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Romeo and Juliet: A Novel Audiobook

Romeo and Juliet: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, December 2016 - Just as Shakespeare borrowed from Arthur Brooke's The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet as a means to invent a unique dramatization of his own, author David Hewson uses this audio adaptation to explore and expand the various backstories of its characters - their grudges, fears, and motives - allowing previously minor characters to flourish and the stakes to reach an all new high. Actor Richard Armitage makes exhilarating choices in his narration: Juliet becomes a fierce heroine in the throes of an existential crisis; Romeo a soft-spoken emo poet; Mercutio a swaggering bad boy who'd be quite at home in a Guy Ritchie film; and Tybalt a slithering, blood-hungry goon. Taking Hewson's lead, Armitage is more than game to follow these characters to new and unexpected places. And, indeed, this story does not end quite like you'd expect. —Doug, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Exclusively written for Audible, only available in audio

"I think Romeo and Juliet is the greatest, most tragic love story ever told. What David Hewson did with this script is so exciting to me. I really love the fact that he followed avenues that Shakespeare suggested but didn't necessarily detail in depth. If you want to immerse yourself in a warm bath of Garganega and the heat of Verona and hear a brilliant story about a young woman who is challenging the restraints of her time, listen to this audiobook, which has romance, poetry, politics, and humor to spare." (Narrator Richard Armitage)

It's a story you think you know: the age-old tale of "star-cross'd lovers"; two families at war; a romance, so pure and absolute, fated for a tragic end. It's a story so thoroughly embedded in our culture, and so frequently retold. Yet, nothing captures the spark, the possibility, and the surprise of Shakespeare's work quite like this....

In Romeo and Juliet: A Novel, author David Hewson reworks and expands on the classic story so that it becomes something richer, something new and entirely its own. Much more than a simple love story, it is a brilliant examination of young versus old, hope against despair, and, for Juliet, the search for individual identity at a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel.

An original production commissioned by Audible, Romeo and Juliet: A Novel marks the second pairing of David Hewson and actor Richard Armitage, whose previous partnership resulted in Audible's 2014 Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel. Hewson's talent for writing for audio is undeniable, and he finds his perfect vocal foil in Armitage, an actor of immense range and absorbing intensity. Together, they bring you a familiar story told in a surprising way - with an ending you might not expect.

Bonus: Audiobook includes an afterword written and narrated by David Hewson.

About the author: David Hewson is a British author of more than 20 works of fiction, including the Nic Costa detective series, set in contemporary Italy, and three novels based on the hit TV series, The Killing. For Audible, Hewson contributed to the serial novel The Chopin Manuscript, winner of the Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year. And, with A.J. Hartley, Hewson has adapted Shakespeare twice before: Macbeth: A Novel, narrated by Alan Cumming, and Audible's 2014 Audiobook of the Year Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel, performed by Richard Armitage.

About the narrator: Richard Armitage is a British film, television, theater, and voice actor. A graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Armitage landed his first leading role in the British television show North & South. Peter Jackson cast Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the company of dwarves in The Hobbit films, bringing him international recognition. Since then, Armitage has appeared in numerous productions, including widely-praised performances on stage in The Crucible and Love, Love, Love, along with acclaimed roles on TV in NBC's Hannibal and Berlin Station on Epix.

©2016 David Hewson (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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What the Critics Say

"Consummate actor Richard Armitage narrates this dynamic reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. It's an ideal construct for those reluctant to pursue Shakespeare. In addition to using contemporary slang, the author gives the followers of the Montague and Capulet families street cred: They wear red or blue feathers in their hats. Armitage makes even secondary characters unique, with Romeo's and Juliet's fathers sounding like the bitter old men they are. The standout is Juliet's nurse, who provides comic relief. Chapter transitions are faultless, and descriptions of people and places are stellar. Juliet's social conscience, specifically her desire to teach the peasants to read, adds further depth. Hewson boldly alters the story's conclusion. In an author's note, Hewson explains that Shakespeare was inspired by an Italian play similar to Romeo and Juliet. Hewson adds that to him the story is about the contrast between older and younger generations as they react to change." (AudioFile Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (464 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elizabeth 12-14-16
    Elizabeth 12-14-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Story and The Voice"

    A masterful retelling of a classic tale, this adaptation astounds. The fleshing out of a character such as Juliet results in a story which is relatable to this modern generation. The struggles of girls the world over - for autonomy, individuality and freedom - is captured in this one intelligent, headstrong girl.

    The pacing of the story ensures that ones imagination is free to soar. Descriptives are kept to a minimum, while being sufficient to act as a spring board.

    Narration...well, what can one say?...the rich chocolate voice of Richard Armitage, and the vocal characterizations he presents are a joy to the ear.

