This is one of my all-time favorite books; I re-read it every few years. This is the first time I've listened to it, Mark Bramhall does a marvelous job with the reading. The characters and their emotions are beautifully rendered without overdoing it. The connection between Lyman Ward (the narrator) and his grandparents, about whom he is writing, is palpable and deeply moving.
Having listened to this and to Lev Grossman's The Magicians and The Magician King, Mark Bramhall vaults onto my Top Readers List. A beautiful job.
The story is both very funny and heart-wrenching. The writing is superb and plenty accessible to today's audience. But the quality of the narration is beyond words. Simon Vance's ability to convey the nuances of the characters, the humor, the pathos, Dickens's tongue-in-cheek prose . . . it's simply stunning. Dickens used to do readings of his work that were hugely popular; I imagine he would have sounded much like this. This book is so much fun and so touching. Between Dickens's descriptions and dialogue, and Simon Vance's vocal characterizations, the book is brought completely alive. It's a joy.
This is my first Kate Morton and also first listen to Caroline Lee. Caroline Lee is the best part. What a great narrator! It's a very good story, but I felt it could have been edited to about two-thirds of its length. There is a lot of repetition; the author should trust her readers to grasp the action and emotion of the story without having to hear the same point multiple times. That said, it's a very enjoyable listen and a good payoff at the end.
I hesitated on this purchase because of its popularity (often I don't go for what everyone else raves about); also some of the negative reviews made me wonder. I was afraid it would be a hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-hammer tearjerker. I'm really picky: picky about good writing and extraordinarily picky about narration. I simply loved this book, and the reader was superb. Jim Broadbent strikes the perfect tone with the narration and his characterization of Harold. It is a beautiful story, read so tenderly, and I'm so glad I took a chance on it. I certainly hope Jim Broadbent does more audiobooks.
I read the book a few years back and loved it. It is beautifully written, very absorbing, and heartbreaking. This is a great way to re-read the book, or to read it for the first time. Simon Vance is one of the best narrators I've heard, and he does a marvelous job here. A fabulous listen!
I agree with many of the reviewers: changing the actor who is voicing a character is inexplicable. The combo of single narrator and voiced characters did not bother me. The quality of several of the actors did, but it wasn't enough to ruin the experience. Simon Vance is so terrific that the single narration carries it. Blessedly, the amount of time we spend with the lesser-talented actors is limited.
I had never read the book, though I've read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I found that while the world was fascinating, the characters did not really move me.
That said, I'm glad I listened to it, though I doubt I'll go on to the sequels.
I loved The Glass Room, and was excited about this book, but I can't bring myself to finish it. I've tried to hang on to get to what other readers say is the exciting last part of the book, but I'm not going to get there (I'm two-thirds through it). The writing is clumsy, repetitive, and too literal. What should be implied is stated obviously, then restated a few times. It seems more like a romance novel than Simon Mawer. I had some difficulty with the narration: I loved Kate Reading in Pride and Prejudice, but here she seems to fall into the style of the book and over-play, over-emphasize the text. The male characters all sound monotonous and dull, due to the lowering of her vocal tone. I would rather have a higher voice with expression!
I'm disappointed! I really expected to love this book.
I am completely taken by this series. The writing and plotting are terrific. I'm on book 4 and am dreading the end of book 5, when I will have to wait with the rest of the readership for book 6 to appear. I'm listening to some of the volumes, reading others. I don't feel Roy Dotrice was a great choice for narration. His voice is so old that all of his characters, even the children, sound gruff or elderly. He pauses for breath at odd places in the narration. The women sound lower class than the men of the same family (more of a Cockney accent for the women, standard British or Scottish for the men), and the women mostly sound somewhat dim-witted. There are times when I have to take a break from the audiobook and read the book instead, finding the narration irritating. That said, the text largely overcomes the drawbacks of the narration, and it carries you through.
Disclaimers: I only made it through four hours of the book. I am not a Stephen King fan, though I read and enjoyed his work when I was in college.
I would not recommend this for people who have read much science fiction. It felt like Intro to Time Travel, with a LOT of time spent on the basics (cars are different! People are different! Things cost less! They don't have computers!). For those who haven't read much sci-fi, this could be interesting and novel, but for me it got old quickly and I very much wanted to get on with the plot.
The other turnoff for me was the narrator. Every sentence is treated as though it were a stunning thought, with a great deal of over-inflection. This gets old very quickly. It is as if the narrator doesn't trust the words to convey their own meaning. I found it very difficult to listen to.
I think if the book had been edited to deal with the needless repetition, or had a better narrator, I might have stuck with it. I was genuinely interested in the premise.
Thoroughly engaging, beautifully narrated, fresh take on the Macbeths. I recommend it highly! Now I'm going to listen to the play . . .
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