I was suckered but it was my own fault. I should have known that a complete collection of O. Henry’s short stories couldn’t be recorded in only 14 hours, 40 minutes. I didn’t even take the time to read the list of only 49 stories thoroughly. All I did was notice that MY favorite, “A Retrieved Reformation”, was included.
My 900+ page book of O. Henry’s stories has something over 200 stories, and it doesn’t claim to have all of them. The last Audible book I got that was that long (The Count of Monte Cristo) required 47 hours to read. I should have known.
Even knowing this, I would buy this audiobook again. It’s cheap and well worth the price.
I won’t attempt to critique O. Henry’s work, as most high school graduates have read at least one or two of his short stories. You should already know about his tendency towards surprise endings. What I had forgotten was his other tendency towards depressing endings. “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Last Leaf” are two good examples, but there are several other stories in this collection that are also downers.
The earlier reviewer is correct that you really must listen to these stories to get all the important parts. O. Henry wrote SHORT stories, so almost every word is significant. He didn’t use long descriptions just to fill pages. Also, as previously stated, the language is stilted compared to today’s usage. Remember, he died in 1910. These stories do require your attention.
The reader is absolutely excellent. He knows exactly where to emphasize each word and has enough different voice personalities to make it easy to understand who’s talking.
One last note regarding the limited number of stories on this recording: The list by the publisher claims that there are 49 stories. This is incorrect; there are 46 stories. The missing ones are: “The Caliph”, “A Blackjack Bargainer”, “The Trimmed Lamp”.
The download comes in two parts. Each story has its own chapter break and some longer stories have two chapter breaks. There is no listing of what stories are where, so here it is for you:
O. Henry - Complete Short Stories (Part 1)
- 0:00:00 - By Courier
- 0:09:14 - Jimmy Hayes & Muriel
- 0:22:31 - Schools and Schools
- 0:49:15 - Roads of Destiny (Part 1)
- 1:18:03 - Roads of Destiny (Part 2)
- 1:48:06 - A Cosmopolite in a Café
- 2:01:17 - Christmas by Injunction
- 2:31:01 - Mammon and the Archer
- 2:46:49 - A Bird of Bagdad
- 3:06:12 - After Twenty Years
- 3:14:04 - From the Cabby’s Seat
- 3:25:56 - Lost on Dress Parade
- 3:41:09 - Memoirs of a Yellow Dog
- 3:52:48 - Tobin’s Palm
- 4:12:06 - Transients in Arcadia
- 4:26:03 - The Skylight Room
- 4:41:56 - Ulysses and the Dogman
- 4:56:00 - The Pendulum
- 5:07:50 - The Enchanted Profile
- 5:25:58 - The Green Door
- 5:44:13 - The Third Ingredient
- 6:15:39 - Best Seller
- 6:42:14 - The Princess and the Puma
- 6:57:57 - The Last Leaf
O. Henry - Complete Short Stories (Part 2)
- 0:00:00 - The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein
- 0:12:34 - The Caliph, Cupid and the Clock
- 0:28:53 - The Brief Debut of Tildy
- 0:44:24 - The Higher Abdication (Part 1)
- 1:10:40 - The Higher Abdication (Part 2)
- 1:35:16 - The Ransom of Red Chief
- 2:02:11 - One Dollar’s Worth
- 2:19:34 - Cupid a la Carte (Part 1)
- 2:39:28 - Cupid a la Carte (Part 2)
- 3:00:13 - Girl
- 3:14:48 - Springtime a la Carte
- 3:30:39 - The Ethics of Pig
- 3:53:57 - The Social Triangle
- 4:08:49 - Witches’ Loaves
- 4:17:52 - The Romance of the Busy Broker
- 4:27:10 - The Making of a New Yorker
- 4:41:53 - Squaring the Circle
- 4:53:54 - A Lickpenny Lover
- 5:09:33 - The Gift of the Magi
- 5:25:26 - Confessions of a Humorist
- 5:49:19 - The Last of the Troubadours
- 6:19:12 - The Furnished Room
- 6:37:54 - The Pride of the Cities
- 6:49:19 - A Retrieved Reformation
- 7:08:53 - The Cop and the Anthem
This is a story written primarily for children but which is certainly enjoyable even if you are an adult. The story is simple enough for a child to follow, but has enough twists to keep an adult interested. There are occasional sidelong references to common sayings or phrases that adults will find amusing but which will be unnoticed by a younger listener who isn’t as familiar with English’s idioms.
