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Esther

United States | Member Since 2010

44
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 8 reviews
  • 10 ratings
  • 111 titles in library
  • 15 purchased in 2014
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  • The Age of Innocence

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 2 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By David Horovitch
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (333)
    Performance
    (267)
    Story
    (270)

    Countess Olenska, separated from her European husband, returns to old New York society. She bears with her an independence and anawareness of life which stirs the educated sensitivity of Newland Archer, engaged to be married to May Welland.

    Ilana says: "Narrated to Perfection"
    "Reader is mostly excellent save for a few hitches—"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Wharton, of course, is great. The story is complex, the characters are bitingly satirized, and the setting is detailed, fascinating, and a character unto itself.

    The reader, David Horowitch, is mostly excellent too. He does a rather funny flat accent for the New Yorkers and reads quite lyrically. He differentiates his characters and reads passionately.

    Bad news: Countess Olenska sounds like Count Dracula. Wharton describes her having a strange accent, Olenska having lived a long time in Europe, but one gets the impression she spent most of her time in France, not in Transylvania. Besides, marrying a man with an accent doesn't mean you automatically acquire one too

    Perhaps to make her sound poetical, Horowitch also murmurs all of her dialogue. Unless she's shouting, you have to crank the volume up whenever Olenska speaks, because he murmurs, whispers, or breathes what she says. I wish whoever who mixed this recording had pitched her dialogue higher. Unless you're in a quiet room the entire time you listen to this, you're definitely going to miss what she says at least a dozen times.

    But maybe I'm picky. It's still a terrific recording, and Horowitch was by far the best reader I could find with the Audible samples.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  • Anna Karenina

    • UNABRIDGED (41 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Leo Tolstoy
    • Narrated By Kate Lock
    Overall
    (82)
    Performance
    (63)
    Story
    (63)

    Anna Karenina is beautiful, married to a successful man, and has a son whom she adores. But a chance meeting at a train station in Moscow sets her passionate heart alight, and she is defenceless in the face of Count Vronsky's adoration. Having defied the rules of nineteenth-century Russian society, Anna is forced to pay a heavy price.

    Tad Davis says: "Wonderful reading, but some volume issues"
    "Narrator Is Quirky—Read If You're Picky!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This review focuses only on the narrator, Kate Lock.

    She's a pretty standard narrator: makes distinct voices for her characters and reads at a steady, not-too-fast pace. There's nothing particularly good or bad about these aspects of performance. But if you're a picky listener like me, and you might be, since this book is over FORTY HOURS long, you may want to know:

    1. She "acts" out the dialogue and all parts of it. So if a character coughs while talking, she coughs too. If a character is eating while talking, she talks as if her mouth is full. Some people might enjoy this realism, but I found it gratingly unnecessary. The mid-dialogue laughter is painfully forced.

    2. The voices for Kitty and Dolly can be extremely high-pitched, especially when they're distressed—like crying cats.

    3. I think this is the Constance Garnet translation; there are no translations for French or German pieces of dialogue, which are luckily sparse.

    4. All this said, Levin's dialogue is performed terrifically.

    I'll be shopping around for another narrator, however. Hope this helps other listeners!

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Madame Bovary

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 46 mins)
    • By Gustave Flaubert, Lydia Davis (translator)
    • Narrated By Kate Reading
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (99)
    Performance
    (79)
    Story
    (78)

    Set amid the stifling atmosphere of nineteenth-century bourgeois France, Madame Bovary is at once an unsparing depiction of a woman’s gradual corruption and a savagely ironic study of human shallowness and stupidity. Neither Emma, nor her lovers, nor Homais, the man of science, escapes the author’s searing castigation, and it is the book’s final profound irony that only Charles, Emma’s oxlike, eternally deceived husband, emerges with a measure of human grace.

    Sandra says: "Beautifully Narrated Classic"
    "Ironic, humorous, and restrained"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is one of Kate Reading's better narrations, and the material could not be more compelling. Translated by Lydia Davis (master short story writer!), the book is both light and tragic, humorous and disturbing, emotional and cerebral. Flaubert is one of the few who can do that. The tragedy of Emma and the triumphs of Homais are delicately rendered in this smart translation.

