Aside from the middlebrow writing of Oates, the narrator is completely irritating. The Mulvaneys live in upstate New York and always have. But whenever the narrator "does" either the mother's or the father's voices, he uses a down-home Texas accent. Mrs. Mulvaney sounds like Sissy Spacek. It is so irritating I could not go on.
I've just started listening to BUTB -- and I immediately feel something is missing. It is Simon Slater's ability not only to play up Cromwell's tenderness and regrets (as another reviewer mentions), but also (just by his tone of voice?) to underline Cromwell's modern-seeming, stepped-back distance from the events around him. As I read Wolf Hall, I felt that Mantel was portraying Cromwell as an early incarnation of a 20th century man, which gave me a truly new perspective on the much-told story of Henry VIII. Perhaps Slater was not available to read BUTB, or perhaps the choice of Vance was intentional. Maybe More's death has aged Cromwell and hardened him. In the early pages of BUTB, Cromwell no longer can summon his feelings of attraction to Jane Seymour, and his dead wife and daughters have become blood-soaked falcons intent only on prey. Perhaps the chill of Vance's narration better suits this book. I'll find out.
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