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A Tale of Two Cities [Naxos]

Narrated by: Anton Lesser
Length: 14 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (82 ratings)

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Summary

"It was the best of times and the worst of times." In one of the most famous openings of any novel, Dickens masterfully presents the turmoil of the French Revolution, which is the backdrop for a novel of love, patience, hope, and self-sacrifice. This version is read by Anton Lesser, whose award-winning Dickens recordings in their abridged form has now resulted in the opportunity to read the full unabridged text. His singular characterizations led to him being chosen by Peter Ackroyd to play Dickens himself in the major TV account of the writer.
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Public Domain (P)2005 Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

It is a far far better thing ...

This is a tale of love and redemption superbly narrated by Anton Lesser. Probably best known for its opening and closing lines it charts the lives of a group of characters in the years leading up to the French Revolution and the subsequent Terror. Dickens' political beliefs shine through as he highlights the social disparities between the peasantry and the aristocracy that contributed to the revolution in France whilst condemning the brutality and vidictiveness of its after effects. Written in the 1850's the French revolution was part of history, but only quite recent history and Dickens uses this novel to sound a warning against the inhumanities he saw around him at that time in England.

As usual his heroine is unfeasibly angelic and his hero unfeasibly noble but unlike other Dickens' novels the quota of his 'comic' characters is much reduced giving this tale more gravity than is usual in his work. The characterisations are realised beautifuuly by Lesser's narration, enhancing rather than detracting from the original work.

One word of caution however, be careful where you are as you listen to final chapter!

4 people found this helpful

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I'm not eloquent enough ...

... To properly praise the author and narrator, so I will not embarrass myself by trying. All I can do is press the five stars, like some thumbprint. And thank you both.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story and narrator

Another great classic book. Another outstanding performance by Anton lesser. One of my favourite narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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Dickens at his supreme best.

This story has a bit of everything that Dickens does so well. Wonderful, masterful, genius!

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Not his best

Great first and last lines. Great characters. Works better as a critique of the revolution than a dickens novel

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A tale of two cities

Completely unabridged. Story told and well read by Anton Lesser. Really enjoyed this version,recommended

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Masterpiece!

The pace, the drama and the emotions were a joy. Loved it from beginning to end

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Stunning. A very enjoyable listen.

A great story set in terrible times, read brilliantly by Anton Lesser, whose characterisations and narration were superb.

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Gripping

Very well read, gripping and melodramatic classic. Not as easy to identify with as eg David Copperfield but offered a deep insight into the dynamic of European history. I highly recommend it.

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Wonderful prose, magnificent narration

Not my favorite Dickens, but a cracking read, nevertheless. Dickens' language, when read aloud by such a one as Anton Lesser, moved me to laughter and tears, I'll be listening to this again and again.

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  • GH
  • 11-05-12

Classic Home Run

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely, already have. I read this book in high school and just was not mature enough to appreciate it. When I listened to it, I forget that the first line and the last line of the novel are among the most famous in literature history. You just have to listen to this book; you’ll fall in love with dickens over again and buy more of his books for listening.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lee Chemel
  • 31-01-09

Exquisite

When Anton Lesser and DIckens come together it is a gift. Even if you know this story, even if you have read it, you will rediscover it through the brilliance of this superlative actor who breathes life into each character with such passion and specificity that you are sure he must be channeling the spirit of each one. He illuminates Dickens. Toward the end my heart was pounding even though I knew the outcome. How is this possible? Because of Anton Lesser.

28 people found this helpful

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  • NorthFLADiver
  • 02-02-13

Absolutely Remarkable!

The performance makes an already wonderful story even more remarkable. The reader switches between male and female voices with such ease that the listener forgets that only one person is reading. It is a long, 19th century novel, but it was easily digested in this format. I was extremely impressed and hated when it ended. If Academy Awards were presented for book reading, Anton Lesser would be a shoe-in to win.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle B.
  • 25-10-15

The first time I've ever shopped by narrator...

When I decided to listen to this masterpiece on audio, I knew that it had to be delivered by the right narrator. I have listened to many audiobooks, over a period of decades, but I have never shopped for an audiobook based on the narrator before.

I looked at all the options on Audible (I think there were more than a dozen), and started by reading the reviews that mentioned narrators, by which process I managed to weed out several options. I listened to samples of the remaining options, and finally for my short list I listened to samples of other works read by those narrators. I ended up choosing - from a handful of excellent options - this version read by Anton Lesser, and I genuinely enjoyed every moment of the listening experience.

As many other reviewers have mentioned, I am still choked up right now from hearing the final chapter, and all the more because this narrator allowed me to feel fully immersed in the story through his clear, accurate pronunciations and his exceptional and wholly consistent characterizations of the amazing and colourful characters in this epic story.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-07-10

Wonderful!

I couldn't agree with the previous reviewer more. Anton Lesser channels Dickens in his reading of this story. The different characters come to life under his skillful narration. When Jerry Cruncher was defending his "other job" to Mr. Lorry I was open-mouthed in admiration.

This book was required reading for me in high school and I resented it until I found, to my amazement, that I really liked it. That was too many years ago to count. I've re-read it since and now I've listened to this wonderful version. This is a book for the ages. It's a far, far better thing.

8 people found this helpful

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  • S. Elder
  • 21-10-19

I may not be the first to say this

But I LOVED this book! I struggled through it in high school, but hearing Anton Lesser read it gave it a whole new dimension.

I think I would listen to it again. Great story, great characters, and funny British understatement.

Think I will listen to all the “Lesser” Dickens.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kimberly
  • 29-11-11

Excellent performance of a great classic

I read this in high school and again in my 20s and really loved it then. But it is a whole new experience to listen to it. And Anton Lesser's superb performance is a tour de force - he is a one-man Dickens band, easily moving between the voices of old and young men and women of different classes and backgrounds. This is the second of his Dickens' performances I have purchased - the other was "Little Dorritt" - and I am impressed by his ability to sweep me along with his own excitement in the story. Just a great listen.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison Yates
  • 23-03-11

This is the one!

OK there is about 20 different variations and readers of this book but this is the one! The narrator, Anton Lester, is an artist with his pretrial of characters. Good timing, vocalization overall an excellent recording. Oh yes, that story is stellar by all accounts.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Underfoot
  • 12-03-20

London and Paris: Charles Dickens’ tale of winds of change: A Tale of Two Cities

The book begins with one of the famous lines of literature “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times” and ends with Sydney Carton’s brave truth that “It is a far, far better death that I go to”. Between these two lines we have the surging story of the French Revolution. Sydney Carton, a man fallen in everything but a hidden honor and love. Dr. Manet , whose life has been ruined by the French Aristocracy,his loving and lovely daughter whose marriage to Charles Darnay, a man who has denounced his French title and the banker Mr. Lorry, a man of business. It is Dr. Manet’s past as a Physician and his ties to the St. Evremond family, Charles, that pull them all into the whirlwind of the increasingly violent and bloody French Civil War. There is incredible tragedy and betrayal and then there is Jerry Cruncher, doorman at Tillman’s Bank and a “ressurectionist”. There is so much in this book of the human state that I can only say read it and love and hate the men and women struggling within.

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  • DOwens
  • 29-03-17

Simply Amazing

I had always heard of this story, but Lessor's performance takes it beyond anything I could have imagined. The plot is gripping, and rendering of the characters is on-point. I know I repeat this experience again.