Audiobook: The Christmas Hirelings

By: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
Narrated by: Richard Armitage
Length: 3 hrs and 53 mins
Unabridged Audiobook
Release date: 12-10-18
Language: English
Publisher: Audible Studios
Category: Classics, British Literature


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?

My Thoughts

Last week I had a delightful surprise in my email. It was a free download from Audible for The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. I've never read or ever heard of this classic story before, so I figured, why not? I was immediately engrossed in this audiobook.

The Christmas Hirelings is narrated by the actor Richard Armitage, star of Berlin Station. His voice suited this story perfectly. He gave each character a distinct voice and soon I forgot that the audiobook just had one narrator. 

The story is about an old curmudgeon (Sir John Penlyon) who is planning to spend Christmas with an old friend and his niece. They decide that Christmas is more Christmasy when there are young children around to share it with. So they decide to 'hire' some for the season. I know it sounds creepy/weird, but hang in there. Penlyon's friend, Danby, goes about and hires some. He brings them to Sir John's estate and the story begins to unfold.

The children endear themselves to Sir John and he to them, especially Moppet, the youngest. At her four years of age, she shows incredible understanding and love. Her presence warms Sir John's old Grinch heart. But Moppet suffers from sickness and soon her life is in peril. And that's where I'll stop. It is a Christmas tale so don't worry too much about the ending. 

This story was very moving. It's full of what the Christmas spirit should be about. I'm so glad Audible gave their members this Christmas story, because if not, I might have never come across it. If you're an Audible member, download this title immediately!