Matriarch of fine literature Kate Chopin unfailingly delivers psychologically complex characters and stunningly visceral environments. Set in an upper-crust section of Louisiana towards the end of the 19th Century, The Awakening is meant to be performed. Award-winning actress Kim Basinger employs a crystalline tone when narrating this insightful and irony-rich work of fiction. Her voice is nimble enough to allow for dead-on mimicry of characters ranging from parrot to Frenchmen. Protagonist Edna Pontellier struggles to overcome feminine stereotype in a society that is determined to thwart her freedom. Rebelling against her cruel husband, Edna dallies with a young man of rakish character. Basinger’s taut voice enables listeners to hover with Edna between want and denial. Basinger’s cerebral yet poignant performance illuminates this profound novel.
Kate Chopin’s novel, a landmark work of early feminism, is seen as a pre-cursor to the works of American novelists such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The upper-class Creole society of New Orleans and the Southern Louisiana coast at the end of the 19th century is brought to audio in a stirring performance by Academy Award-winning actress Kim Basinger.
Edna Pontellier, vacationing for the summer with her family on Grand Isle, has a great desire to find and live fully within her true self. However, her struggle to reconcile her unorthodox views on femininity and motherhood with the prevailing social attitudes of the turn-of-the-century South brings the story to a tragic conclusion. The Awakening’s blend of realistic narrative, incisive social commentary, and psychological complexity is the first in a tradition that would culminate in the modern masterpieces of Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.
The Awakening is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star had a hand in selecting. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I am an author and a librarian, and I happily now live in the realm of audio books.
The tension in the story along with the description make this a book that is best as an audiobook.
Her performance in The Awakening proves that Basinger can bring that taught tension we have come to recognise in her movie performances to audio books.
I couldn't wait to have the time to complete this book. It felt like Basinger was in the room telling me the story, and it was a rare treat to be able to picture her as the narrator of the story.
Published in 1899, The Awakening is a much over-looked novel by Kate Chopin, panned in her life time an dubbed "vulgar" undoubtedly because it was a novel ahead of its time. The story of a married woman opening up to life in spite of her husband's neglect and verbal abuse, The Awakening explores the murky space between loyalty and infidelity as the protagonist enjoys the company of a flirty, questionable young man who makes a habit of sweeping married women off their feet. Kim Basinger delivers a riveting performance, interpreting each character's voice with careful consideration. She captures the sultry mood of this rare story that juxtaposes snippets of beautiful description with mouth-clenching tension. Basinger captures the author's sympathy with Edna Pellier and the playfulness of Robert, who speaks in French. She delivers an impeccable performance even capturing the squawking parrot and the French-speaking characters with grace and dignity. The Awakening, narrated by Kim Basinger is a bargain and a treasure.
A question to ponder. The better question is how does one live with joy and gratitude after being awakened to new emotions, feelings and passions after years of commitment, loyalty and love to another? An awakening at some time in life (if even for fleeting moments) is a likelihood. The questions of 'what-if..." and 'why now....' will probably follow. A person's reaction will define his/her character as will his/her course after a weakness is revealed.
Edna Pontellier was a selfish woman from her awakening forward. I detested her, thought she was a blubbering baby much of the time and I found it hard to feel sorry for her because of how immature she acted. Had she been more sympathetic I might have felt more pity for her situation of being stuck with a man she did not love.
Published 43 years after "Madame Bovary" (1856) "Awakening" (1899) is a lesser version but very similar. The Awakening is, of course, set in the US, specifically in south Louisiana. The French names are similar. The affairs are similar, but the later novel is not so much steamy and seems more aimed at the female's point of view in the late 1800s toward sexual repression in a place that was undoubtedly more chauvinistic and backwards than France in the mid-1800s.
I enjoyed the book for a view of life during that period and the raw emotions exposed to the salty air. I know this is frequently used (or always) in feminist studies in academia, so I've always wanted to read this, if for nothing else, to broaden my horizons.
Kim Basinger as narrator did an absolutely impeccable job with the tone, accent and acting the part of Edna Pontellier. I wish she'd do more narrating work on classic novels; she has such a melodic, soft Southern voice.
I've never written a review before, but I just had to say that this reading by Kim Basinger is really disappointing. She has a tin ear for Chopin's prose with all its suble ironic subordination. Ms. Basinger can't seem to read more than three or four words..at a time..and...by the end of the novel...her halting reading style...drove me nuts. But even her quasi-literate reading couldn't quite kill Chopin's strong writing. Buy this novel, but not this version.
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I could only get through a portion of this book because the narrator drove me crazy. She spoke to slowly and nearly whispered through the lines. I will never buy another audio book with Kim Basinger as the narrator.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Probably if Kim Basinger wasn't narrating. Listening to her was like sticking a rusty fork in my eye!
No, it just continues to turn me off from Hollywood "actors" thinking that their skill set makes them into good book narrators.
As I've said a kazillion times before, I don't know why Audible thinks having actors narrate books will make the listening experience better. IT DOES NOT!!! I've wasted money listening to Elliott Gould ruin a Raymond Chandler classic and Samuel L. Jackson fumble a book written by a black author about black people in Harlem. The only A-List actor who has ever really impressed me as a narrator is Don Cheadle. Everyone else should just stay in Malibu or Manhattan or wherever their movie money allows them to live and leave audiobooks to the professional narrators. Kim Basinger reads this already boring story as if she reading a bedtime story to a 2 year-old. I fell asleep about 30 minutes in and I suffer from chronic insomnia! On top of that, I bought the book because it's supposed to be about Louisiana Créoles. Yet, Basinger can't speak French properly nor does she give the characters any depth because she doesn't know the Louisiana dialect or customs. She can barely get through the ENGLISH parts, stumbling and bumbling through sentences as if English is her second language. I'm glad I only paid about $1.99 for this mess in the Daily Deal. But I still may return it for my $2.00. At least I can buy a beignet on Canal Street with the money! Don't waste your time or your money on this one!
I have tried to listen to this good but it is soooo boring. I have listened for about 2 hours and it has not said anything yet or come up with a story line. I am done with it. can not listen any longer.
Can't have a spoiler alert. Suffice it to say I could listen to this book over and over again. Sheer poetry...I wish I could speak as Edna did...velvet words...
I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.
What did I just listen to? I quit caring at all what happened about halfway through, not for me at all.
In the end, I grew accustomed to Kim Basinger's odd way of reading, her funny way of pausing midway through a sentence at an unlikely spot as if she had forgotten what she was in the middle of doing. This book is so lovely, though, that I often wished for a better, more sensitive and more dynamic reader.
Listening to a book usually makes the experience more enjoyable, better. Not in this case. Unlike some of the other books read by actors (Ethan Hawk, Slaughterhouse Five or Colin Firth, The End of the Affair, both excellent) Kim Basinger does a lousy job. She puts nothing into it. She reads each word as if it is the first time she has read it. I feel that the narrators, the goods ones anyway, have prepared themselves before hand. Likely reading the book at least once through. I got the impression that Ms Basinger was reading it for time.It shouldn't be a surprise that she does so poorly. She really isn't a quality actor to begin with.
I have no idea if the story is any good. I will not finish it. To be fair, this book is not really one I would like. It was a daily deal so I thought why not.
I would have forgone rating the story (rating only the narration) but Audible forces one to set ratings for all catagories before the review can be written.
Narration - less than 1 star
Story or overall, indeterminate
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