A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

3.8 752
by Charles Dickens

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When the starving French masses rise in hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent government, both the guilty and innocent become victims of their frenzied anger. Soon nothing stands in the way of the chilling figure they enlist for their cause—La Guillotine—the new invention for efficiently chopping off heads.

Charles Dickens' compelling portrait…  See more details below


When the starving French masses rise in hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent government, both the guilty and innocent become victims of their frenzied anger. Soon nothing stands in the way of the chilling figure they enlist for their cause—La Guillotine—the new invention for efficiently chopping off heads.

Charles Dickens' compelling portrait of the results of terror and treason, love and supreme sacrifice continues to captivate readers around the world. With Frank Muller's brilliant performance, unforgettable characters—the ever-knitting Madame Defarge, the lovely Lucie Manette, her broken father, the honorable Charles Darnay, and the sometimes scurrilous Sydney Carton—burst from the pages, full of life and passion.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Charles Dickens's classic of the French Revolution is expertly dramatized by Simon Vance." ---AudioFile
Leigh Weaver
Great book
Classic Dickens. An amazing portrayal of the French Revolution.

Product Details

Sterling Publishing
Publication date:
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

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Chapter 1

The Period

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.

It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock Lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come tothe English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock Lane brood.France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that sufferer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to Paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.

In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow tradesman whom he stopped in his character of 'the Captain,' gallantly shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, 'in consequence of the failure of his ammunition'; after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the Lord Mayor of London, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green, by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing rooms; musketeers went into St. Giles's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; today, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and tomorrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.

All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand.

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"Charles Dickens's classic of the French Revolution is expertly dramatized by Simon Vance." —-AudioFile

