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Shelly M. Felton

Gainesville. FL
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  • The Jane Austen BBC Radio Drama Collection

  • Six BBC Radio Full-Cast Dramatisations
  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julie McKenzie
  • Length: 14 hrs and 27 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,743
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,576
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,576

A collection of BBC radio full-cast dramatisations of Jane Austen's six major novels. Jane Austen is one of the finest writers in the English language, and this volume includes all six of her classic novels. Mansfield Park: on a quest to find a position in society, Fanny Price goes to live with her rich aunt and uncle. Northanger Abbey: young, naïve Catherine Morland receives an invitation to stay at the isolated Gothic mansion Northanger Abbey.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Superb acting, but beware of audio idiosyncracies!

  • By Shelly M. Felton on 07-06-16

Superb acting, but beware of audio idiosyncracies!

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

Reviewed: 07-06-16

This audio collection is comprised of the six major Austen novels, abridged and performed by a full cast of exceptional professional performers, including some very famous ones. You should note that the cover art does not list "Emma" among the works performed, but it's in there. These were produced by the BBC, which might make you jump to the conclusion that the audio quality is as superior as the acting, but that would be a mistake. The audio magicians do create the illusions that the characters actually are strolling through gardens, or riding horses, or disporting themselves in ballrooms. But the audio levels are inconsistent. At one moment General Tilney is berating poor Eleanor at full volume, then before you can say "Northanger," Eleanor is apologizing to Catherine sotto voce and you can barely hear her. This sort of thing happens at various times in each of the novels. There is a lot of whispering! I listened to them seated in a fairly quiet room, and frequently had to rewind to hear soft sounds. I imagined it would be very difficult to catch all the dialog if I were listening in a car on a road trip, or walking with earbuds on a windy day. I think background noise would obliterate subtleties of production. Just thought you should know in advance.

Another thing..... the editing is not consistent in transforming these performances from radio to audiobook format. Mansfield Park is presented without attribution to (famous) actors or the writer who adapted it. A few other novels have some passing mention of the cast, while at the very end of the line, "Persuasion" has the cast listed at the beginning AND the end of each episode. This was not a big deal, just seemed sort of slapdash. I guess I would have expected more meticulous attention to detail from the BBC.

Even with the idiosyncrasies of production, these performances were totally worth it, and even though I've read all Miss Austen's novels in print and in audio, I'll cherish these versions too.

66 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Mansfield Park (Naxos Edition)

  • By: Jane Austen
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 16 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,057
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 916
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 918

At the tender age of 10, Fanny Price is 'adopted' by her rich relations and is removed from the poverty of her home in Portsmouth to the opulence of Mansfield Park. The transplantation is not a happy one. Dependent, helpless, neglected and forgotten, Fanny struggles to come to terms with her new life until, tested almost to the limits of endurance, she assumes her rightful role....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Oh such felicity, such gaiety, such rapture!

  • By Neil Chisholm on 02-05-12

Fanny Price, ugh!

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

Reviewed: 08-27-12

Juliet Stevenson's narration is superb in all the audiobooks I've listened to, but even her skill cannot lift Mansfield Park to the heights of Pride and Prejudice. Fanny Price is a drip! Edmund is a doofus! The story is a treadmill of reiteration! But if you feel compelled to read Mansfield Park anyway, this edition is the best I've heard. For those not familiar with Jane Austen's works I recommend Northanger Abbey. It's goofy on purpose.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • The Language of Bees

  • A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes
  • By: Laurie R. King
  • Narrated by: Jenny Sterlin
  • Length: 15 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,649
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,238
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,227

New York Times best-selling author Laurie R. King has won or been nominated for every major award in mystery writing. King's beloved sleuth Mary Russell here attempts to reverse her legendary husband, Sherlock Holmes', greatest failure.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • To all Holmes buff's,

  • By mike on 06-04-10

not to my taste

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-16-09

I've read all the previous Mary Russell novels, but I just couldn't induce myself to finish this one; ennui was overpowering. To my mind, the quality of both the writing and the plotting has deteriorated with each new book. Please... not another crazy religion. No more endless boring discourse on Hebraic minutiae. Annoyingly, Mycroft Holmes is all over the place in this one, not as a genuine character but basically as a shortcut for the author to provide things for Sherlock and Mary. By making things oh so easy for them, drama is garrotted. The narrator does a creditable job on the English characters, but tortures French accents to death. Maybe the ending made the beginning worthwhile, but I didn't stick around to find out.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • The Evil Genius

  • By: Wilkie Collins
  • Narrated by: John Bolen
  • Length: 11 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 50
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 19

Wilkie Collins' most financially successful novel, The Evil Genius, opens with a jury determining the fate of a sea captain whose ship allegedly facilitated a diamond theft. The story develops into a powerful novel of Victorian private life, including deception, adultery, and divorce...

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Story is fine, but not a mystery.

  • By Margaret on 06-06-07

Ruined by inept narration

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-13-09

Lest any reader be deceived by the title of this book, the "evil genius" refers to a general evil spirit or bad influence among the characters, rather than one malevolent person. This is a fairly well-written Victorian melodrama. Interest in the storyline is impeded by narration which is so ridiculously inept, so comically bad, as to induce amazed laughter. Personally, if it were my job to choose a narrator for a novel set in Victorian England and Scotland, I would not choose an American reader with a speech impediment. The Scottish characters sound like an amalgamation of a Swedish Chef, Charlie Chan and the Lucky Charms Leprecaun. The female characters are voiced in breathy falsetto. Every word ending in "ing" is mispronounced. "Singing while walking in the evening" sounds like "Singeen while walkeen in the eveneen." Amazingly, the story was interesting enough for me to accept and overlook these annoyances.
Far better novels available from Audible with similar themes and plotlines comprise The Forsyte Saga, by (Nobel Prize winner) John Galsworthy. The narration of these novels is far better as well.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Graveyard Book

  • By: Neil Gaiman
  • Narrated by: Neil Gaiman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,481
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9,761
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,774

Why we think it’s a great listen: Gaiman’s not just an award-winning author, but a narrator who earns rave reviews – and fields requests from other authors to perform their books, too! Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful!

  • By Paula A Ford on 12-13-09

Imaginative & Entertaining

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-18-08

Neil Gaiman narrates his novel beautifully. I loved the atmosphere he created: a slightly creepy but strangely comfortable vibe. I would like to go live in Bod's graveyard! I would love Silas to be my Guardian! The story and characters are memorable and vivid. I know I'll read this book again and again.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Romeo and Juliet

  • By: William Shakespeare
  • Narrated by: Michael Sheen, Kate Beckinsale, full cast
  • Length: 2 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 99
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 104

Here is the full-cast production of Shakespeare's classic love story, fully dramatized from the complete text, and starring Michael Sheen as Romeo and Kate Beckinsale as Juliet.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sound Quality is the only drawback

  • By Shelly M. Felton on 07-13-08

Sound Quality is the only drawback

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-13-08

The sound quality of this production made me imagine someone propping a microphone in front of a television showing Romeo & Juliet being performed. It's tinny-sounding, and there are background sounds of birds, wind, feet scuffling, etc, which dilute and diminish the voices to a small degree. It's not unbearable, just a bit distracting.
On the positive side, the actors are very good. Listening to this play was different from reading it on paper, or seeing it performed live... I caught different strands of relationship between the characters. The Nurse, played by Fiona Shaw, was especially brilliant.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • The Sword in the Stone

  • By: T. H. White
  • Narrated by: Neville Jason
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 465
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 278
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 286

This is one of the most popular re-tellings of the story of King Arthur. Like The Lord of the Rings, this fantasy novel has been equally popular among younger readers and adults. White takes an inventive approach that involves animals who speak and Robin Hood! A true Arthurian classic.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've been waiting for this...

  • By Shelly M. Felton on 07-01-08

I've been waiting for this...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-01-08

I've been waiting endlessly for this cherished childhood favorite to be released as an audiobook. This edition is the first section of T.H. White's epic "The Once and Future King." This part encompasses King Arthur's early years growing up under Merlin's tutelage at Sir Ector's castle. This book is more lighthearted and joyous than the sections that follow in "The Once & Future King," which are available on Audible as "The Witch in the Wood" and "The Ill-Made Knight." Although this book and the others are meant to go together as an epic work, "The Sword in the Stone" can easily stand alone as an enjoyable novel in its own right.

If I tried to tell you how superbly T.H White writes, you probably wouldn't believe me. The narrator does a smashing job of bringing the dialogue to life. I know I'll be listening to this book again and again over the years.

Sadly, at the time I'm writing this, the final section of "The Once & Future King," which covers the last years of King Arthur, is not yet released in audio format. Hopefully this will be soon be remedied!

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • 'The Witch in the Wood' & 'The Ill-Made Knight'

  • By: T. H. White
  • Narrated by: Neville Jason
  • Length: 13 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 121
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 58

These two stories are the second and third parts of T. H. White's classic and individual fantasy novel of the Arthurian legend. Arthur has become king, Guinevere and Launcelot (The Ill-Made Knight) fall in love, and the kingdom is threatened from the north.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I've been waiting for this...

  • By Shelly M. Felton on 07-01-08

I've been waiting for this...

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-01-08

I've been waiting endlessly for this cherished childhood favorite to be released as an audiobook. This edition is the second and third sections of T.H. White's epic "The Once and Future King." In order to appreciate this audio version, you really should read "The Sword in the Stone" first. It all flows together beautifully.

If I tried to tell you how superbly T.H White writes, you probably wouldn't believe me. The narrator does a smashing job of bringing the dialogue to life. I know I'll be listening to this book and "The Sword in the Stone" again and again over the years.

Sadly, at the time I'm writing this, the final section of "The Once & Future King," which covers the last years of King Arthur, is not yet released in audio format. Hopefully this will be soon be remedied!

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Gramercy Park

  • By: Paula Cohen
  • Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
  • Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 18

Mario Alfieri, the world's most famous tenor, is preparing to make his debut at the Met. As he rents a house facing Gramercy Park, he discovers a pale young woman hiding in its music room. Her love and secrets soon mesmerize the great man. Set in turn-of-the-century New York, this is a tale of passion, intrigue, and murder.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • disturbing

  • By Shelly M. Felton on 04-17-08

disturbing

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-08

The narrator does a creditable job, but the pace of the story seems overwrought and slow. At one point a the narrator says of a character something like "He had never felt so tired in his life." To which I mentally replied "Me too, buddy." But it was just interesting enough for me to keep listening.

Eventually there came some scenes of pedophilia and death that were disturbing and repulsive. You might ask "is it possible to have scenes of pedophilia and death that *aren't* disturbing and repulsive?" And you're right - these subjects are horrible. It doesn't mean that they can't be valid subjects to arise in fiction. But in my own personal opinion, the situations brought forth in this book were too much for me to find any redeeming value in continuing to read it. Just my opinion, and maybe I'm more sensitive than most people. I just thought I would provide my thoughts as a caution to others.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever

  • By: Julia Quinn
  • Narrated by: Jenny Sterlin
  • Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 817
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 689
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 683

Miranda Cheever has been blessed with many things, but great beauty is not among them. Still, when she meets Viscount Tuner, she knows she is meant for him. As the years go by, fate is as kind to Miranda as it is harsh on the Viscount. He's skeptical about love with good reason - but he may be falling for Miranda

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dear Diary, Men are Dumb!

  • By Dasi H on 01-23-13

downhill fast

Overall
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-11-08

In the initial chapters, this book seemed to have potential. The characters had some depth, the story did not seem predictable, and the imagery did not seem contrived or hackneyed. My first impressions did not last. Quickly, the characters became paper dolls, and the plot and language seemed generated by a computer program. On the positive side, the excellent narrator makes the most of a limp tale. If you are looking for a formulaic romance that provides basic entertainment with no intellectual demands, you could do worse. If you're hoping for emotional depth or insight, look elsewhere.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful