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A Tale of Two Cities (Classic Books on CD Collection) [UNABRIDGED] Audio CD – Audiobook, February 20, 2013
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- Publisher : Audio Book Contractors, LLC (February 20, 2013)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 1606460897
- ISBN-13 : 978-1606460894
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.75 x 1 x 6.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #699,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I really struggled to rate this... So call it 2.5 - 3 stars.
I also really struggled with the first part of the book. Almost gave up once or twice. But I am stubborn.
It was a weird reading experience: at times I'd re-read the same sentence/paragraph over and over and still not be able to make any sense of it. At other times the pages would fly by easily and I quite enjoyed it. I do think the lack of context made some difference (context both of common phrases of the time and also the cities). Reading it on my Kindle did help somewhat because I could look up some of the words.
I have read the story before (a children's version) so knew how it ended. I can't decide whether that made a (positive) difference or not. Would I have enjoyed the parts I did enjoy as much if I didn't know where the story was going? I'm not sure.
I have some more (unread) Charles Dickens on my Kindle. Will probably give him another try before I make a decision whether to continue reading his books or not.
In A Tale of Two Cities, you'll get some of the best and some of the worst of Dickens. There's plenty of memorable scenes or quotes that you'll catch for the first time as you read it. But the characters are poorly sketched - angelic damsels in distress or evil bloodthirsty revolutionaries - the plot drags, and it probably is not going to rank in your top 5 of Dickens' best. But I guess for the devoted Dickens reader you feel like you've got to collect them all, trade with friends.
Really though you're buying this particular edition for a couple of key reasons. One is that the Everyman's Library hardcovers are stylish, durable books - and you get a chronology of the author's life and writings. Two is the foreword, which makes for useful reading both before the novel to understand where this book ranks with Dickens' other work. This is something you're not going to get from other cheaper paperback editions, and it's well worth the investment in this copy for this thinking on the subject matter.
The only other book by Charles Dickens I've read was Great Expectations, which I wasn't much impressed with either. I thought this might be because I read that book in High School, but now I realize it's just Dickens' style that seems to lack a certain something to draw me in. At first glance, A Tale of Two Cities seems to have everything I would enjoy. Set in a historical point in time (I love history), written in descriptive and colorful prose (of which I thoroughly enjoy), I thought for sure I'd enjoy this read about 5% in. And yet, that's just not what happened.
Maybe it was lack of characterization, developing the wants and needs of characters beyond a superficial description of their looks and actions. Perhaps it was the lack of clear stakes, or maybe the purple prose was just a bit too much for me this time around or focused on things I just couldn't get interested in. Perhaps this was just the wrong book at the wrong time for me, and five years later or earlier, I would have loved it. I don't really know.
All I do know is that I hit the 25% mark and just couldn't care less what happens next, so I'm putting it down and moving on. I'd still recommend others give it a shot though. You might just love it.
Top reviews from other countries
If you haven't come across this novel before, it's the one that famously begins: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'. Yes, there's your small fact for a pub quiz. Set in the time of eighteenth century London and France, there is a lot of history as Dickens describes the bloodied and violent streets of Paris. With the guillotine ominously hanging over society, (pun definitely intended!), many innocent civilians are somewhat slaughtered as the spies close in. There's a fair bit of fighting in this novel, a lot of chat and even more description. Lacking the humour of say, Austin, Dickens grimly portrays a social mess that I found confusing and difficult to properly appreciate. In honesty, it was the final part of the novel that I enjoyed the most and one where I really understood what was going on!
There are plenty of classic novels out there and a range of Dickens to encounter. I won't read this again; I am glad I did but would try a different one to see if I enjoyed it more.
Taking place over a number of years, so our story first opens in 1775, where a former prisoner, thought to be dead is found alive and brought to England from France. With the saying ‘Recalled to Life’ so our story gets under way, and we have revolutionaries, spies and dastardly deeds aplenty. This does make for a good read, but somehow it ultimately lacks the magic that Dickens gave us in so many of his other works. The Paris scenes do not work as well as those set in London, which of course Dickens was so intimately familiar with, and also the scenes of warfare on the streets of Paris are only really impressionistic views from a distance, so for instance they cannot compare with the descriptions in something such as Les Misérables.
The plot is quite complex, and so should keep you reading through to the end, but this does ultimately show the limits of Dickens in his writing, because he tries to weave a tale that is obviously outside his comfort zone, although we do know that he wanted to tackle this. There is some symbolism here, and there is some insightful psychology, but ultimately this is not Dickens firing on all cylinders, especially when you think that his next novel was Great Expectations, which is a much better read. Although I think this is good, personally I have never rated this novel as one of his best, although I know some will differ with me. One good thing though with this is that Dickens does keep his views here quite apolitical, casting disdain at times on both the old and new ways of France, which does work well within this framework, as this tale is not a political one as such, only with regards to views on social reform, which we know the author was most passionate about.
ASIN: B002RI9IOM is edited and has an intro by Richard Maxwell. This Penguin edition also includes: Acknowledgements; Introduction; A Dickens Chronology; A Timeline; Further Reading; A Note on the Text; Appendix I On the Illustrations; Appendix II Dedication and Preface to First Volume Edition; Appendix III Dickens and His Sources; Appendix IV Running Titles Added in 1867– 8; and Notes.
I enjoyed reading this on kindle, a click took me to footnotes, the search facility came in handy and I could enlarge the wonderful illustrations by Phiz.
I cannot begin to express how much I love this book. I first read it in 1986 before my 'O' Levels the following summer (it was part of the English Lit syllabus) and I reckon I have read it upwards of 20 times since.
In many respects, this is different to Dickens' other works. It is much shorter for one thing and unlike novels such as Bleak House, all the various strands are brought together by the end, with no dead-ends or red herrings. Additionally, not a word in this is wasted. There is much use of foreshadowing, for example spilled wine foretells of the spilling of blood come the revolution:
The time was to come when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones and when the
stain of it would be red upon many there.
The sun is used in a similar way:
The sunset struck so brilliantly into the travelling carriage that the occupant was steeped in crimson. "It will die out" said Monsieur the Marquis, glancing at his hands...
There are great characters, too. Jerry Cruncher is a favourite and the source of humour, some of it quite dark . Errand 'boy' for Tellson's Bank by day, 'fisherman' (i.e.grave robber) by night. He goes to bed with clean boots and gets up with muddy boots, much to the consternation of his son.
The best character for me has to be the malevolent, vengeful and implacable Thérèse Defarge:
"Tell wind and fire when to stop" returned Madame "but don't tell me"