I'm not sure if I would listen again. I love listening to Stephen Fry, regardless of what he's reading, really. But the tone of this collection of short stories left me in a peculiar mood. I was not very familiar with much of Wilde's work, I have read one or two plays, but never his stories like these. They were fable-like, contained lots of moral lessons...but not in your usual bedtime story or fairytale manner. They were portrayed in a very cynical, pessimistic, sometimes almost defeated sounding way. If the author wrote them intending a commentary on the degradation of society and drowning out of innocent good in the world, lost to pompery and selfishness, he succeeded in sharing his disillusionment.
They were interesting to me because they made me experience a new emotional reaction, and a memorable one because it defied my expectations. Every one of the stories had incredible imagery, and painted scenes more real and often more heart-wrenching than your average short-story. Though they contained vivid characters, both noble and ridiculous, and good stories, they left me feeling a little unfulfilled in their conclusions because though the plots formed and progressed and ended, for the most part they don't follow a satisfying pattern of problems being solved, protagonists succeeding, antagonists becoming enlightened and changing their ways, and good triumphing over evil.
Really, every story moved me, but the two that have struck me the most and pulled at my heart-strings still, days and days after listening, were the moments of the self-sacrifice of the birds in both "The Happy Prince" and "The Nightingale and The Rose", both for the good of a man/mankind, and both unappreciated by the world.
I would maybe recommend it if a friend were looking for light reading and didn't mind the soap opera drama that the main character is constantly turning her life into (not to mention that this particular installment actually revolves around the set of a primetime soap opera). I enjoyed the first book, but as i keep reading further in the series, Maddie's little moments, crazy ideas, and melodramatic reactions to things, and continual misunderstanding of her love interest Ramirez, have been driving me more and more nuts, so I'm not sure how much more I can take. I may try book 4 before i lose patience with her.Maddie and her cast of friends are, if nothing else, certainly a delightful little escape from the usual mystery novel, which are often more dark and procedural.
One of the craziest characters I've come across in any series is Mrs. Rosenblat, a ridiculously-dressed friend of Maddie's mother, who says she communicates with the other world through a spirit guide, and is always warning Maddie about the color of her aura. She is very well performed, and always makes me laugh. Shaffer's voicing makes her really come to life as a character.
Because I tend to do most of my listening on my way to and from work (combination hoofing it and bus), I usually don't get in more than an hour or two of a book a day. But the style of this series is a really easy listen, and often fast-paced. The first book kept me hooked for as long as I could, to the point of continuing to listen while at work, and I finished it in only 2 days. This one took me a couple more days, but it could easily be a one or two day listen over a weekend to entertain during chores and such.
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