If the ladies of AbFab make it to old age pensioner status, and if they actually wrote letters, I think they would sound something like this. The letter format between Irene and Vera, with infrequent guest letters from their children and/or neighbors, develops an amusing saga of adventures, misunderstandings, nervous breakdowns and flying accusations of alcoholism. The letters are at their funniest when the two ladies are flinging barbs at each other or telling the tales of their wayward children. I often laughed out loud. Very British sensibility but enjoyable even for a Yankee!
I absolutely love Simon Vance as a reader. After listening to his reading of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, I decided to try something a bit more classic, and went with Oliver Twist, since, despite being an English major, I had only ever read one Dickens novel (Great Expectations) and then with a looming exam deadline so it wasn't fun at all.
Simon Vance made the book come alive, made the humor in Dickens' descriptions and dialog funny, made it easy to keep track of a wide cast of characters in all of his different voices.
Any flaws in the book are more a weakness of Dickens...it gets off to a good start and has a riproaring set of climaxes, but there is a pretty badly sagging middle where not a lot is going on, some mawkish sentimentality and a few needless episodes that I chalk up to the book's origin as a serial and a need to have some sort of "cliffhanger" to lead to the next segment. Also, as many others have noted, Oliver is such a paragon of meek and grateful innocence that he pales in comparison (as do all of the "good guys", pretty much, except for the surgeon and the friend of Mr. Brownlow who constantly threatens to "eat his own head") to the vivid villains and lowlifes who oppose him.
But trust me, even with these weaknesses, Vance makes it worthwhile. I have added all of his Dickens books to my wishlist and plan to start on Nicolas Nickleby as soon as my next credits arrive!
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. It was as if a regular episode of Torchwood (post "Exit Wounds", pre "Children of Earth") was done as a radio play rather than a television show. Everything was done through the actors' dialog which leads to annoying bits of exposition or explanations of action (a whole lot of "They're coming closer!") but it was great to hear the familiar voices of characters I have really grown to like. If you like the series, you'll probably enjoy this dramatization.
What a fantastic find! Lost and Found takes place in the midst of a reality TV show, a game that combines Amazing Race travel challenges with a scavenger hunt (after listening to this, I wished the show was real because it sounded like fun!). The story follows a number of the participants, telling the story of the game through their perspectives, and in addition, telling their back stories which includes secrets that start to bubble up to the surface as the fatigue, stress and pressure of the game grow. The characters are all well drawn and three dimensional--some are less likeable than others but all have sympathetic moments. I was sucked in to the story from the first moment and listened every chance I got until I finished it. A great one for beach or road trip listening, the time will fly by!
Special notice to the reader, Blair Brown, who does a fantastic job of different voices and accents for the many different characters. She is one of the few readers whose name on an audiobook would make me check out an otherwise unknown book, based on her strength as a narrator.
If you are a fan of reality TV shows, don't miss this!
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