Kris Marshall and Katherine Jakeways star as Mr & Mrs Pepys in this BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the world famous diaries.
Samuel Pepys was 26 when he decided to start keeping a diary, in January 1660. For the next 10 years he faithfully recorded the day's events and confessed his innermost thoughts. That diary has since become one of our most important, and fascinating, historical documents. Pepys gave us eyewitness accounts of some of the great events of the 17th century, including the Great Fire of London and the Second Dutch War. He also told us what people ate and wore, what they did for fun, the tricks they played on each other, what they expected of marriage, and even how they conducted love affairs. He described London - the frozen river Thames, the rising crime rate and the poverty - and recorded the details of his own life: his wife, rivals, lovers and friends, his work for the Navy, his drinking and social life.
Over 350 years may have passed since Pepys first put pen to paper, but the man and his preoccupations feel surprisingly familiar. In this major BBC Radio dramatisation of the journals, the sights and sounds of his world are vividly conjured. This collection comprises all 10 radio series plus a special Saturday Drama centring on the Great Fire of London.
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I loved the acting. These are, by far, the best actors I've ever heard in a full cast performance. I also love the adaptation. The actual diary consists of 1st person journal entries. The mix of the narration of these entries and the full scenes is excellent.
There are so many things I liked about the story. I'd have to say, I was most moved by the personal relationships. Some of the characters were quite endearing. Humor was a huge part of the play. I found myself laughing out loud several times. I also loved the history that was so much of this story. I was transported to a long ago time and place.
It's impossible for me to pick out a single scene as my favorite. There were so many wonderful moments. I particularly enjoyed any scene with Samuel and his house boy/servant, Will. I'd have to say, these were probably the funniest exchanges.
As I said, there were many scenes that made me laugh, and a moment that nearly brought me to tears. The acting was so good, on par with the best British films and television, I found myself caring deeply for these people.
For anyone who particularly enjoys full cast audio performances, The Diary of Samuel Pepys is in my top five. In fact, it might even be my all-time favorite. It's hard to find fault with this production, but there is one glaring problem which caused me to deduct one overall rating star. Each of the 51 chapters is about 13 minutes long, and each one begins with a lone female voice singing a short, 20 second song. I wouldn't have minded if each time it had been a different song, but every 13 minutes I had to hear the same exact song. If that wasn't bad enough, any time there was singing by any of the characters, they too sang the same song. It's a shame the producers didn't take the time to edit out these 51 tedious chapter intros for the Audible and CD releases of this otherwise perfect audio play.
I've listened to this over and over and there is always something new to discover in the diary of this horrible crazy wonderful man.
It's impossible to compare this to anything else because it is someones real life dramatized and made so real that you just have to hear what happens on the next day.
The actors are magic and the end made me weep. I really felt like I had entered a world of a bygone age and I really got involved with the actors in that world.
Samuel Pepys reaction to the executions of those who fomented the Civil war is particularly moving even though it fills me with disgust at the same time it is interesting to see the reaction he has to it and how violence begets violence.
Read this Audiobook!!
World Champion Parallel Parker
It's really difficult to make a diary interesting even when it's over 300 years old, but this performance did the trick. Wonderful selections, narrating and ending. Answers a lot of questions, too, like how did syphilis spread through Europe so fast? I cried at the end.
The diary of Samuel Pepys is a fascinating glimpse into another era, and an interesting man who lived in it. The actors who read the parts are very good and overall the performance is very good. What annoys, however, is that the audiobook is divided into chapters every 15 minutes or so, and before each one is a small opening song, a song that also seems to be the only song in existence because whenever anyone sings anything on the book it is this... And about half way through the book I started getting real tired of hearing it. Some basic editing would have removed the unnecessary division into so many chapters.
The combination of dramatization and reading directly from the diary.
Sam's boy servant Will is hilarious, he plays the fool, but is smarter than he lets on. He tells chilling ghost stories and has opinions on current affairs such as war and politics that he makes known. He is part of the family and loves the Pepys, at one point he uses all the money he has to buy a diamond necklace for Mrs. Pepys. It must have taken him years to save for.
It has to be Sam as you feel like you are in his head listening to his consciousness talk directly to you as he experiences life.
"Love in the time of the Black Death"
The book vividly brings upper middle class London to life in the 1660’s. The events that took place during that time shaped British history forever are told with intimate eye witness accounts, the restoration of the Monarchy, the exhumation of Oliver Cromwell and his “execution”, the great plague of 1665, the fire of London in 1666 amongst others. Samuel’s relationship with King Charles II and James Duke of York is a fascinating side story, both knew him personally and respected his work with the Navy. He describes his formal and informal meetings with them. During the great fire both the King and Duke are on the streets with Sam trying to figure out the best way to tackle and stop the spread of the fire. They are all concerned with the welfare of the people of London and willing to do physical work themselves to stop it. You learn about the character of all of them.
