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Macbeth: A Novel | [A. J. Hartley, David Hewson]

Macbeth: A Novel

Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape in which they are played.
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Audible Editor Reviews

As British best-selling crime author David Hewson reflects in his introduction to this innovative project, "the Scottish play" is shrouded in mysteries that are not to be taken lightly. Shakespeare condensed and confused 17 years in the history of a beloved king into a play covering a few days rife with political intrigue and shadowy motivations. In The Bard's tragic canon, Macbeth stands as an anomaly for many reasons, including how short it is and how flat all the characters are besides Macbeth himself. With the help of A.J. Hartley, distinguished professor of Shakespeare at UNC-Charlotte and thriller novelist, Macbeth: A Novel is poised to provide a more complete and fleshy picture of this odd little play.

Going where many other actors would fear to tread is, of course, Alan Cumming. Cumming has a long history with daring characters on stage and on the big screen, as well as his fair share of Shakespeare with a previous turn as Hamlet. With an Audie Award already under his belt, he has the chops necessary to imagine and give voice to paranoid kings and conniving witches, but perhaps one of the greatest joys of his work on Macbeth: A Novel is just the fact of his naturally beautiful Scottish accent left unfettered. Nothing sets the landscape so clearly as listening to those long, rolling vowels come up from a part of the belly that only a Scot must have.

Cumming does not shy away from the devious depths of feeling that Hartley and Hewson have so carefully layered onto the play. No more off-stage murder, no more simply scary witches chanting, and quite a bit more sympathy for this story's many devils. Every poisonous cup and every stab wound are rendered in living battle colors. The three witches are not just weird, but positively demonic, each with their own dynamic contribution to the making of a king. Lady Macbeth and Banquo in particular have personalities that loom as large as Macbeth's familiar form.

A strikingly modern interpretation that nevertheless faithfully adapts Shakespeare's original, this audiobook will surely please a wide variety of listeners. Lovers of mysteries or political thrillers, teachers struggling to blow the dust off a classic for their students, and fans of Shakespeare will all find many reasons to enjoy Hartley and Hewson's fresh presentation. —Megan Volpert

Publisher's Summary

Macbeth: A Novel brings the intricacy and grit of the historical thriller to Shakespeare’s tale of political intrigue, treachery, and murder. In this full-length novel written exclusively for audio, authors A. J. Hartley and David Hewson rethink literature’s most infamous married couple, grounding them in a medieval Scotland whose military and political upheavals are as stark and dramatic as the landscape on which they are played.

Macbeth is a war hero and a patriot, doing everything in his power to hold together Duncan’s crumbling kingdom, which is beset by sedition from within and with threats from overseas. But when Duncan, contrary to ancient Scottish tradition, turns to building a family dynasty instead of rewarding those who have borne the brunt of the fighting, Macbeth and his powerful wife, Skena, make plans of their own, plans designed to hold both the nation and their strained relationship together. Sinister figures who claim supernatural knowledge spur them on, but the terrible outcome is as much about accident and failure as it is malevolence. Soon Macbeth and his wife find themselves preeminent in all the land, but struggling to hold themselves and their country together as former friends turn into bitter and deadly enemies.

This is Macbeth as you have not heard it before: fresh, edgy, and vital. It is a story of valor in battle, whispering in shadows, witchcraft in the hollows of an ancient landscape, and the desperate struggle of flawed people to do what they think is right.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

A. J. Hartley, a professor of Shakespeare at the Univ. of North Carolina-Charlotte, is the author of the “Will Hawthorne” fantasy series as well as several thrillers.
David Hewson is the best-selling author of 16 novels, including the Rome-based “Nic Costa” crime series.

ABOUT THE NARRATOR

Alan Cumming stars in CBS's The Good Wife, for which he received an Emmy nomination, and is the host of PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery. He was honored with the 2011 Audie Award for Best Male Narrator.

The Irish folk song “She Moved Through the Fair” is performed by Heather O'Neil of the Irish Repertory Theater.

