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  • Lady Audley's Secret

  • By: Mary Elizabeth Braddon
  • Narrated by: Kim Hicks
  • Length: 15 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 95
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 96

Lady Audley is universally adored: Beautiful, kind and charming, she enamors all whom she meets. It is not until the strange disappearance of widower George Talboys that her behavior takes an odd turn. George's friend, Robert Audley, Lady Audley's nephew-in-law, is on the case; an upper-class layabout turned detective, he is determined to get to the bottom of things.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great Book with a Great Reader!

  • By Yvette on 05-29-16

Thank You Very Much, Yvette

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-21-19

And thank you Pamela, Patricia McCool, and the mysterious D, too. I’m always on the lookout for “new” Victorian novelists and, while Lady Audley’s Secret had been on my wish list for a while, I’d never bothered to look at the reviews. When I did, I found comparisons to Wilkie Collins and references to “a good Victorian sensation novel” that was “enjoyable”, “great fun” and “very ‘listenable’”. Actually, you guys had me at “Wilkie Collins”; and I’m happy to say that you were right; the credit and the time listening were very well-spent indeed.

Braddon has wit, a fine dramatic sense and, for a popular Victorian novelist, is not overburdened with sentiment. What some see as wordiness is really one of the glories of the Victorian novel: lush eruptions of diction that can paint a scene, reveal a character, skewer a social convention or delineate a human foible in a way that is at once circumlocutory and direct. I agree with HODGEPODGESPV that—especially after Book 3, Chapter 3—the story seemed to be “over”, and I too wondered where it could possibly go from there. Admittedly, some of the loose ends could have been tied up quicker, but the "nice bow" at the end is very satisfying. Wikipedia’s “partial” catalogue of Braddon’s output lists 68 novels, raising the question why more of her work isn’t available in high quality audio form. I mean, the other 67 can’t all be stinkers, right?

I agree with D’s observation that the mystery is “predictable”, but the real story here isn’t so much the crime as the way it is uncovered. Also, being a dedicated P. G. Wodehouse fan, Robert Audley’s sluggardly character delighted rather than repelled me (sorry, Pamela). Personally, I’d love to live that languidly if I could afford to. And besides, as the book proceeds, Mr. Audley becomes active enough for six barristers. The reviews include enthusiastic kudos for our reader Kim Hicks, and I add my plaudits here, too. The usual Naxos excellence is in evidence everywhere, from cover art to recording quality.

  • The Innocence of Father Brown

  • By: G. K. Chesterton
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 136
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 119
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 119

Detective fans of all races and creeds, of all tastes and fancies will delight in the exploits of this wise and whimsical padre. You will be enchanted by the scandalously innocent man of the cloth, with his handy umbrella, who exhibits such uncanny insight into ingeniously tricky human problems. This collection includes 12 mysteries solved by Father Brown.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Very Knowledgeable Innocence

  • By John on 03-05-19

A Very Knowledgeable Innocence

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-19

Listen to this one just for the language, the way Chesterton can evolve an observation about an everyday object into an observation about society or even civilization. Like all the Father Brown stories, these are written by a mind not uncommon at the time; a mind that operated on several different planes at once: the aesthetic, the religious, the cultural, the historic. Those differing angles of perspective then merged into prose that illuminated whatever it took under consideration as brilliantly as any poet.

A passing familiarity with the history of the time is helpful, French politics in general and the Dreyfus affair in particular. Some of these stories have later literary reverberations, “The Queer Feet”, being the story Lady Marchmain reads aloud in Brideshead Revisited. It is also my favorite in this collection; a poignant picture of how God’s mercy can reach us, in spite of everything we do to avoid Him.

By now I’ve come to realize that Frederick Davidson (aka David Case) is a deal breaker for many. We either love him or hate him. I love him; his suave, knowing delivery is the perfect vehicle for Chesterton’s witty, urbane and, ultimately, profound playfulness.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Whose Body?

  • The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries, Book 1
  • By: Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Narrated by: David Case
  • Length: 6 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 334
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 293
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 290

Enter the 1920s Golden Age of Detection with this first novel from Dorothy L. Sayers, featuring the debut of a dashing gentleman detective, one of the great characters of mystery fiction - Lord Peter Wimsey. An unidentified corpse is found in a bathtub, and the police are jumping to conclusions about its identity and that of the murderer. Lord Peter Wimsey steps in and, with the help of his friend, Inspector Parker; and his manservant, Bunter, solves the mystery.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilled to see Sayers appearing at Audible USA!!!

  • By Meep on 12-18-15

I Don’t Get What Some People Don’t Get

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-19

I don’t get what some find so annoying about David Case/Frederick Davidson. He is simply superb. And I don’t understand how anyone could pick up one of the seminal works of the Golden Age of crime fiction and call it “wordy” or “boring”. There are plenty of other mysteries out there with car chases and bedroom scenes; their absence is one of the things that makes the Golden Age so golden.

Case is the perfect vehicle for the glib banter and witty persiflage that flow from this first, and most light-hearted, iteration of Lord Peter—second only to Ian Carmichael, who played Wimsey onscreen. To catch some of the quips, you need a grounding in Classical and European literature (something I’m gaining by listening to all the books I blew through so carelessly in college). And if you savor P. G. Wodehouse, you're in luck: there are moments with Lord Peter that approach the Wodehousian. An amazing feat in a book that also manages to probe so penetratingly the roots of Good and Evil.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Mr Mulliner Speaking

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 15
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 16

In the bar-parlour of the Angler’s Rest, Mr Mulliner tells his amazing tales, which hold the assembled company of Pints of Stout and Whiskies and Splash in the palm of his expressive hand. Here you can discover what happened to The Man Who Gave Up Smoking, share a frisson when the butler delivers Something Squishy on a silver salver (‘your serpent, Sir,’ said the voice of Simmons) – and experience the dreadful Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Speaking of Mr. Mulliner…

  • By John on 03-05-19

Speaking of Mr. Mulliner…

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-19

This volume contains three of the funniest stories Wodehouse ever typed: “Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court”—including a perfect specimen of comic verse—the ultimate Bobbie Wickham story, “Something Squishy” and the two last stories which really constitute a single saga of the sufferings and ultimate triumph of Dudley Finch.

And the other five are pretty near prefect, too. This book has a place of honor in my perpetual Wodehouse playlist, doing its part to keep a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It's a course of treatment I recommend to all my friends.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Meet Mr Mulliner

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 5 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 17
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14

In the Angler’s Rest, drinking hot scotch and lemon, sits one of Wodehouse’s greatest raconteurs. Mr Mulliner, his vivid imagination lubricated by Miss Postlethwaite the barmaid, has fabulous stories to tell of the extraordinary behaviour of his far-flung family... One of them concerns Wilfred, who lights on the formula for Buck-U-Uppo, a tonic given to elephants to enable them to face tigers with the necessary nonchalance. Its explosive effects on a shy young curate and then the higher clergy is gravely revealed.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Meet Your Next Great Listen

  • By John on 03-05-19

Meet Your Next Great Listen

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-05-19

Back in the days when popular magazines ran fiction—either serialized novels or free-standing short stories—it was possible for people like P. G. Wodehouse to make a living at it. And it was possible to get more out of a magazine than chocolate layer cake recipes and weight loss secrets.

So, picture if you will, strolling up to your local news stand and picking up any of the stories in this volume. They’re all good, especially the last one, “Honeysuckle Cottage”. I would go so far as to advocate the purchase of the entire book for the sake of that tale alone. Wodehouse is at his incomparable best when spoofing the conventions of the sentimental fiction of his day, and “Honeysuckle Cottage” is really a tour de force in that line.

And to round things out, Jonathan Cecil “gets” it; he exploits every nuance and heightens every absurdity.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Pearls, Girls and Monty Bodkin

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Cecil
  • Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6

His year in Hollywood completed, Monty leaves behind his heartbroken secretary and arrives in London to claim the hand of hockey international, Gertrude Butterwick. But the Bodkin road to happiness is arduous, and pitfalled through and through.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Why Take a Spade to This Soufflé?

  • By John on 03-04-19

Why Take a Spade to This Soufflé?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-04-19

A critic whose name I can’t recall said in a book I think I’ve lost that criticizing a Wodehouse story is like taking a spade to a soufflé. What he meant, I gather, is that it makes the critic look silly. Granted, Wodehouse has good books. He has great books. But he has very, very few bad books. And this is one of the good ones. It’s also one of Jonathan Cecil’s best outings, too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Norse Mythology

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 42,845
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 39,203
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39,027

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales. In Norse Mythology, Gaiman fashions primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds; delves into the exploits of the deities, dwarves, and giants; and culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and the rebirth of a new time and people.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • As good as it gets without the old texts

  • By William Taylor on 05-10-18

All the Glowing Reviews are True

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-03-19

What can I add? While rendering the language more familiar, Gaiman lets the grim worldview—and redemptive humor—of the original poets shine through; the heft and feel of these old stories remain. Unlike Disney, he doesn’t diminish his sources.

The first few chapters set the table with a who’s-who and what-they-can-do; a bit tedious, but necessary. From there, the stories are so engaging and enjoyable that the book slips by with deceptive ease. And I now feel that I understand Beowulf and Tolkien far better than I had. To top it all off, Gaiman is as good a reader as he is a writer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Something Fresh

  • By: P. G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 7 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 133
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75

As Wodehouse himself once noted, "Blandings has impostors like other houses have mice." On this particular occasion, there are two imposters, both intent on a dangerous enterprise. Lord Emsworth's secretary, the Efficient Baxter, is on the alert and determined to discover what is afoot - despite the distractions caused by the Honorable Freddie Threepwood's hapless affair of the heart.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Not terrible - but not a must-have, either

  • By Sarah on 10-18-07

How Good Is It? I Bought It Twice, That’s How Good

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-24-19

I’d purchased this one years ago from another audiobook company which will remain nameless. But when it popped up in Audible’s First-In-A-Series Sale, I caved—all for the sheer pleasure of being able to play it through our Echo for the whole family to revel in.

Also, I am a confessed and unrepentant Wodehouse addict, and this is simply one of his most addictive doses. As he matured, as his Blandings Castle, Jeeves and Wooster, and Mr. Mulliner series (to name but three) developed, his style became glibber, less “realistic” (but no less enjoyable). There was simply no need to delineate, say, the inner workings of Butler Beach or Lord Emsworth, whose psychologies had been delineated decades earlier. That’s probably why I enjoy these first drafts of beloved characters so much; we get more inner thoughts and feelings, deeper motivations and some really fine observations of human nature. And, of course, the delight of his budding trademark style.

It goes without saying that Frederick Davidson was—and remains—one of the finest readers of Wodehouse. What some perceive as a stand-offishness or even contempt in his reading is really the sound of someone getting the last ounce of juice out of every nuance--sometimes bringing more humor to a line than you or I might notice on the page. I pine for the day his renditions of "Psmith in the City", "Psmith, Journalist", “Leave It to Psmith”, “Cocktail Time”, "Jeeves in the Morning", "Heavy Weather", "Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves", "The Cat-Nappers" and, “Do Butlers Burgle Banks?” will become available on Audible (hint, hint).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Beowulf

  • By: Seamus Heaney (translator)
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 4 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 458
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 428
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 432

Written a thousand years ago, this long poem is the very first surviving piece of English literature. Join Beowulf, a young warrior, as he achieves glory by fighting and killing three fantastic monsters. This new translation, by the Nobel laureate poet Seamus Heaney, offers modern listeners an accessible, intensely dramatic text. It amply demonstrates why this epic has spread its influence over more than a millennium of literature.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Almost perfect

  • By Tad Davis on 01-28-13

An Eminently Listenable Version

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-21-19

Not being a Greek, Latin or Anglo-Saxon scholar, my understanding of any venerable poem is necessarily a mélange of several translations. Among the many different renderings of Beowulf into modern English, I’ve never been able to echo all the praise heaped for almost 20 years now on this one. For all the plaudits, Heaney’s work can seem at times (at least to me) a little lax. Compare a snippet from Donald Chickering (1977):

So fate often saves
An undoomed man when his courage holds
(lines 572-573)

And the same lines from Heaney:

Often, for undaunted courage,
fate spares the man it has not already marked.

As a reader I find something more bracing in “undoomed”, something colder and more northern in that rider at the end, stipulating the necessity of courage to stave off one’s doom, whether it’s fated or not.

However, as a listener I admit that Heaney gave us an eminently listenable version—what critics have called “approachable”. As Heaney points out in the essay following the poem, a grasp of the academic details is still necessary for a fuller appreciation of the poem. Nevertheless, he managed to make it sound about as immediate and fresh as I imagine it was for the poem’s first audience. Very fitting for a poem that was probably heard before it was ever read; this really is the perfect translation for the ear buds—preferably with a glass of mead nearby.

The fine insights in the essay at the end of this recording—don’t miss the changing role of gold in the story—are counterbalanced by some terrifyingly trendy academic shibboleths. Only a man who spent his entire adult life teaching would opine that the poem’s straddling of the pagan past and Christian present conforms to modernist notions about the “indeterminacy of the human person”. (For a more common-sense take, listen to Professor Timothy Shutt’s Beowulf lecture in his Masterpieces of Medieval Literature). Even Heaney’s useful insights can be couched in language more evanescent than efficacious.

Oddly, the usually pitch-perfect George Guidall seems to need to warm up to this poem. For the first few minutes he sounds somewhat stand-offish. Then, about half an hour later, I realized he’d swept me into the story as effectively as in his (no longer available) recording of the Iliad.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • No Country for Old Men

  • By: Cormac McCarthy
  • Narrated by: Tom Stechschulte
  • Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7,165
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,477
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,489

Cormac McCarthy, best-selling author of National Book Award winner All the Pretty Horses, delivers his first new novel in seven years. Written in muscular prose, No Country for Old Men is a powerful tale of the West that moves at a blistering pace.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Typical McCarthy: SUPERB

  • By David on 02-21-08

No Book for Young People

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-10-19

According to Wikipedia, McCarthy only respects authors who "deal with issues of life and death”. On Henry James and Marcel Proust, he said, "I don't understand them...To me, that's not literature. A lot of writers who are considered good I consider strange". Finally, he’s "not a fan of some of the Latin American writers, ‘magical realism’. You know, it's hard enough to get people to believe what you're telling them without making it impossible. It has to be vaguely plausible."

I’m quoting him because it is beyond me to communicate the power of his book. But the above gives you some idea of what you’re in for. It deals with life and death. It is completely understandable—though I suspect only to older listeners. It is all too plausible. And Tom Stechschulte was the best possible choice to read it.

However, I am taking away two stars for organization. Who divided this recording into seven near-equal sections, each bearing absolutely no relation to the parts and chapters of the story?