This is probably one of Maeve Binchy's best books. I read it years ago and decided I wanted to listen to the audiobook when I heard of her death. The book is great, if you like Binchy, you'll love this one.
BUT, it is almost ruined by this dreadful recording!
First, they've chosen an American actress to read a book that really needs an Irish reader. Her Irish accent is cartoonish and embarrassing.
Moreover, as others have pointed out, the audio quality is dreadful. The sound goes in and out, is muffled in some sections, and there is background or ghost noises disrupting some sections. This is likely because the recording was digitized from an old master tape from last century that was stretched and damaged in parts. Thanks, Audible, for charging full price for some old, cruddy recording. If this was an epic performance, perhaps I'd forgive the lame preservation efforts. As it is, there is no excuse. This was a bestseller; Audible should commission a new recording with person who can do a Dublin accent and provide it free to all of those of us who wasted credits on this shoddy one.
This was the first audiobook I ever listened to, after getting it out of the libray on tape back in the 80s. I've looked for it for years, and never thought it would be digitized and sold on Audible, especially after Chivers (the original publisher) went out of business.This is the exact reading I remember, Eve Karpf does a terrific job of bringing this children's book to life. The basic premise is about a girl of 9 who wishes desperately to be "all grown up" like her big sister Bella (who is 18). She finds a fur coat that magically turns her into an 18 year old. Hilarity ensues. Perfect for kids and fun loving adults! I will note that the book is English and has some UK references and slang, but, hey, a perfect chance to learn new things.
Yes, Dotrice is much better than the guy from the previous book. But Daeneyrs is my favorite character, I have been waiting 10 years to find out what's happening with her and her chapters are ruined by the old crone strange accent that Dotrice is suddenly using! It's wrecking this book for me. You may be less sensitive, but be warned. Did no one on the production side listen to this to hear the jarring change in voice of such a major character?
This review is spoiler free!
This book has a lot of the features that Binchy fans love: an extended group with "make your own family" types of bonds, characters that make you want to scream but eventually get their due, and lots of fun and drama on the way. It also has one of my favourite features of her latest books: a chance to catch up with many of your favourite Binchy characters from previous books! However, the last chapter is grossly miscalculated. It introduces a wrinkle that is treated far too briefly with a facile resolution that did not sit well with me and kind of wrecked the whole book. If you are a Binchy fan, you won't want to skip this because you can catch up with all those previous characters, but try it and see if you agree with me about the last chapter.
I first read this book as a girl and it was one of the spookiest experiences I can remember. I think it's a real shame that one of the other reviewers here chose to reveal key plot elements in the review because when I first read this I knew nothing of the plot and that added a lot to the experience (sort of bluebeard's chamber type suspense). I admit that coming back to it as an adult it lost a little eeriness: I think I could relate better to Mary's sense of being trapped at Jamaica Inn better as a kid than I can now. But if you like suspense I think you'll like this gothic novel with a cornish twist.
This book breathes new life into the traditional English village novel. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition inherent in the stodgy old white guy who was born in Lahore (in what is now Pakistan) who is considered "English" and several characters born in the UK who are considered "Pakistani". Major Pettigrew is stolidly conservative and old guard but he is also educated in history and a thoughtful guy so therefore is more sympathetic than most of his friends--and his son, who you just want to reach into your ipod and punch in the face! All in all, a great listen and you'll really cheer for the old Major when he makes his last stand.
OK, it's not great literature and the cosiness of all these rapidly forming bonds is a bit fantastical, but you'll be warmed from the inside out. A great bonus is catching up with glimpses of characters from several previous Binchy novels including Whitethorn Woods, Scarlet Feather, Nights of Rain and Stars, and my personal favourite: Evening Class. Most other MB audiobooks are narrated by her cousin Kate, who does a terrific job, but I got used to this narrator after a bit. If you're a Binchy-phile, you'll like this one.
So many positive comments on the narration I was surprised. Yes, the man is talented and can do lots of accents. But why would different family members who've always lived together have different accents? Insanity. Why is Mance Rayder made to sound like a silly old man? Tywin Lannister sounds like a Winston Churchill imitation and don't get me started on the horrible, offensive chinese-esque accent for Missandei used even when she's speaking in her more familiar language and shouldn't have much of an accent. Generally, the accents and reading made me nuts, but the book is so good I couldn't stop listening. Big books like these need a good producer to track accents and pronunciation, so I don't necessarily blame the poor old narrator. The reviews of the reader of the next book aren't encouraging but I for one am ready for a break from this nonsense. Without a different production team, what are the chances it will be any better?
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