Well, to try out audiobooks I ended up with this one and Frederick Davidson's War and Peace. Granted it's hardly a fair comparison, but I recommend War and Peace. Note I gave this work four stars though, and not without reason.
I don't feel I'm experienced enough with these things to critique the narrator, but I can say I took no issue with her; indeed, her part was aptly undertaken.
Now, I chose this, a book I'd never heard of, despite the long list of books I'm "getting around to" because Thomas Hardy wrote it. I enjoyed his style through a (normal sense) reading of Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and several other authors later I am enjoying it for a third time with (audiobook) Jude the Obscure. If it were not for Hardy's endearment, I very much doubt I'd have considered this book at all, because it does smack of the soap opera, though of course my comparison is once again unfair, being anachronistic.
But in that frame, where Jude the Obscure is notedly darker than Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd is notedly lighter; this made for both a morbid disappointment and a pleasant surprise. The pleasant feeling overrode the morbid, for my perspective, so three point five stars for the rest of the audiobook and another half-star for the surprise.
My limited experience doesn't have a class for War and Peace. Well, I'm no Ph.D, but I've done a respectable stint with the classic. I rattled off a list of reputable authors and how I like them at first, citing it sort of to demonstrate my taste; ultimately I deleted it because even all those invocations of classicism didn't express my newfound reverence for Tolstoy.
Anyway, I had anticipated reading War and Peace (eventually...), but hadn't anticipated it as an audiobook until I got two credits here as gifts. As you may have noticed, I liked it. I really liked it. I liked it so much that that, ruefully, I'm trying to write such a glowing review that people reading will think I must throw "five stars" around all the time, and they'll be wrong: Tolstoy not only snatched the Favorite Book trophy, he ran off with it for half a mile. Funny I've never *read* my favorite book, but there you go.
That's all opinion though, and for all I know an abnormal one. In fact, I'd be surprised if any significant statistic of people liked it as I do, but I'd wager on anybody loving it sooner than her hating it.
I don't think Frederick Davidson will remain my favorite narrator once I've heard more than two. I think he did very, very well with this, but I sympathize with some of the reviewers who couldn't get over some of his intonations. I got over them quite easily, you see, and even appreciate them, but they did take getting over first. Other than that, he slipped up only once in the whole work, mixing up two characters voices in one conversation. This is unabridged War and Peace: that has to count for something by itself.
Last thing, if you don't like history/philosophy/philosophy of history/lengthy tangents thereon, beware. Those things greatly added to my enjoyment, but there you go.
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