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Following the death of his wife and the government's refusal to pass his local trade union's chartist petition, John Barton sinks into a depression so deep that not even his doting daughter can lift him out of it. Seeing the poverty that her family has been reduced to and the desperation in her father's eyes, Mary Barton realises she must reject the proposal of her working-class lover, Jem. Instead, she sets her sights at a master's son, the wealthy heir of a Manchester mill, Henry Carson, in the hope that his situation will improve her own.
In a shocking turn of events, Mary discovers Mr Carson has been shot and her former lover, Jem, accused of his murder. As life-altering secrets emerge and the lives of those around her are put on the line, Mary must decide who to trust and who to denounce.
Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life, is an emotive condition of English work in which she artfully intertwines the socio-political struggles of the 'hungry forties' with elements of a classic love story. Mary Barton is a pioneering work of fiction which has ensured that Gaskell's name will forever be included in a list of England's greatest authors. Its success was such that it even won the attention of Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, forging a great working relationship between the writers, and later leading Gaskell to write Brontë's biography.
Multi-award winning actress, Juliet Stevenson has graced the stage and screen with a myriad of powerhouse performances for over 40 years. Aged nine, she developed a passion for the spoken word after performing a reading of a WH Auden poem in front of her entire school. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and later became a member of its artistic council. Her theatre experience is vast and includes parts in Measure for Measure, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Burn This and Death and the Maiden.
She is also known for her film career in works such as Bend It Like Beckham, Emma, Truly Madly Deeply and Mona Lisa Smile. Stevenson has been BAFTA-nominated and been the winner of a Laurence Olivier Award. In 1999, she was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her services to Drama.
Juliet's other audiobook narrations include Sense and Sensibility, North and South, The Portrait of a Lady and Madame Bovary. These and many more can be found at Audible.