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Grant

Arlington, VA, United States
  • 13
  • reviews
  • 87
  • helpful votes
  • 14
  • ratings
  • Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets

  • An Audible Original
  • By: John Woolf, Nick Baker
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 7 hrs and 33 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,059
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,899
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,893

On the surface, the Victorian age is one of propriety, industry, prudishness and piety. But scratch the surface and you’ll find scandal, sadism, sex, madness, malice and murder. Presented by Stephen Fry, this series delves deep into a period of time we think we know, to discover an altogether darker reality. The stories we’re told offer a different perspective on an era which underwent massive social change. As education, trade, technology and culture blossomed, why was there an undercurrent of the ‘forbidden’ festering beneath Victorian society? 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting but a bit overproduced

  • By Grant on 11-04-18

Interesting but a bit overproduced

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

Reviewed: 11-04-18

Interesting take on less well known aspects of Victorian life. The writing skips around a bit more than necessary or helpful and they go way overboard on music and sound effects, as if they do not trust the material to stand on its own. It could, and would probably be better served with less add ons.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Volume 2

  • By: Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 29 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,845
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,393
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,414

Volume two in this series consists of one novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and two collections of short stories, which include "Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes" and "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (a total of 23 stories). These creations by Doyle represent the finest work of his Holmes series, and certainly the most famous.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a list of what you'll find in Volume 2

  • By T. on 04-24-12

Different recording

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

Reviewed: 09-06-18

This has been re-recorded. New version not as good.
Disappointing that an old favorite is gone.

  • The Sun Also Rises

  • By: Ernest Hemingway
  • Narrated by: William Hurt
  • Length: 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,321
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,742
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,747

The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway's masterpieces and a classic example of his spare but powerful style. A poignant look at the disillusionment and angst of the post-World War I generation, the story introduces two of Hemingway's most unforgettable characters: Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Follow the flamboyant Brett and the hapless Jake as they journey from the wild nightlife of the 1920s Paris to the brutal bullfighting rings of Spain with a motley group of expatriates.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointed with narration

  • By Mary Jo Ignoffo on 04-17-15

Poor audio quality and editing

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

Reviewed: 04-03-17

Whether it is the narrator or the audio engineering, it was sometimes hard to understand the words. Some of that is explained, perhaps, by most of the characters being drunk most of the time. The chapter headings were immediately clipped to the final word of the preceding chapter without even a tiny pause, a small but jarring fault.

The text is interesting for its literary techniques but the characters may not engage your empathy unless alcoholism is somehow compelling or revelatory. Self-involved, self-pitying, sometimes casually cruel people -- all made worse by a stunning amount of booze. Not Hemingway's best work.

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho

  • By: Ann Radcliffe
  • Narrated by: Karen Cass
  • Length: 30 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 32

The virtuous and loving Emily, the young protagonist, finds herself in the care of her aunt following the death of her father. Her aunt promptly marries the villain Montoni, a cruel and calculating man whose scheming leads him to lock both women in the dark and winding castle of Udolpho. Will they survive to tell of its terrors?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • WARNING! BAD ACCENT ALERT!

  • By Kerry Maxwell on 09-15-16

Dull, wordy, plodding

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

Reviewed: 09-20-16

Full disclosure -- I have only listened to about a third of the book so far, but I may never finish it. The first 7 hours or so have been dull and slow and swimming in elegant but pointless verbiage. This is a gasbag of a book. I actually burst out laughing at one point -- the word 'blather' came to mind. For the love of God, get on with it! What is this all about and why should I care?

On the plus side, if you enjoy florid descriptions of nature, this is the book for you. If you love descriptions of other people appreciating nature and rhapsodizing to each other about it at great length, you have found Nirvana. Aficionados of stilted dialog will also be gratified. Apparently the gothic part of the book is coming, and with it some signs of life, but I don't think I will be along for the ride.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Devils

  • By: Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 28 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 218
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 202
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 202

Exiled to four years in Siberia, but hailed by the end of his life as a saint, prophet, and genius, Fyodor Dostoevsky holds an exalted place among the best of the great Russian authors. One of Dostoevsky’s five major novels, Devils follows the travails of a small provincial town beset by a band of modish radicals - and in so doing presents a devastating depiction of life and politics in late 19th-century Imperial Russia.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent translation and narration

  • By Lawrence on 09-06-13

Difficult to follow and ultimately not worth it

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

Reviewed: 11-29-14

I felt pretty cocky when I cued up this book. With several Russian classics under my listening belt, I felt confident about my ability to handle the mystifying naming (patronymics, nicknames, titles), to tolerate snatches of untranslated French, and to go the distance with a lengthy text. Then it all fell apart. I repeatedly lost the thread, could not keep the characters and their backstories apart, or understand the historical, philosophical and political undertones. After a while, I really did not care. Although this is supposedly a political novel and various characters represent various movements or philosophies, the politics did not register, and the characters seem simply vicious or stupid.

Maybe it is all clearer to someone with a background in the history of the era or a strong background in political philosophy. It definitely does not feel universal in the way that it speaks strongly to the reader even if they have no background in the period and the issues.

Crime and Punishment gripped me from page 1. Brothers K was slower and more uneven, but still compelling. But I now think I understand why a modern bookstore offers many copies and translations of each of these books, while Devils has at most one or two.

3 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • The Blood of Heaven

  • By: Kent Wascom
  • Narrated by: Brian Holsopple
  • Length: 15 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    2.5 out of 5 stars 18

The Blood of Heaven is the story of Angel Woolsack, a preacher’s son, who flees the hardscrabble life of his itinerant father, falls in with a charismatic highwayman, then settles with his adopted brothers on the rough frontier of West Florida, where American settlers are carving their place out of lands held by the Spaniards and the French.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Elegant prose but a brutal squalid yarn

  • By Grant on 11-29-14

Elegant prose but a brutal squalid yarn

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

Reviewed: 11-29-14

The prose style is lush -- perhaps overgrown to some tastes -- but the story is unrelentingly grim: squalid conditions, unsympathetic characters, lots of violence. You must be in the mood for a meditation on the darker sides of life to follow this one to the end. Solid narration.

  • Tyndale

  • The Man Who Gave God an English Voice
  • By: David Teems
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 97
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 91
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86

The English Bible was born in defiance, in exile, in flight, and in a form of exodus, the very elements that empowered William Tyndale to bring the English scripture to the common citizen. Being “a stranger in a strange land,” the very homesickness he struggled with gave life to the words of Jesus, Paul, and to the wandering Moses. Tyndale’s efforts ultimately cost him his life, but his contribution to English spirituality is measureless. Even five centuries after his death at the stake, Tyndale’s presence looms wherever English is spoken.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unsung Hero of the English Language

  • By Jen on 08-22-12

Fascinating subject, wonderful reading

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

Reviewed: 10-19-14

I don't remember what led me to select this title, but it turned out to be an unexpected gem, and I replay portions of the book often. The text tells the sparsely documented facts of Tyndale's extraordinary life, but also discusses his enormous and largely unsung impact on English language and literature and speculates about the psychology that drove the man. The author meanders a bit in his search for illuminating parallels -- Walt Whitman and Thomas Wolfe are drawn in at one point -- and that might alienate a listener or two or fail to convince, but that is a quibble. A great choice for people interested in language, history or spirituality. Oh, and the reading is lush and fabulous -- like caramel or hot buttered toast for the ears.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Gambler

  • By: Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Narrated by: Firdous Bamji
  • Length: 6 hrs and 9 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 8

The novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky, including the classic Crime and Punishment, secured the great Russian writer an exalted position in the literary pantheon of 20th-century authors. The Gambler stands as one of the literary genius’ most highly regarded shorter works.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digestible Dostoevsky

  • By Grant on 09-07-14

Digestible Dostoevsky

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

Reviewed: 09-07-14

This is lesser Dostoevsky, both in critical stature and in length. But it is also far more accessible than the longer works. The cast of characters, with the lengthy Russian names and confusing variations, is smaller, the plotting is more straightforward, and the time commitment is more manageable, but you still get the flavor of the master. You can enjoy the book without crib notes from Wikipedia or rewinding to figure out what went on. There are even flashes of humor here and there. It took a while to get used to the narrator, but once I did, the reading was solid. FYI, as with most of the Russian classics, there is untranslated French sprinkled throughout, and the final fifth of the book has more extended passages in French, but (speaking as someone with only the most rudimentary grasp of French) it does not spoil the overall experience.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Charterhouse of Parma

  • By: Henri Beyle Stendhal
  • Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
  • Length: 19 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 71
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 68
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 66

In the coming-of-age story, we follow a young Italian nobleman, Fabrizio Valserra, Marchesino del Dongo, on many adventures, including his experiences at the Battle of Waterloo, and romantic intrigues.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing novel finally available on audio!

  • By Grant on 03-23-14

Amazing novel finally available on audio!

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

Reviewed: 03-23-14

One of my favorite books, this title has not been available in audio in English until very recently. The work is hard to define -- part adventure, part a shameless exercise in romanticism, and part a realistic portrait of court politics that feels surprisingly contemporary. The text presupposes a basic knowledge of European history and politics of the period, and without such knowledge I found bits of the text confusing, especially when zipping by at audio speed. (In particular, replay chapter 1 before proceeding to start on a firm footing.) But the general flow of events becomes clear over time, and missing a few political nuances does not detract from a very enjoyable experience. Beautifully read by a skilled narrater.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone]

  • By: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis, Jay Carnes, Ray Porter, and others
  • Length: 20 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 496
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 345
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 349

In this edition, we hear, translated into modern English, 20-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much about their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late 14th-century England.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Many voices, at times enthralling

  • By Tad Davis on 10-20-08

Beautiful production; mixed bag for modern folks

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

Reviewed: 03-23-14

The work is beautifully performed by multiple readers, who all do a marvelous job. The text has been modernized for contemporary readers, but still retains little touches of middle English vocabulary and pronunciation here and there. These touches are enough to give the text some period flavor, but not so much as to obscure understanding; meaning is generally clear enough from context.

As far as the text goes, well, despite it's being a classic, it is a bit of a mixed bag for the modern listener. Some parts are just a lot less enjoyable than others. Say the material falls into three categories. First, there are parts that are universal and timeless, and can be easily and fully appreciated by a modern reader. A second group is still enjoyable but is noticeably less accessible. The reader who is not familiar with the period may miss significant amounts of nuance and references unless they are prepared to do a little extra work (say, a quick whiz thru Wikipedia. Third, there are a couple of selections that are impenetrable or just a bore unless you have very specialized tastes or knowledge or both. So just be warned that a few of the tales (and some are not even really stories) will leave you impatient to move on to the next selection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful