This novel was the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film of the same name.
©1915 William Blackwood and Sons; (P)1991, 2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
Home school family with six children ages 7-21. We love listening to audible books together. We like Twaddle-free books.
I listened to this book with 2 of my teens. We all enjoyed it. You have to listen close to follow all of the twists and turns. John Buchan originated the Spy thriller genre. This is the first story that he did. Richard Hannay is the main character. He is strong and clever, and is loyal to his country. The story takes place just prior to WW I.
Richard Hannay is the main character. A man dropped into the middle of an adventure that he doesn't understand in the beginning. As he learns more the chase gets hotter and hotter as he is chased by both the police and the evil Blackstone.
A great accent and kept the story moving along. Easy to understand.
It is nice to have stories that are interesting for parents and kids. This story didn't have anything that I would be embarrassed to have the children hear.
An academic who listens to novels on runs and commutes to campus.
This narrative moves quickly, but it never seems that the events of the narrative are being pushed to further the action. Though the actions of three weeks are compressed into just four hours of story-telling, the story never feels rushed. While Richard Hannay is thrust into political intrigue, his history as a military officer and mining engineer allows him to engage with German operatives without being out of his element. Though perhaps the narrative allows him to escape too easily from capture or figure out connections a little too readily, this story is quite enjoyable and worth the time.
I'd recommend this book to a friend who likes an exciting plot and an excellent narrator.
I don't read many thrillers but I heard about this old one on a recent trip to Scotland.
No, never heard him before. Will look for him in the future.
Yes! I found myself wanting to get back to my listening.
This is a classic adventure story of its day, very well read by Robert Powell. It is dated, but quite enjoyable still if you regard it as a period piece. I was expecting it to be very similar to the original Alfred Hitchcock movie made in England in 1935, but the movie only bears a superficial resemblance to the book. Even the significance of the '39 Steps' title is completely different between the book and movie. A good 'read' nevertheless.
"Exiting thriller, with insights into a bygone era."
The language and certain phrases used can now appear a little old fashioned (even to someone in their late 50's!) but this does not detract from a cracking story, that is well read. If you enjoyed the Robert Donat film (1935) you will like this book, it is of a similar style and reflects attitudes and a period long since gone - servants, milk deliveries and many other examples. The recording, although unabridged, is short enough to be listened to in a couple of sittings which also adds to the pleasure. Recommended!
"Great to revisit"
I first read this about 25 years ago, when I was in my teens. It was the recent TV version with Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay that inspired me to download and listen to the proper book again and I was very glad that I did. It evokes the era very well and is written in rather a literary style compared to more modern spy novelists and, for me, that added to the enjoyment of the tale. The narrator had the perfect accent for it.
I'm sure that most if not all of you who are reading this review will be familiar with the story. If you haven't read it, you really ought to, and if you have, this audio version is a great way of revisiting the novel. I finished listening to this whilst sitting in my living room with the coal fire burning and the lights dimmed and it was definitely a moment. Its length makes it easily digestible in a couple of sittings so it's a great choice for when your credits are starting to pile up after having had long audible listens for a couple of months.
"the thirty nine steps"
a ripping yarn taking you across britain from the centre of london to the highlands of scotland, the description of the innkeeper and the politician are a real delight and it leave you in suspense right to the very end
I was transported into a world I didn't want to leave. Beautifully read.
"Surprised by how much I enjoyed this!"
I am a big fan of turn of the century novels of this type, the stories are usually far less important than the language used for me. It's like stepping back in time to a place when a man's character was written on his face: "He was a tall man with a poorly nourished moustache". There, that's everything you need to know about that blaggard.
The story itself is well crafted and well told. If you enjoy writing from this period in time, then I highly recommend this. As for the narrator - you can't go wrong with Robert Powell.
"Sublime reading but with sound faults"
Some may find this 1915-penned adventure yarn too dated and unbelievable, but I love Buchan's spare, tight writing style which drives the story along. Robert Powell brings just the right world-weary, risk-anything tone to the central character of Richard Hannay, the mining engineer who flees to Scotland after the murder in his flat of an English spy, only to be chased by both the police and murderous German spies. Powell is also completely convincing in his handling of the diverse characters that Hannay meets on his adventures, making for a wonderfully engaging audiobook.
Alas this Audible version has noticeable drops in volume for quite lengthy passages. I'd knock a star off for that, but Powell's reading is so terrific that I'll put up with the sound faults for the sheer pleasure of hearing this recording.
"Forget Hitchcock return to Buchan"
There have been many movies, of varying quality, and at least two dramatised radio versions, probably better than any screen adaptations, but this audio-book takes us back to the original and still the best version, where 39 steps really do mean 39 steps, and the menace of German agents in the years up to the outbreak of war is palpable. No playing around with deep cover master spies with missing fingers; here the German mastermind is not only a master chameleon but one who can hood his eyes as only an agent of the Kaiser could ever do. Listen to the our hero's rapid disgust with Edwardian London, watch in your mind's eye as he thinks on the hoof, whether trying to get away from the murder scene unnoticed or trying to get as far away as possible by train lines and drover roads over the Galloway hills. A tale of daring do, this remains all the more exciting as our hero is making it up as he goes along, his experiences in Africa providing far less in the way of survival skills than we might expect. His dealings with road menders, inn keepers, and cads of the highest order demonstrate his honest ordinariness. At every turn his desire not just to survive but to find out what the Germans are trying to do that is so important they will do almost anything to capture him keeps the listener engaged. Though these times may be almost a hundred years ago, this is still a modern world of railways and telephones, and more particularly of short-sighted xenophobia that ignores the real threats to Britain and its way of life, all of which retains a certain currency even today. So, listen to this original version, particularly if you have little interest in music hall memory men, preferring your 39 Steps to be about spies thwarted at the very last by an ordinary person cast up amidst extraordinary times. It's almost as good as Geoffrey Household's more intense Rogue Male, another loner on the run from German agents 25 year later.
"The Thirty-Nine Steps"
I have seen all three films, but never actually read the book, so I was a little unsure of what I was getting for my money. However Robert Powell's narration is second to none. So good in fact I doubt I will ever wish to watch any of the films again.
"One of My Favourites"
I have always loved this story since I was a child watching it on TV. I loved the action-adventure, codes, spys, secrets and the race against time.
I loved the jumbled explanation Scudder gives at the beginning. As the reader or listener you are as confused as Richard Hannay and you only discover what is happening as Hannay does. I really like that device.
Robert Powell was absolutely excellent in this reading. His change of accent and character was flawless. Of course, I have always loved him as an actor as he took the role of Richard Hannay in the 1970's version, so I can see him running about the countryside and of course this version was much truer to the book than the 1935 version.
"An excellent yarn"
The narration was first class. The story was very much in the boy's own yarn. The twists and turns were much better than the film versions.
Huntingtower, another of Buchan's great books.
Pace, diction and ability to get the atmosphere into the voice.
Well worth the listen
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