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Publisher's Summary

To the Lighthouse is Virginia Woolf’s arresting analysis of domestic family life, centering on the Ramseys and their visits to the Isle of Skye in Scotland in the early 1900s. Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge, Eyes Wide Shut), who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Woolf in the film adaptation of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours, brings the impressionistic prose of this classic to vibrant life.

Split into three parts, the story observes Mrs. Ramsay, Mr. Ramsey, and their children at their vacation house on the Isle of Skye. While the novel follows seemingly trivial events between the family members, the plot takes a backseat to philosophical introspection, which gave the novel its fame as an icon of modernist literature. The Ramseys’ quest to recapture meaning creates a powerful allegory of man’s impermanent battle with the tangible world.

To the Lighthouse is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, featuring the world’s most celebrated actors narrating distinguished works of literature that each star helped select. For more great books performed by Hollywood’s finest, click here.
©1927 Virginia Woolf (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • ESK
  • Moscow, Russia
  • 11-12-12

Stream of consciousness interpreted differently

I tried to be impartial. But maybe that wasn't exactly what I expected. Still I gave it five stars. I've read the book several times and certainly I had my own vision of the Ramsays, and this ran counter to N.Kidman's rendition. It was just different, all the more interesting.
Since the book is not about action, but introspection, the narrator can discover and impart other subtle nuances of meaning that could be lost on or interpreted differently by the reader.
N.Kidman managed to make the narration sound rhythmic and melodious. Definitely her breathiness was sexy. Her pitch range was rather restrained with no paroxysms of emotion. The whole thing was moody and melancholy at times, just the way it should be.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • Sidcup, United Kingdom
  • 11-02-12

A Novel That Helped Me Better Understand Myself

The Narrator:

Nicole Kidman's intonation and reading style is superb, so much of this novel takes place in the female mind/voice and Nicole just nails it. She brings what can be a tricky style to read to life. It seemed to me, that she truly understood the novel and it showed in her reading.

I do have to warn you, she does have a nasty habit of taking sharp intakes of breath in between lines, and I feel this must have produced an editing dilemma. As someone who regularly edits audio, I'm guessing that Nicole must have read at too fast a pace to smoothly edit out these sounds (although you could lower the sound levels and raise them appropriately). It can be quite annoying at first, but you soon get used to it. Ideally these kind of noises should be removed.

Still I can't fault Nicole for inhaling.

The Novel:

It won't be for everyone. It's about thought, perception, transience, meaning, understanding, gender and all kinds of abstract ideas. If you want a straight narrative with clearly defined actions and goals this will be tricky, but I loved it.

The characters and their search for meaning and their approach to understanding really reflected some of the half understood/explored thoughts that I myself have struggled with. Lily Briscoe is possibly my favourite character in any novel, and occasionally Woolf's prose is just stunning.

As I say, To The Lighthouse is written in a style that is destined to alienate some, and enliven others. I found it incredibly rewarding, but it might leave you cold, be warned.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Great Literature? No story!

I know this is considered great literature. I could appreciate a lovely use of language, but nothing more. There was no story or plot to speak of, nothing to make me want to keep listening (other than my desire to be aware of what this book is for when people refer to it). I was aware that there is no plot, from what I’ve read about this book, but I wanted to see for myself why this is considered a great book. I didn’t see the emperor’s clothes. The performance was adequate, but I don’t think she had much to work with. I know that Kidman is an award-winning actress, but she didn’t shine here.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Hard to find fault with this reading

You need to have some patience to listen to this novella. The language is exquisite, the sense of place and time and mood are engrossing. If you listen to audiobooks for plot and excitement, this is not the book for you.

But as a novel that explores character, relationships, the extreme subjectivity of human perception and how time acts upon those things, then this may be one of the most eloquent examinations of those things ever written.

Although I did not give Kidman's narration a full five stars, there is nothing wrong with it. However, two things bothered me. Her pace of reading is quite fast, and this is a problem when the point of view changes from one character to another within a scene. I'm assuming there are scene breaks in the original text version which make clear whose point of view is being used, but in audio form, a slightly slower read, with more pauses between scenes would have been helpful. Secondly, I found her Aussie accent slightly jarring for this particular novel. I think it might have suited a more neutral English or American accent better - just because I have a better capacity for overlooking those accents. It's an entirely culturally subjective view, but then narrators affect us at that level.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Saffy
  • 07-19-13

Worth persevering!

Would you listen to To the Lighthouse again? Why?

Definitely not as although it was an ultimately fulfilling listen it was hard work and demanded a lot of concentration and perseverance.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Loved the quality of the writing.

Have you listened to any of Nicole Kidman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have not listened to Nicole Kidman narrate an audiobook before but think she is an amazing actor. She narrates this book perfectly and evokes the perfect, mesmerising atmosphere.

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

Definitely not! Could only listen in half an hour sittings.

Any additional comments?