Sam’s diary was meant to be for his eyes only and he holds none of his feelings back, he does write some of his adulterous liaisons in French, but they are easy to interpret. He was a hardworking and intelligent man dedicated to his job, he loved drinking in the taverns and going to the theater, he also had compulsions to cheat on his wife that he acted on and yet still loved her dearly. One of my favorite sections towards the end in October 1668 is when Sam is finally caught cheating on his wife, it’s compelling domestic drama and it’s real, it really happen, you can picture yourself in the room “and after supper, to have my head combed by my wench Deb, which occasioned the greatest sorrow I knew in this world, for my wife, coming in the chamber suddenly; did find me embracing the girl with my hand under her petticoats; and indeed, I was with my hand in her cunny. I was at a wonderful loss upon it, and the girle also."
"Entertaining and insightful"
This is one of the best books I have heard so far. It was wonderfully performed and had me completely hooked from the beginning.
I don't think this can be compared to any other book. It is a unique book as Samuel was a civil servant who gives a primary account of the politics and major events of the time as well as how ordinary folk lived and interacted.
This is dramatised as opposed to being narrated. Wonderful acting and definitely leads the imagination.
I zipped through this book and would have happily listen to it in one sitting if I had the time.
Funny and insightful, not a boring moment.
"A first rate dramatization of a seminal diary"
As other reviewers have said, this is a very enjoyable listen that transports you back to the middle of seventeenth century London. It covers the decade 1660 to 1670, which was a time when lots of important things were happening. There was ongoing naval warfare with the Dutch, the Black Death and the Great Fire of London. The dramatization brings Pepys diary to life and does not seem to take liberties with his text. This diary is a real insight into what London was like in 1660, its sensibilities, daily goings on, political intrigue, brutal punishments for law breakers and basic medicine. It does well in covering big issues, as well as covering the day to day life of a fairly well-off professional (and perhaps rather flawed) working man.
Enormous praise must go to the cast and production team who have excelled in the verisimilitude of this adaptation. It really is first rate. If you are interested in English history and enjoy dramatizations, then I thoroughly recommend this audio book.
"Brilliant - funny, cruel & real."
Excellent performances from all of the cast. This is a tour de force - recommend you listen to it!
I have been listening to this on BBC4 Extra and was captivated, not just for the excellent interpretation, the humour, the darkness, the historic value, it has also given my 13 year old son an almost first hand experience of those historic times. I have listened to it again, at home, in the car and at work.
I loved how the characters were, although obviously from a time gone by, the conversations could have been from today's times, I love how Elizabeth Pepys was a fiesty stand up for herself (and others) lady, that doesn't always come across in the book for me.
I felt more connected to those bygone times, I felt I knew the key character
I did laugh often, I'm not a cryer but i did get the occasional lump in throatage.
This is BBC at it's best, Kris Marshal and Katherine Jakeways bring Sam & Lizzie back to life.
The only thing that got on my nerve endings a little was the song... over and over in many guises but grrr too much 'gather ye roses while you may..... '
"A remarkable journey back in time"
I knew that this would be a wonderful journal of life in the 17th century but goodness what a journey and how well narrated.
excellent stuff, great narration and Chris Marshall fantastic! great intro to his world and the great fire
"Absorbing and enjoyable"
Absorbing and engaging dip into mid 17th century life.
Normal life is depicted as it was 400 years ago in such detail.
The cast of this audiobook were superb.
Funny in many areas.
Good to relive the experience of the great fire of London and also to see how irrational some people were about the Dutch or French invading or the fact that Catholics must be blamed even in the face of blatent facts to the contrary.
Addictive. Great performances. The only thing (as previously mentioned in other reviews) is that the music gets rather annoying. This is because originally the piece was made for radio in stand alone episodes. My tip would be to set your skip to 20secs and then tap it when the 'gather ye rosebuds' song begins. You will clip it out.
That is my only quibble. Other than that a most excellent programme.
And so, to bed.
Wonderful in every way, a real treat which truly transports you back to the time of the plague and the fire if London, when life was far more precarious.
A truly magnificent fall cast dramatisation. Funny, historically interesting, bawdy, daft and poignant all in one.The depth of the production is typical BBC and excellent too - listen out for background effects/dialogue that bring the story alive.
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