Mr Covell's pronunciation enabled me to either listen and follow along with a book simultaneously, or simply listen alone and still understand everything that was being said. Words were said clearly with no confusion or slurring of phrases. Very well done.
Well, Crime and Punishment comes to mind first due to the similar settings, vocabulary, and the fact that they're written by the same author. I enjoy this latter aspect because in C&P we know the killer and root for him being the main character, but in TBK we don't know him and have come to despise him by the time we figure out who the killer truly is.
If I had just read the book there would've been portions that would've been skimmed over quickly rather than meticulously studied thanks to the pace of Walter Covell's read. As I followed along with my book, I was able to read with more patience rather than storm through the book, forgetting lines only minutes after reading them.
I didn't laugh or cry, but I was amazed at the social attitudes that were prevalent in the historical times of the novel. This was shown immensely during the trial, and I was greatly amazed at the jury's judgement when all that was given by the prosecution was circumstantial evidence. But that's the way courts worked in those times, with just men hearing the story and making decisions - when judges could put forth their opinions and tell the jurors what is true and what is not.
Only a couple of times in the narration was a line or a phrase skipped over. This was no doubt due to the same phrases being in back-to-back lines (scribal phenomenon called homoeoteleuton) and the error (called periblepsis) of the omission of the end of the first line as the scribe or orator's eyes returned to the page.
Also, a little more emotion in the narrator's voice could always liven the story up a bit, but it is understood how taking on a frantic character's voice could lose verbal clarity which Mr Covell maintained very well throughout.
Wow! I really must start off my expressing my gratitude to Reza Aslan for writing such a book that speaks to the history and culture of both the decades leading up to, and the millennia following, the life of Jesus of Nazareth. I'll get this one imperfection out of the way, and it's really the only flaw I found in the book: I don't know if Aslan was reading from the published copy of his work (certainly not the copy I own) or if he read from an earlier edition but, whenever the phrase 'the Jewish faith' or 'the Jewish religion' came up he said 'the Jewish cult.' A little annoying; and there were some other phrases that didn't match what my eyes were reading as I followed along. But I'll let it pass.
Aslan spends a bit of time explaining how Jesus's trial was fabricated and embellished over time, noting that the governor Pontius Pilate executed thousands upon thousands of insurrectionists with a flick of his pen, never even giving them proper trials. But the Pilate we read of in the New Testament is a man who cared deeply about whether or not the fellow he was sending to the cross was truly guilty of his crimes; he even tries to make the people choose between the insurrectionist Jesus or the murderer Barabbas (supposedly a custom at Passover, though there is no evidence of this custom). Also, with Mark's gospel in hand, Luke and Matthew paint an even broader picture of a week-willed Pilate, though history speaks of a man who had great disdain for the Jews.
One thing that must be realized is that the gospel writers were not writing to Jews in Jerusalem but to Romans who had overthrown the Jewish revolution. Therefore Pilate had to be "innocent of this man's blood" (just like Annas and Caiaphus) and and the Jews had to be made responsible. Matthew, writing later than Mark, says that the Jews responded as a whole: "His blood will be on us and on our children!" (Matthew 27.25). Luke's gospel says that Pilate "found in [Jesus] no ground for the sentence of death; I will have him flogged and then release him" (Luke 23.22). But John goes the farthest, saying that Pilate actually thought Jesus was the son of God, and Jesus tells Pilate that the Jews are to blame, guilty of a greater sin for handing him over (John 19.11). But then, when Pilate asks "'Shall I crucify your king?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king the the emperor'" (John 19.15). This is heresy among Jewish faith.
Do not forget that Jesus is arrested at night on the eve of the Sabbath (against Jewish law) during the festival of Passover (against Jewish law); he is brought at night (against Jewish law) to the high priest's courtyard where the Sanhedrin are awaiting him; a group of witnesses appear to testify that he has made threats against the Temple of Jerusalem (also against Jewish law because the trial must begin with a detailed list of why the accused is innocent before witnesses testify against him). Now, if the high priests did actually conduct this little trial, then the Torah could not be clearer about the punishment: "One who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death; the whole congregation shall stone the blasphemer..." (Leviticus 24.16), not be handed over to the governor for questioning and crucifixion.
I could go on for hours telling of eye-opening phrases and word-changes in translation that Aslan explains with great clarity, but I thought the previous tidbit would be most interesting. It certainly was for me! Enjoy!
I must say that, with future books, it will be hard not to rate the authors' words and compare them with Thomas Hardy's knowledge of a dictionary and his construction of a sentence. It can be rather simple to narrate the combined works of many characters onto pieces of paper and call it a novel, but Hardy has a lovely style that I'll show presently. In randomly turning to any page in the book I've found the following paragraph: 'At this moment on the ridge, up against the blazing sky, a figure was visible, like the black snuff in the midst of a candle-flame. Then it moved and began to bustle about vigorously from place to place, carrying square skeleton masses, which were riddled by the same rays. A small figure on all fours followed behind. The tall form was that of Gabriel Oak; the small one that of George; the articles in course of transit were hurdles.' Now, if this had been me (or many other authors) I would've said 'Mr Boldwood saw Gabriel Oak and his horse moving hurdles in the hot sun.' See what I mean by eloquence?
As for the story, it is terrific! Gabriel Oak is a loveable man who devotes his life to hard work. Unfortunately, one of his herding dogs happens to chase his flock of ewes off a cliff, so he's left without work and he comes to be employed by Bathsheba, a woman that he falls in love with after she saves his life. I rooted for him the entire time, hoping that she would find some sort of romance with him, but, even after she doesn't, his devotion to her as a concerned employee doesn't stray, though she's being courted by an older gentleman after she plays a trick on him and she ends up marrying a gambling drunkard who doesn't love her in the first place. And at this point, the story's not even halfway through!
Now, when it comes to Jamie Parker's reading of the novel, I found it spot-on! There were several characters with regional accents that he performed incredibly well. His recognition and performance of the author's words was one for the ages. There was only one thing I didn't enjoy about it, at first: his performance was so accurate that, when whispered words were uttered, it was sometimes difficult to hear on my laptop. But this was quickly remedied with the use of headphones, and his performance was enjoyed exponentially more! Well done, sir!
Mr Ball has narrated an excellent collection of fantastic works when it comes to the discussion of the human mind and the answers it must create for itself when contemplating its most common spiritual questions throughout the ages. The truly unfortunate thing about this audiobook's collection is that not all of the compiled works are being narrated. With only two hours left in the second audio file I realized that I was only halfway through the book. So much of the collection is missing.
Another drawback to the narrator's performance is the fact that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between Hitch's introduction to the compiled text and the text itself.
Aside from these two drawbacks, Hitchens' collection of works comes from many different eras of spiritual contemplation. Whether springing from the mind of a psychologist, physicist, zoologist, or fellow author, the works express mankind's need to find the answers to as many questions as it can, sometimes inventing what actually aren't solutions to the problem but rather ideas that raise more questions. Faith and fact are two entirely different things and the authors that Hitchens compiled in this book express that clearly.
I was amazed from the very beginning of this book at how the nature of the characters were pronounced - very Shakespearean in letting the reader/listener immediately know who the heroes and villains are, rooting for Dantes from the very beginning to take his revenge on those who sent him off to prison. It's sad, of course, that Abbe Faria doesn't survive long enough to make his escape with Dantes, but we can't really be sure that Dantes would've made it out had he not taken Faria's place being thrown over the cliff and into the waters of freedom.
Dantes's revenge is very meticulous and, though his mind is set on ruining the lives of those who sent him to prison, he manages to do good works for worthy folks who cross his path. Perhaps the greatest point in the novel (at least for me) is when Mercedes is begging that he not take part in the duel against her son, pronouncing that she's recognized Dantes as the Count the whole time and has always loved him. This sends him into a time of deep reflection which is very profound and insightful into the human psyche.
John Lee's narration is fantastic, especially when he gets into the more emotional aspects of the novel. At first, it was a little bit of a chore in trying to distinguish between two males in dialogue (even though I read along until my eyes get tired) but, after he got going all the characters could be easily recognized. Very well done, sir - a great narration of one of the greatest novels my eyes and ears have ever encountered.
This is the first book I've read by Edith Wharton and, trust me, I'll be reading as many as I can from here on out! I found myself constantly upset with the center of the novel, Lily Bart, because of her ego, her reluctance to accept the love being offered to her upon nearly every encounter with a male (though one she was wise to refuse), and her inability (or, rather, lack of effort) to crawl out of the hole she had dug for herself in the final chapters of the book.
But, no matter what the author was expressing, I've seldom seen more beautifully constructed sentences, painting an exquisite picture of the characters' surroundings, moods and behaviors. Not only does she display a wonderful landscape, she also delivers bits of wisdom here and there to keep the reader from falling into Lily's debacle.
"In whatever form a slowly-accumulated past lives in the blood - whether in the concrete image of the old house stored with visual memories, or in the conception of the house not built with hands, but made up of inherited passions and loyalties - it has the same power of broadening and deepening the individual existence, of attaching it by mysterious links of kinship to all the mighty sum of human striving."
Eleanor Bron's performance of the novel is terrific, with discernible accents for specific characters and the ability to fluently express the author's tremendous work. Well done, indeed.
Middlemarch is an amazing book that portrays a list of characters that seem to get themselves into trouble by thinking too much instead of going with their instincts. Social hierarchy seems to be the factor in the back of every person's mind that decides which romantic or financial turns they will take, at the onset nearly ruining their lives.
Dorothea happens to be my favorite character due to her independence. I was very frustrated with her time and time again, however, whenever she and Will Ladislaw got together and never acted on the love that each knew was present. It seemed that every time both of them got together I was silently screaming to them both to profess their love and lead happy lives, not ones of servitude to others. When they finally did, I knew that all would turn out well for them.
The supposed superiority of men over women was a predominant issue that came back over and over again to nearly every character. Whether it was the disgust of a woman deciding for herself who she should marry, or a wife trying to help her husband financially, each woman was put in her place and their actions were restricted, threatened by the fear of a poor lifestyle. Strangely enough, it was the wives that survived their restrictive husbands, and went on to live happily in the end.
George Eliot (a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans) put together a wonderful conglomeration of social, political, spiritual, and ethical hardships as well as the solutions to such difficulties, and she did so with excellent eloquence. Maureen O'Brien, the narrator, brought forth a terrific performance, with each character clearly understood, even in the most emotional scenes. Very well done!
I never would have imagined that the adventures of a group of whalers could be so eloquently relayed to a reader, but here's the book that does just that! Herman Melville's expression of even the simplest ideas are given with such incredible phrases that one has to sometimes rewind the narrative (I did, at least) in order to be sure they actually heard what their ears reported. His eloquent use of alliteration was of such spectacular skill that several scenes stood steadily in sight, stuff that easily brings a smile to to a serene listener's face.
We immediately are encountered by social dilemmas of racism and conflicting religious beliefs when Ishmael meets Queequeg for the first time. Fear is the first thing that Ishmael expresses, though he and Queequeg quickly become friends before they even head out on their voyage. On the ship, the existence of good and evil, even of a reigning deity, are examined as we hear of the history and beliefs of other shipmates. All in all, it's a diligent group of men who are either running from their lives on land or searching for something better than the lands from whence they came, even if it's something as simple as adventure.
Mr Frank Muller is an excellent narrator of the book and, though his accents for various characters are very subtle, they're still enough of a change to inform the listener that a new character is speaking, or that Ishmael's commentary has begun again. At times the narrative was so exciting and high-paced that I couldn't have understood what was being said without following along in my book, but, aside from that small glitch, the performance was fantastic. Mr Muller did a great job in delivering sometimes complicated phrases from an amazing author. Very well done, sir!
This is a great work by Henry James, the story of Isabel and her reluctance to search for love, in the meantime setting her up with the wrong man, one who challenges her independence.
I particularly loved her Aunt and Uncle and extended family, folks who took her in after her father died and treating her as if she was their daughter or sister - very lovely indeed. Her independence when it comes to finding her future lover is quite hilarious when she starts to meet men in London, with practically every fellow she speaks to immediately hitting on her, and being sent on their way with low-hanging heads after just a couple of encounters.
One can tell how much her family really loved her when her uncle dies and she's given an inheritance, a wealth that allows her to travel across the continent, meeting Gilbert Osmond and eventually marrying him, much to the dismay of her former suitors and her cousin Ralph, one who treats her like a younger sister.
Chapter 42 is a rather life-changing point in Isabel's life, several hours spent in her bedroom into the wee hours of the morning, wondering whether or not her choice to marry Gilbert was a mistake. Another turning point in the novel is when she's told that her husband never married the father of his little girl - one that she's come to love as her own - and is doing now what he did to his former lover, using her for her money.
The story is a fantastic one that illustrates how money can be both a blessing and a curse, guiding a person of independence into a life of poor choices and regret.
When it comes to Nadia May's performance, it is a terrific one! Each character has their own subtle tone, easily discerned from the others. And her expression in both dialogues and narration make it easy to understand the importance of what each character is thinking or doing. Very nicely done Ms May, not to mention Henry James!
Shelby Foote's three-volume work is fantastic. When it comes to historical narratives, it takes the cake as far as detailed accounts of the conflicts, both between the northern and southern military regimes, but also of the inner struggles of major characters on both sides. Not only are key issues covered in detail, but, rather than merely stating facts, the author created an eloquent recital of events that keeps the listener/reader interested. (At least, it did this for me. I imagine that if it was simply a straight compilation of listed facts then it wouldn't be considered the must-read that it is when it comes to a key portion of the US's history.) Whether it's the details of military conflict, the planning before and after such events, the social and political conundrums of the day, the emancipation of slaves, or even the happenings in major characters' personal lives, Foote did an amazing job of setting the events down on paper.
Grover Gardner does an excellent job of narrating this piece, too. Considering the book's large amount of direct quotes of conversations, speeches, and letters, Gardner applies a subtle change to his tone which lets the listener/reader know that quotation marks go around what he's reading - an excellent touch that you'll become familiar with quickly. His voice is very clear and eloquent, too, so there won't be a problem understanding what he's reading. Nicely done, sir!
Charles Dickens is, as we all know, a fantastic author of several classics, and A Tale of Two Cities is surely one of his greatest. Frank Muller's excellent performance of this work added even more quality to the book, so he must be praised for his clarity and eloquence, even when portraying characters in sorrow or rage - very well done, indeed.
It's hard for me to decide which character I enjoyed best until the last few chapters. I read the book in my teenage years, so I knew that Sydney Carton was a person of some significance; I just couldn't recall why. His actions were very inspiring, especially because of the lack of necessity in them. He really could've just tipped off Dr Manette as to Madame Defarge's plan, telling him to get Lucie and her daughter out. They would've been safe in their flight, though grieving for Charles Darnay. Carton's passion for Lucie is so great that he decides to take the place of the man who, in the quest for Lucie's love, could be considered his nemesis. The words running through his mind as he is preparing to be guillotined are profound, to say the least, and they are a way of comforting himself as he dreams of the future happiness of his love. But I also enjoy the short but comforting chat he has with the Seamstress, a young lady (who he addresses as his 'gentle sister') who is to be guillotined just before him, assuring her that there is no Time in the afterlife, so she will not be troubled in waiting for her younger cousin where she believes she and Carton will be 'mercifully sheltered.'
A great work of art that is well-performed by an excellent narrator. I look forward to more works by both Dickens and Mr Muller again!
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