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Ian

Farnborough, United Kingdom | Member Since 2003

337
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 68 reviews
  • 174 ratings
  • 858 titles in library
  • 77 purchased in 2014
FOLLOWING
1
FOLLOWERS
72

  • Coming up for Air

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Richard Brown
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (8)

    George Bowling, an insurance salesman, hits middle age and feels impelled to “come up for air” from his life of quiet desperation. With seventeen pounds he has won at a race, he steals a vacation from his wife and family and pays a visit to Lower Binfield, the village where he grew up, to fish for carp in a pool he remembers from thirty years before. But the pool is gone, Lower Binfield has changed beyond recognition, and the principal event of Bowling’s holiday is an accidental bombing by the RAF.

    Darwin8u says: "Orwell Flirts and Fishes w/ Nostalgia & Modernity."
    "Orwell's best?"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    OK. Orwell is one of the most important writers in the English language. 1984 is probably the book that saved us from living entirely in the society it describes. And all of 1984 is here, in embryo, disguised as a book about going back to your youth and it's environs.

    Orwell is always at his most fluid when he is describing politics or nature and here he goes full pelt at both of them. The Two Minutes Hate is here. Duckspeak is here. And so is the Golden Country. And here the description of the Golden Country is given full reign. And runs to cover quite a bit of the first few chapters.

    I allow myself the conceit that George Bowling, the main protagonist, is actually the father of the Winston Smith of 1984. The timeline is nearly right and there are aspects of Bowling's story that make it just about possible. I'm pretty sure that Orwell had no intention to make it so but the two stories definitely flow into each other in a way that this idea enhances.

    The story is however mainly about the coarseness of progress and the loss of rural life to commercialism, speculation and "airy fairynesss" for lack of a better phrase. This novel was published during the period where totalitarian states were taking actions that Orwell recognised as leading to inevitable war but before the actual outbreak of conflict for Britain. As such it is an important window onto that period of history.

    The narration is very good and the overall production is excellent.

    If you only ever read one Orwell it should be this one, but shame on you if it is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Stig of the Dump

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Clive King
    • Narrated By Tony Robinson
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Barney is a solitary little boy, given to wandering off by himself. One day he is lying on the edge of a disused chalk-pit when it gives way and he lands in a sort of cave. Here he meets 'somebody with a lot of shaggy hair and two bright black eyes' wearing a rabbit skin and speaking in grunts. He names him Stig. Of course nobody believes Barney when he tells his family all about Stig, but for Barney cave-man Stig is totally real. They become great friends, learning each other's ways and embarking on a series of unforgettable adventures.

    Ian says: "Childhood, welcome back"
    "Childhood, welcome back"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    A very long time ago my infant school teacher read us all Stig of the Dump. Out loud and in its entirety. She was better at it than Tony Robinson or maybe it's just that my 6 year old mind was more impressed by her rendition. Whichever it was, the title has been in my head ever since, along with at least some of the scenes in the story.

    It's a simple kind of story but with enough nuance to be interesting and if you are listening along with younger readers nobody will get lost and nobody should get bored. The language is simple without being condescending and Robinson actually does a very good job with it.

    It's about the kind of everyday adventures that I had as a boy with just a little bit of extension to make them that bit more exciting. The kind of thing that we certainly used to believe was just about possible before, sadly, we learned better. Share it with a child before they learn better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Blade Runner

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Philip K. Dick
    • Narrated By Scott Brick
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (866)
    Performance
    (510)
    Story
    (519)

    It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment: find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!

    Muddy says: "Pleasantly Surprised"
    "Now the movie makes sense"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I love the movie and remember just how "other" it seemed when it was first release.

    But it never made sense.

    Now it does.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Rogue Male

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By Geoffrey Household
    • Narrated By Robin Browne
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (65)
    Performance
    (28)
    Story
    (29)

    An Englishman plans to assassinate the dictator of a European country. But he is foiled at the last moment and falls into the hands of ruthless and inventive torturers. They devise for him an ingenious and diplomatic death but, for once, they bungle the job and he escapes. But England provides no safety from his pursuers - and the Rogue Male must strip away all the trappings of status and civilization as the hunter becomes a hunted animal.

    Richard says: "Nice book, first person, not fly on wall"
    "An Englishman's ditch is his castle"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of the (many) books I have loved. I read it first when I was about 12 and the plot and some of its scenes have lived in my head for a very long time.

    It is very English.

    It is very 30's.

    It is very good.

    It's Englishness and it's 30'sness mean that some of its language and some of its sensibilities will jar on many 21st century minds. Get over it. The point of historical texts is to let us see where we came from and this does that well.

    The writing is clear and direct. The language is simple and the descriptions are concise. The story is simple in concept but deep enough to stay interesting.

    It translates well to audio and Browne's narration is clear and without excessive characterisation.

    This will make it to the repeat listen list with no problem.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Richard E. Grant
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (32)
    Story
    (32)

    Gordon Comstock loathes dull, middle-class respectability and worship of money. He gives up a 'good job' in advertising to work part-time in a bookshop, giving him more time to write. But he slides instead into a self-induced poverty that destroys his creativity and his spirit. Only Rosemary, ever-faithful Rosemary, has the strength to challenge his commitment to his chosen way of life.

    Timothy says: "Gordon's Grey World is Colored with Grant"
    "Great performance. Loathsome character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Gordon Comstock may just be the least appealing character in any book I have ever read. Whining, self pitying, grasping (of everything but money) he is almost completely devoid of human sympathy. At one point I nearly abandoned the book because he is such an unsympathetic persona.

    But it is an Orwell. You can't give up on an Orwell. It's the law. And Gordon does finally redeem himself for the most human of all reasons. If you love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work. If you don't love Orwell you need to work your way through all of his work so that you eventually will. This is certainly no "Animal Farm" and "Coming up for Air" is a friendlier read (next please Audible) but it certainly repays the listening time.

    Richard E Grant's performance is excellent. Just the right amount of self important sneer in his voice and just the right tone of undeserved and unappreciated privilege in his delivery. All round a very good audiobook.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Elusive Pimpernel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Baroness Orczy
    • Narrated By Johanna Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (40)
    Story
    (40)

    In this sequel to The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy Blakeney's arch-enemy travels to England in pursuit of the impudent enemy of the French Republic. Monsieur Chauvelin devises a dastardly plot to annihilate, once and for all, both Sir Percy and his beautiful wife, Marguerite. Lured to France, where the entire town of Boulogne is held hostage on their behalf, they seem to be hopelessly trapped. Will the Scarlet Pimpernel prevail?

    Julie Ann Koehler says: "Witty, funny and well read."
    "The difficult second album......."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I relisten to "The Scarlet Pimpernel" frequently but this isn't going to make it to the repeats list.

    It lacks the humour and adventure of the original and spends too much time talking about how luuuuuuvly Blakeney is and how much she luuuuuuvs him and frankly it wears a bit thin after an hour or so. But maybe that's just me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • 'A' Force: The Origins of British Deception During the Second World War

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Whitney T. Bendeck
    • Narrated By Derek Perkins
    Overall
    (5)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (5)

    "A" Force explores an area of World War II deception history that has often been neglected. While older studies have focused on the D-day deception campaign and Britain's infamous double-agents, this work explores the origins of Britain's deception activities to reveal how the British became such masterful deceivers. This is the first work to focus exclusively on "A" Force and the origins of British deception, examining how and why the British first employed deception in World War II. More

    Ian says: "Not what it could be."
    "Not what it could be."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This should have been a fascinating exploration of the techniques and methods used in this interesting and important aspect of the second world war, and by extension war more generally. But it isn't. It expends too much effort on who did what and when they did it and not enough on what they did.

    The narration is OK and the details are vaguely interesting but the trick is missed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Flashman on the March

    • ABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By George MacDonald Fraser
    • Narrated By Toby Stephens
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (25)

    Many have marvelled at General Napier's daring 1868 expedition through the treacherous peaks and bottomless chasms of Abyssinia to rescue a small group of British citizens held captive by the mad tyrant Emperor Theodore. But the vital role of Sir Harry Flashman, V.C., in the success of this campaign has hitherto gone unrecorded.

    D. says: "Another Great Flashman!"
    "I gave in."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I don't often give in on a book. This one, this time, I did. And about 80% of the way through! On the rare occassions when I abandon a book it is usually early on but this one took hours to grind me down.

