Along with some romance, this is a broadside of satire directed at the gentlemen of the press and of the law. Anthony Trollope beards the lion in its den with this story of the power of a self-important press to inflict great damage on individuals and institutions. Under the guise of public interest reform, a newspaper runs stories which result in the resignation of a decent and kind old man Mr. Harding, as well as the virtual shut down of a charitable, well run, old folk's home. While these are matters of no moment to the newspaper editor except as sensational stories which sells papers, there is real pain and damage inflicted on the innocent. One might conclude from this book: doing what is lawful is not always the same as doing what is right or just. I just love the way this gentle, easily guided, old man takes matters into his own hands and overturns the apple carts and plans of those who considered themselves better suited to guide him than his own principles.
Timothy West's performance of this work cannot be praised enough. He somehow manages the trick of capturing Trollope's brand of humor and subtle jabs and making it accessible to the listener.
This is one splendid book. The writing is beautiful. The author created word paintings or a kind of musical composition but that is like going to see "The Girl With a Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer and saying it is a pretty painting but this is the best I can do. One feels as if you are seeing and feeling with the eyes and emotions of Lucy Honeychurch, Cecil Wyse and George Emerson. This is a triangle of love muddles. The girl says yes to the handsome, rich and cultured Cecil As she grew into a self aware and confident woman, she found that he would never be able to meet her needs. To get a better idea of his character, I refer you to Charlotte Bronte's St. John Rivers in "Jane Eyre" or Mary Ann Evans (George Elliot)'s Tito in "Romula". For these men, there was only themselves with no room for the needs of another. A lighter treatment can be found in Sophie Kinsella's "Remember Me?" It must be confessed that our heroine unknowingly lies, to herself, her family, her fianc?, the man she loves. She must take back her yes and find a way to say yes to the right man while the whole world knows and approves of her engagement. It is at times, quite funny and always engrossing.
The narrator, Rosalyn Landor enjoyed herself and made the book a joy. There is a kind of poetry in the story which she expressed as her own. It was my first time with her. She is tops.
Jane Austen and Bullwinkle Moose kept flittering through my thoughts as I listened to this book. Fitzwilliam Darcy's ill-considered proposal to Elizabeth Bennet has vague echoes of Miss Arabella Hunt's proposal of marriage to Tom Jones. "In thus disposing of myself, I know I shall incur the censure of the world; but if I did not love you more than I fear the world, I should not be worthy of you..." Further, like Darcy, she imputed to her intended her own thoughts and feelings only to find to her chagrin, she had completely misread the situation. In Fielding's sharply drawn caricatures of Squire Allworthy, Squire Weston, Mr. Blifil, one finds a cartoon melodramatic world with Snidely Whiplash tying lovely, hapless Nell to the railroad tracks with Dudley Do-Right riding to the rescue in the nick of time in a kind of prequel to the modern novel with Bullwinkle Moose as narrator. If you remember Bullwinkle telling Fractured Fairy Tales, then you have a sense of this tongue-in-cheek novel. The villains have big black mustaches; the good guys wear white hats; sometimes walk on the dark side and no good deed goes unpunished. In my time in the United States Navy, "Going to school" on someone is what we called watching experienced seamen and learning from mistakes made by others. It is evident that Fielding is one of the writers on which Miss Austen went to school, from the way she used strong caricatures in her novels such as Lady Catherine, Mrs. Bennet, Miss Bates, Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, Sir Walter Elliot, Mrs. Norris, et al. If you choose this book, be prepared to give the author time (8-10 chapters) to explain himself. It may be English but it "ain't" today's English. Charlton Griffin does a great narration and a wonderful job translating Fielding's humor for Twenty-First Century ears. I would have never thought I could use Henry Fielding, Jane Austen and Bullwinkle Moose in a review with a straight face.
Rosalyn Landor is a gold star narrator. Maybe, I am just a softy for lovely low British accents. Rebecca Brandon nee Bloomwood is a woman who loves being a woman. She thinks fate dealt her a splendid hand. It would not occur to her to envy or resent the opposite sex for anything. She loves the man she married and the life she leads. Now she finds herself pregnant. Some women crave pickles and ice cream, for Rebecca it is shopping for designer baby things. Oh yes, all men love going shopping especially for baby things. Not! Poor Luke, I rolled my eyes with him. I love her entanglements and especially her disentanglements. The scene at the delivery room is priceless! Rebecca doesn't lie but occasionally, she fails to give complete answers or provide relevant information in a timely manner. She always knows when she is not playing straight and is usually filled with self recriminations. These less admirable instances occur usually when she is trapped, ashamed or acts to prevent pain to a loved one. i.e. One wouldn't tell the girlfriend the outfit she has spent the day buying and is now modeling is hideous even if it is. My answer is pat: It is lovely dear, it brings out the color of your beautiful eyes. Further, when we go somewhere to show off her new things, I only see the woman and smile. Why bother with facts if they would cause pain? Besides Luke Brandon is no dummy. He knows Rebecca and when she is hiding something. If this is the way they wish to conduct their married life then who am I to stick in my oar? Besides, many of the humorous situations wouldn't come about if Rebecca was always a Girl's Scout. We men are very forgiving of the foibles of a beautiful and adorable woman. I offer Mr. George Knightley and Miss Emma Woodhouse as star witnesses. At the end of the day, Rebecca always does the right thing and is not a selfish being, only impulsive. I like her. I think her baby will too.
At first, I didn't like this story or narrators. Short as it is, I almost didn't finish it. There is a bit of mono flatness to the narration and the story starts in the deep end. It sounded like it was going to be a pity-poor-little-me. Somewhere along the way, I realized the narrators were being true to the story style. Also, a better way to describe the story is matter-of-fact: it is awful but that is what happened; next issue; let's move along and get on with life. This is a point of view which I can admire. What is that Sixties saying? Life sucks, then you die. Yes, now go cry around someone else. This seems to be the attitude of the author which the narrators picked up. This story illustrates how adults can gunk up the works and turn a children's squabble into a major life altering event. Left to themselves, the kids would have resolved their problems and gone on happily. None of the adults in this story came away with clean hands. The protagonist has a kind of emptiness within and has sort of cocooned himself away from emotion and connections. This is not surprising considering his situation. It is a kind of protection technique: lower your expectations and you will never be disappointed. This story is not gloom and doom; it is surprisingly upbeat. The author's conclusion was a satisfying masterstroke.
I may have had a bad download but there are a couple of glitches: garbled speech and crossover feeds. I will delete it and try again. Heck, it was free, what I am complaining about? :)
This is my first experience with this author and narrator. They are impressive. This is a kind of fairy tale along the lines of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with the fiery Elizabeth crossing swords with Darcy. I also think of Jane Eyre as she is confronted with Thornfield and its moody master which should give an idea of the relationship between hero and heroine. There was obviously intensive period research into the time and setting of the story. While I wasn't looking for any false notes, I didn't detect any. Georgette Geyer writes as if she were a contemporary of Austen or Bronte. An author who can bring to life espionage, treason, murder to say nothing of a solid romance, all at a rather creepy mansion is an accomplished writer. Geyer writes with a kind of tongue in cheek amusement, a potential pitfall which Cornelius Garrett embraced as his own. His narration took the book seriously while allowing its innate humor full play. He shines! This is one of those books which I would never buy at say Books a Million. Can you imagine me, a rough, sixty year old man in jeans and work boots browsing in the women's section much less walking around with actual chick lit in my hands? I don't think so. Don't you just love the anonymous nature of audio books? Only Audible, the six people who actually read this review and myself will ever know.
Josephine Bailey did a fine job with story. Yes, I enjoyed this one. There is less shopping and more doing. You know how we guys like action. ;) Coming up with titles for a review is often more difficult than writing the darn things so I finally fixed on one which describes what Rebecca Brandon is about in this work. She tries to fix problems of her own making with her relationships: sister, husband, best friend. Men and women think differently from each other on most matters. Rebecca thinks extremely differently. She naturally assumes shopping will solve all problems. What did Jane Austen have to say about fine clothes? Oh, I can't quite quote but she goes something like this: woman is fine for herself alone. As long as she is neat and clean, a man will never notice much less remember the new dress, hair color, lipstick shade, style of shoes, the stylish purse or earrings. In other words, we men don't care for the fruit peel only the meat. For other women, something a bit shabby is preferred for conversation's sake. Don't blame me; this is straight from Jane Austen (Northanger Abbey). Rebecca, poor girl, probably wasn't an Austen fan and therefore never got this good advice from the grand dame herself. I really started enjoying this story when Rebecca absolutely gunks up the works then rushes pell-mell to put matters aright. First stop was to patch things up with her sister and manages to totally alienate her. To fix matters, she wound up on the side of a mountain in a storm in her lovely new slippers then slipped off. Oh yes, the story picks up delightfully: action, blood, mud, broken bones, the works. The best of it happened when she found herself accidently organizing a large scale protest of her husband's largest client. Then there are the amusing adventures as she mended matters. However Luke and Rebecca Brandon finally arrive at their Pemberley, one can only say it will be an interesting trip.
Rebecca Burns has great accent. I can't quite put my finger on the origins but she is perfect for this story. The word Pollyanna has taken on something of a negative connotation, a kind of empty headed happiness despite circumstances, usually said in a sneering condescending tone after the fashion of some college professors or self righteous politicians. I carried away a very different idea of a Pollyanna. For your consideration: Her father died. Her mother died. Her brothers and sisters all died. She is homeless and penniless. She is sent to live with a relative who doesn't love her or want her. She truly stands alone. She took all the hard knocks that the world threw her way. As often as she was knocked down; she picked herself up, dusted herself off and found a reason to smile as she faced the next trial. Even when pummeled with blows which have brought great men to their knees, Pollyanna did not yield. Almost, perhaps, but she never surrendered. Further evidence for your consideration: Who changed? Not Pollyanna; she was the glowing wondering little person at the end that she was when we first met. Nope, it was the adults who were changed by this small force of nature: Aunt Polly, the doctor, Nancy, Mr. Pendleton, the minister, et al, in fact an entire town. So if someone is Pollyannaish, what are they? In my book, brave as a combat Marine, loyal as a Saint Bernard and tough as a Pollyanna Whittier.
Having read this book quite a few times over the years, I was pleased to find it in Audible's library. My hat is off to the producers. The names of the narrators weren't included but they were fabulous. I especially liked the announcer who obviously was kidnapped from the BBC World Service. The woman who did the story narration had a lovely expressive voice. The little music clips closing the chapters were a nice touch. Burnett had a thing for India. In many ways, it became a kind of character in a number of her books including "A Little Princess", "The Secret Garden" and this title. It is a place of fantastical mystery, unknown splendor and sudden terrifying dangers, where both death and wonder lurked in shadows. As the synopsis suggested, this is an adult fairy tale. Burnett's early life was no fairy tale so her stories have a firm basis in hard reality which is appealing and believable. Who better to tell the story of Cinderella before the fairy godmother and the prince than one who has lived Cinderella's life? Emily Fox Seton struck me as a Catherine Morland ("Northanger Abbey") type of heroine with an innocent belief in the goodness of fellow human beings. It was no great surprise when Emily loved the dry, distant Lord Walderhurst enough for both. She needed someone to love; he needed a wife who would leave him in peace. I really enjoyed the way this unsophisticated woman handled herself when confronted with the attempts against her life. If I remember my Austen, I think Henry Tillney fell in love with Catherine because she was so much in love with him. In like fashion, cold, self-centered Walderhurst found himself in love with Emily because she so absolutely loved him. Is the book as good as "A Little Princess" or "The Secret Garden"? No, but most books aren't that good, yet I still manage to enjoy quite a few of them.
Lucy Scott is tremendous with a fine expressive voice and she knows the material. Alright, I admit it, I love the accent. I have a number of Jane Eyre versions (cd, mp3, DL) by various narrators: Wanda McCadden, Amanda Root, Susan Erickson and of course, Lucy Scott. Even after listening scores of times, I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. Perhaps, like Jane Austen novels, it is the one I am currently reading (or to which I'm listening). I assume you know it is a Beauty and the Beast story although beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder. She is not a SI swimsuit issue babe unless it is for brains. Nevertheless, I find her attractive in the same way all the Bronte heroines are. If you recall, Catherine Morland in "Northanger Abbey" by Jane Austen was considered to be "almost pretty", not overly educated or even particularly smart but her principles were written in granite and when push came to shove, like all of Austen and Bronte heroines, it turns out she had a backbone of carbon steel. As an admirer of both Bronte and Austen heroines, I tend to compare and contrast although I sure Charlotte Bronte would be displeased as she had a very low opinion of Miss Austen (re: letter to her editor). Just as Miss Bingley (P&P) never had a chance with Darcy even without an Elizabeth, Miss Ingraham never had a shot at Mr. Rochester even without a Jane. Look at the treatment of subordinates by these two women. Observe the difference between the treatment of Adel by the Misses Eyre and Ingraham. So all the time Miss Bingley and Miss Ingraham were confidently whispering sweet nothings into ears of their prospective husbands, their behavior painted an unflattering portrait of an impoverished character. One can compare similar relationships in "Agnes Grey", "Villette", et al. There is always something new to think over.
How to review this? The title cries out for it to be compared and contrasted with "Little Women" which would be unfair to this really fine book. Here are some authors with works in the same class as "Little Women": Lucy Maude Montgomery, "Anne of Green Gables"; Eleanor H. Porter, "Pollyanna"; Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"; Johanna Spyri, "Heidi"; Frances Hodgson Burnett, "A Little Princess", "The Secret Garden". These works are sui generis. It is simply not fair to compare other works with them even those by the same author. These authors wrote many other really great works (see Project Gutenberg) which are not in the same class as the ones above but nevertheless are enjoyable and worthwhile in their own right. Not every book is "War and Peace" (which all acclaim and few read) or "Pride and Prejudice" (which almost everyone reads and makes an unsatisfactory (except Firth/Ehle) movie version.
The stars of this book are the boys, however keep an eye on Jo and her Professor Bhaer, who as adults, make the rules. In a good kid's book, it is always the adults who set the standards and provides the framework for growth and development of decent human beings. Bearing in mind, this is the 1880's, twenty years after the war, before antibiotics, modern medicine, air conditioning, phones, etc., the situations, problems and solutions seem quite modern and germane to 2010. Most of all, this book is fun. Boys are mischievous and will find a way into every kind of trouble. It is interesting how much power the two little girls have over the behavior of the boisterous boys. This is a power innate to women if they choose to exercise it, a forgotten influence in today's world. The narrator, C.M. Hebert did her usual fine job of keeping track of children, adults and multi-storylines.
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