I enjoy Bill Bryson and have his books in text. But I like to listen to audio books as I knit so I bought this. Not worth it. The essays have become dated, not the fault of Bryson or the narrator but something to be aware of. The narrator was bad enough that I actually looked him up online to see if he was a native American English speaker or trying to fake an American accent. I was amazed to find he was from Rhode Island and a famous character actor. I won't be buying any other books narrated by him.
As those who read Bryson's books know, he can be peevish at times, Maybe it was my irritation at the narration, but the peevishness came across not as amusing, but more jerk-ish (I was going to use another word for jerk, but I don't know who is reading this review. Use your imagination).
I cannot recommend this audio book.
I enjoy reading new takes on old stories, it gives me a fresh perspective to consider. I originally noticed this book because it was read by Simon Vance, a favorite narrator of audiobooks, and got it because as I mentioned, I thought the "backstory" on A Christmas Carol would be interesting.
My only mistake was to listen to it the night before I had an important meeting. I couldn't stop listening, and the humanity of the story itself, of Marley's and Scrooge's redemption had me grabbing tissue after tissue. I woke up all puffy and red-eyed, but happy.
The writing style itself is reminiscent of Dickens without being a parody, and Simon Vance, as always, does a great job in the narration.
I've read this book many times and was pleased to find an unabridged audio version. But the narrator chose to read Katz's dialogue in a low monotone, mispronounces common words ("willy-ness" instead of wiliness, Mackinac with a hard c) and uses a long a in Appalachian (admittedly a pet peeve -- I live near the trail in Western North Carolina and it is pronounced with a short "a" by people who live in the Appalachian mountains. Using the long "a" labels you as an outsider). I couldn't finish listening to it.
I'll have to stick with the abridged version read by Bryson himself.
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