drawn into the thick of it. Against the public disorder, Dickens tells of the private discord within families - with fathers and sons at loggerheads - and creates a wealth of colourful characters: the sinuously evil Lord Chester; the pretty and vivacious Dolly Varden; and the host and regulars at the Maypole Inn - a symbol of security in those uncertain and violent times.
Public Domain (P)2009 Naxos Audiobooks
This is a wonderful novel - how did I manage to avoid it for so long? (I've been working my way through all of Dickens' novels over the last couple of years. I would almost say I've been "working them off," but if you listen to this one - and I strongly recommend that you do - you'll understand that working things off is not always a good thing.)
Dickens is at his morally outraged best in Barnaby Rudge: the story centers around the anti-Catholic riots in London in 1780. I'd read a little bit about the riots before - they show up in biographies of Samuel Johnson, who was in London at the time - but nothing like the real horror of it. Tens of thousands of rioters marched through the streets. Hundreds of people were killed, many by the soldiers called in (finally) to restore order; houses, churches, and carriages were burned by the score. Newgate Prison itself was destroyed and all the prisoners set free. In the aftermath, dozens of rioters were hanged.
Moving through this gripping slice of history are the simple-minded Barnaby Rudge; his mother; a brace of loving couples; a heroic locksmith; and a chilling assortment of villains. Barnaby, in his simplicity, is coaxed into carrying a banner for the rioters, and thinks he's being a brave warrior in a noble cause, until he comes face to face with the gallows.
It's not all grim. Dickens' comic invention is in evidence throughout. The dialogue sparkles, and at least three of the four main villains have brilliant star turns that are wickedly funny. (The fourth villain is a brutal, frightening concoction - one of the most unredeemed, and unredeemable, parents Dickens ever invented.)
Sean Barrett's narration is brilliant. Every character has a unique voice, and all are utterly convincing, even the almost too-good-to-be-true Barnaby. Most of the villains have coarse, gravelly voices, but one has a voice as smooth as silk and is all the scarier because of it. This is going down as one of my three or four favorite audiobooks of Dickens. For me, it was infinitely more interesting and rewarding than his other historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. It's a rip-roaring tale, and I loved it.
Reading (knd of) Dickens has been one of the gifts that Audible has introduced me too. As a historical novel this is a bit of a departure from Dickens normal period and I needed to remind myself of that change of era at times through the story.
Before this book I knew that there had been "Gordon Riots" but I had no idea what or who Grodon was and what the riots were about. Dickens sets out the story clearly and using the kind of characters and storylines that he seems to create better than anybody else. By the end of the work all the threads have been drawn together for a satisfying story but also the history has been told in a clear and memorable way.
The narration is good and clear, characterisation is useful rather than intrusive. Recommended.
I have read most of Dickens, but somehow passed over this book until recently. If you are interested in British history, the Gordon Riots will certainly hold your interest. I know that I would not have enjoyed this book nearly as much if I had read it instead of listening to this audio book. The narration is amazing.
Charles Dickens's ability to bring out human nature at its darkest and finest. These characters are like every day people we all know.
Mr. Barrett's ability to make the characters come alive and to give them their own voice was truly remarkable.
Yes, yes, and yes!
My wife and I thouroughly enjoyed listening to this with the book open in front of us each night this past week. We'll definitely be making this a regular practice.
It's a Dickens thriller, if there is such a thing. As a historical novel it has some fact-based characters and a full complement of Dickens inventions, read superbly by Sean Barrett. It amazes how easy it is to tell which character is speaking by the thoroughly enjoyable delivery. Can't say enough about how well Barrett brings the troupe to life.
I listened to the Old Curiosity Shoppe just before Rudge and it wasn't nearly as good - this has a large purport, and could better be compared to Little Dorrit which is also somewhat factual. However Rudge is better paced and frankly more interesting. I also saw the film The Duchess recently, based on Amanda Foreman's nonfiction book on Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, which is set at the same time - the late 18th century. This great book helps inform Dickens' subject, and made the Rudge experience even richer.
Haredale was good - steady. But I love the locksmith, and John Willett was a lot of fun.
The ill-informed riots that might have felled the British empire.
Get it. Someday I'll buy the book and read along as I listen. Sean Barrett deserves a fancy award for this work.
Fictional characters in narrative
My followers may also enjoy this classic novel. It is historical soap I guess but Dickens has charm and social observation skills
"Fine performances of Dicken's characters"
The listening of this interminably long book is eased by Dicken’s fine prose and Sean Barrett’s superb performance (rather than mere narration) making it impossible for me to give anything under a 5 star rating. It is also very interesting historically and rather chilling, to compare these riots which occurred in 1780 with those of 2011 and find that there is virtually no difference in the mindless rule of the mob.
"Barrett's Great Reading"
I read Barnaby Rudge many years ago and I remember struggling with it a little. In Sean Barrett's hands everything is made clear, all the characters brilliantly delineated. It is a great Dickens novel, one of his early ones, and it is masterfully brought to life in this rendition. Highly recommended.
Barnaby Rudge was one of Dickens' books I had not read, and I knew next to nothing about the Gordon Riots. I have now been so captured by the story that I have explored books and the internet to find out more about the history of the times. The book is read superbly by Sean Barrett and he brought to life the many characters in the book - not least, Grip the raven! The riots were done with such drama that I felt like I was listening to Dickens when he read to his audiences and they screamed with terror! I think that high quality audio books can bring a story to life in a way even one's imagination can fail to.
"Great story, beautfully read."
Although a Dickens fan, I knew nothing about this story and found it unexpectedly moving as well as exciting. Beautifully read.
"What the Dickens"
I had been put off reading this because of the length but when I heard that Sean Barrett's narration was nothing less than brilliant I just had to start listening. I was delighted at his rendering of this book, his voices seemed to take on each character perfectly and it was just such a pleasure to use the new app I'd downloaded and transport myself to Dickensian England peopled by Sean's wonderful cast of characters.
"Barnaby Rudge read by Sean Barratt"
What a fantastic experience - Dickens read by Sean Barratt - not just read but narrated in a truly wonderful way. I had not read this book but was thoroughly caught up in the characters lives and the horrendous rioting. How relevant Dickens is to what has recently happened in London. But it was the reading by Sean that made the experience so memorable, thrilling and moving.
"Don't bear ridge a grudge"
haven't read the print version as I find Dickens quite hard work and thought the audio might be easier. Indeed it was.
Sean Barrett is by far the best narrator I have listened to so far. How does he find all those different voices? His excellent story telling was a joy. I particularly liked Miss Mimms
it the beginning it's a bit slow, but stick with it, it gets really brilliant. Barnaby is a great character.
All the characters are fab. You grow to dislike some, my husband and I listened to this together and so have had daily book discussions. Worth every penny.
"A Classic Brought to Life"
A remarkable journey through eighteenth century life showing both the horrors of poverty, and the exploitation of power and wealth, in a society ripe for change.
Sean Barrett's performance is outstanding,breathing life into every character.
A must listen!!!!
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