I really think this would be an easier read than a listen. I first read this almost 30 years ago and felt it was time to revisit it. The writing is beautiful and I could listen to Nicole Kidman read the beautiful prose for hours. However in order to keep focused and keep up with who was who I had to listen in short bursts.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • MRM
  • 07-08-13

Enjoyable reading of a classic

Nicole Kidman's dry, deep voice really adds to this classic novel. I found it a little hard to get used to her at the beginning, but after a couple of chapters couldn't imagine anyone else reading it. I hadn't read (listened to!) any Virginia Woolf for a long time, and it was a pleasure to rediscover 'To the Lighthouse'. The shifts in perspective are brilliant. I love the way a character's view of another character can shift so many times in a short walk to the village.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Philip
  • 09-04-17

Disappointing :(

I went into this audiobook with high expectations. Admittedly, the coastal settings were evocative, the prose beautiful, the characters interesting. However, I found it somewhat inaccessible and rambling in places, and struggled to empathise with any of the characters. This was due in no small part to Nicole Kidman's rather unemotional (monotonous) narration, delivered at almost breakneck speed. Disappointed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary Wright
  • 05-31-15

Nicol Kidman's voice is grating

Would you try another book written by Virginia Woolf or narrated by Nicole Kidman?

No

What did you like best about this story?

Its got some fantastic character portraits

How could the performance have been better?

If someone else had read it

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I like Virginia Woolf's writing

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Miss_Nessie
  • 11-10-15

Bleak performance

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Only for a lover of Woolf. I find her stream of consciousness works dreary.

Has To the Lighthouse put you off other books in this genre?

Not really.

What didn’t you like about Nicole Kidman’s performance?

Everything. I thought, since she played Woolf in The Hours, she would nail it, but it was very bad and very boring to listen to. Firstly, she assumes her natural American accent, which I found unfitting for a book taking place in Scotland and by an English author. Secondly, her voice is very mellow, it wasn't clean enough to make the performance stand out, it seemed as if she were murmuring the book to herself. There were many instances in which she resorted to vocal fry, which I found particularly unpleasant to listen to. I think she killed the book with her performance.

Any additional comments?

Never ask Nicole Kidman to narrate anything again!

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-04-18

Someone paid Nicole Kidman to read this?!

I tried several times to start listening to this book before returning it as i could not get into it at all. I found Nicole Kidman’s performance incredibly awkward and difficult to follow. She made the oddest intonations resembling a primary school child reading something for the first time. Amazing choice of reader! Big star shines very dull indeed. Meow.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sean
  • 01-22-18

Beautiful narration

Listening to this was almost like listening to petter and beautifully narrated by Nicole Kidman.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • debbie
  • 06-26-17

Masterful use of language

The overall synopsis of the story is very simple and about a family, their holiday within Skye and whether they will go to see a lighthouse which is situated on a rock just out to sea. What on paper appears to be a very boring and strange story when it is actually read suddenly becomes more alive.

What the story is actually about is the individual thoughts and their thought process. It is a book which is entirely in the moment and with the strange random thoughts that often ping into people’s minds.

For me what brought the book alive was Woolf’s masterful use of language; the beauty and weird nature of words which can evoke so much. I loved the sometimes rhythmic words, the use of poems and reiteration of the same word. The impact of these was lovely and I found at times that I just wanted all these words to wash over me. The impact of this was that I found that I sometimes did not pay enough attention to listening to the story and found that I was a bit lost as to what was happening.

I think this is a book which requires repeat listening to both fully understand the linear story and also to begin to get to grips with each characters individual consciousness.

A tough book but one which is worthwhile!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • ilaria cacciola
  • 03-04-17

An amazingly written novel "to the lighthouse"

I had in my mind Virginia Wolf played by Nicole Kidman in the film the hours which was the previous title of Mrs Dalloway hence why choosing her voice for the narration of " to the lighthouse". I find that her reading and intonation are impeccable. Highly recommended

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cathy Mc Grath
  • 05-08-16

Beautiful writing read seamlessly

A beautifully written book with such vivid descriptions of surroundings and characters brought to life through the superb reading using the words the author so carefully wove onto the pages.

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  • Leyla
  • 11-23-17

A minimalist classic

I'll never get over how Virginia Woolf can extract, bottle and stopper the mood of a whole life in a brief moment. Originally, the plot of this novel never appealed to me. A delayed family trip to a lighthouse is hardly thrilling synopsis stuff.

I'd read Orlando, Mrs Dalloway and The Waves first. But I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I'd place it as a close second to Orlando as my favourite Woolf work.

Fair warning: it is slow. All of Woolf's novels are by our poor attention standards, and that is a big part of their beauty. It's like watching a moth get slowly caught in amber.

Nicole Kidman is an excellent narrator. Her voice is clear and she adds a thoughtful element all her own to Virginia's beautiful prose. You have the feeling that she loves this book, these characters and their frailties.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jenny
  • 02-19-16

slow

not my cup of tea! iI found the narration also very slow and tedious. Did not finish.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful