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Summary

Hard Times - For These Times is the tenth novel by Charles Dickens

Published in 1854, the story describes class conflict in Victorian England and serves as a powerful critique of the social injustices that plagued the Industrial Revolution.

Charles Dickens (1812 - 9 June 1870) is arguably the greatest novelist England ever produced. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life - along with his memorable characters - have made him beloved by readers the world over.

Please note: This is a vintage recording. The audio quality may not be up to modern day standards.

Public Domain (P)2009 RNIB

What listeners say about Hard Times

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent Value for Money

A very good reading, perhaps with a little too much relish of Dickens' sardonic humour here and there. Bizarrely large gaps between paragraphs and chapters. All in all, excellent value for money.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Hard Times Great Listen

I downloaded this as a way of listening to some of the classics, and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than any of the other Dickens books. Perhaps part of it was that it is much shorter than others. It may be heresy to some but I have felt the longer books to be too long and rambling. The plot was enjoyable, and the reading good. If only the other books were as sharp and to the point.

5 people found this helpful

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Loved it

it's Dickens so it was almost bound to be wonderful but the narration really brought it alive.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-08-17

It's was okay

The story teller paused a lot but his impressions were great. The story is just long in my opinion.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hazel
  • 08-11-09

mediocre story brilliantly read

This is not Dicken's best, but it is so well read that is is a delightful experience nevertheless. On an oblique note, I think Mr Boundaby is the inspiration for the Monty Python sketch "the four yorkshiremen". I would recommend this book it as long as you are patient, and don't mind a bit of excessive pathos at the end.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Richard Boyle
  • 13-08-09

Hard Times not hard to understand.

I found it as interesting as the other Dickens stories and well read

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  • ECL
  • 05-01-21

Lovely performance for an interestin Dickens story

I can't believe I've never heard of this Dickens story. The many things going on with these people almost feels like a contemporary story. Though times have changed people haven't, but we can hope they (we) can learn what is truly important in life before it is too late.

Book knowledge is very useful, but what comes from the heart is just as useful under the right circumstances. Knowing when to use each type of knowledge is the important thing.

The reader/performer has a soothing & entertaining voice, with each character's "voice" shining throughout as the story unfolds.

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  • Lauren
  • 23-03-17

Fact vs Compassion: A Short Dickens Novel

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes. It has interesting caricatures of hypocrites. This is a great way to start with Dickens.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Hard Times?

The factory imagery. The love story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

It's hard for me to pick up on accents.
The "s" sounds are shrill.
I can't speed it up.

Do you think Hard Times needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No it stands alone. This is a book about idea, not just plot.

Any additional comments?

If you want to try a Dickens, this (and A Christmas Carol) are a great place to start. He is about social reform and commentary. His views are relevant today. The story is also filled with plot and a love story.

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  • tom
  • 28-11-13

hurrah for Dickens! hurrah for Maydon!

What made the experience of listening to Hard Times the most enjoyable?

As to the story, for me it is a great one. Dickens was passionately committed to helping improve the plight of working people in his day. This story comes straight from that passion and from a genius for presenting a situation very powerfully without seeming to try hard.

As to the volume, I agree that the reader tends to vary it more than normal, and this is a problem for me because I have a hearing defect. Despite this fact, the reading is the best I've ever heard. To take one feature which astounds me, I could not find one instance where the reader put the stress on the wrong word in a phrase. I think that this quality in itself makes the reading an extraordinary accomplishment. And just the north of England accents are worth the price of admission.

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  • Bunny Mama
  • 20-02-13

Not my favorite book ever...

Any additional comments?

Although I can appreciate the social/political importance of this novel, Dickens is not at the top of my list of authors I love. One complaint I have about this audio version is that the narrator, who does a good job with the dramatization of the characters, varies the volume of his voice so much that I couldn't find a comfortable volume to listen at. I either had to turn it up too high in order to hear the parts where he would allow his voice to trail off or keep it at a comfortable volume and miss the end of the dialogue. Other than that, it is performed well.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nardia
  • 22-09-10

Surprisingly good!

This is the third Dickens in a row that I've experienced, and was admittedly hesitant about the quality of this version because of the price. But, Alistair Maydon did a very reasonable job of the characters and gave excellent feeling to the story. He did in fact, a much better job of the female character's voices than some narrators in much more expensive audiobooks- (eg. John Bolen- kill me now!).
However the recording quality is definately inferior and occasionally you can hear a page turn or a few minor reading errors.
The story is a little slow to start and slightly depressing, but like most of the Dickens that I've listened to, the worse the predicament- the better the eventuality.
Overall, this version of Hard Times is value for money and I plan to listen to it again.
Very Enjoyable.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Patricia
  • 09-03-10

a cure for insomnia

Every time I began listening to this narrator, I fell asleep. I tried several times to get through the beginning of the story and finally gave up. I then started at a random spot further along, hoping to find a change in narration based on a change in characters, but there was no improvement. The narrator's reading is a grating monotone, as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard. I believe the narrator developed this voice as appropriate to the story, a hard voice reflective of hard times, but it did not work. I like Dickens but am sorry I spent my money on this performance.