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Martin

Rochester, Australia | Member Since 2008

12
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 13 ratings
  • 1 titles in library
  • 17 purchased in 2014
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  • Richard II (Dramatised)

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 32 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By John Gielgud, Michael Hordern, Leo McKern, and others
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (5)

    Sir John Gielgud, Sir Michael Hordern, Leo McKern, and Edward Hardwicke star in this unabridged performance of Shakespeare's Richard II.

    Martin says: "Sometimes Inaudible"
    "Sometimes Inaudible"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Unfortunately, these superlative performances are marred by dreadful sound quality. Some extended passages are literally inaudible, even while craning into the speaker with volume at full. There is a considerable hiss which masks a lot of the quieter speech.

    There is really no excuse for this -- remastering to vastly clarify the sound is a relatively simple matter nowadays. Very disappointing.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Loveday's Little Outing and Other Sad Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 58 mins)
    • By Evelyn Waugh
    • Narrated By Prunella Scales, Timothy West
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Lovely old Mr. Loveday, who looks after the feeble-minded patients, is so deserving of a day off, isn’t he? And then there's that lost traveller who's rescued in the Amazon and conscripted to read Dickens, a man who hates radios, Bella Fleace's party and a whole host of hilarious characters that Evelyn Waugh ruthlessly satirises with his elegant, malicious prose. If you've never read Waugh then this collection is an excellent introduction. If you know his novels then his short stories are a revelation.

    Martin says: "Grim Tales Beautifully Read"
    "Grim Tales Beautifully Read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The husband-and-wife team Prunella Scales and Timothy West are ideally suited to this collection of short stories. The first nine are read by Scales, the last (at 1'47" far the longest) by West.

    The wit is characteristically black and, as the title suggests, melancholy -- if you enjoy Waugh's novels you will enjoy these short stories. If you have read, or mean to read, the wonderful "A Handful of Dust", then skip over the short story "The Man Who Liked Dickens", which becomes with very little alteration the last chapter of that novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Happy Return

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By C. S. Forester
    • Narrated By Christian Rodska
    Overall
    (228)
    Performance
    (174)
    Story
    (179)

    Horatio Hornblower sails South American waters and comes face to face with a mad revolutionary in a novel that ripples with risk and gripping adventure. Throughout his escapades, Forester's hero remains resourceful and courageous.

    Carol says: "AKA "Beat to Quarters""
    "Gripping Naval Yarn"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first-written and probably the best of the ten Hornblower books. Unlike many of the others, it is a continuous narrative rather than a sequence of episodic short stories.

    For those interested in the British navy of the Napoleonic era, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin books are the outstanding literary series. Forester does not have anything like O'Brian's complex picture of everyday life on board, or for that matter his sense of humour, but the Hornblower books are gripping page-turners, and their action sequences in particular are brilliant. The climactic single-ship action between the Lydia and the Natividad, described over several chapters, is terrifyingly vivid.

    Christian Rodska gives an aptly gruff, boys-own-adventure sort of reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Great Expectations

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By Anton Lesser
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (86)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (61)

    In this, perhaps Dickens' most profound and personal novel, we are invited to share in the sentimental education of Pip, the poor boy from the village forge who risks losing himself in snobbery and selfishness when he mysteriously inherits a fortune. The story moves from the bleak Kentish marshes of Pip's childhood to a thrilling climax that mingles tragedy and triumph.

    keahi says: "Dickens paints wonderful imagery with his words."
    "A Worthy Favourite"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    There's nothing much that Anton Lesser can't do -- from Hamlet to Homer, his performances are always superlative. So he's the ideal narrator for Dickens' best novel, the wide range of vivid characters drawing out all the actor's virtuosity. Three minutes in, the convict appears out of nowhere, the listener is gripped by the neck, and this eerie and enthralling story begins to unfold in lifelike colour.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • BBC Radio Shakespeare: As You Like It (Dramatized)

    • ORIGINAL (1 hr and 59 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Helena Bonham Carter, David Morrissey, Natasha Little, and others
    Overall
    (48)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (32)

    BBC Radio has a unique heritage when it comes to Shakespeare. Since 1923, when the newly formed company broadcast its first full-length play, generations of actors and producers have honed and perfected the craft of making Shakespeare to be heard.

    Donald says: "Loved it!"
    "Superb Cast"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    It is hard to imagine a better cast for As You Like It. Helena Bonham Carter captures every shade of Rosalind -- pragmatic, playful, honest, and thoroughly in love -- and the teasing friendship with Natasha Little's Celia is thoroughly believable. The rest of the cast are just as good, I've not heard or seen a performance more sympathetically read.