The narrator is excellent. She differentiates the voices well and tells the story with apparent enthusiasm.
I think that anyone over the age of five will enjoy this book, and, while an adult will also enjoy it, it really would rate only three stars for folks over 18.
Listen to this one while on an automobile trip with kids and everyone will have a good time.
I disagree with Tea Thyme’s opinion that these stories are “excellent for both children and adults.” They may be fun to listen to while traveling with your children or grandchildren while you can enjoy the children’s reaction to the stories, but they were way too simple for me to listen to on my own.
I often enjoy books that are supposedly for children or “young adults”. I think that the “Harry Potter” series is the best piece of fantasy I have read (and listened to). This collection of stories, however is written for a much younger audience.
The narrator is excellent and of course Kipling’s writing is too, but not for adults.
Aaron J. Klein: Striking Back
This book purports to expose the Israeli response to the massacre of their Olympic athletes while at the games in Munich in 1972. It doesn’t do a good job of that.
The book DOES do an excellent job of explaining in detail what happened during the attack on the athletes and if that’s what you’re after this book is for you. The author discusses in detail all the incompetence and cowardice shown by the Germans in handling the entire affair, from security for the athletes to failing to execute a good plan that probably would have ended the situation relatively safely. I found the section covering Munich itself to be fascinating. This part rates five stars, but, unfortunately, is only about a quarter of the book.
After covering the attack on the athletes the book deteriorates into a boring case-by-case accounting of assassinations carried out by Israel around the world. There is very little that explains any relationship between each target and the Munich massacre, and in fact most of the assassinations discussed were not directly related to Munich.
The book does expose a lot of information that has recently been declassified by Israel, in particular the killing of one terrorist that had been debated for years as to whether he died from natural causes (a disease) or was killed.
The problem I had with this book was the jumping from one target to another without any attempt to tie all of them together except for the fact that the Mossad thought that all of them were either terrorists or were aiding terrorists. There are so many unrelated assassinations covered in this book that it actually gets boring to hear how agents murdered yet another terrorist.
The narrator suited me. He read this book as one would read a news article, which is basically what these stories are. He has a deep, authoritative voice that reminds me of Edward R. Murrow.
I won’t be listening to this a second time, although I did finish it.
If you are looking for a suspense-filled story of Israeli intelligence and covert operations I suggest that you get “Hunting Eichman” instead. It’s great.
I got “Trustee From the Toolroom” because of the high scores it received from so many reviewers. All those people were right!
This is a delightful story about the serendipitous events that befall Keith Stewart, our hero. Keith is an unpretentious, middle-aged man who enjoys his hobby of making machines in miniature. He also writes how-to articles about them for an English magazine and earns a bit from them to supplement his and his wife’s meager income.
He finds himself compelled to go on a quest that leads to some adventures, but always manages to come out okay. The adventures are not swashbuckling affairs involving combat, but rather the ordinary kind that you might run into in travels around the world. The story reminded me of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, “What the Good Man Does is Always Right”.
I saw that one reviewer complained that “the narrator droned on about nautical details.” She may not have appreciated the details, but I found that the detailed descriptions of some events and procedures made me realize that this author has a good understanding of sailing, machining, and a number of other skills. It enhanced the book for me.
The closest this book comes to foul language is one (I think) instance of the use of the word “bloody”. There is no lurid sex, nor anything else that would embarrass you if you played this for your mother or for your 10-year-old daughter.
Frank Muller, the narrator, is excellent, with just enough variation in voices so there is almost never any confusion over which character is speaking.
I’ll be looking for more books by this same author and narrator.
A great story for a long automobile trip with the family. Highly recommended.
