©1992 Graham Greene; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
With themes of sacrifice and betrayal Greene's Stamboul Train/Orient Express/Stamboul Express is able to provide a moving bio-dome of the human experience on this train headed to Constantinople. There is a definite reason trains are so often used in literature and film. The sealed quality, the movement, the modernity gives the writer room to experiment with characters and themes in a way that others settings would make difficult.
This isn't a major Greene novel. Greene definitely wrote better as he matured. But, for those who love Graham Greene's approach to literature and story-telling, this book is a must. Greene's characters are amazing in their capacity for love, sacfrice, betrayal and tragedy. That is what makes Greene's novels so compelling and his characters so beliveable.
Maloney does an admirable job at letting the novel speak for itself. He illuminates the text without distracting the reader from it.
I love reading (listening to) Greene. This is not really a 'spy thriller' as suggested by the "Publisher's Summary". It is a story about characters ranged on a spectrum of moral ambiguity; how they think and behave; and the consequences. The mystery is trying to guess where on the spectrum each character lies. Greene ties all strands as expected, but not, I think, as the reader might have chosen.
One of his early works Greene said "In Stamboul Train for the first and last time in my life I deliberately set out to write a book to please, one which with luck might be made into a film. The devil looks after his own and I succeeded in both aims". Very well read, this is great reason to listen to books.
A story by Graham Greene that reminds us why he is regarded as a master story teller. The narration by Michael Maloney is superb--he does a wide array of voices with perfect pitch.
I confess this was my first exposure to Graham Greene's writing. And what a collection of characters.
To me, the story boils down to a heightened mix of good intentions, nobility and scrabbling criminality. Self-interest is trump.
The narration was excellent, the characterization was distinct without getting cartoony.
I'll probably come back to another Greene novel in the future.
Friend of Woz
I loved this book, and the narration. It gives you a good feel for Europe in the late 20's and early 30's.
Greene has produced much better than this. The story is initially very promising with outstanding character descriptions leading to a climax in a snowy border town. It has all the makings of a great thriller, but in the end it is as if the author's inspiration deserts him and he wraps the whole thing up in a few paragraphs that are unsatisfying and inconclusive. The ending betrays the characters who have been constructed so carefully throughout the book. Good narration.
"Greene/Maloney - Audiobook Heaven!"
As a lifelong Graham Greene fan I have no hesitation in recommending any of his books to Audible listeners (except, perhaps, The Human Factor)and I am pleased to see so many recent Greene additions to the Audible catalogue. What makes this book special, however (Greene regarded it merely as one of his 'entertainments' i.e. not proper literature), is Michael Maloney's splendid narration. The book is set on the Orient Express, and the narrative is just as thrilling, but a bit more sophisticated, than the Agatha Christie story that is perhaps better known.
"Greene never disappoints"
OK Stamboul Train is one of Greene?s entertainments rather than a full blown novel but it does what it says, it entertains! I remember reading it 35 years ago working as a student in a petrol station and getting the sack because I couldn?t put it down to go an fill up Morris Minors with 3 star.
Re-reading it in this splendid audio version it is as compelling as ever but it is also a delightful period piece, set in the early thirties, it time slips back to the age of steam and Balkan intrigue and it pulls no punches on the attitudes to Jews, lesbians and show girls. Greene's voice is as human and sophisticated as ever and as ever the characters are vivid and complex.
What a book to dismiss as an Entertainment!
"The Stamboul Train"
It was a long time since I had read a Greene and I was looking forward to listening to this on a few long drives in the car. To be fair the narrator had an easy style and kept the listener interest throughout. He was however a little too limited in the range of voices he had available for characterisation. In particular I thought the lead female voice was just wrong (even though she was supposed to have a deep voice)and another sounded just like her too. Unlike another reviewer, I did get to the end of the story, though I do think it suffered for the telling. All in all, I was a little disappointed
This is the first Greene book that I've downloaded. I was full of anticipation, but unfortunately I was so bored with the characters and the narration that I didn't finish it. Poor characterisation from the narrator that seems to become even more irritating the longer the book goes on!
"Who can beat Graham Greene?"
Wonderful story, well told. I listened to this in almost one sitting.
Beautifully written, wonderful pacing, fascinating characters, cruel, very well read, grown up.
"Bring back Tim Piggot-Smith"
The Honorary Consul and The Comedians, both read by Tim Piggot-Smith, are without question the best Greene audiobooks. Sadly these no longer seem to be avilable and the narrators of the current crop do not quite come up to scratch.
"Gardening and Listening"
I mostly listen to audio books when gardening or walking. Graham Green's Stamboul Train is an excellent companion to both pursuits. The novel is has excellent characters, is intriguing and superbly read.
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