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Summary

Two young men linked by a familial murder mystery, a beautiful yet wicked governess who spins a web of deceit, and five individuals named Allan Armadale

Wilkie Collins' follow-up to The Woman in White and No Name is an innovative take on mistaken identity, the nature of evil, and the dark underbelly of Victorian England. The story concerns two distant cousins, both named Allan Armadale, and the impact of a family tragedy, which makes one of them a target of the murderous Lydia Gwilt, a vicious and malevolent charmer determined to get her hands on the Armadale fortune. Will the real Allan Armadale be revealed, and will he survive the plot against his life?

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Public Domain (P)2020 Naxos Audiobooks

What listeners say about Armadale

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30+ Hours Well Spent

I am very grateful for the experience of this story, more of a play than a reading and recommend it highly to all Wilkie Collins fans. If you're new to Wilkie Collins, I'd recommend it to you if you are a Jane Austin fan. (If you're new to Jane Austin then I'd recommend her to you if you have a beating heart.)
My deepest compliments and thanks to the superb cast and of course my undying gratitude and respect to Mr Wilkie Collins.

15 people found this helpful

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Brilliant Victorian Thriller of the first order!

The narration is excellent, dramatic and poignant. The characters are alive and intriguing and the actors really bring this story into the realms of a top radio drama. It was a pleasure to listen to throughout.

This was the longest audio book I had listened too and i would advise patience with some of the earlier chapters in order to reap the reward of this brilliant story

3 people found this helpful

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Love Wilkie Collins but this one too misrerable

No shade to the performers who did a great job! But in this one there's just endless misery and it starts to wear you down.

1 person found this helpful

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Armadale, another fantastic story

I had read this book years ago & found it gripping then, however I’d actually forgotten many of the twists & turns in it. A fantastic story, holding my attention right to the end. Excellent narration which added to the overall experience

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loved it!

Setting out with this book is embarking on an extraordinary journey that travels to places unknown and never bores.
a wonderful read and faultless narration.
27 hours of a story that never flags.
Read it....you'll love it.

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Superstition & Treachery

Another great story from Wilkie Collins. However, there was a sense of deja vu at times as many of the characters and settings are very similar to Collin’s other novels.

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A Long Listen

I wasn't sure if I would stick with this audio book but I am so pleased that I did!

I found myself willing Lydia to make the change and repent her former course and be happy with Midwinter. It almost happened . I felt sorry for her in the end. She was badly used in her earlier life and exploited to the point where she was driven to exploit and deceive others to survive. Allan Armadale was an ingenuous character but likeable. Midwinter was a tortured soul but totally loyal to his friend. He didn't allow his early experience to blind him completely to the good in others.

Narration was well done. Emotions conveyed in the tone of voice especially by the female narrators.

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Loved it!

A brilliant book. Read it years ago and have been waiting for an Audible version. Highly recommended.

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Gripping throughout

So very well written and never knew what was going to happen until the end.

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  • Proud Parents of Furry Kids
  • 28-10-20

Listen again & again to unravel layers of mystery

Armadale has always been one of my favorite novels. With this beautiful production, I've been given a chance to listen to it again and again and delve deeply into the complexities of this story. The author tells the tale of two remarkable people who began life with the worst sort of luck. No family to care for them as children, no formal education, nothing to set them up in life. Each was exposed to adults who abused them. Each had nothing but his or her intelligence to educate and polish them. But one strives to be moral, and the other flouts morality. Or so it appears at first. The greatness of this novel is in its complexity. There is a modern feel to it in that the psychology of the characters, even down to their irrational beliefs, determines their actions and their outcomes. There is no good or evil character; only characters that choose to do good or evil and may choose differently at any moment.

The heroine is one of the strongest female characters I have come across in literature. She appears wicked and yet at no time does Wilkie Collins let us condemn her as wicked. She is riveting. She is magnificent.

Like other Wilkie Collins novels, Armadale is peppered with letters. Imagine a scene intent on critisizing the prurience of society, but written in letter form, so that we (the readers) become part of the scene, eavesdropping on someone else's life as divulged in the letter...

There's even a subtle criticism of the unequal treatment of blacks. There are two men starting out in life with the same name, but each with a very different beginning. And the man with a black ancestry is the one mistrusted for his brooding nature, his apparent moodiness, his dark complexion. This man masters his inheritance of murder and heritage of superstition to save his friend, the best of men because his morality is expressed in deeds instead of social mores.

Character names, too, will tease you. Miss Lydia Gwilt...so reminiscent phonetically to Lady Guilt—but whose is the guilt? Her’s or society’s? And Armadale—Arm a dale—two concepts so strangely coupled into a beautiful name. As you listen to the story again and again, take the time to contemplate the phonetic meanings behind the names, as clues to the theme of the novel.

To express his theme, Collins uses characters that are foils to each other. This is not merely true of the main characters as they relate to each other, but of these characters in relation to lesser ones or even to the social backdrop as a whole. Once again, the letters not only make the story more intimate at times, but they force us to engage in this comparison, to unmask the subtle statements Collins is weaving through the events of the novel.

It's easy to read Armadale superficially, but the puzzle untangles so many layers of mystery the more you ponder this story. So I love listening to this production for this reason, because I cannot digest everything Collins did in one read or one listen.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Eve Howard
  • 08-12-20

Needlessly long, convoluted mess.