I read “Jane Eyre” when I was a high school student and all I can remember of it is that I liked it back then. Now I can’t imagine why I did.
My opinion about classic books, as well as classical music, is that they are classics for a reason. These books have stood the test of time and are still read today. There’s a lot to be said in favor of a book that is still in print 166 years after it was first published. This book, on the other hand, did not impress me as one I’d like to read or listen to again.
I listen to Audible’s books while I am doing something else that doesn’t require my full attention. Usually this is driving, but lately it’s been painting (think house, not art). “Jane Eyre” fills this time adequately, but I think if I had been driving it would have put me to sleep with its long descriptions of scenes and people. Descriptions of a scene or person is fine, even necessary, if the reader (listener) will be returning to that place or dealing with that person later in the story. This is not the case with “Jane Eyre”. During one part of the book, Bronte describes in detail a roomful of people and, with the exception of one, we never deal with them again. These unnecessary words caused me to stop paying attention to the novel until I recognized that something was being read that moved the story along. Then I’d have to back up a bit to avoid missing the important parts.
As an adult I found the excessive length of this novel to be mildly educational (about mid-1800 England), but mostly boring. I can’t imagine why I liked this book as a male high school student. If “Jane Eyre” were a movie it would be called a “chick flick”.
The narrator, Lucy Scott, is excellent. She differentiates each voice well and reads with enthusiasm. I don’t speak French, but she seems to do quite well with the few French lines, but not so well with the tiny bit of German in the book. I would enjoy hearing her again, but the other Audible books she has done don’t appeal to me much. That’s too bad for me because she’s very good.
Usually I am glad to have a book to listen to while I accomplish some other task. This time I was glad to have something else to do while I listened to this book.
Nelson DeMille was recommended to me by my wife, who reads his books. I have previously listened to “The Lion’s Game”, which I enjoyed. (Aside: “The Lion’s Game” is number two in a series which begins with “Plum Island”. I recommend that you listen to those books in order.) “Up Country” is not a continuation of a story, so it stands alone, but the hanging ending left me wondering what came next. Apparently I’m not going to find out, though, because there is no sequel that I know of. Even if there were a sequel, I wouldn’t listen to it just to satisfy my curiosity on that point.
If this had been my first Nelson DeMille book it would have been my last. “Up Country” is not a bad book, it just isn’t good enough to hook me to this author. The book is long, over 28 hours, and doesn’t provide enough action, mystery, or suspense to warrant that time. Even the ending was a big disappointment.
The story is about an Army retiree returning to Viet Nam, where he served, to conduct an investigation on behalf of the Army. The listener receives an education about that country from the eyes of the protagonist, as well as through conversations had with the communists who won the war. I also served in Viet Nam, but was in the Navy and so didn’t see any of the ground war. It was enlightening to hear about some of the things and places I remember from that era. It just wasn’t enlightening enough to justify 28 hours of my time.
Scott Brick, the narrator, reads extremely well. His inflections and emphasis help maintain the listener’s interest. He doesn’t, however, have too many different voices in his repertoire. In this book it was often difficult to tell who was speaking in a two-way conversation between the protagonist, a man, and his companion, a woman. Differentiating male and female voices is about as basic as it can get when narrating voices, and I was disappointed with Brick’s talent in this regard.
Life’s too short to listen to mediocre books. I recommend you skip this one.
I really enjoyed this book. It was the first thing from Bujold I’d ever listened to and it sold me on her writing. After many more of her books I have found only one, “The Hallowed Hunt”, that I didn’t care for.
Granted the narrator could have done a better job, but while listening I didn’t really notice the narration. To some extent it may have been because the story is so good. Another reason is that the narration was neither so bad nor so good as to notice it.
The author has laid out an interesting fantasy world that isn’t so much different from our own that we can’t understand it. The story is consistent with the created world throughout and events unfold consistent with those rules.
It’s difficult to recommend a book without giving away plot details, so I’ll just say that I very much enjoyed this one. If you are an alert reader/listener you’ll probably be able to predict one or two of the story lines, but getting there is more than half the fun with this book.
