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.
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.
Reader, Writer, Musicmkr, Dad
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.
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