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Elaine Wilkinson


  • The Great Gatsby

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • Narrated By Jake Gyllenhaal
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. This new audio edition, authorized by the Fitzgerald estate, is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain). Gyllenhaal's performance is a faithful delivery in the voice of Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, who rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby....

    Darwin8u says: "Simple, Beautiful, and Exquisitely Textured"
    "Great Audio Quality With Miscast Narrator"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I have much enjoyed Gyllenhaal's film performances and he's certainly someone I keep an eye on for movies I would enjoy. That being said I think he was sadly miscast as the Nick Caraway narrator. Gyllenhaal just isn't a period piece sort of guy. He's modern in every way, voice, inflection, tone, accent, and just not believable as a young man of the post-WWI era. Caraway is educated, sophisticated, knowledgeable. He may not have the ready wealth of the crowd he runs with, but he's certainly not out of place or uncomfortable in such "elevated" surroundings. He recognizes the trappings of large amounts of money as exactly that--trappings. It's the people and their characters which preoccupy him, not their stuff. The rube in the palace, in spite of his wealth and experience, is Gatsby himself. His money and its purchasing power is far too new for him to be taking it for granted. And this childlike enjoyment and appreciation is part of Gatsby's charm for Nick. Gyllenhaal's most successful characterization is Tom Buchanon, the boorish, foolish, philandering husband of Nick's cousin Daisy. Fitzgerald paints him in broad strokes, not quite a parody of the ex-jock, he's too destructive, too powerful to laugh at, but Tom is the modern one that Gyllenhaal "gets."

    What other book might you compare The Great Gatsby to and why?

    Fitzgerald's "voice" is easily recognizable and distinct from other early 20th century writers. Great Gatsby fans would love his other novels and short stories. He's poetic, but never obscure and sometimes humorous. An easy read with intense themes.

    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Gyllenhaal is not a natural narrator, but he has a pleasant baritone and would probably improve if he continues in this work. The first chapter contained two stand-out mistakes in pronounciation: the word claret mispronounced as "klar-ay," rather than "klar-it," and the word settee mispronounced as "set-tay," rather than "sett-ee." Neither word is of French derivation, which I am assuming was Gyllenhaal's assumption. (Both words come from English and have a standard English pronounciation.) It's not so surprising that a young American actor doesn't have these words in his lexicon. What is surprising is that no one on the production/direction side of this recording caught the mistakes. Doesn't anyone "literary" audit these recordings before they're released? Now there's a plan.

    Was The Great Gatsby worth the listening time?

    In spite of my issues with this recording, I did not feel my money wasted. I got it at a very good price. Fans of Jake Gyllenhaal of the he-can't-put-a-foot-wrong stripe will love this.

    Any additional comments?

    The audio quality of this recording is very, very good.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: The Millennium Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (16 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Stieg Larsson
    • Narrated By Simon Vance
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready

    Why we think it’s a great listen: How do you one-up a book that’s already a global literary phenomenon? Hire Simon Vance to (flawlessly) interpret the loves, lives, and murders of Sweden’s cold and secret-filled world. A spellbinding amalgam of murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue. It's about the disappearance 40 years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden.

    Pamela Murphy says: "COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN"
    "Larsson As Read By Simon Vance...I'm In Heaven!!!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I read Stieg Larsson's "Dragon Tattoo" triology as if possessed. Lisbeth Salander has to be one of the most fascinating protagonists in recent memory, so vibrantly characterized that she leaps from the pages fully fleshed and utterly alive. Larsson's style is descriptive, yet immediate, colorful and cinematic. He peoples Salander's world with major and minor characters as finely drawn as his heroine and places them all within the framework of a decades old murder mystery in this opener. This is not a tea and crumpets mystery. The situations are realistic and treat mature themes. Think Val McDermid, not Agatha Christie. Prime Suspect, not Murder, She Wrote. I'll say no more lest I create "spoilers."

    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Once the major characters are introduced and grounded--remember this is the first of three books with many of the same characters--the story becomes a runaway train. I literally stayed up all night to finish this book before work the following morning.

    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Even though I have all three books and have read them more than once, I purchased this series in the Audible format. Nothing enhances great writing like a great narrator. And Simon Vance is GREAT! I was excited to see how many recordings he's done: lots of Dickens, a great many of the Patrick O'Brien Aubrey-Maturin seafaring series, over 500 recordings in total. Vance is able to give just enough variation in tone, cadence, etc., to distinguish each character, never overdoes, and always lets the story be the star. He's one of the best readers I've ever heard.

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    It would be tempting to listen to this book straight through, but I'm taking my time and enjoying being "read to." If I hadn't already read the book, I doubt I could be so relaxed.

    Any additional comments?

    All three of the Larsson books in this series are worthy, compulsively readable, and feature a truly original protagonist. I recommend them highly with this caveat: there are some ugly and brutal scenes and story lines, and they are not glossed over or sugar-coated, but dealt with realistically and matter-of-factly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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