The story does wrap up completely at the end, so if you don’t want to listen to the entire series you are still okay with just this one book. That’s also true for the second book in the series, “Paladin of Souls”. I don’t recommend the third book, “The Hallowed Hunt”.
If you are going to give Lois McMaster Bujold a try, this is the book to start with.
I listen to Audible’s books when I am doing some other task and can’t actually read the book. Often this experience is less enjoyable than reading the book would be, but it provides entertainment while completing some brain-dead task. This book, on the other hand, is one that is almost certainly better to listen to rather than to read.
About halfway through this book I realized that it would probably be a mediocre read, but the narration by Tania Rodrigues makes this story come alive. She is an amazing voice actor. Her narration voice is with a British accent, yet she does (to my ears) perfectly Indian-accented English when speaking as a character in the novel. There are even some phrases in other languages (Hindi?, Sanscrit?) that she reads with aplomb. I have no idea whether they are pronounced correctly or not, but at least she doesn’t stumble over the words as I would.
The book amounts to a series of vignettes plus a handful of main characters whose stories provide continuity from the beginning to the end. Even the short sub-stories are uplifting and fun.
The book provides an education into the mores and culture of India, focusing mostly on the Muslim and Hindu sub-cultures, but the country apparently contains enough Christians that they get an occasional mention. It was interesting to learn that if a man and woman marry for love their families are scandalized. Every respectable couple would never consider a match that wasn’t arranged by their families.
All in all, this is a very good book that is made into a great one by the excellent performance of Tania Rodrigues.
The worst part of this book are the facts that:
1. It’s a series, and Audible doesn’t have any of the other books.
2. The next book in the series, “The Many Conditions of Love”, is NOT read by Tania Rodrigues.
This book is #2 in the Baroque Cycle. If you are considering this one, then I would expect that you have already listened to “Quicksilver”, the first book in the series.
I listened to this book because I couldn’t believe that a series could rate as high as this series does with a lead-off book (Quicksilver) that was as poor as that one was. This one had to be much better, right? Okay, to be fair, it was better. It was even much better, but the first book was so poor that being much better than “Quicksilver” meant that “King of the Vagabonds” was still average or a bit below.
The biggest improvement with this book is that this book actually has a story, with a beginning, a middle, and a hanging ending. The ending is such that it leaves you wondering how an author could leave the characters in such a state, but of course then you realize that this is a series. I am unwilling to spend any more time on this series just to learn what happens to the characters in it.
The writing is good, the narration is also fine, but the story left me flat at the end. I do wonder how the author ties up the ends that are left loose in this book, but not enough that I’m willing to listen to any more in this series.
This book doesn’t refer back to anything from the first book in any but the most superficial way. If I had skipped the first book and started the series with this one, I wouldn’t have missed anything. Had I done that, I might have even gone on to the next book. But one dud (Quicksilver) followed by a book that ends like a soap opera (King of the Vagabonds) isn’t something that I want to pursue for another five books and 87+ hours.
In the end, this book does at least have a story, which is an improvement on “Quicksilver”. Without pursuing the rest of the series I can’t speak with certainty, but I would recommend that you start with this book if you absolutely MUST get these books.
I stayed with this book long after I thought I should have abandoned it. As it turns out, my first instinct was correct. I should have abandoned it.
The ONLY thing going for this book is the insight that it provides into some of the daily life in the 17th century, as well as the state of scientific knowledge in those times. If you have a scientific or engineering background you will probably enjoy learning the history of some of Newton’s laws, for example. If you aren’t that interested in the development of science, this book will be even more boring for you than it was for me.
I stuck with it because the series got pretty good reviews, even though the reviews for this particular book are mediocre. I did not take into account that reviews for a series should ALWAYS be better than the reviews for the first book, because people who don’t like the first book won’t listen to the rest of the series.
The narration by Simon Prebble is good, but isn’t five-star. I occasionally couldn’t distinguish one character’s voice from another. His voice does have a quality about it that seems to suit the material; that is, it goes with the book.
I should have paid more attention to the critical reviewers. You should too.
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