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A Tale of Two Cities

The Dickens Collection: An Audible Exclusive Series
Narrated by: Simon Callow
Length: 15 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (581 ratings)

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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

Behind the scenes with Simon Callow

The actor and Dickens expert shares his thoughts on recording A Tale of Two Cities.
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What listeners say about A Tale of Two Cities

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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.

22 people found this helpful

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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!

17 people found this helpful

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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.

16 people found this helpful

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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!

6 people found this helpful

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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 !

10 people found this helpful

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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.......

4 people found this helpful

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remarkable performance by simon callow

simon callow was able to make a very sad dreary and old script come alive. the character animation was very realistic as if the listener was there at that time and place.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Narrator

I wouldn’t dream of having the audacity to review Dickens’ work itself. This is about the narrator. Simon Callow is absolutely brilliant. Brilliant.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Gillian
  • 08-02-18

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...

28 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel E. Lieneck
  • 11-03-18

Love it

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anne A Stearns
  • 06-03-20

Exercising the mind

The tale of two cities kept me entranced as I exercised. It kept me coming to continue the story

1 person found this helpful

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  • BKG
  • 08-09-20

A narrator worthy of this story! l

A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most beautiful stories and my second favorite Dickens (A Christmas Carol reigns supreme.) Simon Cowell gavean amazing performance of this tale of love sacrifice and forgiveness. A Tale of Two Cities. RIP Sydney Carlton 😭

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-10-19

Magnificent

An enthralling story, beautifully written and brought masterfully to life by Mr Callow. Five stars seems barely adequate.

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  • M. G. Hasham
  • 20-07-19

Bravo! Phenomenal!

I read this book as a young teen. I remember loving it. Decades later I decided to revisit it with Simon Callow and Audible. All I can say is Thank you! Thank you Audible and Mr. Callow for the beautiful rendition of a phenomenal book by the greatest writer of British literature—Mr. Dickens! The description of the French Revolution, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and of course Love in different forms is quite beyond compare. Bravo!

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  • Ann M Toebbe
  • 29-05-19

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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  • chinakids
  • 19-12-18

Very good

Excellent plot, and I feel that the atmosphere of the French revolution is accurate - never knowing whether you are safe or not, and who would denounce you. Weaker than average characterization for Dickens, and too many coincidences for belief. Example: Jerry Cruncher HAPPENS to have a second job stealing bodies from graves to sell to doctors, so he can attest that a particular person faked his own death. It's almost as if Dickens cannot imagine a world in which people are not so intertwined that you will find some connection to any random person. I know this is one of his most popular works, but I found it much less interesting than almost any other title by him that I've read.

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  • Timothy H.
  • 29-05-18

Brilliant Classic

This best displays the genius of Charles Dickens. Somehow Dickens brilliantly describes the French Revolution just as The Bible does the book of Revelation.