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Publisher's Summary

Jason Watkins, the award-winning stage and screen actor best known for his roles in The Lost Honour and A Very English Scandal, masterfully performs this brand-new recording of Barnaby Rudge; first published in 1841, it was Dickens’ fifth title and his first historical novel.

Set against the backdrop of the Gordon Riots of 1780, Barnaby Rudge reflects back on a time of revolt against the British parliament, following the Catholic Relief Act of 1778. 

Leading to the death of hundreds and the total destruction of Newgate Prison as well as various Catholic chapels, Dickens was deeply disturbed by this violent moment in British history. Paired with his continuing brushes with poverty and disaster, he decided to instil within the novel, both a sense out outrage at the politicians who recklessly endangered the lives of so many as well as a powerful and progressive moral code for future generations. 

About the book

Barnaby Rudge follows the lives of three very different characters: the eponymous Barnaby, a kind albeit slow-witted young man; the romantic and overly idealistic Joe Willet; and the nobleman, son of a leading London politician, Edward Chester. 

Their lives, as well as the lives of those they love and despise, are interconnected in this thrilling, mysterious and wholly romantic Dickensian adventure. 

Opening with the threat of an unsolved double murder, the narrative quickly turns to blackmail, conspiracy, abduction and revenge. Set against the politically charged backdrop of the late 1700s, the three protagonists weave in and out of poignant historical events seamlessly, and the listener is taken on a dark, gothic and electrifying journey.

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 and various articles, novellas and short stories. These include Hard Times, Bleak House, Oliver Twist, Martin Chuzzlewit, Little Dorrit and A Tale of Two Cities. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became the ultimate self-made man. 

About the narrator

Jason Watkins is a BAFTA award-winning and Olivier Award nominated stage, film and television actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the lead role in two-part drama The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, for which he won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor of 2015.

He recently appeared in A Very English Scandal, Line of Duty and Inside No 9. He played Simon Harwood in W1A, Herrick in Being Human, Gavin in Trollied and Gordon Shakespeare in the Nativity! film series. He plays Harold Wilson in the forthcoming Series 3 of The Crown.

Public Domain (P)2019 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Barnaby Rudge

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Brilliant but dark

Barnaby Rudge is a great classic and brilliant portrayal of society at that time. It would be great for a college essay. I didn't enjoy it though as there were only one or two characters to enjoy and admire. It's primarily a dark and depressing story. I was glad when I finally got to the end.

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  • bev
  • 03-30-20

Thank you, Jason Watkins

Well, at long last I have reached the end of 'Barnaby Rudge' after several abortive attempts to read it over the last sixty or so years and it's all thanks to Jason Watkins. I have long found it more mannered than some of the other novels, though the 'historical' storyline of the Gordon Riots is very worthy and quite graphically written. It is certainly the interpretation by Jason Watkins which carries the day; his narrative voice is very carefully worked out and he never loses the reader in the mass of Dickens' sub clauses and oratory as might be the case with some other readers. The character voices ,too, are an absolute delight: parody where there should be parody and sensitivity in the portrayal of the naïve Barnaby...as for Miggs, well, what an absolute delight; a fantastic portrayal of hypocrisy, delivered even better than Terry Jones's Python 'ladies'. Jason Watkins is as good a narrator as he is an actor.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-04-20

Great

Narration of the highest quality Probably the best I have come across. Reccomened without hesitation

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  • Lesley
  • 10-07-19

amazing reader

Jason Watkins is a wonderful reader having a unique voice for each of the many characters. An amazing performance of a great story.

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  • Sles
  • 03-09-20

History, tragedy, romance, comedy, it has it all..

...and a talking raven. A great multi layered tome, up to Dickens usually weighty standard. I had not been aware of this event in British history and for a history lesson alone, the tale is worth the telling. But Dickens does more than that, weaving in tales of thwarted romance (but of course there is a happy ending), ne'er do wellery, the hangman, apprentice conditions, domestic life, Newgate, executions and the unforgettable Miss Miggs. I confess, I would not have read this book, but to listen to the masterly narrator is a joy indeed, and I have been known to sit in the car at the end of a journey, unable to leave till the end of a chapter. I like that Dickens paints the character of Hugh as an unrepentant baddie that goes to his death willingly and with the only regret that his dog will be left unfriended. How different the times we live in now, how very similar these people to us in this age.

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  • Bridget Jones
  • 11-11-19

Beautifully read

I thought that Jason read this book beautifully making sense of every sentence which I imagine took some practice

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  • Tendai W.
  • 08-29-20

Fantastic!

I was a bit daunted by the length but found the book fantastic and captivating. The time wasn’t a hard slog at all. Funny, sad and brilliant. I will be listening again!

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  • Pamela
  • 08-19-20

Dickens at his best!

Let me start by saying that Jason Watkins delivers an absolutely superb performance and narration of this novel. Barnaby Rudge is to my thinking the most brilliant in Dickens’s oeuvre. I learned that this was Charles Dickens’s first historical novel and is set during the anti-Catholic riots of 1780. To be honest not something I knew about before. And certainly Dickens gives a gripping portrayal of the terror of a rampaging mob,by those swept up in the chaos. But to me that is not the main thrust of the novel but the lives of Barnaby Rudge, Joe Willet and Edward Chester. As usual with Dickens there are some beautiful descriptions of both character and place. Totally recommended.

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  • Joey Dean
  • 03-10-20

Wonderful Book

Enjoyed every minute of Jason Watkins excellent narration. It was faultless. The book is a revelation, having heard so little about it before. The depiction of the riots is gripping and well researched. Dickens at his finest. Highly recommended.

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  • jackyl
  • 03-09-20

Listen to this!

I’ve never listened to Or read Barnaby Rudge before so had no idea if the story. It’s a very exciting one, with many memorable characters (good and evil as you’d expect from Dickens) and was a joy to listen to. Jason Watkins did a Stirling job of the narration putting his all into the characterisation and really bringing it alive. Thank you!

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  • Rachel
  • 11-08-20

Brilliantly performed

Fantastic long story and amazing performance which made the very many characters come so alive.