    Reading reads with perfect inflections, making Emma sound airy and "arty," Charles slow and pitiful, Leon slippery, etc. No silly attempts at trying to sound male; just excellent infusions of the character's personality into his/her voice to make him/her sound believable. The speed is just right. I've heard other narrations by Kate Reading and some don't match up in quality or direction.

    The writing style seems so effortless and light that you almost think Flaubert knocked it out with the wave of a hand, but as you keep listening, you realize what a brilliantly composed, tightly plotted piece this is. Also superb is Davis's introduction in the print version. It's not in the audio version, but if you can get your hands on a print (or digi) copy, by all means, read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Secret Circle, Volume I: The Initiation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By L. J. Smith
    • Narrated By Devon Sorvari
    Overall
    (193)
    Performance
    (170)
    Story
    (170)

    Seduced by the Secret Circle, a coven of young witches whose power has controlled New Salem for 300 years, Cassie falls hopelessly in love with the leader's boyfriend and falls prey to dark powers.

    Teddy says: "Interesting"
    "Glad to have, but overdramatic narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I've been a fan of the Secret Circle since the 90s, and was thrilled to have an audio version. Sorvari has a perfect, sulky teenage voice, which would seem great for delivering this somewhat melodramatic trilogy. Her reading speed is perfect; neither too fast or slow.

    Given how over the top the narrative already is, I wish Sorvari had read more evenly. She delivers ferocity, sulkiness, and drama, but does so in ALL instances, even for ordinary sentences, like, "Cassie's grandmother stood up." Does a sentence like that really need to be read with such intensity? Haha-funny lines, like those of the Henderson brothers, are also strangely sarcastic instead of slapstick. Sorvari pretty much delivers the entire book in this one way, and it becomes monotonous.

    This sulky delivery also doesn't fit the protagonist's personality. Cassie is shy, ethical, and earnest, not at all bratty or rebellious, as Sorvari would have you believe.

    As for the book itself, I read this when I was 10 and have reread it since then. But hearing it through someone else's voice revealed unintentionally silly it can be! There are plot holes that go unaddressed: Doesn't anyone think it's weird Cassie arrives exactly when she "needs to"? Wouldn't they be even slightly suspicious? And for the trilogy as a whole: Isn't it odd how little say Adam has? The romantic decisions are made entirely by Cassie, and he's a Romeo-like doll, never choosing but being told who he's allowed to be with. To Smith's credit, he does set up certain crucial scenes and this is a female-centric world, but he nevertheless seems flat and unappealing. (Nick, on the other hand, is much more interesting b/c he has a backstory.)

    Most gratingly, there is an absurd amount of attention paid to how beautiful and frightening Faye is—it is repetitive and even embarrassing. I skipped over those paragraphs and paragraphs of how golden her eyes and skin are and blablabla, but you can't do that in an audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • It Happened One Autumn: Wallflower Series #2

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Lisa Kleypas
    • Narrated By Rosalyn Landor
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1169)
    Performance
    (749)
    Story
    (764)

    Where beautiful but bold Lillian Bowman quickly learned that her independent American ways weren’t entirely “the thing.” And the most disapproving of all was insufferable, snobbish, and impossible Marcus, Lord Westcliff, London’s most eligible aristocrat.

    Caroline says: "Did not like main female charactor's voice"
    "Hilarious, and not in a good way"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The producers erred terribly in hiring Rosalyn Landor because

    1) She can't do an American accent.
    2) Her male voices sound like the voice you make when you drop your chin into your neck and make as silly a deep voice you can.

    The pity is that the protagonist for this book is American and a New Yorker (I'm both) yet sounds exactly like someone parodying a flat, part faux-midwestern, part cowboy accent with the most rollings R's I've ever heard a Brit or American bother with. Lillian and her sister sound like they should be riding mules and shooting their pistols instead of coming out of New York society.

    You can imagine how scenes of ardor sound when a woman sounds like a cowgirl and a man sounds like a kid pretending to be a man. The declarations of passion are absolutely hilarious and ridiculous, and I found all the male characters very difficult to take seriously because they sounded so awful.