I thought I liked Collins. I loved No Name and liked The Moonstone and the Woman in White. Sometimes he almost approaches Dickens, in quality. However, after getting through twenty hours of this, I bailed and will never revisit the author, for I no longer trust him. Not only was the plot absurdly complex and twisted, but every thought and action is reiterated so many times and at such length that one can only conclude it was done to bloat each episode that appeared in print, so as to satisfy his publisher's ever increasing word count demands. This is a horrible antique. None of the main characters seem believable or make a shred of sense. The only nice touch that deserves a mention, is Collins' sensitive portrayal of the much abused and highly neurotic mixed race young man upon whom the plot swings dizzily back and forth like an ever lowering axe.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Simon Brodie
  • 12-04-20

Classic Collins

This is the third of Wilkie Collins’s four great novels of the 1860s, the others being The Woman in White, No Name, and The Moonstone. The lives of two cousins, both named Allan Armadale, seem inextricably wound together. Is it fate or merely chance? One of the cousins is unaware of their kinship; the other goes by an assumed name and is haunted by a crime committed by his late father. The narrative is increasingly dominated by a third character, the beautiful but deceitful Lydia Gwilt, whose schemes threaten the life of one or both of the cousins. Armadale is a melodrama in the best sense of the word, and the Naxos cast is splendid!

4 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 25-09-21

Perhaps the Best of Collins’ Four Best Novels

Note: This review contains no spoilers

Chekov once observed that if there’s a gun over the mantle in the first act, it had better go off in the third. Given their dates, it’s doubtful if Wilkie Collins ever heard that sound bit of dramatic advice. But he used it to great effect, perhaps never better than here.

Some have complained that the first act is a bit long. But Collins has more than one gun to place over his mantle, and they all need to be primed and loaded. As the story gets going, the wait for the inevitable fusillade—in conjunction with Collins’ flair for the unexpected twist and turn—creates more than enough exquisite dramatic tension to sustain interest over 30 hours. Of course, like any good Victorian novel, this one repays that investment of time with more than thrills and spills. There’s humor:

“A man who is entering on a course of reformation ought, if virtue is its own reward, to be a man engaged in an essentially inspiriting pursuit. But virtue is not always its own reward; and the way that leads to reformation is remarkably ill-lighted for so respectable a thoroughfare.”- Book the Second, Chapter IV

And memorable observations of our human condition:

“The influence exercised by the voice of public scandal is a force which acts in opposition to the ordinary law of mechanics. It is strongest, not by concentration, but by distribution. To the primary sound we may shut our ears; but the reverberation of it in echoes is irresistible.” – Book the Third, Chapter VII

Mercifully, this story lacks one other hallmark of the Victorian novel, the sentimental soapbox of social justice. These characters are too interesting and complex to be reduced to mere emblems and exemplars.

Some reviewers cavil at the myriad coincidences. Collins himself has his female lead, Lydia Gwilt, exclaim, “How unnatural all this would be if it was written in a book!” But this is not just a Victorian novel; it is a Victorian "novel of sensation", of mysteries, secrets and veiled motives, where, as the lawyer writes in the second to last chapter, “…rogues perpetually profit by the misfortunes and necessities of honest men.” Everything revolves around curses, fate, superstition, and whether we can escape what, for lack of a less melodramatic term, I’ll call destiny. In that context, each coincidence functions not as a cheap plot device, but a deepening of the central conundrum: is it of natural or supernatural origin? In an endnote, Collins leaves that up to us. For myself, history is rather too liberally studded with coincidence for me to think them wholly coincidental.

Third in the series of four remarkable novels Collins produced in the 1860’s, this strikes me as his best. It is certainly his most complex and ambitious from the standpoint of theme, plot, motivation, and character development. Whether he’s reading Lord Byron, Chretien de Troyes, Alessandro Manzoni or Wilkie Collins, Nicholas Boulton hands in a flawless performance. And the same goes for the rest of the cast, especially Rachael Atkins and Lucy Scott.

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  • TX lilbit
  • 21-03-20

When authors are paid by the word

Victorian writers' novels were often originally published as serials to boost newspaper/periodical sales. This system birthed some of the greatest English language books ever - and some not so great. I really enjoyed Wilkie Collins' 'The Lady in White' and 'The Moonstone,' but this book definitely screams 'paid by the word.' Maybe 'paid by the pound.' For every idea, interaction or set piece that moves the plot forward, there are 5 that are painfully and pointlessly drawn out almost beyond belief. If the author wrote "she drew a breath and then spoke" before each sentence it wouldn't be out of step with the pacing.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-11-20

Wonderfully engaging!

Worth every minute. You’ll be so sorry to reach the end and have to leave these marvelous characters!

2 people found this helpful

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  • MegaMom
  • 02-11-20

Wilkie Collins at his best

The story never gets boring and is fascinating until the end. No one is without flaws which is part of the charm

2 people found this helpful

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  • Woolymamath
  • 10-10-21

Wilke Collins

This is by far my favorite of his books! Gripping! Even better than Woman in White

1 person found this helpful

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  • JA Cohen
  • 01-08-21

Great narration

Narration was spot on. Story was fascinating, but most of the second half is told from the point of view of characters who are the antagonists, and the characters you grew to like in the beginning have less to do. My desire to see where it would all lead got me to the end, and it was an interesting ending, but it did leave me feeling less satisfied than Collins's other book with the same narrators, NO NAME. ARMADALE delves deep into the psychology of crime and criminals, and into most of the characters' heads. This was fine for me when the story was being told through the eyes of characters I liked, but when it veered into unlikable POV's for long stretches, it was decidedly more difficult. This is probably my own personal preference, however. If you're looking to commit to reading one of Collins's lesser known novels, I personally think NO NAME is more entertaining and satisfying, but this was also interesting in its own way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • hannah
  • 27-05-21

Excellent

Excellent performance(s) of an intriguing narrative! I feel like I know each character so well.

1 person found this helpful