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Extended Audio Sample Hard Times Audiobook, by Charles Dickens Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (20,306 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Dickens Narrator: Frederick Davidson Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455170876
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Originally written for Dickens’ weekly magazine, Household Words, this short novel follows the fate of Sissy Jupe, a warm-hearted circus child, and the family that adopts her. Deserted by her ailing father, Sissy is taken into the cold household of the Gradgrind family, which operates a school. The “eminently practical” Thomas Gradgrind believes only in facts and figures and has raised his children accordingly, thoroughly suppressing the imaginative sides of their nature. They grow up in ignorance of love and affection, of beauty and culture, or of empathy for others, and the consequences are devastating. Only after numerous crises does Thomas realize that his principles have corrupted their lives.

Dickens’ satirical exposé of the Industrial Revolution condemns the utilitarianism that exploited the bodies, minds, and souls of the vulnerable labor class.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The power of [Dickens] is so amazing, that the reader at once becomes his captive, and must follow him whithersoever he leads.”

    William Makepeace Thackeray

  • “A bitter indictment of industrialization, with its dehumanizing effects on workers and communities in mid-nineteenth-century England.”

    Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

  • “The narrator’s British accent goes well with Dickens’ overly dramatic and lush prose.”

    AudioFile

  • “A wonderful introduction to the pleasures of Victorian novels and Dickens’ powerful story.”

    Booklist

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nelly | 2/20/2014

    " I love Dickens, and this may be one of my favorites now. Clever, entertaining, and a great commentary on issues of the time, including children's education, the industrial revolution, and the birth of labor unions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Trishé | 2/18/2014

    " Well the parts of this book I was able to read before my dog mercilessly chewed it up were pretty good. I wouldn't say it's my favorite book by Dickens, but I found the characters views on "Facts" interesting, and I enjoyed the contrast between Jupe who seemed to be able to think deeply about things beyond their facts with Thomas Gradgirnd who has a starkly concrete view of the world. I only was able to make it about halfway through, so maybe if I ever get the chance to finish the book, I'll be able to speak more on it's merits. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 2/14/2014

    " The audio version that I listened to was read by Anton Lesser - he was fantastic! This story of how Thomas Gradgrind's teachings had such a negative effect on his children Louisa and Tom and their emotional well-being stills rings true today! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Simon Curtis | 2/10/2014

    " More studied than read but very enjoyable. Facts, Mr Gradgrind, Facts! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monique Amado | 2/9/2014

    " So far, amazing. I'm blown away by his writing, his keen perception of people's inner worlds. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maaian Arditi | 2/4/2014

    " The Dickensian irony is seen very clearly in the novel but his portrayal of British life in the Industrial revolution lacks alot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily Phillips | 2/1/2014

    " Very well written, and highly descriptive. A very slow moving book however, it seems that all of the action takes place in the third book, however this is typical Dickensian literature. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Vicki | 1/22/2014

    " I love Dickens, but this wasn't one of his better ones. The moral of the story is very blatant from the beginning. The characters are not as well fleshed out as in other books, nor are they as interesting. I think it is worth reading, but it is not one of his novels that I will be reading again and again. Still, it is Dickens, and his writing style is always very interesting, and it kept my attention, so it deserves three stars. I liked it; it just wasn't one of my favorites of his. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Emma | 1/20/2014

    " Good God I hated this book. A plot that had the sole purpose of repressing people's imaginations... Did he seriously think that it was going to capture ours? It wasn't just that Dickens and I don't get along and probably never will... It was that it was a stupid concept with dull characters who don't think for themselves and it took about 500 pages of treacherously boring work to reach the end. If it wasn't for the fact that it's required reading, I would have stopped WELL before then. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Matt | 1/20/2014

    " I really really liked this book, recomend it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paula | 1/8/2014

    " Thankfully, this is the shortest of Dickens' works. Read it for a college course and glad to have gotten through it. Not my favorite author, perhaps also because this is not my favorite time period. Has the potential to be good for those who are Dickens fans or like reading Victorian fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Isabel Johnstone | 12/12/2013

    " it was quite a hard book to read, especially the characters who spoke with an accent. i did enjoy it in the end though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Minoucha | 7/10/2013

    " it is a classic however for todays generation the style is quite heavy this is why I rated it okay ( the only reason ) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Connie Santos | 4/19/2013

    " After having read Hard Times, I remember why I have always loved Dickens. I must read the few I haven't read yet and reread all my old favorites. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Moose | 4/16/2013

    " Early Dickens child labor in England "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jack | 4/11/2013

    " 3.9 stars. A harrowing tale that brings home just how hard like could be for ordinary folk on whose backs empires are built. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bayan | 12/23/2012

    " It seems that I'm not a Dickens person and since I'm an English Literature student, it's pretty scandalous!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tannie | 7/24/2012

    " This book made me hate Charles Dickens. I read it in Sophomore Honors English and thought I'd poke my eye out from all the critques we had to do on the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janice | 2/18/2012

    " Little known and one of my favorites of his. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jake B | 2/2/2012

    " Hard (times) to read, but worth it. Good book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlotte Coleman | 6/24/2011

    " I really liked this novel despite the apparent lack of happiness and luck on the part of the characters. Again the characters are taken on a learning curve and the hard Louisa Gradgrind transforms in front of the reader. That typical happy ending is lacking but the characters are reconciled. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tj | 6/21/2011

    " Dickens is what he is - and I love it. Is it over-long? Yes. Is it overly sentimental and moralistic? Yes. Great, super, smashing! I feel better about the world after reading Dickens. Contemporary literature needs more humanity and less criticism - is that ironic? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Roseunderwater | 6/19/2011

    " i have study this at colege and it was really good novel expressing the age of machines & factorys with all of thier negative aspects on humans. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Drucilla | 5/25/2011

    " Gosh I didn't like this book! It's so depressing and I felt I missed Dickens' message because of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca Podsnap | 5/19/2011

    " Hard Times is my favourite of Dickens' punishment of the false and annoying. There is not a revenge sweeter than having a life's worth of lies unpoured over tea and cakes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Yolanda | 4/28/2011

    " From the title one can guess this is a bleak story, however, I was surprised and impressed by Mr. Dickens' sense of humour. "

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About the Author
Author Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was born in Landport, Portsmouth, England, the second of eight children in a family continually plagued by debt. A legacy brought release from the nightmare of debtors’ prison and child labor and afforded him a few years of formal schooling. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his early writings brought him the amazing success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. He was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, and he remains popular, responsible for some of English literature’s most iconic characters.

About the Narrator

Frederick Davidson (1932–2005), also known as David Case, was one of the most prolific readers in the audiobook industry, recording more than eight hundred audiobooks in his lifetime, including over two hundred for Blackstone Audio. Born in London, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and performed for many years in radio plays for the British Broadcasting Company before coming to America in 1976. He received AudioFile’s Golden Voice Award and numerous Earphones Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for his readings.