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  • 95
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  • 94
  • helpful votes
  • 97
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  • Villette

  • By: Charlotte Bronte
  • Narrated by: Mandy Weston
  • Length: 20 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 256
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 151
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 150

Long overshadowed by Jane Eyre, Villette is widely admired as one of Charlotte Bronte's finest works. This story of a young teacher at a girl's school in the city of Villette is a particular challenge for the young reader, for it requires maturity of vision, a fine narrative sense - and a command of French! Mandy Weston, a newcomer to Naxos AudioBooks, tells the story magnificently.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • classical heart

  • By Chloe on 01-14-08

Good story, though some concerns

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

Reviewed: 03-19-19

The story was good, excellent writing, and the narration superb. I do have some reservations about the relationship between Paul and Lucy. I don't want to write any spoilers, but I found Lucy to be too desperate (perhaps she was really desperate for friendship and love), and too willing to be toyed with. Some reviewers commented about the French dialog. I know that if I were reading it rather than listening, I would have done better with the French - seeing the words in front of me helps. I was lazy, because even if I missed some of it (I did learn 4 years of H.S. French oh, so long ago), from the context you could fill it in. I did think every so often of looking at the text, but then I never bothered to interrupt my listening to do that. I do not view this more-than-usual use of French as a fault of the book. I view it as my deficiency. It's a language I feel I ought to know, and wish I could understand better. Don't let it deter you!

  • Adolfo Kaminsky

  • A Forger's Life
  • By: Sarah Kaminsky, Mike Mitchell
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 70
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65

At the age of 17, Adolfo Kaminsky had narrowly escaped deportation to Auschwitz and was living in Nazi-occupied Paris, using forged documents to hide in plain sight. Due to his expert knowledge of dyes and his ability to masterfully reproduce official documents with an artistic eye, he was recruited to join the Jewish underground. He soon became the primary forger for the Resistance in Paris, working tirelessly with his network to create papers that would save an estimated 14,000 men, women, and children from certain death.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Incredible!

  • By Mareo McCracken on 04-28-17

Fascinating and inspiring story

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

Reviewed: 02-27-19

Adolfo Kaminsky is a truly amazing person. Very few of us would have the dedication to causes that we believe in, as he did, with such idealism. I share most if not all of his values, and yet I can’t imagine myself making the sacrifices that he did for as long as he did. Sadly, I would become cynical in the course of time. Though his work in the resistance in WWII ended with a better Europe, some of the other causes, though just, down the road resulted in corrupt or authoritarian regimes. For example, it is certainly positive that apartheid ended, but the current government in South Africa is very corrupt, which is such a shame. He recognized the fighting between factions as a problem in some of the causes he supported. Thus, by listening to his story, we also are reminded of how complex the world is, how complex people are, and how much of a challenge we all have to make the world a just place, where no one needs a forged passport to have freedom from persecution and to live a decent life. An inspiring story that is also a summary of some 20th century history. Simon Vance is a superb narrator, as always.

  • Death Comes for the Archbishop

  • By: Willa Cather
  • Narrated by: David Ackroyd
  • Length: 7 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 359
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 328
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 328

Willa Cather's best known novel; a narrative that recounts a life lived simply in the silence of the southwestern desert.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Breathtaking!

  • By Jan the Tech Man on 01-13-17

Lovely prose, thin plot

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

Reviewed: 02-24-19

This story of a Catholic priest and bishop in the territory of New Mexico is beautifully written, but the plot is thin. It is never clear where it is going or what the point of the author really is. We get a beautiful depiction of a geographical area in a certain period in North American history. Along the way we meet some indigenous people and there is some reference to their terrible plight, as a result of the arrival of Europeans (centuries before) and more recent settlers from the US. The book is worth listening to as a way to widen exposure to a variety of American literature, in particular by a female author. But there is much contemporary American literature and a vast amount of literature from other parts of the world (UK, Continental Europe, Russia) that precedes it by a few decades that far surpasses this in depth and complexity of plot. The narrator is mediocre and this is one of the few Audible recordings that I found speeding up to 1.25 improved it.

