Most of the big money belongs to Torquil Paterson Frisby, the dyspeptic American millionaire--but that doesn't stop him wanting more out of it. His niece, the beautiful Ann Moon, is engaged to "Biscuit", Lord Biskerton, who doesn't have very much of the stuff and so he has to escape to Valley Fields to hide from his creditors. Meanwhile, his old school friend Berry Conway, who is working for Frisby, himself falls for Ann--just as Biscuit falls for her friend Kitchie Valentine. Life in the world of Wodehouse can sometimes become a little complicated.
These crowded Wodehouse capers--mismatched lovers , American millionaires, penniless English aristocrats, incognito con-men--become somewhat formulaic after a while, but a 4-star Wodehouse is still superior to almost anything else in the way of light-hearted fiction and listening to Jonathan Cecil is always a pleasure.
A special seasonal installment of the ongoing correspondence between sparring pen-pals Vera (played by Patricia Routledge) and Irene (played by Prunella Scales). With a supporting cast including Vera's son Howard and his partner Anthony, chaos looks set to descend once again upon Little Shagthorne and Hethergreen.
Two splendid performers getting their teeth into a well- written script. It never gets old.
What sort of men were the Roman emperors (and they were all men)? What background and training, if any, prepared them for their awesome responsibilities? What depravities did they display? And what achievements can they claim: laws passed, monuments built, lands and peoples conquered? Dive into these questions and more with this introduction to the complex personalities of emperors such as Augustus, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.
There is, of course, a tremendous amount of material to cover, and if you are looking for an in-depth study of all the Roman emperors, you may find this moves too quickly over the details.
As a survey, however, I found this "course" to be informative and enjoyable, with consistent attention paid to themes--accession, religion, politics, succession--which, over time, help the listener to gain a grasp on the ways in which the character of the "office" of Emperor evolved as a result of the Men who wore the Purple.
I found Prof Fagan's presentation extraordinarily appealing. He has a manner which is direct enough to be authoritative yet still--to my ear--charming and easy to listen to. Now that the course is complete, I will miss having his voice in my ear.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Doctor Thorne is the third audiobook in Anthony Trollope's series known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire. Long regarded as one of Trollope's greatest works, it is a complex story of love, greed and illegitimacy. Set in fictional Barsetshire, it concerns the romantic challenges facing Doctor Thorne's penniless niece, Mary, and Frank Gresham, the only son of the impoverished squire of Greshambury. Mary falls in love with Frank but he is constrained by the need to marry well to restore the family fortunes.
All of Trollope's not inconsiderable gifts are on display here--the gentle humor, the deeply-understood and well-described characters, the thoroughly modern insights into our human natures, both good and bad. The roles, personalities and expectations for women and men are profoundly Victorian yet the glimmerings of a more progressive understanding of the world are there. The situations, the comic-relief bit-players, the comedy and the tragedy--all of if is here in heaping measure.
And yet--perhaps the portion here is just that much too generous. I left both 'The Warden' and 'Barchester Towers' hungry for more, sorry to see the stories end. Here--despite yet another magnificent performance by Timothy West--I found myself shouting "Get on with it already!!!" more than once.
There is too much goodness here for me to suggest that anyone NOT read 'Doctor Thorne'. It is a joy. I am moving immediately on to 'Framley Parsonage', and I will see whether this volume is (ever so slightly) a weak link in the series, or whether I need to take a break.
P. G. Wodehouse's famed collection of 10 stories marks the reappearance of many old friends - who find themselves in delightfully absurd situations. In "How's That, Umpire?", a mutual hatred of cricket reunites two lovers. In "Birth of a Salesman", Lord Emsworth has strayed from Blandings Castle to become an encyclopedia salesman for a day. "Success Story" tells of Ukridge's finest swindle yet - after which he finally emerges triumphant in the struggle against his fearsome aunt Julia.
These stories range from Good Wodehouse--which is better than most authors manage on their best days--to Great Wodehouse--which is about the best one can hope for.
For me, Jonathan Cecil is the definitive voice of Wodehouse and I find Simon Vance substantially inferior--both in his style and in his limited ability to provide unique, instantly recognizable voices to a wide range of characters within a story.
Most unforgivably, Vance mis-pronounces the name of that Man of Wrath, Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge. His constant use of "Uh-kridge" instead of "You-kridge" grated so painfully on my ear that "Success Story" was almost un-listenable.
I am disappointed to see that Vance appears to the reader of choice for the latest round of Wodehouse audiobooks. I hope that a more worthy successor to the legendary Jonathan Cecil can be found.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Prunella Scales and Patricia Routledge take on the world in another hilarious series of the BBC Radio 4 comedy hit. The intrepid grandmothers are back and at loggerheads with their respective families. Vera decides to take a break in Ibiza, and invites Irene to join her.
Ladies of Letters began as a subtle and typically British bit of fluff--correspondence between two older women who become fiercely competitive and occasionally openly hostile even as their friendship deepens. Any lover of British comedy is going to be a sucker for the two principal readers--the incomparable Prunella Scales and the divine Patricia Routledge.
The authors of the series, however, seem to have lost their way in this installment, providing a series of situations that I found preposterous and aggravating rather than endearing and odd--as the previous tales have been.
I'm going to listen to the next installment and hope for the best. If the situations are, once again, bizarre and implausible, I will say farewell to the Ladies and re-visit the brilliant, earlier installments which I consider to be timeless gems.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
The hideous Walsingford Hall is home to an odd assortment of coves…The vile premises belong to Sir Buckstone, who is in a little financial difficulty. So for a little monetary help he puts a roof over the heads of people like (among others) Tubby Vanringham, the adoring slave of cold-hearted Miss Whittaker. His brother Joe has fallen head over heels for Sir Buck’s daughter, Jane. She, however, only has eyes for Adrian Peake, who has already formed a liaison with the terrifying - but superbly wealthy - Princess Dwornitzchek. Is there no end to the confusion?
Regular readers/listeners of the fiction of P.G. Wodehouse will recognize immediately that 'Summer Moonshine' is populated with all the familiar characters and situations that make his fiction so comfortably predictable. One may cavil that--as one feasts more and more heavily on the banquet of his stories and novels--the formula begins to feel, well, formulaic, but the Master's light touch and brilliantly epigrammatic prose style keep the atmosphere so frothy that it seems churlish to mention that one is once again reading the tale of Young Love torn Asunder by an imperious Aunt, and the dizzying ballet of secondary characters whose fortunes become entwined with those of the principal hero and heroine. Indeed, it is sometimes unclear that there IS a principal hero and heroine--often we are served up an undifferentiated pile of men and women all of whom find the path of love blocked by obstacles which must be overcome. Wodehouse's solutions for extricating the hapless lovers from 'the Stew' run the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous, but I have, until now, always consumed the stories at a gulp--loving the structure, the language and the humor of the tales.
I say "until now", because--for the first time--"Summer Moonshine" has fallen far short of the mark. Whereas most of the Wodehouse stories have a guardian angel of some sort--Gallahad Threepwood, Jeeves, Lord Ickenham--to guide events and produce, when needed, the deus ex-machina necessary to tie things up nicely, "Moonshine" simply gives us an English country house full of thwarted and mis-matched lovers, and leaves them to their own devices. Waiting as they blunder around, stumbling over their own faulty assumptions and mis-understandings becomes tedious. Moreover, the book is populated with a singularly unpleasant cast of antagonists. While no-one would claim that Alaric, the Duke of Dunstable is a Good Guy, he is such a buffoon that his evil plots do not rankle. Adrian Peake and the Princess Dwarnitzchek, however, are so thoroughly unpleasant that reading of their exploits brought me no pleasure. It would not surprise me to learn that this story--like the play written by one of the characters--is a malicious roman a clef, written by Wodehouse to settle a personal vendetta against a real-life Peake/Dwarnitzchek duo.
If, like me, you are reaching the point where there aren't too many un-read Wodehouse books, then purchase "Summer Moonshine" by all means. Second-rate Wodehouse is still far better than no Wodehouse at all. If, on the other hand, you are relatively new to the Wodehouse canon, I urge you to try something else--any of the 'Jeeves', 'Blandings', 'Mulliner' or 'Ukridge' books will bring you hours of pure pleasure. Save 'Summer Moonshine" for later.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
While Blandings Castle sleeps in the summer sun, the Hon. Galahad Threepwood, brother of the Earl of Emsworth, is busily engaged in writing his Reminiscences, and they look set to be as warm as the weather, if not warmer. For Galahad has led a thoroughly misspent life, and his acquaintances can all too easily recall their past follies in his company. Reputations are at stake and even the nobility and gentry are beginning to panic.
P.G. Wodehouse blends all the usual elements in "Summer Lightening", one of the "Blandings" novels. As expected, we find Clarence, the 9the Earl, his imperious sister Constance--daughter of 100 Earls--the eternally youthful Gallahad--the only distinguished member of the family--Beech, the butler, and an assortment of other characters who fill the slots in the standard Blandings formula: star-crossed lovers, impoverished suitors and the inevitable visitors to Blandings who find they must assume a disguise to secure entry into that favored realm. Wodehouse brings just enough fresh material to each installment in the series to keep it enjoyable, while trotting out enough of the old standby pieces to make one feel that one is safely on terra cognita.
The problem with this particular recording, in my opinion, is that John Wells lacks the remarkable talents of the other narrators one finds in the Audible library. Jonathan Cecil, Frederick Davidson and the absolutely pitch-perfect Nigel Lambert all manage to create distinct voices for each of the characters in these densely-populated works. John Wells' voice is pleasant enough in the general narration, but he does not create a unique voice for each of the characters--not even the main characters who occupy the majority of the book's focus.
It takes more than a sub-standard narrator to ruin Wodehouse, but I would recommend one of the recordings by the masters in lieu of this one.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful