I would recommend this in a heartbeat. The story had gotten old for me after so many years but Anne manages to breathe life into the characters more so than any version of the movie I have ever seen.
The initial scene where they meet Oz. I don't know how she came up with that particular voice for him (apparently, she doesn't either if you've seen the video clip of her talking about doing the narration) but I think it fits the character well.
I certainly would have if I'd had the chance.
Give it a shot. You'll be surprised how much you enjoy a story you've probably already experienced numerous times.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Because I love the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz and had listened to Anna Fields' Blackstone Audio (2001) fine reading of the original book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), I was curious to try an audiobook version read by a popular and accomplished actress, and so listened to the Anne Hathaway "performs" The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (2011), for audible.com's "a-list" line of classic books read by popular actors.
First, about the original novel itself, the story is light-hearted, with plenty of fantastic and appealing characters (like Dorothy's companions), exciting flare-ups of ultra-violence (like the orders and fates of the Wicked Witch's forty wolves, forty crows, and forty bees) ironic insights into human nature (like the pure Tin Woodman's mistaken belief that if he had a heart he would not need to be so careful to avoid hurting living beings because people with hearts naturally avoid hurting others), humorous lines (like when the Scarecrow asks the Lion if he has brains he answers "I suppose so. I've never looked to see"), and good themes for children (like personal hygiene is important and we all have the potential to develop the qualities we think we lack and just need to find the confidence and opportunities to use them). If you've only seen the movie, and if you like it, you should read or listen to the original book, because it's interesting to compare the similar and different points between them. The movie, for instance, stops about three-fifths of the way through the book, downplays the violence, increases Dorothy's age, and adds songs and dances, as well as the wonderful feature of some fantasy world characters having real world alter-egos.
One feature of the Audible a-list audiobook that's convenient and nice is that the 24 chapters of the book are divided into 24 navigable chapters and Hathaway reads out the titles of the chapters after their numbers, while the Blackstone version has only five navigable super audiobook chapters, so that when you click the fast forward or rewind button you end up several chapters ahead or behind rather than just one, and Fields only reads out chapter numbers rather than titles and numbers together.
Like many of the reviews posted on Audible, I have mixed feelings about Hathaway's reading. She mostly does a fine, fun job with the different characters' different voices. The Scarecrow is funny and scratchy (sure, he does sound a bit like a hyper Marge Simpson, but Marge's voice is not a bad one to recall); the Tin Woodman is sensitive; the Cowardly Lion deep and blustery and a little New York or New Jersey-ish; the Mouse Queen cute and squeaky; the Wicked Witch old and wicked; Oz feckless; Dorothy sweet. . . I suppose you could complain about her Stork sounding like a storky-valley girl, the pseudo-British King of the Flying Monkeys rolling too many of his Rs, the Guard of the Gates of the Emerald City sounding oddly Daffy Duckish (especially when he says "spectacles"), and the Hammer-Heads sounding a bit too much like the Scarecrow, but, hey, Hathaway does her best to give each character a distinctive feel, and I enjoyed most of them.
The problem for me was her over-reading too many of the third person narrator's lines, becoming, for instance, too breathy, fast, and excited when reading exciting parts of the story. In Chapter 1 Dorothy and Toto have been carried up into the air in their house on the cyclone, and although at first the scene has been exciting and scary, with Hathaway (perhaps over-dramatically) inflecting her voice for greater urgency, one paragraph ends calmly with the cyclone carrying the house "miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather." When the next sentence begins, "It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her," Hathaway briefly resumes her hyper danger mode, even though that same sentence ends, "but Dorothy found she was riding quite easily," and its paragraph ends, "she felt as if she were being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle," for which Hathaway uses an extra sweet calm mood. Her vocal mood shifts sound too much right next to each other, and a sentence that ends calmly should be read from the beginning calmly, even if the first phrase of the sentence indicates some horribly howling wind, because the context before and after that howling wind is not scary. In short, Hathaway over-reads much of the narration, which detracted from the listening experience, making me think at times, as some reviewers have said, of Anne Hathaway rather than of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Finally, it comes down to preference. If you like the reader of an audiobook to *perform* different voices and moods and so on like an actor (tellingly, the Audible title is "Anne Hathaway Performs The Wonderful Wizard of Oz"), you should listen to Hathaway. If you only want to hear a person with a pleasant voice, accurate pronunciation, and sensitive and smooth pace read a good book, you should listen to Anna Fields. Hathaway is strutting her actress stuff, mostly enjoyably (because she obviously enjoys the story), but although kids probably prefer her different character voices and high-tension narration, I prefer Anna Fields' more subtle differences between characters and more even-keeled and natural narrative voice.
