This is the UNabridged version of "I, Claudius". I've listened the the abridged version twice and enjoyed it very much even though I generally avoid abridgments. But I found the abridged version a little hard to follow in places, and bought the unabridged to fill in the gaps.
This book goes on and on and yawn ... the reader is very good and I'd like to hear him read something with a clearer narrative line, but the even he can't save this from soporific tedium. The book should have been called "I, Tiberius Claudius Drusis Nero Germanicus." I gave up after 90 minutes.
The narrator was really bad.
Complex and engaging plot.
Over-acting, over-pronouncing, and sing-song. Narrator is extremely self-conscious.
Save your money.
I've read this book on paper and enjoyed it, and I usually like this narrator. But the narration here is very disappointing. The reader ends 2/3's of the sentences with the kind of lilt you associate with books for children. She reads "We had a conversation about genital mutilation" in exactly the voice one would expect for "Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy talked about Christmas." Moreover, she characterizes the voices inconsistently. The protagonist's boyfriend is sometimes from Brooklyn, sometimes from the deep South, and sometimes just gravelly. It's not so bad that I won't finish the book, but it's disappointing as heck.
What a bitter disappointment: I cannot listen to this reader for 20+ hours. I couldn't even listen to her for 20+ minutes. She over-pronounces nearly every word, pauses dramatically at most punctuation, and takes a short sharp intake of breath every couple of phrases. It's the voice of a babysitter (one who's short of breath) reading aloud to not-very-bright children. I gave up after less than half an hour. A shame to waste the money on the book, but life is just too short to waste time on a reading this bad.
I'm a big Josephine Tey fan, and I'm picky about narrators. This was my first Carole Boyd listen, and now I'm hooked. She's just great. Enough variations in voicing to keep the characters identifiable, but no stagey acting to distract from Tey's precise and wonderful story. If you like British mysteries and good narrators, you can't go wrong here.
I've listened to this book twice and will listen again after a while. I'd be happy to hear Eleanor Bron read the dictionary aloud: to hear her read Edith Wharton is pure bliss.
If you remember the television show "Thirty-something", and liked it, you'll probably like this. I did, so I do. It's a soap opera -- a pretty good one. The narration is great, too, so all in all I'd say the book is a nice diversion.
A quick listen and a really engaging story. I didn't realize the book is meant for the YA market until I listened to the interview with the author at the end. Well written and well narrated.
This is a book I'm likely to enjoy more on paper than in audio. As a longtime Pinter fan, I'm interested in Fraser's story of their love affair and marriage, and the fact that the book is taken largely from her diaries makes it seem especially immediate. This narrator, though, reads nearly every sentence in an affected upper class drawl. It's tedious and distracting at first and finally really irritating to hear the simplest sentences delivered in an arch and condescending tone. This may be the was Fraser speaks, though I doubt it, but it makes for bad narration. I couldn't finish listening to the book, but I might buy the paperback when it's available.
I liked this audiobook much more than I expected to - in fact I just finished listening to it a second time. I've read THE SECRET HISTORY as a book and was doubtful about having the author doing the narration: in my experience, there are good readers and good writers and not many people who are both. Donna Tartt is one of those few. Her natural accent is engaging in the descriptive passages, and she makes the different characters voices in dialogue distinguishable without resorting to violent changes in pitch and pattern. A couple of her character voices (Bunny and Julian) are a smidge over-drawn, but it's not distracting because although they are both major characters, they have among the fewest lines of dialog.
And that brings me to what I like so much about the way the book is written. Its absent influences are really compelling (Richard's parents, for example, and Leo the landlord) are significant players whom we never actually meet. They're described, and they're quoted in the third person, but they never appear to speak for themselves. This literary device is rarely sucessful, but as Donna Tartt deploys it, it works a treat.
Similarly, the unreliable narrator -- Richard -- is compelling. Again, this device is tricky and often transparent, but Tartt works it skilfully.
The majority of the novel is dark-ish and thinky, but there are a couple passges that are laugh out loud funny: the feral cat on the long car ride, for example, and the "test your illicit drug knowledge" game show scene. Dark humor indeed. Those bits might not be to everyone's taste, but they had me laughing helplessly.
I could nitpick -- there are a few asides in foreign languages that aren't translated, and that's annoying as heck, and the novel ends about four times (just when you think it's done there's another coda, and that goes on for about 20 minutes) and these quibbles cost the book a star. Overall, though, I think this one's well worth your time and credit.
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