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Summary

This exclusive recording of Hard Times contains a unique introduction by Jeremy Paxman in which he takes us through Hard Times as his favourite Dickens title.

To give it its full title, Hard Times - for These Times was Charles Dickens' 10th novel and the only one not to have any scenes set in London. It was first published in 1854 and depicts the struggles that were born as a result of the industrial revolution. 

About the book 

'Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life.' So says Thomas Gradgrind, a wealthy, utilitarian school board superintendent. Father to Tom and Louisa, he shapes the minds of all the young children, including his own, with the exception of only one: the circus-born Sissy Jupe. 

As the novel progresses, we see the lives of these three young children unfold, shaped by the beliefs and values they've been taught by their respective fathers and educators. Growing into a beautiful yet miserable young lady, Louisa is wed off to an associate of her father's. Tom, dulled by his strict upbringing, becomes a dissipated, hedonistic gambler, and Sissy, their imaginative, creative and selfless guiding light, seeks to repair the damage done to her friends by years of utilitarian training. 

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. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became, unlike Josiah Bounderby, the ultimate self-made man. 

About the narrator 

Known for his versatility and for "making monsters and demons understood", Bertie Carvel has twice won the Olivier Award: for his performances as Miss Trunchbull in Matilda and Rupert Murdoch in Ink. On television he was Jonathan Strange in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Nick Clegg in Coalition and the cheating husband in Doctor Foster. In this definitive audiobook of Hard Times, Carvel's presence and range shine through to gripping effect.

Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

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A good story beautifully read

i had no previous knowledge of either the book or reader. Pleasantly surprised by both.

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Fabulous narration

Absolutely brilliant- Bertie Carvel’s narration is superb, bringing all the characters to life with excellent voices and accents. Loved it.

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exceptionally well told.

loved it, brilliant story, told with feeling and placed tbe listener right in the heart of it

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Brought to life

The narrator brings this classic Dickens tale to life, a wonderful experience, recommended for fans of the writer and those finding this novelist for the first time.

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  • Rivkah
  • 07-08-18

Social change, serialized

Charles Dickens is very large-hearted in any of his social commentary and though I don’t always fall in love with any of the characters or find the story less-than-concise, I love how much he loves people and wants them to be well. Often, the picture of everyday life is one of resilience and if it is of weakness, I can’t remember a place where Dickens doesn’t write with a foundation of compassion.

Bertie Carvel is an excellent reader, always, and I like knowing all the work he does to promote equality and justice in his own sphere is a thread alongside Dickens. More audiobooks by Carvel, please (and I genuinely mean that bc I own all the other ones he’s done).