With Charles Dickens and Lord Tennyson, Anthony Trollope was one of the great chroniclers of English society during the Victorian era. In one of his final books, Kept in the Dark, Trollope turns his acute, comic, and sympathetic eye on Cecilia Holt, whose "period of absolute, unmistaken, unreasonable love lasted but for six weeks after her engagement" to Sir Francis Geraldine. In a refined, confessional performance by Jill Masters, Kept in the Dark follows Cecilia’s romantic disillusionment into marriage, social immersion, reconciliation, and hypocrisy. This audiobook is a firsthand glimpse into Victorian values, ideas, and obsessions.
Completed only a few months before his death, Kept in the Dark is one of Trollope's most captivating novels. Yet unlike Trollope's other major novels - the Palliser series, The Claverings, the Barsetshire novels - Kept in the Dark succeeds without the use of considerable length or legions of characters that many thought were essential to his fictional world.
Kept in the Dark is a probing psychological portrait of the near destruction of a marriage - a novel that combines keen insights with vigorous emotional strength. Jealousy, guilt, excessive pride, and compulsion all sweep across its surface: in George Western, the self-willed and fatally-proud husband, who would rather destroy his own happiness than admit to any moral strain in his character; in Cecilia Western, whose peculiar mixture of pride and submissiveness forces her inexorably toward deceit; in the grinding hypocrisy of Cecilia's friend, Miss Altifiorla; in the overwhelming egotism of the rejected suitor, Sir Francis Geraldine. Trollope gives us a distinctive portrait of the Victorian world.
This excellent reading was originally recorded in 1986 in the days of reel-to-reel tape. Although the sound is not quite up to today’s digital standards, every effort has been made to enhance the recording. However, you may hear a slight "echo effect" in some places. This should not interfere significantly with your enjoyment of the story but, just to be sure, you may want to listen to a sample before purchasing.
©1905 Pickering & Chatto; (P)1986 Jimcin Recordings
Wonderful story which was beautifully narrated and kept me absorbed. I could not stop listening to it. Tight story without one wasted word. Gives interesting psychological and historical perspective. Well worth a listen.
This book is an interesting psychological study. It reminds me a bit of Jane Bronte's Villette. I very much enjoyed the story. The narrator is also excellent. This tale is told from the heroine's perspective, and so a female narrator is quite fitting. I will search out other books by this narrator. Good story, good narration, five stars.
I am on a quest to read, and/or listen to, all of the authors recommended/enjoyed by C.S. Lewis, and so books by Anthony Trollope are on my list.
I give an A to the story and an A to the reader but just a B to the audio. It was clear enough but obviously done during pre-digital days since there was some "print-through," a slight echo effect that books done ten years or more ago have.
However...I soon stopped noticing that and was caught up in the book. So..if less than perfect audio bothers you, I suggest you listen to the sample first. If you don't mind an older recording...it's a wonderful story and well read.
Everything about an audiobook which makes it not worth buying has gathered here for a perfect storm. First, WHY is this even an interesting subject matter? Anthony Trollope obviously has issues with women or why write such a nonsensical story? I've read and enjoyed other books by this author. But this one is a waste of time! No self-respecting female author would have wasted her time writing this mess. Why? Because it is science fiction!! Seven and a half hours about a neurotic woman ruminating about a jilted romance. Trollope wants us to believe that a town has come to a full stop while speculating, gossiping, lying, back-stabbing, and being outraged just because a woman decides not to marry a cold, cruel-hearted older man? Are we to believe also that this woman is now "ruined" as if she slept with every man in Europe when the most scandalous thing she shared with a man is a chaste kiss on the cheek. That no other man would have her due to this "indiscretion"? That, by not taking out a front-page advertisement about her broken engagement, she is now guilty of "premeditated fraud"? What a small-minded bunch of people, with nothing else to do except pass stories and, even worse, pass judgment against a young woman who made the step to control her own life. No wonder the British got nothing done back then! REEE-DICK-A-LUSS!!!!