Check out behind-the-scenes videos of the "making of", plus co-author David Hewson's research photos, taken on-location in Scotland, here.
Listen to more titles from A. J. Hartley and David Hewson.

©2011 A.J. Hartley, David Hewson (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“Not only is the novel an amplification of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, but it also fills in many of the gaps and gives a new perspective on Macbeth….Alan Cumming reads in a luscious Scottish brogue, which adds authenticity to the narration. His subtle changes of voice for different characters provide a full cast for this story of ambition and hubris. This is a wonderful novel of the human condition, read with ardor and enthusiasm.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Janyce Oakland, CA, United States 07-21-12
    Janyce Oakland, CA, United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Great Retelling Of A Classic"
    What made the experience of listening to Macbeth: A Novel the most enjoyable?

    Listening and comparing the story to the Shakespeare version.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The rich detail that gives a much more nuanced understanding of the motivations of the characters. It was wonderful to see everyone painted in shades of complex grays - rather than in stark black and whites.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. I thought the narration was generally good. Though the attempt as women's voices was a little odd.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this almost non-stop during my recent vacation travels. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next - even though I already knew the story.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 08-04-13
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow!! Really good! Excellent!"

    What an amazing book! The authors of this really transformed a Shakespearean play into a fascinating, accessible historical novel. The performance is extraordinary. The authors use lyrical prose that flows naturally, as opposed to a rigid adherence to awkward Shakespearean dialogue.

    It's just a really great historical novel. I listened in one sitting!

    I had read much of Shakespeare's work, but somehow I never read Macbeth. So it's a double treat for me!

    I hope to see more from this writing team!

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, AR, United States 05-12-15
    Patrick HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, AR, United States 05-12-15 Member Since 2001
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    18
    5
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    "A wonderful listen"

    It's been nearly 60 years since last reading the play. Enjoyed the new treatment/adaptation. May have to pull down the "Works " off the shelf for a read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacinda New Zealand 05-05-15
    Jacinda New Zealand 05-05-15 Member Since 2012
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    6
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    "Great story!"

    This book was a very enjoyable version of Shakespeare's play. It kept the reader engaged with great narration as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Littman OH 04-20-15
    D. Littman OH 04-20-15 Member Since 2014

    history buff

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    "Powerful, compellingly narrated rendition"

    Fabulous audiobook, surely the equal of "Hamlet - the Novel" by the same authors. Anyone interested in Shakespeare will find these more fleshed-out versions of the plays to be interesting. Anyone intimidated by Shakespeare, especially reading or watching the plays with their Elizabethan english, will find these books very approachable, suitable for the layman, and supremely entertaining. Macbeth will give you an unparalleled lens to the period and it will confirm the suspicion that Shakespeare may have been the greatest writer in the history of the english language. The narration is excellent.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    PeddalAround 04-15-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Dark and powerful"

    This is a perfect example of cunning writing, a story inspired and yet disturbing, that is delivered by the masterful talent of a true artist. Bravo!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Kenar 03-19-15
    G. Kenar 03-19-15 Member Since 2014

    walket

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    "Excellent"

    Amazing story, well written piece of art. Extremely glad I bought this and well worth all the time I've invested into it. It was extremely hard to put it down I had to finish listening to it. It was just that good, I couldn't put it down.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Mendelson 03-09-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Great Take on Macbeth"

    I loved this version of Macbeth! I read the authors' version of Hamlet and thought it was awesome.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. A. Newton Singapore (and Park City, UT USA) 01-07-15
    E. A. Newton Singapore (and Park City, UT USA) 01-07-15 Member Since 2014

    Avid reader with an inability to sit still... thank God for Audible :)

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    "A new twist on an old tale"

    Although this plot is one of the oldest on record, and the play a classic, these authors have presented a story that is at once fresh, gritty, dark, and thought provoking.
    And, the performance was magnificent!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon 01-06-15
    sharon 01-06-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Too much!!!"

    Fell far short of "Hamlet". Very disappointed. Seemed to be too much of everything except truth or anything worth remembering. Certainly hard to ever listen again!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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