Barnaby Rudge

  • by Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by Sean Barrett
  • 26 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For the background to this historical novel, a tale of mystery, suspense and unsolved murder, Dickens chose the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. Mayhem reigns in the streets of London, vividly described by Dickens, and the innocent Barnaby Rudge is drawn into the thick of it. Against the public disorder, Dickens tells of the private discord within families - with fathers and sons at loggerheads - and creates a wealth of colourful characters: the sinuously evil Lord Chester; the pretty and vivacious Dolly Varden; and the host and regulars at the Maypole Inn - a symbol of security in those uncertain and violent times.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This is a wonderful novel - how did I manage to avoid it for so long? (I've been working my way through all of Dickens' novels over the last couple of years. I would almost say I've been "working them off," but if you listen to this one - and I strongly recommend that you do - you'll understand that working things off is not always a good thing.)

Dickens is at his morally outraged best in Barnaby Rudge: the story centers around the anti-Catholic riots in London in 1780. I'd read a little bit about the riots before - they show up in biographies of Samuel Johnson, who was in London at the time - but nothing like the real horror of it. Tens of thousands of rioters marched through the streets. Hundreds of people were killed, many by the soldiers called in (finally) to restore order; houses, churches, and carriages were burned by the score. Newgate Prison itself was destroyed and all the prisoners set free. In the aftermath, dozens of rioters were hanged.

Moving through this gripping slice of history are the simple-minded Barnaby Rudge; his mother; a brace of loving couples; a heroic locksmith; and a chilling assortment of villains. Barnaby, in his simplicity, is coaxed into carrying a banner for the rioters, and thinks he's being a brave warrior in a noble cause, until he comes face to face with the gallows.

It's not all grim. Dickens' comic invention is in evidence throughout. The dialogue sparkles, and at least three of the four main villains have brilliant star turns that are wickedly funny. (The fourth villain is a brutal, frightening concoction - one of the most unredeemed, and unredeemable, parents Dickens ever invented.)

Sean Barrett's narration is brilliant. Every character has a unique voice, and all are utterly convincing, even the almost too-good-to-be-true Barnaby. Most of the villains have coarse, gravelly voices, but one has a voice as smooth as silk and is all the scarier because of it. This is going down as one of my three or four favorite audiobooks of Dickens. For me, it was infinitely more interesting and rewarding than his other historical novel, A Tale of Two Cities. It's a rip-roaring tale, and I loved it.
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- Tad Davis

Fascinating historical story

Reading (knd of) Dickens has been one of the gifts that Audible has introduced me too. As a historical novel this is a bit of a departure from Dickens normal period and I needed to remind myself of that change of era at times through the story.

Before this book I knew that there had been "Gordon Riots" but I had no idea what or who Grodon was and what the riots were about. Dickens sets out the story clearly and using the kind of characters and storylines that he seems to create better than anybody else. By the end of the work all the threads have been drawn together for a satisfying story but also the history has been told in a clear and memorable way.

The narration is good and clear, characterisation is useful rather than intrusive. Recommended.
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- Ian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-07-2011
  • Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks