For the most part, this was a really enjoyable book. The glimpse into various extremely different food worlds was fascinating: from celebrity chef Mario Batali's 3-star New York restaurant to uncelebrated Italian women who make tortellini the way their grandmothers were taught by their grandmothers. I loved Buford's self-deprecating wit and his genuine interest in people of all stripes, as well as in the food they cook. Although the book is most known for its intimate portrait of Batali's kitchen, I found the chapters on the artisanal food producers in Italy even more appealing, making me want to fly off to Italy to feast on traditional dishes before they are lost to modern fast food. My only objection to the book was Buford's over-use of expetives. It is too bad he didn't learn from all those great cooks that seasoning is most appealing when laid on with a light hand.
The Song of Achilles, as read by Frazer Douglas, is pure lyricism--a love song for the ages. Madeline Miller's simple poetic phrasing soared thanks to Douglas's tender, understated narration. I was enraptured from the start--and spent the last chapters in tears. This is the first audio book I finished, then immediately started again. Now I know how audiences must have felt as they listened to bards reciting the Iliad: entranced.
As a fan of both the book and the classic BBC TV miniseries starring Derek Jacobi, I couldn't resist trying out this audio drama version of I, Claudius--especially as it stars some of the great British theater actors, including Jacobi as Augustus, and it recently won an Audie Award for full cast recordings.
What a great piece of audio theater it was! I was so drawn into the story, the characters, and the life of the early Roman Empire that I literally couldn't stop listening. (Since I normally listen as I walk, this was also quite good for my figure!) You find you don't miss the visual element at all--each character is clearly separate and your imagination paints the scene. Great story, great acting--who could ask for more?
Brilliantly narrated by Euan Morton, Fool is the perfect example of how a great audio book is far more than a good book well-read. When done right--and the wickedly comedic Morton assuredly does it right--it is an art form of its own. In this case, that means laugh-aloud funny.
The book itself is a delightfully pun-filled riff on King Lear, filled with twisted references to other Shakespeare plays. The writing is clever indeed, but this is in no way high brow humor: potty mouth would come closer to the mark. Think Monty Python, but in a less censored age. While some scenes are rip-roaringly funny, however, the book does get repetitious. Naughty words can only amuse for so long. I think had I merely read it, Fool would soon have begun to feel one-dimensional and flat.
Morton's reading, particularly the charm he gave to the fool, was what kept me addicted. Not only was he able to engage different voices, but he created characters with wholly different personalities. Pocket, the fool, came across as every bit as sweet as he was malicious--all with perfect comedic timing!
While this is not a book I would recommend to those who are offended by salty language and saltier behavior, to all the rest I would say: this is the funniest audio book I have ever listened to.
Really good historical fiction is a rarity. Most books calling themselves historical fiction are simply modern murder mysteries or romance novels with a bit of period detail thrown in. But now and then a marvelous book comes along that takes you into the past in with an honesty and intimacy in a way a pure history book never could. Think of Wolf Hall, I Claudius, or The Red Badge of Courage. Imperium is definitely in that category.
This compelling story, beautifully narrated by Simon Jones, brings Cicero and his world alive. You can practically smell the decaying odors of Rome in the final days of the Republic. You are gripped by his scheming, even as you know the ultimate outcome. It takes a great writer to urge you along even when there is no mystery. I highly recommend this audio book to anyone who loves history, politics, biography, or just a plain good story.
This is without question the most beautifully narrated book I have experienced in the 10 or more years I have been listening to audio books. It also shows how an exceptional audio book can be so much more effective than prose on a page. I had tried and failed to read The End of the Affair a couple of times in the past, always succumbing to boredom over the unlikable characters, turgid story, and narrow emotional range. (I realize that I'm swimming against the stream here, but even heartfelt anger becomes tedious after a while.) Still, with an actor as gifted as Colin Firth as the narrator, I felt it was worth investing in one more try.
I am so glad I did! Firth made you feel the pain of the characters, pain that had merely seemed self-indulgent when written on the page. His voice gave depth to what otherwise felt like a shallow story line. And while I still found the end of the book to be mawkish, the narrator's many layered voice won't leave my head. That is what a superb audio book can do.
This is a wonderful audiobook--both in the story and the narration. I was bowled over by "Imperium," the first book in Harris's Cicero trilogy, and was dubious that the second book could be as good. I'm happy to say that my fears were unfounded. Admittedly, the story has a less clear moral arc and is darker than that of Cicero's rise to Consul, but that is the real difference between rising to power and wielding it. This is a more complex book, but every bit as gripping: from the Catiline Conspiracy to the rise of Caesar resulting in Cicero's exile. No spoilers here: this is all in the history books. Yet, thanks in part to Simon Jones's excellent narration, I felt such empathy for the lead characters that I actually found myself hoping it would turn out differently.
Good historical fiction adds a depth of understanding that a pure history book cannot. Conspirata is a great example of doing just that.
I was really looking forward to this book, as I had heard so many excellent things about it. I am still looking forward to this book, only this time I will read it. The narrator's wooden style and robotic pronunciation of Korean names and words made it impossible to finish. I was forced to give up half-way through because the weirdly over-enunciated narration was making it impossible for me to focus on the story. What a waste!
Although this book was listed by Audible among its holiday selections, the only connection with that category is that the events take place on December 22. Rather, this is an unremittingly depressing account of the last day of a chain restaurant. The manager is very appealing in a Charlie Brown sort of way, always running for the football that will inevitably be yanked away. The reading is well done. But don't expect to come away from this book with any warm feelings about the redemptive power of goodness or hope.
This short audiobook is charming, lighthearted story that will take you back to your own childhood Christmases. Beautifully produced and read by Dick Cavett. Thank you, Audible, for this lovely Christmas gift.
I downloaded this with some trepidation, fearing it would be too dense for listening. But the combination of a very accessible translation and a brilliant reading have proved my concerns unfounded. This is a marvelous way to enjoy one of the masterpieces of classical Roman literature. In many ways, it's better than reading, as the reader glides over names whose pronunciation would baffle me. I have listened to this while jogging and even cooking and have never found myself lost. A great story told by a great storyteller.
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