This classic novel of adultery in 17th-century Boston, Nathaniel Hawthorne's best-known work, is given new life in this performance. While this is an older recording with a sound quality that's less than sharp at times, performers John Chatty and Cindy Hardin Killavey are excellent actors whose voices convey real dramatic depth. Although much of the setting and events may seem old-fashioned to modern listeners, the themes of loneliness, passion, guilt, remorse, and fortitude remain relevant, as does Hawthorne's excellent writing.
This recording does not include Hawthorne's essay, "The Customs House".
© & (P)1979 Jimcin Recordings
"In a clear, distinct style, the narrators bring the difficult words and phrases to life; their delivery fosters the stern, forlorn atmosphere associated with Puritan New England. This technically excellent recording is recommended as a classic." (Booklist)
The production quality of this audio book was very poor and took away from the enjoyment of the story. At times the characters sounded as if they were in a tin can, I could often hear other voices in the background, and at times there was an echo. The narrator was good but the actress playing Hester sounded as though she was reading right from the book for the very first time. I do not recommend this version at all.
"This audiobook does not include Hawthorne's essay The Customs House," says the blurb. That "essay" is not a separate work, but considered the prologue to the novel. It describes how the narrator, working in the customs house 200 years after the action of the story, discovers a bundle of papers, wrapped in a piece of scarlet cloth (the scarlet letter). After reading the papers, he composes the novel. This audiobook jumps right to the action, with Hester Prynne being let out of prison. That's a lot of information to be missing, and I think, reason enough to pick one of the other versions available.
There is also a tin-can sound quality at times, but I got used to that.
Although dated, the story is a classic with universal messages of society. There is a reason why this book is still being read, even with its period language. However, I found the male narrator's rendition to be dull and unenthusiastic.
This classic book is read with several different actors, which is nice, but the quality of their recordings varies greatly. The recording of Hester Prynne's voice is so poor that I can often not understand what she is saying. I recommend that you choose another version.
Unfortunately, because I was familiar with the novel, I did not read the Publisher's Summary, which mentioned that "The Custom House" was not included in this version. As mentioned in an earlier review, that portion of the novel is of considerate value, and should have been included. Otherwise, this should be listed as "Abridged." Add to that the poorest audio quality of any Audible book, and you have a very poor product.
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