    I suspect that I kept giving it the benefit of the doubt because I have enjoyed other tiles in the Flashman series.It may be because the historical background to this one is little known to me. It may be because the narration didn't strike me as well fitted. It may be because even a great author (MacDonald Fraser is quite good but definitely not great) pushes out a dud every now and then. More realisically it is a mix of all of them.

    I came to this after relistening to an old Flashman favourite (F in the Great Game) and a new addition (Flashman).

    The first of these is narrated by Timothy West who is perfect for the part.

    The second by Rupert Penry-Jones who was startlingly adequate at the role. I was wthin a whisker of abandoning that one when it finished.

    But this title is narrated by Toby Stephens whose performance was as patchy as they come. The reason West is perfect is because these are the memoirs of a man being read in his later years relating his exploits as a young man. They should be read by an old duffer and Timothy West does old duffer about a hundred times better than either of the other two. I'll be willing to bet cash money that he costs more than either of the other two but the quality is there all the way through the recording. It just sounds very very wrong to have a 12 year olds voice reading an old man story.

    So I'm left up a stump now. I had intended to build a listening career on this series but now find that unless they are narrated by West I am quite likely to abandon them.

    My advice is probably to either only listen to the ones narrated by West or never listen to them. Without his performance they are pretty insipid stuff.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2

    • UNABRIDGED (26 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Mark Twain
    • Narrated By Grover Gardner
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (27)

    Mark Twain's complete, uncensored Autobiography was an instant best seller when the first volume was published in 2010, on the centennial of the author's death, as he requested. Published to rave reviews, the Autobiography was hailed as the capstone of Twain's career. It captures his authentic and unsuppressed voice, speaking clearly from the grave and brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions. The eagerly awaited second volume delves deeper into Twain's life, uncovering the many roles he played in his private and public worlds.

    Tad Davis says: "Magnificent"
    "The way it should be done."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I purchased this with some small fear. Not about Twain's part of it but because the first volume was ballasted with way too much information about who the editors and compilers were and how clever they had been in editing and compiling the work. And in volume 1 it was all at the beginning of the book and of the chapters so at no time was it safe to use the guff blocker that is labelled "fast forward".

    But this edition is done the way it should be done. Hoorah!!!! There is still some content about the editors and financial contributors, as I am sure is only fair. But it is all at the end. Hoorah Hoorah!! Puttng it there, where it belongs, means that as a listener you have been able to enjoy Twain's stream of consciousness after which you realise how much you should be grateful to the people in the credits section and are happy to listen to it and give them credit.

    Grover Gardner is an inspired choice as narrator reading the material with inflection and style. Getting excited in the exciting bits and amused in the amusing bits. If anybody ever wants an example of how an audiobook should be performed then they shoulduse this as their guide.

    As to the content - It's Twain - Just buy it.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Allan Quatermain

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By H. Rider Haggard
    • Narrated By Bill Homewood
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    We have met the intrepid hunter-tracker Allan Quatermain before, in H. Rider Haggard’s marvelous King Solomon’s Mines. This time, grieving from the tragic loss of his son, Quatermain longs to return to his beloved Africa. He sets out in search of a lost white tribe, the Zu-Vendis, ruled by two beautiful sister Queens. Once again, Quatermain’s companions are the indefatigable Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, and the magnificent Zulu warrior Umslopogaas. The journey is incredibly dangerous, and thrillingly told.

    Ian says: "Bit tedious really."
    "Bit tedious really."
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I could not help visualising a scene in the office of Haggard's publisher where the publisher is saying
    "Can't you do King Solomon's Mines 2 - The Return or something like that. That I can sell."
    "All the same old stereotypes?" asks Haggard
    "Of course. Oh - do you think you can fit a cowardly and stupid Frenchman in there as well. Everybody likes a cowardly Frenchman. Oooh Ooooh - I know - make him a chef"
    "Not a problem" says Haggard as he gets up to leave.

    And that's what he did. Same old stiff upper lip nationalism. Same set piece action scenes. Same over elaborate pointless descriptions with bizzare irrelevant details which go on and on and on.

    Narration carefully chosen to be as pompous as the writing. And I usually like this stuff!!!!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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