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A Reader

Palo Alto, CA USA
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  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

  • By: Mark Twain
  • Narrated by: Jeff Hays
  • Length: 12 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

After being knocked unconscious by a crowbar, Hartford, Connecticut, man Hank Morgan awakens to find himself in the legendary realm of Camelot, 1,300 years in the past, at the point of a lance. Though the savages in this ancient land immediately see fit to imprison him, Hank learns to use his modern 19th-century knowledge to easily outwit everyone he comes across, including King Arthur himself. With only a little effort, he establishes himself as a powerful sorcerer, feared by all and known only as "The Boss".

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Classic Social Commentary Read Very Well

  • By Aaron Wagner on 11-21-15

Where in Connecticut is this guy from?

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

Reviewed: 05-31-18

Please don't get me wrong - this is a very enjoyable book - well, until the later half when it turns sour, as Twain himself apparently did. It's the narrator's accent of "a Connecticut Yankee" that has me in stitches. I don't know where he thinks a Connecticut person AND a Yankee, at that, lives, but it's certainly not New England, USA - or at least any place I've been. It adds to the humor and now I wonder if it's part of the narrator's intention.

i just thought it funny that no one had mentioned it.

Love to all readers!

  • The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition

  • By: Margaret Atwood, Valerie Martin - essay
  • Narrated by: Claire Danes, full cast, Margaret Atwood
  • Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,600
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,698
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21,630

After a violent coup in the United States overthrows the Constitution and ushers in a new government regime, the Republic of Gilead imposes subservient roles on all women. Offred, now a Handmaid tasked with the singular role of procreation in the childless household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife, can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost everything, even her own name.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT

  • By ambER on 04-20-17

Special Edition is Worthwhile

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

Reviewed: 06-27-17

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I also reread the text at the same time; the narrative can be a little hard to follow as the heroine constantly "spaces out" to past events and other events while the actual events are occurring. The extra new Afterward by Margaret Atwood and the essay by Valerie Martin are quite informative. There are some very interesting insights provided by Ms. Martin.

What did you like best about this story?

I really appreciated the enhanced audio experience of adding a cassette tape playing a bit of music at the beginning of each major section. It gave an added bit of realism to the story. Also the like cast performance of the "History Notes" was great.

Ms. Danes' reading is a bit dull and straightforward but I understand it's supposed to be distant and detached; it is after all the story of a woman who has been severely traumatized and constantly "spaces out" during the actual events happening.

Which scene was your favorite?

Tough question. The story has some lovely moments and some horrific ones. It's got to be the "History Notes" last chapter; it's so gallingly patronizing and offensive after the reader has come to know Offred and go through her experience is some way.

If you've seen the Hulu TV adaptation, reading the original story and listening to the afterwards is very illuminating. I generally like how the TV series depicted a scene that is only related in the book.

If you could rename The Handmaid's Tale: Special Edition, what would you call it?

The Handmaid's Tale: Extended Edition.
***Note: It would be nice to get a written transcription of the added material to the History Notes at least, if not the Afterward by Ms. Atwood and the Essay by Ms. Martin.

Any additional comments?

I really liked the cast performance of the afterward "History Notes", especially the special addition after the novel ends with "Any questions?". The professor is suitably annoying and patronizing not only to the Tale but to the reporters as while.

  • Dombey and Son

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 40 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11

This novel centers around Mr. Dombey, a wealthy merchant who struggles to cope with the death of his wife and the care of his infant son as the story opens. He hires a nurse to bring up little Paul. Meanwhile, other new characters are brought into the story, including Captain Cuttle, Sol Gills, and Walter Gay. As their lives come into contact with the Dombey household, complications arise. When Dombey discovers that Walter, a lowly clerk in his office, is infatuated with his daughter, Florence, he sends him to the West Indies to prevent any possibility of a romance developing.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazing narrator for a new Dickens novel for me

  • By Doree on 04-19-15

A Rare Dickens Story with a Heroine

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

Reviewed: 10-28-16

The story is grossly sentimental and "preachy" to my way of thinking. However, it's an important and rare look into Dickens' views of family dynamics. I can only recall Bleak House as another major work with a female heroine. In Dombey, Florence is not very interesting as a character (Edith is much more so), but what Dickens uses his dolls for to remark on the roles of fathers and daughters and husbands and wives, et. al. Is.
The narrator is fantastic and I'm curious to see try out his others readings especially as they seem to tend in the classics domain. I wonder what lead him to this book, but I am glad he took the task.

  • Foreign Bodies

  • By: Cynthia Ozick
  • Narrated by: Tandy Cronyn
  • Length: 8 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16

Pulitzer Prize finalist Cynthia Ozick’s fiction has been awarded multiple O. Henry Prizes. In Foreign Bodies, Ozick crafts a remarkable retelling of Henry James’ The Ambassadors—deftly using its plot, yet boldly infusing the novel with an all new place, time, and meaning. It’s 1952, and middle-aged Bea Nightingale reluctantly agrees to fly to Paris to help convince her estranged runaway nephew to return to his family. But Bea’s experiences abroad will change her forever.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Decidedly Literary and Very Enjoyable

  • By Buzz on 05-16-11

A Disappointing Story

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

Reviewed: 02-02-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

No.

What could Cynthia Ozick have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Not one of the characters is likeable, except perhaps Lili whom we know least about. Everybody lies to everyone else and to themselves. The story and the style are nothing like Henry James - that becomes apparent about page 60 (Ch. 12). It's a conventional novel with an omnipresent story; we get everybody's point of view. At bottom, it's about a woman (Bea, the main character) backstabbing her unbelievably obnoxious brother when she gets the chance via her brother's estranged children. Bea also has an obnoxious ex-husband.

What about Tandy Cronyn’s performance did you like?

Straight forward, clear, easy to understand.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Mostly just disgust at all the characters, particularly the main character Bea.

  • The Ambassadors

  • By: Henry James
  • Narrated by: Peter Gray
  • Length: 20 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 32
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 16

Here is Henry James' dark comedic masterpiece, written in the final period of his life. Lambert Strether goes to Paris to bring back Chad, son of the wealthy New England widow he plans to marry. But he gradually comes to feel that life in Paris may hold more for him than in Woollett, Massachusetts.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A very problematic reading

  • By Erez on 01-23-11

The best of many Audible versions

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

Reviewed: 01-19-16

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. I listened to all of Audible's sample readings of James' novel The Ambassadors. Though a bit quirky at first, I got used to Mr. Gray's reading style. James is very hard to read aloud and I felt Mr. Gray did it the best. He also, unusual to many readers, saw James' humor and even giggled at points. His reading was delightful.

What other book might you compare The Ambassadors to and why?

Other late James - the Wings of the Dove or The Golden Bowl. James was unique in this period of trying to be realistic rather than romantic, trying to eliminate the author from the story and ulitimately telling the story from his protagonist's point of view only.

Which character – as performed by Peter Gray – was your favorite?

Certainly Lambert Strether.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Definitely the seen on the river when Strether espies Chad and Mme. de Vionnet as they really were.

Any additional comments?

A long story but well worth listening to. I did refer now and then to the actual text to read along or reread what I'd heard. James' writing deserves that.

  • An American Tragedy

  • By: Theodore Dreiser
  • Narrated by: Dan John Miller
  • Length: 34 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 531
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 467
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 474

An American Tragedy is the story of Clyde Griffiths, who spends his life in the desperate pursuit of success. On a deeper, more profound level, it is the masterful portrayal of the society whose values both shape Clyde's ambitions and seal his fate; it is an unsurpassed depiction of the harsh realities of American life and of the dark side of the American dream.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • a period piece, still resonant

  • By beatrice on 05-31-12

Excellent narration

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

Reviewed: 10-08-15

If you could sum up An American Tragedy in three words, what would they be?

Sprawling realism as-it-happens

What was one of the most memorable moments of An American Tragedy?

Difficult question. Certainly the portion of the trial with Clyde Griffiths on the stand, as interogated by the DA. Also, the tragic lake drowning scene and Griffith's subsequent flight.

Have you listened to any of Dan John Miller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no.

Any additional comments?

Dan John Miller's narration was excellent. I seriously doubt I could have made it through such a sprawling story without Mr. Miller's read characterization. The story is very interesting, but Dreiser is much in need of an editor.

On the story itself: I kept thinking that Clyde's physical similarity to his cousin Gilbert would somehow be used. It's amazing how close Dreiser stuck to the original true story of Chester Gillette and Grace Brown. It's beyond belief the number of "mistakes" made by Clyde and yet still thinking he could possibly convince anyone that it was an accident or suicide.

After Clyde's conviction, the novel really drags on to his execution. I found all the religious rant and Clyde's "conversion" without any admission of personal responsibility unconvincing. He's amoral and always expecting someone else to help him. He's not a likable character in the end.

I would have liked a more adult-sounding, mature narration for Roberta. I found Sondra, the rich girl love interest, irritating and annoying, with all of her baby talk; we're just told that she was beautiful without a lot of demonstration of how she could have been so alluring as to tempt Clyde to get rid of Roberta.

  • The Ambassadors (Dramatised)

  • By: Henry James, Graham White (dramatisation)
  • Narrated by: Henry Goodman, full cast
  • Length: 1 hr and 53 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

Adapted by Graham White from the Henry James novel that centres on the predicament of Lambert Strether, a 50-something New Englander lately arrived in Paris. Henry Goodman stars as the hapless protagonist in a novel many critics find James' finest.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A brief, charming encapsulation

  • By Zaubermond on 10-24-13

Entertaining way to hear a challenging story

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

Reviewed: 07-31-15

Loved it - actors, production sound effects, story (cut) dramatization. I'd love to have more of James in this format.