    The one disappointment is that the songs are poorly sung to poor settings, and jar terribly against the beautiful acting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Barchester Towers

    • UNABRIDGED (19 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Anthony Trollope
    • Narrated By Timothy West
    Overall
    (194)
    Performance
    (131)
    Story
    (128)

    Barchester Towers, Trollope's most popular novel, is the second of the six Chronicles of Barsetshire. Trollope continues the story, begun in The Warden, of Mr Harding and his daughter Eleanor.

    Janet says: "Read The Warden first"
    "Match Made in Heaven"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Timothy West reading Anthony Trollope is one of those perfect coincidences of author and narrator that seem too good to be true; in fact I have sometimes wondered whether strange necromancy might not have been at work and West actually is Trollope. Not a single inflection of the author's wry irony is missed, devestatingly honest, but charitably and affectionately too.

    Barchester Towers is of course the most famous of the Barsetshire novels, but as it is really a sequel to The Warden, it is better to begin with the earlier novel. All six Chronicles of Barsetshire, as well as all the Palliser novels, are available in West's performances on Audible, and few audiobooks have given me so much enjoyment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Wives and Daughters

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 22 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Narrated By Prunella Scales
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (272)
    Performance
    (138)
    Story
    (137)

    Molly Gibson lost her mother when she was a child. Any stepmother would have been a shock, but the new Mrs Gibson is a self-absorbed, silly little widow, and Molly's unhappiness is compounded by the realisation that her father has come to regret his second marriage.

    Jo says: "Superb! Story and Narration A++"
    "Ideal Performance"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I only wish Prunella Scales recorded more audiobooks, as she is the ideal narrator for this sort of novel, flawlessly assuming every character, the author's above all.

    The novel is unfortunately unfinished, though only a few pages were yet to be written at Gaskell's death, and she had foreshadowed how the story would end. It would be a shame to miss such a good book because the ending is cut short, but you need to be aware of this before beginning.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nicholas Nickleby

    • UNABRIDGED (38 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (12)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    One of Dickens’ earlier works, dating from 1839, this novel charts the fortunes of an honorable young man, Nicholas Nickleby, who has set out to make his way in the world. Dickens presents a remarkably vivid display of Victorian characters and the lives they lead, from the generous to the fated to the crushed. Hope springs eternal, however, and righteous persistence brings rewards.

    tom says: "humbled"
    "Dickens at his most tedious"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    If you want to read Nicholas Nickleby, you'd much better stick to print, where the long-winded prose can be skimmed at will. As an audiobook it is a marathon. The novel abounds in bombastic moralism but lacks the wit and drama of Dickens' better works.

    David Horovitch's performance is generally excellent, occasionally overplayed (in keeping with the spirit of the writing), but can't redeem the book.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Emma

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Juliet Stevenson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (834)
    Performance
    (540)
    Story
    (543)

    One of Jane Austen's most popular novels. Arrogant, self-willed, and egotistical, Emma is her most unusual heroine.

    H. CRODDICK says: "Wonderful listen"
    "First Choice for Narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The wonderful Juliet Stevenson can't be bettered as a narrator of Jane Austen. There is, of course, a lot of competition, but where Stevenson has recorded a book, she is always first choice.

    The characterization is distinctive but not caricatured, the irony pointed but not laboured, and no nuance of the prose is overlooked.

    As Emma is, in my opinion, the most delightful of Austen's novels, I can't recommend this audiobook too highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard III (Dramatised)

    • ORIGINAL (2 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By William Shakespeare
    • Narrated By Lawrence Olivier, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (5)
    Story
    (4)

    Here is a full-stage dramatisation, starring Sir Luwrence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud and Claire Bloom.

    Martin says: "Mangled Film Soundtrack"
    "Mangled Film Soundtrack"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This recording does not work as an audiobook. It is taken from the soundtrack of the film, though with some strange edits. The text is substantially cut, reordered, new material is brought in from Henry VI and sometimes newly composed. While that may be justifiable for a film it certainly does not work here. There are also long passages of incidental music with no text, accompanying action on the screen, that are worse than useless for an audiobook. The acting is of course excellent but the sound quality fairly poor.

    Frankly it is misleading to offer this as an audio recording of Richard III as the text is so mangled and it was never produced for audio purposes. Get the outstanding Naxos recording with Kenneth Branagh instead.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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