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.
This was Dickens' last finished novel, and he was at the height of his powers. The plot deals with the death of an heir to a fortune, and the effects of this fortune being settled upon a working-class couple. Along the way we have a couple of love stories, greed, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder. The threads of the plot are woven together beautifully and the characters are very much alive. I didn't want the book to end.
Simon Vance, as usual, does a superb job with the narration. His reading of the characters brings them to marvelous life. There is plenty of humor in the book, and Vance presents it with exactly the right touch of dryness. And his reading of the darker parts of the novel is extremely effective and affecting. I think this is one of his best narrations.
On to the next Dickens/Vance audiobook! Perhaps "Little Dorrit."
I read this book several years back, and am so glad I decided to listen to it as well. Today we have rich "athletes" who pay to be shepherded up and down Everest. In 1914 they had the real thing. This is a beautifully-written and narrated book that, despite knowing the outcome and having read it before, kept me on the edge of my seat. Most of the men on the expedition kept diaries which survived the journey, so there is a lot of detail and personal reporting; we get to know many of the men personally.
Simon Prebble's narration is impeccable: the men are distinctly voiced, and his delivery has just the right amount of drama.
I love the format, mixing the text with music. I would have been happy with twice or three times as much of each, and would have preferred more depth. I found the narration over the top; the emotion, the cultured accents, were overdone. At times it felt like a Monty Python sketch. But if you're looking for the basics of Dvorak's life and a taste of his music, it's a good choice.
I’m finding it hard to put into words how fine and beautiful this novel is. Anthony Doerr has created a stunning book, full of exquisite writing and beautifully-drawn characters. The plot is intricately woven, with several strands that are developed independently, then gradually wind around each other. The book moves forward and backwards in time, always focused on and progressing steadily toward the climax. It is one of the best novels I’ve read about World War II, and possibly the most moving.
The author writes so comprehensively, with such delicacy and finesse; he creates such vivid circumstances and settings that he doesn’t need to tell us how his characters feel. He lays the framework: we know the characters, we experience their lives with them, and therefore we know how they feel. It is deeply affecting.
This, like much of the fiction written about World War II, focuses on the suffering and misery of the Jewish people, France, Russia, etc., but here a major theme is also what the Nazis did to themselves and to the German people. They systematically made themselves and their people into monsters, and this is shown in heartbreaking detail. As difficult as that is, the author balances it with humanity, courage, and love. It's not a depressing book, not in the least, but it's not an easy feel-good read; there is a great deal of complexity here.
The narration is beautifully done by Zach Appelman, who seems to be quite new to audiobooks. His delivery has just the right amount of feeling. He doesn’t over-emote or over-dramatize the material. He mispronounces a few words, but other than that, the narration is flawless.
It’s a wonderful, engaging, utterly absorbing, highly moving listen. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time.
I got this book out of the library and was so involved in reading it that I bought the audiobook so I could listen as well. This is a fascinating account of the Dreyfus Affair at the turn of the (previous) century in France. We see everything from the viewpoint of Georges Picquart, an army officer who discovered evidence that Dreyfus was innocent and spent years trying to convince his superiors to do something about it. The book is a great spy thriller, doubly effective because it is true. The writing is excellent, the narration as well, and it's difficult to stop listening/reading. In addition to the spy-thriller aspect, the book provides an in-depth look at the political and social condition of France following its defeat by Germany in 1870, and at its Antisemitism. It's a very absorbing book.
I was not familiar with the narrator, David Rintoul. He sounds so much like Simon Vance that I was convinced this was one of Vance's aliases, but upon googling Rintoul, it appears that he is a separate person. He does a fabulous job with the book.
I tried reading one of Garrison Keillor's early novels and it didn't hold my interest. Hearing him read this one was lovely; no surprise that I find his work stronger in audio, since he is first and foremost a storyteller. It is like listening to a very long, in-depth News From Lake Wobegon, and it held my interest all the way through. It has everything his monologues do; humor, gentle satire, familiar small-town characters and former townspeople who got out, but it's all developed to a much greater degree, and it works. I'll listen to another one sometime!
Howard Norman hits a number of tones in this book: despite the tragedy of the overall premise (the narrator's wife has been murdered, he has sold their story to a film director, and his wife continues to appear to him), the beginning is almost lighthearted, with a good deal of humor. As the book progresses, Norman retains some of the humor but the tragedy encroaches, and the end is almost heartbreaking. Woven through it all is the character of their marriage and of his wife. It's a very affecting portrait of grief.
Bronson Pinchot does a lovely job with the narration. I loved his narration of The Child Thief (never would have imagined it was the same person).
I might add that this book is priced lower than many, and is a great bargain!
Oliver Twist is the second novel by Dickens. He was a writer with a huge social conscience, and has a great deal to say with this book. It is as though Dickens has written his heart directly onto the pages. While I find some of it melodramatic and overwritten, the minutely-drawn characters, plot, writing and feeling are more than worth a few wordy passages. It's a deeply affecting story.
Simon Vance, as usual, inhabits the characters and simply becomes the book. He has a tough line to walk here; the book is an intense plea from the heart, and the narrator could easily overdo it. Vance voices not only the characters but Dickens himself, and his tone is perfect. Slight quibble: I didn't like his voicing of Rose, but that's the only negative I can come up with. It's a marvelous performance of a wonderful book.
In a story told by Jack McNulty, the brother of Eneas and Tom McNulty, this beautifully-written book fleshes out the narrator's life and that of his wife Mai, and at the same time fills in gaps in our understanding of the extended family. Barry's The Secret Scripture and The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty are companion novels to The Temporary Gentleman. All are written in staggeringly beautiful prose and are, at times, almost unbearable in their detailing of the tragedy of Ireland's political conflicts, the treatment of women, and, in this book, alcoholism. While telling us of his wife's descent into alcoholism, Jack McNulty reveals even more about himself and his culpability in her situation.
Frank Grimes does a marvelous job of the narration. These novels by Sebastian Barry (and the ones about the Dunnes: Annie Dunne, A Long, Long Way and On Canaan's Side) are to be listened to and/or read slowly, and savored. They are not all available in audiobook form; I recommend ingesting them in any form you find.
I've been waiting for this audiobook, and it happened to be released the day I had to start a 2-day solo drive. It got me from NC to Connecticut, then I had a couple of hours until Vermont to think about it. In my book, Denise Mina is right up there with Kate Atkinson in her ability to create a fascinating mystery and write vivid, believable characters. I'm not quite to putting her up there with P.D. James, but I'm considering it. I love the Alex Morrow series in particular; the Paddy Meehan books are darker and more violent. Still excellent, but not as much to my taste. She continues to develop Morrow's character . . . the books have so much more depth than your average lighter-weight mystery. The threads of the multiple plots twine around each other and lead you further until Mina unravels them and you find yourself thrilled with what you've listened to and sad that it's over.
Cathleen McCarron is a terrific choice for this narration; the characters are spot-on and she has a beautiful delivery. She has only narrated a few audiobooks and I sure hope she'll do more. A real pleasure to listen to.
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