The Devil comes to Moscow; but he isn't all bad. Pontius Pilate sentences a charismatic leader to his death, but yearns for redemption. And a writer tries to destroy his greatest tale....
As much a historical document as it is a novel, this 1946 winner of the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award is the poignant and unblinkingly honest story of Lutie Johnson....
Vile Bodies is both a celebration of the hedonism of the young and a warning to those who believe that their licence to indulge is infinite and unquestionable....
Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen....
For 12,000 years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying....
James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil-rights movement with his eloquent manifesto....
For William ‘Billy’ Fisher, an energetic imagination makes life tolerable, but well-nigh intolerable for all around him. He lies his way into and out of every situation, making any promise to get him out of trouble, thereby creating ever more tortuous entanglements to be wriggled out of in the future.
Billy dreams of escaping the dull drudgery of his life at home with his parents and grandmother in the monotony of his stifling Yorkshire hometown. He has three fiancées and a truly dead-end job as an undertaker’s clerk, but dreams of becoming a writer for a comedian and escaping his everyday life. Unable to separate fantasy from reality, Billy becomes embroiled in a mess no lie will eradicate; the web of lies will bring many a chuckle to listeners, but will the outcome of his mistruths be quite as funny to Billy? Quasi-comic, this novel has enjoyed many interpretations, as a film, play, musical, TV series and now, an unabridged audiobook.
Would you listen to Billy Liar again? Why?
Yes - it's the unusual combination of a classic novel which is hugely entertaining, and John Simm's performance takes the experience to a whole different level.
What other book might you compare Billy Liar to, and why?
It's a product of the 60s, so could be compared to 'Look Back in Anger', 'Poor Cow' or 'Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner' or other books from the 'kitchen sink' genre, but it really is unique in its characterisation and its combination of comedy, escapism and social commentary.
What does John Simm bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
John Simm's narration is spectacularly good - getting a really classy actor to read an audiobook is one thing, but Simm inhabits the main character in a way I've not heard another actor achieve. He simply is Billy. His accents throughout are pitch perfect, but it is his performance as Billy which is the real standout.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, if I could have I would.
Any additional comments?
Hugely entertaining, highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Billy Fisher has a remarkable imagination. This gets him through the day!
For those around him, Billy's imagination makes life very difficult.
He lies his way through every situation, constantly promising what he cannot deliver.
Billy dreams of liberating himself from the drudgery around him.
If I hadn't of been studying this book, I would not have continued listening to it.
I enjoyed this very much and was sorry to reach the end. I am a Lancashire lass but related very well to the setting and culture and ordinary people of Yorkshire and the era this was set in, having grown up then myself. Billy is endearing, pitiful and horrible in equal measure. The writing is also down to earth, prosaic and poetic in equal measure. A story with parts that are almost Monty Python, but also a haunting book in a certain way. I doubt that anyone who has read this will forget it. John Simm reads it perfectly and makes it real. His portrayal of every character is wonderful.