Stephen Gordon has led quite a life and yet also has hardly any life at all. Born into the very best a loving but rather average family can provide, she is fraught with a sense of her innate differences from the other girls. This classic late Victorian novel charts the developmental course of a “sexual invert”, from her childish crush on the housemaid, to her dangerous infatuation with the neighbor’s wife, to her efforts at settling down into whatever small happiness society would begrudgingly permit. Narrating the deeply delicate sensibilities of Stephen��s painful coming of age is Audible newcomer Cecilia Fage, a London actress and back-up vocalist who lends all her many talents to this very weighty and pioneering piece of literature.
Stephen’s own background permits Fage the use of her lovely and strong natural voice for the majority of the text, but when the main character ventures into literary Paris after being booted from the family’s countryside home by an unforgiving mother, Fage’s command of the French language and accent is entirely persuasive. There are also Irish ladies and lower-class British servants with quite convincing dialogue. Fage’s only weakness is the Southern belle next door, a loathsome and self-pitying creature who tortures the helplessly devoted Stephen but missteps in voice work here are much more forgivable than the evil deeds of the character they represent.
As Radclyffe Hall’s most important work, and indeed one of the most important early calls for homosexual equality in general, The Well of Loneliness is here preserved successfully thanks to the formidable talents of Cecilia Fage. Whether you are looking to delve into this controversial book for the first time, or rediscover why so many people consider this heart-wrenching book a touchstone, the audiobook really loses nothing in the translation from page to Fage. Megan Volpert
©1928 Radclyffe Hall; (P)2009 Audible Ltd
Great book. Didn't love the narrator, but I didn't notice too much after a bit because I was so into the story. Hall's writing is beautifully rich. Well worth a listen!
Say something about yourself!
This is a book where the message matters more to the author then the tale. Minor characters are interesting and the heroine is a bore. The reader's breathy feminine pronunciation of Stephan's (Gertrude's) impossibly naive, overly dramatic text doesn't ring true. All other personages and accents are very well done and lively. It is a cold story without humour and sufficient depth of characterization. Lust, ignorance and anger melodramatically travel with the wealthy self absorbed world famous Stephan of London and end in the arms of self sacrifice on the dismal streets of Gay Paris. As a message, the unfair historically cruel treatment of homosexuals and the absolute necessity for change, it is an important one, and vital for humane understanding of people and nature. I would have been grateful to have found and read this novel at an early age, I think.
I tried to read this more than 40 years ago but I was an incredibly naive teen; I hid the book under my mattress instead. Now, it has a huge impact on me. Written in the late 1920s, the language is very delicate in referring to homosexuality but the psychological impact is so painful. The descriptions are rich and compelling.
I have a friend who has always been a homophobe. This book is something I can recommend because of the beautiful language and no in-your-face sexual descriptions.
The narrator uses British English so there may be an initial disconnect. For example, she pronounces "ate" as "et."
The descriptions were vivid and emotions are strong in the characters. They were flawed and well written.
However, I simply could not relate to Stephen. I was born sickly and developed determination as part of a coping mechanism and detest people who are physically strong but appeared weak willed.
So the part I like least is Stephen, but everything else was great. Which, seeing as s/he is the main character, made my position a little odd.
If there's a sequel I don't want to know about it.
Descriptions. The author's voice was a little too fast, but it was manageable with the audible software.
Uh, no. It actually depresses me. Success and money does not make a person happy.
I don't have anything against Stephen in terms of sexual preferences or social standing. I just wish she would grow some self esteem. Self-sacrificial tendencies are so not attractive.
"Moving and astonishing"
This was one of those books I thought I should read but thought I wouldn't enjoy. How wrong I was. Although ultimately tragic, the main character is incredibly
enigmatic. A true heroine of her time.
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