I had only seen the film (many, many times) and didn't realize that the book would offer such a different experience! There was so much more to the story. It really turned my understanding of the story on its head.
It is very hard to pick a favorite character since I am fond of all of them from my childhood. Who doesn't like the Cowardly Lion or the Scarecrow?
She did a good job of differentiating all of the characters, however some of her voices were terribly annoying. Thankfully, all of the main characters were voiced very, very well. The supporting cast? Very hit and miss. She chose weird Valley Girl, stereotypical "US Marine", and a slobbery speech impediment accent for various characters. Quite a few times throughout the book, I found myself being torn out of the nice, dreamy place I was in and being tossed into the "Anne is so annoying at times" world. The voices, aside from being poor choices, were often simply jarring.
I wouldn't make a film for this book. A perfectly fine one already exists.
Despite Anne's fantastic ability to make us remember that we're not actually in Oz, we're listening to her think up new, annoying voices, this is overall an extremely enjoyable experience.
I think children might enjoy the character voices, but it was too juvenile for me.
The narrator tries to make everyone sound different by applying regional accents and it is really distracting from the story. She makes the wizard sound like Ellie from Boarderlands. I couldn't finish the book because I couldn't stand to listen to him talk anymore!
I love the book, just not a fan of the narration.
Husband, Father, Son.
Heck yeah!!! It's a classic that everyone should read. Way different from the movie and so much better
That it was different from the movie.
She did a great job doing the different voices and acting them out through her words. It was just plain great
No, not really just amazed me that it was different from the movie.
I love Anne Hathaway as an actress. She did a horrifyingly bad job of narrating this lovely story. The voices she created for the various characters were strange and didn't fit with the story at all. And some of them were just unlistenable. I found myself eager for the audiobook to be over. Very disappointing.
It was very difficult to appreciate the wonderful tale, as it was originally written, due to the ingratiating voice of Anne Hathaway. I listen to many audiobooks during my long commute. With most of the books that are narrated by celebrities I am able to get lost in the storyline. Those books feel natural. Each character is imbued in a particular manner which makes him or her easily believed. This is not one of those books. The characters within sound like Anne Hathaway being... Anne Hathaway. As the book continued, the accent, voice and tone assigned to each individual character progressively became more annoying and eventually just downright ridiculous. Towards the end the voices sounded like 1980's "valley girl" audio caricatures. At no point should a book written at the turn of the century have that accent. Actually no book should contain that accent (unless it is an audiobook about "valley girls").
I gutted it out until the end for the sheer sake of learning the original ending. In retrospect, I wish I had aborted my mission and bought a version narrated by someone else. Anyone else.
I am a lover of the fantastic! The adventure!
Kids 4 to 8 years old should enjoy this story.
I do not have a favorite character in this book.
Anne Hathaway is great for kids books, yet she shows that she does not understand tonality in some of her characters. Accents were completely wrong and caused me to want some of the characters to leave the story and never return.
Enjoyed hearing the story, much different than the movie that I grew up with it.
I would have liked a different performer, I have heard much better performances and was disappointed with this one.
It is worth listenening to learn the whole story.
I thought I knew Oz, from years of loving the various versions of the movie, the plays, and reading Wicked. Not! L. Frank Baum's story is more complex, less scary, and more thought- provoking than the movie, and I plan to read more of the series as a result. Someone said to me "This was the 'Harry Potter' series of its era", and I can see how! Ann Hathaway's narration was terrific!