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Summary

From the echo of the first line ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’ to the final ‘It is a far far better thing that I do than I have ever done’, Dickens’ classic novel of the French revolution tells a story of the redemptive powers of love in the face of cruelty, violence and neglect.

Set in London and Paris, it shows the plight of the French people under the brutal oppression of the aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, and the corresponding savage brutality of the revolutionaries towards the former aristocrats in the years immediately following. Among the memorable characters are Charles Darnay, a French former aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution, and Sydney Carton, a dissipated English barrister who tries to redeem his ill-spent life out of love for Darnay’s wife, Lucie Manette. In this moving, intricate tale spanning eight tumultuous years, Dickens orchestrates the wider political picture behind the story of Lucie, Darnay and Carton with his customary brilliance.

This epic production, dramatised by Mike Walker, stars Robert Lindsay as Dickens, with Alison Steadman, Jonathan Coy, Andrew Scott, Paul Ready, and Karl Johnson.

Public Domain (P)2012 BBC Worldwide Limited

What listeners say about A Tale of Two Cities (Dramatised)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent radio adaptation of Dickens classic

This is an evocative and sharp-paced adaptation of Dickens' classic novel, which many rate to be one of his best. The plot is full of twists and turns, and generates real suspense. Robert Lindsay is good as the narrator Dickens, while the main role of Sydney Carton is played with real sophistication; we get a sense of a genuinely tormented protagonist, struggling with alcoholism and depression. The adaptation brings out the core ideas in Dickens' text; the conflict between personal loyalty and loyalty to the state.

4 people found this helpful

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Good Production

It was a very fine production and the cast were all top notch. Would recommend it to anyone considering getting it.

3 people found this helpful

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Extraorsdinary tale

it's an exhilarating and priceless experience to read this book. it's a must read for everyone.

1 person found this helpful

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A classic tale of what real sacrifice means

Brought to life really well by the actors - excellent narration by Robert Lindsay

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Dickens writes so beautifully

Robert Lindsay is superb as Dickens, the narrator, if you don't know this story I would recommend it.

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Dickens must be turning in his grave

OMG...This is awful. Firstly, I can see nowhere that it mentions it’s in episodes. When I got to the end of the first part I thought I’d accidentally knocked the phone and fast forwarded to the end as I listened to the cast list… and then listened to an abbreviated version of the cast list again at the start of the second part. I can’t see why it was necessary to keep the breaks in; it would have flowed perfectly well without them.

Why is it that in so many productions of A Tale of Two Cities, Sydney Carton is sidelined to a bit part player - a man who said he’d die for a woman and subsequently did (sorry if that’s a spoiler but I can’t imagine there are too many people who don’t know this) - only in this version he didn’t even do that. His moving declaration to Lucie was nowhere to be seen, just a couple of nods to him being willing to do anything to help. None of the agonies of his love for her, none of his mastery and ingenuity was shown; everything he did in this version he did because someone asked him to. No insight whatsoever into his nocturnal meanderings through Paris, his skilfulness and expertise in executing HIS plan - yes, the plan was his! You’d never know it from listening to this. It was an absolute travesty. Some of the other changes from the book were equally startling and totally unnecessary.

Presumably the blame for this poor imitation of A tale of Two Cities must go to Mike Walker - or maybe whichever BBC executive agreed to him carving up Dickens’s literary masterpiece and producing a version that was mangled at best and dire at worst. The direction didn’t help, with some strange characterisations.

The performances were OK: Alison Steadman hamming it up for all she’s worth, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; Karl Johnson doing his best Catweazle impression (I honestly thought it was Geoffrey Bayldon); Tracy Wiles was excellent as Mme Defarge, but Andrew Scott (Darnay) seemed to have confused Darnay and Carton, playing the whole thing with slurred speech and sounding as if he was as p***ed as a f**t all the way through, while Paul Ready, as Carton, sounded like a puppy, eager to please.

All in all one to miss. It’s the first Audible book that I’ve actually finished and contemplated asking for my money back (as opposed to giving up before the end, but this was like car crash listening.) If you want the ‘real’ A Tale of Two Cities get the unabridged book; you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Sean Betts
  • 17-04-18

Great if you've read the book!

Started listening to the audio but was a little lost - then i read it first, then listened to it again and loved it more!! it's a great audio! wonderful performance!! perfect casting...

4 people found this helpful