    If you can get over these two things and are a fan of Lisa Kleypas, then I guess it's a fine read. Try not to laugh.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The Custom of the Country

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By Edith Wharton
    • Narrated By Barbara Caruso
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (37)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    Edith Wharton stands among the finest writers of early 20th-century America. In The Custom of the Country, Wharton’s scathing social commentary is on full display through the beautiful and manipulative Undine Spragg. When Undine convinces her nouveau riche parents to move to New York, she quickly injects herself into high society. But even a well-to-do husband isn’t enough for Undine, whose overwhelming lust for wealth proves to be her undoing.

    Esther says: "Cannot recommend a better narrator!"
    "Cannot recommend a better narrator!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Edith Wharton's novel is deliciously enjoyable, especially if you delight in watching detestable characters crush one another and see people behave more brutishly and vulgarly than you could have expected. By "people" I primarily mean the wonderfully named Undine Spragg, a social climber who bulldozes as many people as she can to attain an ever escaping, ever elusive goal of social grandeur and wealth. Wharton's satiric, witty, whip-smart writing fairly sparkles here, and the entire novel has lighter touch, perhaps because about half of it is in the mind of a buffoon, rather than the plodding Archer of Age of Innocence, for example.

    But I really want to write about Barbara Caruso here, who should narrate EVERYTHING. She reads with warmth, humor, wit, and imparts an incredible understanding of each of the characters. I wonder about the difficulty of being a reader—she has to play every role, and she does so splendidly. Conflicted characters like Undine, whom one would normally expect to hate, are given depth and conviction. Brava.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Emma

    • UNABRIDGED (15 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Jane Austen
    • Narrated By Victoria Morgan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (181)
    Performance
    (56)
    Story
    (59)

    Emma Woodhouse has it all: She's beautiful, rich and very clever - maybe too clever - but she also has too much time on her hands. So Emma decides to dabble in the lives of others, setting about making romantic matches - but why can't she find the right suitor for herself?

    Joseph says: "The best of the best"
    "Beautiful but toneless voice"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Morgan has a beautifully modulated voice, deep and lovely. But you cannot tell who's talking when there's dialogue, as she doesn't do "voices" AND there are no pauses between pieces of dialogue. Still worse, there is absolutely no expression in the dialogue. Emma saying, "Mr. Elton, surely you are speaking of Harriet," when she's trying to rebuff his proposal and Mr. Knightly saying "My boots were quite dry" sound EXACTLY THE SAME. I was trying to avoid the usual Nadia May route, but there's a reason why she's always at the top of the list!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Wendy McClure
    • Narrated By Teri Clark Linden
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (50)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (35)

    Wendy McClure is on a quest to find the world of beloved Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder - a fantastic realm of fiction, history, and places McClure has never been to yet somehow knows by heart. She traces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family - looking for the Big Woods among the medium trees in Wisconsin, wading in Plum Creek, and enduring a prairie hailstorm in South Dakota. She immerses herself in all things Little House - exploring the story from fact to fiction, and from the TV shows to the annual summer pageants in Laura’s hometowns.

    Esther says: "Sweet, light; maybe too light?"
    "Sweet, light; maybe too light?"
    Overall

    You have to be a real Little House fan to enjoy this book. What McClure appreciates is so much of the little details in the books (rather than the historical arc), such as the strawberry-and-leaf butter mold Ma uses in Little House in the Big Woods, or the baking of Long Winter bread. Luckily I am a fan, so I did enjoy this very much. This serves as an excellent introduction into the vast library of writings on Wilder and who to read. The narrator's voice is sweet, funny and she reads well.

    My only criticism is that the book itself is quite insubstantial. McClure details all the Little House sites she visits and maybe because more b/c she feels obligated to than because every single one of the sites reveals something illuminating. Hardcore fan that I am, I even faltered in my listening. There is in the last chapter a revelation as to why she's so obsessed with Wilder, and while it's heartfelt, it's feels tacked on; as if her editor said, "It's a memoir! You need revelation!"

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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