  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: David Timson
  • Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 60

Left unfinished after Dickens died in 1870, The Mystery of Edwin Drood centers on Edwin Drood's uncle, John Jasper, and his love for Rosa Bud, Edwin's fiancee. Set in the dark, fictional cathedral city of Cloisterham, the novel is awash with guilt, disguise and mystery. It contains some fine writing, and just before his death, Dickens left an indication of where the plot was going, which is included.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • An Unfinished Potential Dark Classic

  • By Jefferson on 08-10-14

A shame he didn't get to finish it

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

Reviewed: 02-16-19

Though the story was a bit slow to start, it is worth having a bit of patience. It is a good story, has Dickens' great use of the English language and wit, and though the end (as told about in the afterword) is a bit predictable, the way there is quite enjoyable, and it is a shame he did not get to finish it. The narrator is a master! What voices, accents, acting! Fantastic!

  • Memento Mori

  • Roman Empire Series, Book 8
  • By: Ruth Downie
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 10 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 270
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 245
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246

A scandal is threatening to engulf the popular spa town of Aquae Sulis (modern-day Bath). The wife of Ruso's best friend, Valens, has been found dead in the sacred hot spring, stabbed through the heart. Fearing the wrath of the goddess and the ruin of the tourist trade, the temple officials are keen to cover up what's happened. But the dead woman's father is demanding justice, and he's accusing Valens of murder. If Valens turns up to face trial, he will risk execution. If he doesn't, he'll lose his children.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Another great outing! Can't wait for the next one

  • By Paula A. Rossi on 04-15-18

I love this series

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

Reviewed: 01-31-19

This is a totally delightful mystery series, but it is not just the mystery (in this case, I had a strong hunch about who was ultimately guilty), it is the whole romp, the characters, the historical setting (I put it on my “to visit list” to see Aquae Sulis). It’s all fun, the performance as always is great. Sheer delight. Though I’d be happy with more in the series, I’d also be most happy if Ruth Downie would start a new series in a new locale (perhaps Medieval France?).

  • Tandia

  • By: Bryce Courtenay
  • Narrated by: Humphrey Bower
  • Length: 26 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,221
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,605
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,609

Tandia is a child of all Africa: half Indian, half African, beautiful and intelligent, she is only 16 when she is first brutalized by the police. Her fear of the white man leads her to join the black resistance movement. With her in the fight for justice is the one white man Tandia can trust, the welterweight champion of the world, Peekay. Now he must fight their common enemy in order to save both their lives.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Thanks for this wonderful collaboration

  • By Thomas Andrews on 05-17-06

Outstanding narrator, some flaws in story

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

Reviewed: 01-23-19

Overall, the story is engaging and powerful. I read The Power of One quite a few years ago and remember that I thought it was an excellent book, so I decided to listen to this sequel. Not only am I not a boxing fan, I think it is evil. I tolerated it in The Power of One, feeling that there were clear psychological reasons that the main protagonist became a boxer. I did not enjoy the boxing descriptions there. But this time I would have hoped for greater maturity, a recognition that your manhood or ability or worth is not proven in the ring. I think quite late in the book Peekay says one line to that affect. The boxing scenes were awful to me, violence for violence’s sake. The gladiators in the 20th century. I also found the rape scenes and other sexually suggestive scenes too lurid, voyeuristic, as if there were some readers (or listeners) who might find them titillating, and that kind of nauseated me. In general, there was too much emphasis on beauty - how many times do I need to hear how beautiful Tandia is? It is as if the author needs to convince himself that Black can be Beautiful. Mandoma is also described as beautiful. It’s over the top. Similarly, I found the descriptions of the prostitutes and their dress and lives overdone - I’m not sure why it was necessary. There is an overuse of certain phrases: they were “dressed to the nines”. Peekay “tilted at windmills”. Cliches used too many times. All that said, I found the narrator to be amazing, with great accents, distinguishable characters, and with great emotional expression. Also, putting aside the flaws, the book is quite a powerful depiction of bigotry, hatred, and the destruction it brings to people. Sadly, though apartheid has ended, South Africa is far from where it needs to go, and the level of corruption is discouraging. I’d wonder what Tandia would think of South Africa today and what Peekay sacrificed himself for.

  • The Library Book

  • By: Susan Orlean
  • Narrated by: Susan Orlean
  • Length: 12 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 1,359
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 1,246
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,239

On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual false alarm. As one fireman recounted later, “Once that first stack got going, it was good-bye, Charlie.” The fire was disastrous: It reached 2,000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed 400,000 books and damaged 700,000 more. 

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Had To Turn It Off

  • By Meg on 01-17-19

Interesting, but all over the place

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

Reviewed: 01-04-19

I decided to listen to this book based on the review and added mentions (New and Noteworthy, and the best seller sidebar) in The New York Times Book Review. I love books and I love libraries, and it seemed like I’d enjoy it. I did enjoy it, but found it not as great as I expected given what was written about it. The main thrust was, apparently, the fire in the LA library, but this theme was used as a way to detour back and forth to the history of the LA library, library functions, and go off on tangential topics like political book burnings. All the material was interesting, and clearly researched well, but it was really all over the place. I found the constant jumping around in time - early history of the library, the fire and the salvage, recent history of the library, homeless people in the library, book burnings, etc. - to have no reasonable organization. Given that one of the characteristics of libraries - and this is described in the book too - is organization and cataloguing, this book in some ways was not in character. It was almost a book written by a process of free association. The author’s reading of her own work was adequate, but nothing outstanding. I found it a bit slow and moved to the 1.25 speed, something I rarely do, but it was an improvement.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Vita Brevis: A Crime Novel of the Roman Empire

  • Medicus, Book 7
  • By: Ruth Downie
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 425
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 387
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 387

Ruso and Tilla's excitement at arriving in Rome with their new baby daughter is soon dulled by their discovery that the grand facades of polished marble mask an underworld of corrupt landlords and vermin-infested tenements. There are also far too many doctors - some skilled - but others positively dangerous.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Life in Ancient Rome

  • By Jean on 10-19-16

Sheer delight

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

Reviewed: 12-27-18

I don’t think I can add anything to the other rave reviews for this book and the series. I just love them and am already trying to figure out how to deal with the “withdrawal symptoms” after I listen to Book 8, the last one, hopefully a temporary situation. This episode was even better than some of the others, and I loved every one.

  • Our Mutual Friend

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 31 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 378
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 233
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229

A sinister masterpiece, Our Mutual Friend was Dickens' last completed novel. It is perhaps his ultimate vision of a dark, macabre London and the corrupting power of money.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Worth six stars

  • By Erez on 07-05-08

Far from his best

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

Reviewed: 12-23-18

It is interesting that I saw some people consider this to be Dickens’ best book. I found the plot to consist of one main plot line and then have several subplots that didn’t serve much purpose other than to lengthen the book and divert the reader from what might be an obvious idea about how the main plot will develop. In his afterword, it seems as if Dickens almost admits this - that he didn’t want people to figure out what is supposed to be a surprise to early on. Dickens addresses issues of social class and the snobbery of certain classes, a common theme, but there really isn’t so much that is deeper. He does try (only somewhat successfully) to rectify his earlier rather anti-Semitic depiction of Jews in many of his previous novels, in particular, of course, Oliver Twist, with his character Riah. I consider myself a Dickens fan, but this book would not have made me such. Simon Vance, as always, is superb. However, I found that this recording needed some editing. It seemed that there were places where he reread certain words - there were some repetitions of phrases of 2-3 words every so often - that needed to be editied out.

  • Anne of Green Gables

  • By: Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Narrated by: Rachel McAdams
  • Length: 9 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 7,103
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 6,567
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 6,536

With all of the pluck and charm of its eponymous young hero, Rachel McAdams ( The Notebook, Spotlight, Midnight in Paris) delivers a spectacular reading of Montgomery's beloved bildungsroman. In moments both funny and bittersweet, McAdams' voice is imbued with the spark that has made Anne a much-loved symbol of individualism and cheer for over a century.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Destroyed by narration

  • By Patricia on 12-03-17

Anne *is* too chatty

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

Reviewed: 12-02-18

Anne really is tedious to listen to, she goes on and on, often about stuff that is pretty boring, like dresses. It is hard for me to gauge how girls would enjoy this book - if it were not a free gift I would not have selected it. I’d say that it has some good messages for girls: ambition is good, excelling in school is good, and girls should never feel they need to dumb themselves down, which, sadly, is still a common phenomenon. Some issues are quite passé - who these days would think that young women should not go to college? I wish Montgomery did not make geometry Anne’s weak subject. Though in the end, she did well, but it just seems so stereotypical. But for the time, there was certainly a good message for girls, and yet it is a shame that Montgomery could not have come up with a more creative solution to Anne’s dilemma at the end (which I don’t want to reveal).
I also find it odd that Anne is referred to as a “little girl” when in our society I think a girl older than about 7 would take offense at that. I was not at all impressed with the narration. I would have expected far better of an actor. Most of the time she reads it rather drearily, like it is a chore to get through it.