Written by: Charles Dickens
Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Publisher: Audible Studios
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
The magnificent Richard Armitage (Hamlet: King of Denmark: A Novel) performs The Chimes by Charles Dickens.
This classic story is the second in a series of five Christmas books Dickens was commissioned to write - beginning with A Christmas Carol. A haunting tale set on New Year's Eve, The Chimes tells the story of a poor porter named Trotty Veck who has become disheartened by the state of the world - until he is shown a series of fantastical visions that convince him of the good of humanity. Though much different from and certainly a bit darker than A Christmas Carol, the moral message of The Chimes is equally poignant - touting the importance of compassion, goodwill, and the love of friends and family.
The Chimes was followed by The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and finally The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain.
Public Domain (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
Trotty Veck is a poor man struggling in Victorian England as a message carrier, often timing his trotting with the beat of the chimes. The only real light in his life is his beloved daughter Meg. Meg is a charming young lady, working as a seamstress and falling in love with a young laborer. Meg has brought her father a rare dinner treat. Trotty is contemplating whether he should encourage the young couple to marry even though that would leave him alone. Suddenly several gentleman step out and malign Trotty for eating while others go hungry. They make him feel lower that low and as the old year ends, Trotty morosely questions 'just what are the poor worth?'
This story was new to me. As the audio started I was enthralled by the lyrical prose. I usually listen at night but I turned this off so I wouldn’t miss anything. After the beautiful imagery and prose in the beginning I was alarmed when the tone became dark and despondent. Of course, I should perhaps have not been surprised by that considering the author. There is just a little similarity with A Christmas Carol, including ghostly visions in the bells. The plight of the poor is once again vividly, and bleakly, described. I was very relieved when the ending came back to a message of compassion, goodwill, hope and love.
I do recommend this but forewarn the reader or listener to be prepared for some darkness before the light returns at the end.
Audio Notes: Richard Armitage's narration is excellent. He portrays the visual imagery perfectly with his lovely, fitting, British accent.
This was Audible's 2015 Christmas gift and it is a gem! It is part of my 2016 TBR and Audio Challenges.