G. A. Henty is known for his popular series of adventure books based on historical events. St. Bartholomew’s Eve was published in 1893 and is based on the massacre of French Huguenots (Calvinist Protestants) by a mob of French Catholics. This occurred on August 23, 1572, the day before the feast day of St. Bartholomew. This was part of the French Wars of Religion that had been going on for years.
Knowing a little bit of the history behind the events would be helpful before listening to the CDs. Then it will be easier to follow along.
St. Bartholomew’s Eve
The CD set is not an audio version of the book. It is an audio drama adaptation that brings the characters to life. It is for ages 6-Adult.
The story immediately draws you in. As with previous productions, this one starts with Mr. George (G. A. Henty) talking with two boys. He then begins to tell the story and narrates throughout.
The main character is Philip Fletcher, a 16-year-old from England visiting France. He is friends with the Huguenots and is caught up in the fighting and battles that ensue.
You’ll meet many different characters, some fictional, but many historical like Henry, the Prince of Navarre (a Protestant), who agrees to marry Margaret (a Catholic), the sister of the French King, Charles, to try to bring peace. Also, you’ll meet Admiral de Coligny, one of the leaders of the Huguenots, and the Duke of Guise, one of the prominent Catholics of France.
There are plots of murder, battles, narrow escapes, and more. You’ll be sitting on the edge of your seat to know what happens next. Be sure to listen for Argento, a fictional child who has many of his own adventures throughout the story.
A few of the cast members include:
- Brian Blessed (Star Wars, Tarzan, King Lear) as G.A. Henty
- Hugo Docking (Oliver Twist) as Philip Fletcher (and Ned)
- Elizabeth Counsell (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Catherine De Medici
- David Shaw-Parker (The Muppet Christmas Carol) as Captain Montpace
- Brian Deacon (Bonhoeffer, The Jesus Film) as Count de la Noue, Jacques, the President, and Count de Luc
- Andy Harrison (The Secret Garden) as Henry, Prince of Navarre
This was a great audio theater production. The story was engaging, and it was hard to stop after just a chapter or two. With it being 2.5 hours, you could listen to all of it in one sitting. But it is also separated into chapters that make it easy to listen to a little at a time, especially if you have smaller children.
Here are some of the positives from the boys:
- Told story in an almost movie-like way, but over audio
- In the end, they made sure to say that not all Catholics were bad and wanted to kill Huguenots
- Very dramatic; you could almost see the action even though it was only sound
- Quite fast-paced and to the point, you could listen and not get bored too easily
- The mood changed constantly, and the script was well-planned
- The voice actors did a good job
The only negative I have is that the accents were strong and it was hard to understand what was being said sometimes. Here are the negatives from the boys:
- Sometimes you couldn’t keep track of who was talking, but maybe I just needed to pay attention more
- The title was kind of misleading; you wouldn’t know what it was about unless you knew the story behind it
We would highly recommend St. Bartholomew’s Eve audio CDs to everyone. It brings history to life and is an engaging audio drama. This is just one of the great adventures from Heirloom Audio. If you are interested, here is the review we did for another adventure, Wulf the Saxon.