    Congratulations Mr. Hewson, this is indeed a triumph!

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 12-13-16
    David P. McGivern Vancouver, BC Canada 12-13-16 Member Since 2017

    retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful, Imaginative"

    This is so very, very good.

    A million years ago, when I was a young teenager, I was captivated by the 1968 Zeffirelli film/interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, and very seldom does any production come close to that initial charm. This does. A different forum, I agree, but the combination of Mr. Hewson's interpretation of Shakespeare [he does not follow of the play completely] and Mr. Armitage's superb, wonderful, wonderful narration makes this a five star rating for me.

    I've been an Audible customer for almost a decade now, many many books, and more and more I choose the narrator first, the subject second; British narrators first, everybody else second. Add in Shakespearean acting experience for the narrator, and everything comes together.

    Highly recommended.

    25 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Fan 12-13-16
    Amazon Fan 12-13-16

    Cindy, Atwater CA

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    "Loved it!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I'm always a little skeptical of actors narrating a book. But, Mr. Armitage does an EXCELLENT job in his narration. Really liked the book, as well. It's a retelling of Romeo & Juliet, more in depth giving backgrounds on other characters. Written w/ a 3rd party voice, which I really enjoyed. It's also written in "simple" English, not old English (The's and Thow's). Much easier to listen to. Thank you David Hewson for the rewrite and Richard Armitage for fantastic narration.


    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    06-09-17
    06-09-17
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    "Outstanding! "

    Thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant narration as well as the radical end. Took one breath.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    SH 05-08-17
    SH 05-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Hewson & Armitage - Romeo & Juliet"
    What made the experience of listening to Romeo and Juliet: A Novel the most enjoyable?

    Richard Armitage's amazing voice, of course!


    Which character – as performed by Richard Armitage – was your favorite?

    No surprise, probably the nurse. Richard Armitage does such a great job with character voices, and especially quirky older ones!


    Any additional comments?

    Hewson is an amazing writer, and his Hamlet collaboration with Armitage is one of my very favorite audiobooks. Somehow I was not quite satisfied with the ending, perhaps because the original story is almost archetypal to me - it's probably just me, though as it's quite well written. Knowing it's switched up a bit keeps you on your toes while listening, in a way. I like the way Hewson fleshed out the personalities of Romeo and Juliet, and "modernized" them, if you will. Richard Armitage doesn't "read" audiobooks, he "portrays" them! I can read much faster than I can listen to audiobooks, but the way Armitage performs them makes it an experience! (And I could never speed up his reading, that's heresy!) I highly recommend Romeo and Juliet to you!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ginger 02-14-17
    Ginger 02-14-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Not your English teacher's Romeo and Juliet"
    If you could sum up Romeo and Juliet: A Novel in three words, what would they be?

    Innovative, passionate, unique


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Juliet, she is the perfect example of a medieval woman born into the rebirth of Europe. How do you shake off tradition and revolutionize? She has to follow the directives of society but this novelization shows the depth of her character. The reading of Richard Armitage captures her pluckiness, desires, and loyalty to her family.


    What about Richard Armitage’s performance did you like?

    Simple the voices. Each character had their own voice and vocal pattern, which made the story very vivid and almost as if the reader was watching a one man show of the play.


    If you could take any character from Romeo and Juliet: A Novel out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Probably Juliet, mostly because of my fascination with history and gender studies. Also it would be fun to poke her brain about Italian artwork that was referenced throughout the story.


    Any additional comments?

    The author did an amazing job on his research. His description of the plague and the effect that had on people won me over immediately. This is coming from a history buff and teacher.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rahni 01-12-17
    Rahni 01-12-17 Member Since 2010
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    "A 5-star listen"

    Another wonderful retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story. I heartily applaud the author's decision to raise Juliet's age to 16 (the same age as previous-to-Shakespeare versions of the story), instead of Shakespeare's absurdly youngyoungyoung 13 years. Setting the story in 1499 really added a wonderful historical depth to the issues of the day as well. Hewson used a deft hand to help immerse the reader back into the high hopes, dizzy passions, and the optimistic and ambitious social pursuits of the teenage mind. I enjoyed the ride.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 12-28-16
    Mary 12-28-16 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting author's note at end"

    An engaging retelling of a familiar story with an extra twist. The historical notes at end are beneficial.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Leonard Nashville, TN USA 12-09-16
    Amy Leonard Nashville, TN USA 12-09-16 Member Since 2016

    I'm a firm believer in lifelong learning.

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    "Ambrosia for the ears."

    David Hewson takes a popular story most widely known through Shakespeare, and creates a stand alone masterpiece full of refreshing and exquisite details that ensnares imagination and gives new perspective to a classic tale. The extremely gifted voice of Richard Armitage brings each character to life with unique and delightful intonation...ambrosia for the ears. A perfect gift for anyone.

