The Chimes by Charles Dickens
Digital Audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage
Published by Walking Lion Press on July 1st 2008
Genres: Christmas, Classics, Fiction, Holiday
Length: 116 pages or 3 hours, 42 minutes
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"The Chimes" is Charles Dickens 1844 novella that concerns the disillusionment of Toby "Trotty" Veck, a poor working-class man. When Trotty has lost his faith in Humanity and believes that his poverty is the result of his unworthiness he is visited on New Year's Eve by spirits to help restore his faith and show him that nobody is born evil, but rather that crime and poverty are things created by man.
This story comes off as a low-rent version of A Christmas Carol. The themes of a man’s impact on the world continue through, as well as the corruption of wealth. Both stories take place at the holidays, although The Chimes takes places on New Years Eve instead of Christmas Eve. Both feature an old mean being taken on a journey by a ghost to see the way things might have been.
The narrator did an excellent job personifying each character as an individual, and particularly excelled at the snobby, wealthy patrons of the city. Not only does he alter his voice, but he changes accents as well, and does a wonderful job capturing the different dialects.
That said… I hated this story.
It felt gloomy, unoriginal, and enraging. Most of Dickens’ stories discuss classism, but this particular tale is made mostly of pompous men telling poor folk they have no right to live. It was frustrating and over-stated. It took up so much of the story that it ceased to be a story and became a ranting slap in the face.
And the ending, after A Christmas Carol, was utterly predictable.
I got this book for free Christmas 2015 from Audible, but I don’t think I would have picked it up otherwise. Studies of Victorian literature and Dickensians should definitely pick up this story, but for the average reader, I’d go with A Christmas Carol and stop there.