Seriously, stop browsing the selections, download this selection, and get ready for a remarkable experience. Like one of the earlier reviewers, I can't shut up about the story, or better yet, the performance by Claire Danes.
Let me start by saying I had not read a Margaret Atwood book before this so I was unfamiliar with her writing style. The story is utterly captivating and frightening as hell. There are just enough echos of what we see in different places around the world such as environmental problems and the repression of women as to not seem impossible - and that of course will scare the heck out of you. But the prose is beautiful, spare yet descriptive and the characters achingly real. The story alone is worth a listen.
But Claire Danes takes a great story and makes the story sublime. I should mention that I am generally not attracted to books narrated by celebrities or actors. I suppose one could argue that narrating a book is similar enough to acting, but I think they are different enough that being a successful actor doesn't mean that one can be as successful in narrating a story. Especially actors that have distinctive voices I think then it is hard to "hear" the characters in the book and focus on the story and instead all you can picture is the actor. Claire Danes makes the story utterly unforgettable. She breathes such subtle emotion into the story. You feel her despair, her heartbreak, her terror. You live each event along with her. There were moments that I realized I was holding my breath, waiting, waiting for what would happen next.
I have to admit that when the story was over I very nearly restarted it immediately to listen to it again. I have no doubt I will listen to it again, and soon. But I need a few days to reflect on the story and the performance and savor the experience.
I can not understand how anyone think's this narration is enjoyable. Anne Hathaway's voices are almost impossible to listen to at times and even worse, are inconsistent. At one point the King of the Winged Monkeys sounds British, then next thing you know he sounds almost Arabic. One of the characters is narrated as a Valley Girl.
The story of course is wonderful and fun to revisit, or visit for the first time if you have only seen the movie. That is if you can make it through all of the character voices that distract from the classic story.
I have to say that I am surprised by the number of people that liked Michael York's narration. I gave up at Chapter 4 - and I have never given up on an Audible book so far and not stuck with the recording to the end. I just couldn't do it. His narration was so overly theatrical to me that it became distracting to the story.
I think this is one of those books that might benefit from reading and listening at the same time. Maybe. Or maybe I will just stick to the classic print edition.
While it is hard to imagine, I was sorry to have this book end, even after 24 hours of narration. And that was even more surprising because, like others, I had a hard time in the beginning of the story becoming engaged. I needed some time to hear the rhythm of Simon Slater's voice and sort through the characters, but very soon I was engrossed in both the story and the performance. I found myself stealing away to listen more to the story and couldn't wait until my next session with Simon as Cromwell, Henry, and the rest of the characters. The story is the perfect balance between fiction and history. I learned a lot about Henry and the period that he seeks a divorce from Catherine, but was never bored. I do wish I had printed out the list of characters - it would help with following the story. I highly recommend this selection. I am only disappointed that there wasn't other books narrated by Simon Slater that I am interested in.
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