Although I am a fan of Deborah Tannen's books, and I have enjoyed attending lectures she has given, I was disappointed in this series. There was a lot of repetition, to the point where I kept thinking I was listening to a record that was skipping and stuck on the same sentence. I'm not talking about expounding on a topic or rephrasing it, but rather an almost verbatim account of the same sentences. Based on this, even though I am interested in the subjects she writes/talks about, I would hesitate to get another one of her audio lectures.
This audiobook has no meaningful table of contents. There are 50 short stories but the ToC has 57 chapters, each named in the enlightening fashion of "Chapter 1, Chapter 2... If you are in the mood for a particular story, good luck finding it. I went in to the publisher's description on audible.com, copied/pasted the list of stories into Word, added automatic numbering to the list and printed it out in order to have some idea of how to find an author/story. Even this isn't foolproof, since for example, story #47 is on chapter 54. As this is a book of short stories, I do not want to be forced to listen in the publisher's order, but wish to be able to select what to hear based on mood, time available, and family members present.
The narration is okay - not to my taste, but not bad. Cathy Dobson has a clear voice but a hypnotic rhythm. This makes it easy to become distracted.
The stories, while all by famous classic authors, are somewhat repetitive in theme (what I have listened to so far, that is). I was only familiar with some of the stories prior to purchase, and the publisher's description consists only of a list of titles/authors, with no hint as to a central theme. Had I realized that so many stories consisted of the dispassionate narration of characters killing and/or torturing other people/creatures without remorse, I would not have purchased this for my family read-aloud time.
It took me a long time to get engaged in this one. I particularly disliked the vivid descriptions of how carnivores kill and eat their food. Slowly, the story pulled me in, but I wasn't sure I'd stay with it at first. I did like the way the author concluded the story with an alternate explanation of the events. It made me revisit the different events of the story that I took more at face value as I read them, and see them in a new light.
I read this years ago when it first was published, and remembered liking it but couldn't remember anything else. Now my son has to read it for school, so it motivated me to re-read. Usually I just go with the audio book since I like to listen while walking outside. But for this one I got the e-book as well as the audio. Since there are a number of words that are in "Lapine" or rabbit vocabulary, it was nice to be able to pause and check the glossary any time. It also prevented me from questioning myself as to whether I misheard a certain word or name, or if it was just an unfamiliar Lapine term. The story is great and the reading is excellent -- I particularly liked the accents the narrator used when voicing the characters who weren't rabbits.
For a free book, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book felt relevant and interesting. I found that the vocabulary used to explain relationships helped lend a new perspective to an old dynamic.
Michael Drout's enthusiasm and love for the subject made this series a lot of fun. I plan to listen to the lectures again.
The minute I finished this book, I wanted to start over. Narration was excellent, story was gripping, characters so fully developed...
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