    19 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah D. Gallant 04-20-17 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic!"

    Amazing production. Armitage's narration skills are on point through the entire novel. The novel itself does an excellent job fleshing out the parts missing between the lines of this famous play.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • faizel kimera
    12/25/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "charmed"

    charming. so vivid and beautifully crafted, both story and reading. recommend! you won't be disappointed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Dorothea
    Germany
    12/18/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A new view on an old story that actually is very current..."

    This story is a lot about Juliet.
    A girl, a young woman fascinated by what renaissance promises to bring. A teenager, much like we all were as teenagers or as our daughters are at that age.
    Only by telling the story not in (of course very beautiful) verses, but in prose it nearly becomes a story of today. The last 500 years have not changed much in the feelings of teenaged first love. And as well not in the senselessness of many hostilities, be it in families, between counties or for what reason ever.
    The message of this piece is so up to date.
    David Hewson has found beautiful words, that serve the old story and at the same time bring it to our time.
    Richard Armitage has again delivered a great piece of storytelling. Listening to him makes me often forget, that it's just one man narrating.
    This audiobook is like some of my favourite books...destined to be listened to again...and again...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Kenny
    4/4/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Wonderfully enjoyable!"
    Any additional comments?

    Really like all the characters, well voiced by Richard Armitage for most, some older characters such as Juliet's mother I am not as keen on. However, the story is intriguing and very well written. We may all know how this story pans out, but it is such a joy to listen to it in this way...'A Novel'. Hamlet is next on the list after this...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • sarah
    3/13/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful Version "

    Truly beautiful. I loved every minute of this well read version of a timeless classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. K. Sowden
    UK
    3/13/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful version"

    Not a rewrite or a translation of Shakespeare but a reimagining of the two tragic lovers. Beautifully read by Richard Armitage - in my opinion the best narrator there is.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Donnocha
    3/4/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful."

    A brilliant (retelling) of an age old tale. Full of suspense and drama and wonderfully read by Richard Armitage. Definitely a book that I will listen to again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard Southworth
    1/16/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant, fleshed out version of a familiar tale"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Romeo and Juliet: A Novel to be better than the print version?

    This version may suit the expectations of modern audiences better, as it has more fleshed-out characters, and better explains why Romeo and Juliet are attracted to each other beyond love at first sight.


    Which character – as performed by Richard Armitage – was your favourite?

    Armitage shows great versatility in his character voices for this production; aside from some occasionally odd choice of accents, his voices all seem to fit the characters they are for. My favourite character was Juliet, who is given a lot of depth: it would be easy for even this version of Juliet to be a cliché of a headstrong young woman who just wants to be free, but she is given plenty of unique thoughts, ideas and wit to make her an interesting character.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    "As a century ends, passion is born."


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this audiobook. While it generally sticks to the original story, I liked most of the changes and original scenes that exist. I enjoyed the detail with which it describes Verona, and the story's historical and geographical context, and the depth it gives to the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • anne hunt
    1/15/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A marriage made in heaven"

    The marriage made in heaven for me is the combination of Mr. Hewson's brilliant storytelling and beautiful writing and Mr. Armitage's wonderful narration bringing all those characters to life and painting such vivid pictures with his voice. Took my breath away to hear him speak the opening passage from Shakespeare's play in the prelude to Mr Hewson's final comments! Wow,so beautiful. My favourite moments have to be the scene in the garden when Romeo &Juliet first meet and the balcony moments, so passionate but tender . There were lots of moments when certain characters made me laugh out loud, especially the nurse but also Nico,the apothecary with his down to earth take on his masters and life in general..As a woman who has been lucky enough to live in a time and place where I have had the freedom to live my life as I wish, my heart went out to this Juliet who represents many women who for centuries have been supressed and opressed.. Thank you for letting her survive the carnage Mr. Hewson.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs. Mary Y. Berry
    England
    1/4/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a story i didnt want to end"
    What did you like most about Romeo and Juliet: A Novel?

    everything it was so good


    What did you like best about this story?

    everything the voices the pronuncation


    What does Richard Armitage bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    see above the beautiful voices . the expression in those voices


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

    the whole thing was a moving experence the end made my eyes water


    Any additional comments?

    the most beautiful and epic storytelling . i love my audible books but this i listend to with my headphones on when i went to bed i didnt want it to end

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Jules
    12/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Romeo and Juliet the Novel"

    I highly recommend this, it is beautifully written and Richard Armitage narrates all the characters perfectly. The author has taken great care to research the period it was set in, customs, expectations, and the concerns of the day are addressed. I really enjoyed the characters and this I know will be a book I'll return to again and again.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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