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Macbeth: A Novel Audiobook

Macbeth: A Novel

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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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  •  
    Rachel Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia 11-09-15
    Rachel Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia 11-09-15 Member Since 2012

    Lover of books and fictions reads.

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    "We know more about lady Macbeth"
    What did you love best about Macbeth: A Novel?

    The back story given to a lot of the side characters, especiall Macbeth and the witches!


    What did you like best about this story?

    There are multiple points of view


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The realisation that the youngest witch may be the most powerful and strange one.


    If you could take any character from Macbeth: A Novel out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Lady Macbeth, she needs a sympathetic ear and sensible advice most of all.


    Any additional comments?

    For those who love Shakespeare's work, especially Macbeth, this is a great addition!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Peter Middleton, WI, United States 10-21-15
    Peter Middleton, WI, United States 10-21-15 Member Since 2008

    Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.

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    "Medieval thriller"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It's a fun, fast paced thriller.


    Would you be willing to try another book from A. J. Hartley and David Hewson ? Why or why not?

    I have. I listened to Hamlet which I liked a lot.


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    This is a fast paced but gory thriller about curmudgeonly people killing other curmudgeons in early Scotland. The witches are fun. The story is straightforward and easy to follow but just a wee bit formulaic. Overall a good listen but not Dostoevsky.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Nelson Austin, TX 09-22-15
    Sarah Nelson Austin, TX 09-22-15 Member Since 2016

    Put your books into my ears!!!

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    "Good, but short."

    I enjoyed this retelling of Macbeth. I like the angle that the authors put on the story and point out that every wo/man has their own ambitions and that murder isn't the purpose, it's the steps that lead to the goal that originally started out being a righteous one. Not often is it that a person is just terrible... and this re-telling points out that Macbeth and his wife were not just cruel schemers... they were people who thought they could do something good for others but made the wrong first step, which became a catalyst toward murder and never ending guilt and suffering.

    Alan Cumming did a great job narrating this book. I read his autobiography, Not My Father's Son, so I already had a bit of a connection to him as a narrator which made his reading of Macbeth even more meaningful.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    menary kitchen 09-13-15 Member Since 2015
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    "as compared to hamlet by the same authors"
    Where does Macbeth: A Novel rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    not my favorite but very good


    What other book might you compare Macbeth: A Novel to and why?

    hamlet. the story I dont think is as good as hamlet but the narration is better in macbeth. the depiction of the characters is the most obvious difference. part of this is the writing but more in the characterization from the narrator


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

    not sure that I have


    If you could take any character from Macbeth: A Novel out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    none. It was not easy to like any one character over another. even the villains


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hollis Chabuliabot 09-13-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Fills in the blanks"
    Would you try another book from A. J. Hartley and David Hewson and/or Alan Cumming?

    If I had to study Macbeth at school, I can't think of a better way then to read this book. I Wikipediaed Macbeth the person after reading. This this a fictionalization based on the play, very loosely based on the person Macbeth. Lots of detail on what life was like 1000 years ago. On the downside, book wasn't as engaging as I would have liked. Ok but just ok. I might read Hamalet.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Vernon D. Burt 09-09-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Pretty poor rewrite of the plot"

    I had high hopes for this book, but instead found that it was half terribly written fantasy and half original play rewritten with mostly modern English. The characters are all even more 2 dimensional than the original play.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HANK LAREDO, TEXAS, United States 08-30-15
    HANK LAREDO, TEXAS, United States 08-30-15 Member Since 2011
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    "What a great story"

    This book does a great job of telling the story and filling in the blanks. I really enjoyed how the authors approached such a historic work. Congratulations

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shelia 08-11-15
    shelia 08-11-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Find something else that's worth your time (and $)"

    Despite what one of the coauthors says in the afterward of the book, they do not reinterpret the text as Shakespeare first did. This was an attempt to fully flesh out centuries old characters with extensive back stories and compelling motivation, but in the end the authors' filled in the blanks of the play's script, despite claims to do the opposite. Want to make it more engaging? Do what Shakespeare did not: extend the story to the length of Macbeth's entire reign! Make the story and the characters layered! Turn it into a true political drama. Make Lady Macbeth more than a hysterical woman grieving for every dead child that she comes across. Show the juxtaposition between the kindness and brutal warrior spirit inside Macbeth. Something! Anything to put meat on this starving husk of one of Shakespeare's bests!

    Honestly, I would rather read academic papers on Lady Macbeth being the anti-mother witch and the delve deeper into the witch mythology. In my opinion, the witches, despite their poor characterizations were the most interesting aspect of the novel. Even then, they're not exactly a saving grace for the book. Their circumstances are interesting but in the end they're like everyone else, easily dismissible. In the end, the same could be said for the novel itself: it is easily dismissible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    DB 07-17-15
    DB 07-17-15 Member Since 2016

    just good books

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    "I wanted to like this more"
    Any additional comments?

    This isn't what I thought. It was on sale and seeing that it was Shakespeare I thought I would give it a go. Maybe that was my problem, this isn't Shakespeare. I thought it was average at best and felt a little cheated by not experiencing more of Shakespeare. My fault for not paying more attention to the summary of the book.

    The narrator was OK; not great. It was good to have a Scottish accent tell the story but his characters all sounded basically the same.

    Anyway, not my cup of tea I guess.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica Reichl so cal 07-12-15
    Monica Reichl so cal 07-12-15 Member Since 2014

    mismoniker

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    "imaginative retelling of the classic"

    just a wonderful take on the play that is true to Shakespeare but also manages to expand it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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