A Christmas gift for audible.com members, narrated by Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage modernizes a classic hidden gem of Christmas Past… Sir John Penlyon is planning to spend Christmas at his estate with his niece and his friend Danby, the closest thing he has to family since disowning his daughter years ago. (She eloped with the parson, who was, of course, penniless.) Danby suggests that at Christmastime the estate needs the presence of small children, and offers to find some – the “hirelings” – despite Sir John’s skepticism. Three children duly arrive, and the youngest, precocious four year-old Moppet, quickly endears herself to Sir John. The season takes flight with merriment, warmth, and even affection, until Moppet – as young children are wont to do in Victorian holiday tales – falls deathly ill. With her life hanging by a tinsel-thin thread, how will the makeshift family cope?
Listeners who smile ironically at the antiquated juxtaposition of The Christmas Hirelings might be surprised by the contemporary feel of a blended family, income inequality, and the power of togetherness to heal past sorrows. Richard Armitage’s stellar voice makes each scene as rich as a plum pudding dotted with the raisins of tradition (party favors, carols, and more!), and the entire performance feels like a trip to bygone England…just in time for the end of this year. Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Inc.