The abridged version is 3 hours and 50 minutes long. The unabridged version is 20 hours and 30 minutes long. Perhaps listening to this abridged version gives a faint hint of what it is to read Swann's Way, but come on!
This is one of my favorites by Balzac. Warning: like many of his novels (and even more so) , this one starts out slowly, then bursts into action in the second half.
I found the reading itself disappointing. When the characters speak, the reader uses a strange prody of an Eastern European accent--think Pepe le Pew meets Dracula. He also lowers his voice, and kind of growls which is odd, since for the most part, the characters are are very young--in their 20's. This sounds like no French person I've ever known (and I know many), and worse, is often impossible to understand.
When you *can* understand it, this strange accent seems to mock the characters, the story, the French...What a shame! I kept vowing I would not listen through to the end, but it is such a good story,such a great author, and my commute is SOOOO long, I was able to muscle hrough it.
After finally "reading" Moby Dick, I'm surprized that the book is sometimes marketed as an adventure story that would appeal to younger readers. A story within a story, Moby Dick is not so much about the monomaniacal Captain Ahab and his quest, as it about our narrator's monomaniacal love of whaling. The adventure itself takes a back seat to a brilliant narrative structure and a captivating narrative voice, delivering a multitude of quotable lines. This is not a book for everyone. There is little immediate gratification and surprisingly little plot or action given the topic. Yet I cannot imagine why anyone would read it abridged. Though I can think of nothing less interesting to me than fishing or hunting, I found the book riveting. If you are a a patient reader, fascinated with the art of fiction, you will be rewarded by Moby Dick. This version is expertly read by Frank Muller, who keeps a somber, often bemused tone, true to the narrator's character, with none of that "aargh, matie" nonsense.
Towns within towns, rooms within rooms, stories within stories, phrases within phrases. It takes an exceptional reader to follow the threads of this lush narrative without losing the listener on the way. John Rowe brilliantly captures the languid tenacity and subtle wit of Proust's rich prose. He also pronounces the occasional French (place names, characters) correctly, so that read smoothly with the English. Now if only the other 6 volumes were available on audio! I see most are offered abridged. I would never read/listen to an abridged book, least of all a masterpiece. And Proust abridged? What a cruel oxymoron. Back to paper for the last 6 volumes.
I love Margaret Atwood's work, and this is my favorite. A haunting story of deep passion, fatal passivity, and the power of writing. Expertly read. I would give it five stars but, as others have mentioned, there are technical problems. It sounds as if the digital copy comes from cassette tape, and there is often a background hiss for 30 minutes at a time. This didn't stop me from enjoying the book overall.
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