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A Tale of Two Cities: Heinle Reading Library 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 752 reviews.
Gulliver_cc More than 1 year ago
You get what you pay for! This is a very crude version of the text, straight from a scan via OCR with no proofreading whatsoever. Spend the few bucks to get a version of this great book that you can actually read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellently done!
Weil Sau Sau More than 1 year ago
The Tale of Two Cities is a very good book about the 1700's. The author uses fake characters to describe the life abd times there. This is an excellent book for those who want history but a little fun too. All in all, I would recommend this book.
Eponine23 More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book of all time, I absolutely loved it from beginning to end. It made me cry and laugh out loud in class--even though I was supposed to be watching a movie or doing an assignment and got in trouble for reading. The plot was amazing, the characters were captivating and the narrative was entertaining. I love strong female characters and Madame Defarge was simply brilliant. But as awesome as she was, Sydney Carton was my favorite. Those last few chapters, I could not stop crying. My only complaint about this book is that there should have been more about him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. The Penguin Classics edition offers detailed end-notes, as always. The only complaint I have with this edition, though, is that some of the end-notes revealed a bit of the plot. The story was not completely ruined, so it is not really a big deal. Overall, an excellent book.
KTW More than 1 year ago
Glad i finally grew up and started reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Harvard College Library copy, scanned as part of the Google project, has OCR text recognition issues. This is a fair copy of a great work, flawed by the OCR flaws. Wish Google had taken the time to edit it correctly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are too many spelling errors in this book to even get past the 1st page, its not worth the space on your nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am sure that a tale of two cities is a great book, but this version only has the first 48 pages! If you are the person who put this up, quit trying to make people pay their money for something unfinished and dumb. Fix this book or take it back. I want a refund.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first part was a little slow, but in the end, it was fabulous! A wonderful read, well written, perfect! A book defidently worth reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is extremely good BUT this is mainly for people who love literature. Once you get interested in this book and get passed the first few chapters you will want to read this over and over again to see what you missed. I hope if you buy this you are dedicated because it will hook you. Enjoy!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first novel on CD and I have been thoroughly enjoying the experience. Of course, it helps that it is also my first Dickens novel. Every character comes to life in the descriptions and every scene is painted in my mind's eye as Dickens unfolds the story. The narator also does a wonderful job. Fantastic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”- Dickens’ opening has become one of the most popular throughout literature. Charles  Dickens usual writing style of humor is absent as he turns to the somber subject of the French Revolution. His historical context of the novel encompasses the themes of love, loss, secrets, sacrifice, resurrection, vengeance, and the darkness of the people that suffered through the oppression that evolved into the French Revolution. Dickens keeps his audience enchanted and coming back for the next book in the novel by enticing them with a captivating story-line, complex characters, complimentary and contrasting aspects within the characters and the setting, and brilliant descriptions that create a powerful mood and an array of tones. He weaves symbolism, imagery, and understatements into his text to make it beautifully rich, especially for a careful reader.  One of Dickens’ main themes of the book, as seen in the opening, is contractions. Within this theme, Dickens uses several other themes to show the difference between characters and to enhance the relationships between those characters. For example, though they may look very similar, Charles Darnay is the“good guy” and Sydney Carton is the contraction to all that is good in Charles Darnay. He is the sinner-savior archetype, making him the ultimate savior of the story, yet Charles Darnay steals Lucie Manette from him. However, Dickens comparisons also expand to the settings in the book, such as, the utopian society, i.e. England, and the dystopian society, i.e. France. Dickens then ties all these comparisons and similarities together in a nice bow by connecting the past with the present and  showing how these ties affect the future of the characters and those that are to come. The change produced within the characters and the storyline all come to a climax as the events that he had been foreshadowing take place and change the lives of each character.  Another one of Dickens’ themes is that of darkness. Madame Defarge embodies everything that is darkness: deceit, secrets, and death. Her plans and memories fester within the darkness of the French Revolution, coming to a climax when she has Charles Darnay in her clutches and the guillotine waiting for her instructions. The ominous echo of the guillotine can be heard throughout Paris, but in the darkness, there is a light, a glimmer of hope. Lucie encompasses that light, spreading goodness everywhere she goes. She frees her father from his bondages, makes Charles Darnay a better man, and saves Sydney Carton from himself. However, the setting also looks at this hope. The scenery and lighting of England is optimistic and a safe haven to escape to, yet when you get across the sea to France, doom and gloom encloses around you, and all hope is lost. These complex compliments and contractions of each other have made his images and characterizations so well known.  Dickens uses several literary styles, including satirical, realistic, gothic, and naturalistic to encompass the different themes, characterizations, and settings presented in the book. Along with those previously stated, he also uses Biblical motifs to describe his characters and settings. For example, when describing the French government, he uses Biblical ideas from the Old Testament, such as, judgment, guilt, condemnation, punishment for wrongdoings, and blood sacrifices to cover the sins of those that had oppressed them. Yet, when he described the English government, he used New Testament ideas like grace, forgiveness, compassion, enlightened, and saying that it is at a state of restoration. Dickens also went on to categorize certain characters into either Old or New Testament. Charles Darnay, for example was described by his sins and being guilty, like in the Old Testament, whereas Lucie Manette and her father were described as graceful and compassionate, like several New Testament ideals. An interesting occurrence happens however, when the characters and settings begin changing and the life for one character becomes clearer and more purposeful, switching from Old Testament to New Testament. For that man, “‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known’” (Dickens 358). 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This classic is deserving of the status. I would suggest reading along with notes, as the language can be a bit difficult to follow. I will read this again. Amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should read very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Plesse rescan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waasn't really the best or the worst thing that i have ever read, but it gets kinda boring and you lose track of what is really going on, however some people could really like the direction the book takes, but i personally was not a fan of it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does not really have a good plot and its action and suspense is outdated when compared with some of the books that we have now. The main reason that this books gets any stars at all is because of the mad skill that Dickens has with writing. The depth of the symbolism was one of the few things that anstonished me in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I know I'm going against the grain on this one, but I hate this book more than words can express. Now, don't think I'm saying this without some support, giving a classic novel like this one star is not very popular. I just can't bring myself to enjoy reading anything by Charles Dickens. This may not mean much from someone who likes to read Camus, Salinger, and Kesey like myself, but I just don't know how people can get into Dickens' novels, especially this one. I was unfortunately assigned to read this book twice in high school and have read it a total of three times (I read it in eighth grade for leisure). I really regret wasting the time and energy. There is not one character in this book that I can really care for, which is a big turn off for me. And Lucie...ugh! I never thought an author could make one of his characters over act in a book. Well, Dickens pulled it off. I love reading and I can find enjoyment in almost every piece of literature I can get my hands on. Except, of course, for a waste of print like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, with its hard vocabulary, wordy writing, and plainly hard to understand for many is a piece of pure literature. Was very confused in the beginning...literally had no idea of the storyline... As you delve deeper into the novel (maybe google a few things you dont understand, look on wikipedia, etc), the book gets very interesting. So dont judge a book by its cover, and read Tale of Two Cities, a truly wonderful masterpiece.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I mean, my mom is into reading this kind of books but none of them are for kids. The vocab is really hard to get and its realyy boring for chirdren under 13. My advice... dont read it unless you are really old!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago