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Publisher's Summary

An utterly compelling historical mystery, in the tradition of Umberto Eco and John Fowles. The setting is England in the 1660s. Oliver Cromwell's short-lived republic is a thing of the past, and Charles II has been restored to the throne. At Oxford's New College, fellow Robert Grove is found dead under suspicious circumstances, and a young woman stands accused. We hear from four witnesses: a physician hungry for fame, the son of an alleged traitor, the king's chief cryptographer, and a renowned Oxford antiquarian - only one of whom is telling the rather extraordinary truth. Who is it? Pears' skillful plot-weaving will keep you guessing until the final seconds.
©1998 Iain Pears (P)1998 Audio Renaissance Tapes, a Division of CPU, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Deftly plotted, briskly written...Iain Pears has brass and talent to spare." (Newsweek)

What listeners say about An Instance of the Fingerpost

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Eviscerated rather than abridged

I confess that when I downloaded this, I didn't notice that itt was abridged. I had read the book years ago and thought it was incredibly good: a thought-provoking look at a society just beginning to think scientifically, wrapped in a shifting story centered on the mysterious central character.

To my horror, the "abridgment" simply cuts out all the meat of the story with an ax, leaving us with a threadbare little Rashomon story. It's a horrible thing to inflict on a magnificent book.

Having said that... The reader is truly wonderful. Not only does he bring the accents of the characters to life (including Italian-accented British English and Robert Boyle's Scots burr), but he can switch accents in mid-sentence to accommodate both a narrator and a conversation.

My advice is read the book -- it's terrific. Look for other readings by Paul Michael. And with any luck someday an unabridged "Instance of the Fingerpost" will join the unabridged "Stone's Fall" (another shockingly good book by Iain Pears, this one about the rise of international capitalism... Wrapped in a very readable mystery) on Audible's virtual shelves.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

An Instance of the Fingerpost

Read the book, eschew the audio. The abridgment edits out too much of the interesting historical detail, a pleasure of historical fiction, which set the milieu of the times and provides rich context for the characters and plot.

28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Work of True Genius

This book is not for those with a short attention span. However, it is one of the best books I have ever read. I read it once - I'll read it again. And, I'll be listening to it again as well. It's THAT good.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Highly Recommended

This is one of the few titles that I consistently recommend when asked, "what should I read?" It is an engaging story that gets richer and more surprising as the story unfolds.

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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chops out the exquisite intelligence of this book

WARNING : Abridged. badly. Read the book. Narrator was very good, too bad he did not get to read the entire story as written. RECOMMEND also "The Dream of Scipio" by same author, about the twilight of the Roman Empire.

8 people found this helpful

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Waiting for the unabridged version!

While reading the paperback, I decided to also listen to the abridgment. What a disappointment! You cannot even make sense of the plot because of the gaps in the narrative. An unabridged version was already produced, narrated by multiple artists including the great Gareth Armstrong. What are you waiting for, Audible?

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Warning: abridged

I read the book when it was first published and loved it. Having forgotten most of the plot, I thought it would be great to relive the tale with audible. I was enjoying it until some plot points weren’t making sense, so I went to my old copy of the book and realized that these points weren’t making sense because the book had been VERY abridged for the audio version.
As others note, the abridgment takes lots of the wonderful detail out of the book, but for me, it also gave a wholly different impression of the characters and scenes than I had when I later re-read the actual book.
(e.g., I don’t think any mention of Wallis having a wife and two sons is mentioned in the audio version because it came as a surprise to me when I re-read that section).
I wish it had not be abridged because the actor reading the book did a marvelous job of brining the characters to life. I would definitely listen to another book read by him.
I ended up listening to the whole book, though, because I needed something to do on a long drive. But you need to read the book to get the full picture.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

An Instance of the Fingerpost

I loved the book! I was so excited to find it on audible that I bought and downloaded it before noticing that it was "eviscerated" . This is a crime. There's no excuse.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

terrible abridgement

I am enjoying reading this book, but this abridged audio version is a hatchet job.

1 person found this helpful

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A worthwhile listen

Let us go back hundreds of years to witness the horrors and wonders of people doing what they believed was right, morally and religiously, but blundering as they did so. Not so different from today...

I recommend this book for Mr. Pears' apt descriptions and solid knowledge of the period, its people and customs.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • kb
  • 10-14-11

Great book, strange narration

This is an excellent story but the narration is a bit off - terrible accents and hollow echoey sounds. Shame.

1 person found this helpful