I truly did like "On Beauty" and though that I'd try another Zadie Smith. I listened to the sample before buying, and the reader was pleasant enough. BUT that was the reader doing the third-person narrative. Had no idea of quite how horrible she'd be with the voices. I thought I'd get used to it, but just got more and more annoying. Had to give up.
Georgette Heyer's mysteries are sprightly and entertaining, though dated in regard to foreigners (teeth gritted), and rather contrived, shallow plotting (about which see comments on narrator). I am also less fond of the Inspector Hemingway novels than the earlier ones--they seem more routine. But like her other books, this was well written, full of fun, and had its share of wonderful characters--especially Vicky. And it is these qualities that make me love Georgette Heyer, even at her less-than-best.
Ingenious, if improbable. The villain is a most satisfying choice. Not sure I like the way one promising character gets reduced to a second-best dull old thing, but the emerging love story is fun.
Aside from pleasant speaking voice, she ruined this book in every possible way. No animation at all and draggy pace. This is especially unbearable when she voices the male characters, for whom she switches to Very. Carefully. Spaced. Monotone. This a serious crime in Heyer novels, which are so dependent on shadings of tone, irony, comedy, and a fine sense of the ridiculous. The reading killed these, so that the only thing left was the not-very-entertaining plot. You don't read Heyer for plot. I was so looking forward to revisiting the rest of the mysteries, but absolutely can't.
Not with this cast/production. No way.
Try again with a different reader? And for Heyer fans who have not read her mysteries, get the books! They're lovely escape reading.
For my money, Our Mutual Friend is the best novel Dickens ever wrote--a bit darker than the others, but all the more powerful. Although it presents the usual cast of caricatures, there are no throwaways, the themes they represent are not trivial. Dickens (sorry, no apostrophe function) attacks on snobbery and greed are unusually vicious as well as funny, and there is a new depth to the main characters--especially in the darker romance (there are two). Lizzie Hexam is a breathtaking character--serious, beautiful, redemptive. Dickens sentimentalism (to my mind the serious flaw in his works) is kept to a minimum in this one.
And--The reading is perfect. Robert Whitfield is a talented and sensitive reader. I will be looking for more of his work.
Can you go wrong with Dickens? Well, yes. No disputing that D. was a great author, and this books has great moments, the usual vivid characters, and a very funny view of the Englishman in America. The added bonus with this author is that he was an actor, very aware of the way his books would sound read aloud--as they most often were. Too bad the same care was not taken with this recording. Sound quality is very bad--hard to hear in the car. And though Flo Gibson really does a competent read here, she will never be a favorite of mine. So the combination of muffled production and a less than ideal reader make this one a disappointment.
This book and the rest in the series are just wonderful--lively characters and action, rich with historical and naval detail, and beautifully and wittily written. Patrick Tull's reading takes the experience to an even higher level. It was hearing Master and Commander that got me hooked on audio books for life. Even if you think naval/adventure novels are not for you (I certainly thought so), give this a try. You may fall in love.
I really enjoy Wilkie Collins' Vistorian potboilers; they're full of sly humor and mysterious doings, and his characterizations are great. Too bad I couldn't get past the reading on this one. As said by previous reviewer, women's voices are cringeworthy. So are the rest. Weird accents and a delivery that makes me suspect that reader was seeing the book for the first time. Had to give up.
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