To compound this stupid tale is probably the worst narrator in Audible history - i should know, since I own over 425 audiobooks. Did anyone LISTEN to this book after the recording session. Jill Masters never changes the inflection in her voice for 7 hours. She just drones on and on and on! After 4 hours I felt like I was in the middle of a long hard labor with a stillborn baby!!! Painful for the mere fact of being in pain. Then to make all of the above worse, the audio quality is very poor, as if the book was recorded in an all porcelain bathroom. That "reverb" effect is great when one is singing in the shower but is extremely irritating in an audiobook.
I've listened to many books where the story is too simple or too dark or too inconsequential, yet a good narrator using innovative voice effects makes the ride worthwhile. Not so here. This narrator totally ruined a ruined a book which is hanging on a very thin literary thread. Jill Masters sounds as if she is bored to death and, in turn, she bores the listener. Try as I might, I couldn't finish this one. Anthony Trollope, Jill Masters, Jimcin Recordings and Audible.com are co-conspirators in an coup d'??tat of aural pain!
Trollope is a master
There was a blurry section towards the end that was not due to my equipment, and really made it hard to listen to the book.
Slow, repetitive, the least interesting Trollope I've ever read (or listened to). As others have commented, the audio quality is abysmal; it seems to be a copy of an old Books on Tape analog recording, with that telltale faint back dialogue those of us who have been with audio books since the old days of worn library cassettes will recognize.
This is appallingly read, like the reader was taking valium - listen to a segment and you will realise what I am talking about. The novel itself, while powerful is a little repetitious (It was originally published as a serial - so Trollope keeps reminding you of the "previous episode" which can be a little dull. I brought it because it was on special for about $2, and I don't regret getting it for that price, but pay REAL money? I don't think so!!
Narrative makes the world go round.
- until you run out of listens. Or buy the paper version and read fast. For me, Kept in the Dark did not contain the usual Trollope wallop of social observation and dollop of humour. It's a good psychological study of "Oh, what a tangled web we weave," especially webs mostly of of self-deception and social mores. Trollope also weighs in with his usual sympathy for the situation of Victorian women (for a man of his day at least) and the politics of marriage, but overall I found the listen often tedious. The idea would have made a great novella or short story; but then at 7 hr 42 minutes, I guess for Trollope, it was a short story.
The pace was similar to Trollope's The Warden or Gaskill's Cranford, but without their charm, and instead of quiet simplicity of storyline of those two, there was tedious repetition. I'd recommend any other Trollope novel available on Audible, but hesitate to recommend this one. Because of the repetitive prose, my mind wandered so often that I probably missed the point -- there has to be more meaning in a Trollope. I have great tolerance for what some consider to "dull" audiobooks, but this was the first (out of 150+) for which I chose the faster than normal reading speed setting on my iPod.
Jill Masters is not my favorite narrator, though I have enjoyed her style in some listens. I'd never thought I'd prefer Flo Gibson as a narrator, but she might have moved this story along (though made it less reflective). I don't see the resemblance to Villette pointed out by another reviewer.
"Great story, pancake flat reading"
It's a great story for all Trollope lovers, unfortunately Masters reading is too painful for me to persevere more than once. She reads as if each sentence were mysteriously unrelated to any other in the book, with a constant tone to match. Deserves better treatment.
"UTTERELY RUINED BY NARRATOR"
How this narrater has got work in this profession is beyond belief. This woman is terrible with no compassion for what she is reading. She reads just like any woman sat by her grannies bedside, bland & completely no voice variance. She has destroyed a good audiobook. After listening for 4 minutes I switched off. I adore audiobooks. I have about 500 which get listened to day & night 24/7. This is one of the worst.
"Not one of Trollope's best"
I'm sorry to say that I totally agree with Josephine, the reading was almost unbearable to listen to. But contrary to Josephine, I think the story was weak as well, absolutely not on a par with the Barset Chronicles or the Palliser novels, magnificent novels, brilliantly read by Timothy West. And not only was the reading bad, the sound of the recording was of very poor quality, not worthy of Audible.
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