Painter, musician, bibliophile...
This second collection of "Great Classic Stories" is just as rewarding as the first, with something for everyone, including comedy, tragedy, suspense, and romance.
From Huxley's brassy lunchtime companion to the sad teller of Gilbert's love story, nearly every story reveals an unforgettable character or two, and the narrators are first-rate. I particularly enjoyed Bill Wallis and Simon Vance.
Here are the stories in order:
YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN by Nathaniel Hawthorne
THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO by Edgar Allan Poe
COUSIN WILLIAM by Harriet Beecher Stowe
HOW I EDITED AN AGRICULTURAL PAPER by Mark Twain
A PIECE OF STRING by Guy de Maupassant
ANGELA, AN INVERTED LOVE STORY by W. S. Gilbert
THE NIGHTINGALE AND THE ROSE by Oscar Wilde
THE STORY OF AN HOUR by Kate Chopin
A JURY OF HER PEERS by Susan Glaspell
ARABY by James Joyce
THE MARK ON THE WALL by Virginia Woolf
THE INTERLOPERS by Saki
HEAD AND SHOULDERS by F. Scott Fitzgerald
THE STRANGER by Katherine Mansfield
THE BLIND MAN by D. H. Lawrence
NUNS AT LUNCHEON by Aldous Huxley
Poe is a favorite of mine, so I've heard a lot of great actors narrate his stories over the years: Christopher Lee, Basil Rathbone, Vincent Price, to name a few.
I wasn't expecting a narration of that level, though. I was just looking for a complete collection of the short stories. Sadly, the narration makes it almost impossible to enjoy listening to it.
Thomley's narration is flat and without any affect, more suited to the reading of a dry history than masterful tales of suspense, mystery, and humor.
Also, his mispronunciations are like fingernails on a chalkboard. Poe is strewn with Latin, French, and German. It is not unreasonable to expect a narrator of Poe to be able to pronounce the words with basic proficiency.
But for three dollars, you do get all the stories, including some of those rare treats that hardly appear in other collections, such as his humorous tales. I particularly love "The Angel of the Odd." Poe's twisted sense of fun is all too often eclipsed by his more macabre works.
You be the judge. It is a bargain of sorts, but don't expect too much.
In this BBC radio play, we find Lambert Strether "on embassy" to Paris, where is has gone to retrieve his widowed finacee's son Chad. The family suspects Chad has become involved in a most unsuitable situation and they want him back in Massachusetts as soon as possible.
In a story by turns comical, romantic, and sad, Strether finds himself gradually transformed by his experiences abroad, and Chad's true character comes as something of a surprise.
The cast is good, but there are inevitably a few brief moments of unintentional hilarity that ensue when British actors try to emulate American and French accents. Still, that's all part of the fun.
I've been meaning to read THE AMBASSADORS for years. I love James, but he's never easy, and this particularly complex masterpiece is some 450 pages long! One day, I shall read that great doorstop of a book. Until then, I'm happy to have listened to the radio play, and hope you'll find it entertaining, too.