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Publisher's Summary

As soon as Octavia caught a glimpse of Jeremy, she knew she just had to have him. It didn't matter that he'd just got engaged to an old school friend of hers, Gussie. 

An invitation to join Gussie and Jeremy for a cosy weekend on a canal barge came like a gift from the gods. However, the other part of the foursome was tycoon Gareth Llewellyn, and he certainly managed to thwart her plans....

©1977 Jilly Cooper (P)2018 W.F. Howes Ltd

What listeners say about Octavia

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  • perfectionist
  • 07-22-18

The narration leaves much to be desired

I first read Octavia in the early 80s, when it seemed a very racy read. Now it's certainly something of a period piece (and the social mores of the 1970s often strike an unpleasant note) but putting that to once side I still revisit the book every once in a while, usually when I'm ill in bed – it's a true comfort read.

Re. the audio, the narration is execrable. The straight 'reading voice' isn't too bad but there are loads of jarring mispronunciations ('John Don' for John Donne [should be pronounced John Dun] and 'langorius' for langorous were just a couple) and the character voices and dialogue are APPALLING. Octavia's supposedly plummy accent keeps sliding into estuarine English and Gareth's rather womanly sounding 'Welsh' accent was dreadful and stripped the character of any sex appeal. Joan Seaford, the snooty company wife with a voice supposedly honed from shouting at gun dogs and charity committees, was given a Northern accent. She and Ricky should have sounded like Jennifer and Brian Aldridge from the Archers. As a previous reviewer said, Gussie sounded as if she was constantly on the verge of an asthma attack, while sexy Robert Redford lookalike Jeremy sounded like a pompous headmaster. Come one Audible, you must be able to do better than this?

2 people found this helpful

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  • Maggie
  • 04-02-18

Old book, still fun, but killed by narration

(edited previous review). So many of Jilly Cooper's well loved novels are being recorded, and that's great. Thank you Audible.
Amongst them are the set of 'single name' books Jilly wrote over 40 years ago. Anyone hooked on the Rutminster Chronicles may not realise that these, the Harriet / Prudence / Octavia's etc pre-date Riders and Rupert Campbell Black by a long way. All of them are of their time, novels of the 70s, and that shows..
Octavia is not nearly as nice a person as, say, Harriet or Imogen, two of my favourites in the series. She is someone who is beautiful, has always been rich without having to work for anything, and is accustomed to getting anything she wants. In this case her old school friend's boyfriend, and she has no qualms about how she does it.. But it's a classic case of beware of what you wish for...
Even after this time gap it's still an enjoyable read with a cast of character sketches so clear that you can visualise the people exactly (I think we've all met a ghastly Pamela), and as Octavia is forced to turn over a new leaf in her own life eventually reaches the usual Cooper happy ending.
The only fly in the ointment of this new Audible drive to record Jilly's novels is that there seems to be no consistency to the narrators, and the standard does differ. I found this narration dire. She can’t help her rather sharp reedy voice but can help her mispronunciations and range of dodgy accents. Gareth in particular, who should be a really forceful Welsh character, is anything but. His accent veers everywhere and the light camp voice he’s lumbered with couldn’t fit the character less. That the ‘hero’ doesn’t work at all is a great disappointment, hence the low score both for the narration and overall.
Still a daft, funny, book so if you remember it with fondness my advice would be to bin this and just re-read it...

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  • Becky L
  • 05-07-18

Better in print and in the 70s

So, I listened to the audio of this having read it many years ago. However, whatever you do when you read/listen to this, you have to judge it as a 1977 book and not by the standard of today’s society as it just wouldn’t pass muster.

It was as I remember it - a book about a woman who tries to project a strong image using her sexuality, but really just needs a man to look after her. There were parts which I’m sure would make any millennial cringe, but it had that JC touch that still makes it a good read today (with the date caveat).

This is the fourth book in this series and for me, yet again, the narrator hasn’t quite meshed with the book. I found Octavia’s haughty voice annoying but nowhere near as distracting as Gareth’s on-and-off again Welsh accent. I could have stomached the not-quite-Welsh voice but it was way too soft and didn’t at all project the smart and ruthless businessman he was meant to be.

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  • amanda c.
  • 04-21-18

hilarious Welsh "accent"

As with almost all of the recent Jilly Cooper releases, the narration leaves a lot to be desired. I read this book when I was a teenager, and it's still fun. The Welsh accent was at first annoying, and then amusing :D

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  • Charlotte Gatehouse
  • 07-28-21

amazing

deffo a product of its time but such an amazing love story. the twists and turns kept me captivated and the romance between (spoiler!) gareth and octavia was swoonworthy. brilliant narration, parker-naples voice really suited the main character. finished it in under 24 hours, would definitely recommend

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  • Denise Garrell
  • 10-26-20

God awful reading and tragic accents!!

It was hard to keep going with this because of the God awful reading and tragic accents!

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  • Donna Jones
  • 10-09-20

Welsh accent was appalling

If your welsh don’t listen as when ever the welsh character speaks you will be subject to the worst accent ever. I went from Scotland,via England , skirted wales and ended up in Ireland . Shame as the rest was really good . Story is fun and if you like this series of books you will enjoy this one .

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  • Podavies
  • 08-26-20

Awful narration

Great story, great characters completely ruined by the awful narration. Gareth is supposed to be a hard man from the valleys not a mincing softie!

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  • Hazel Mynott
  • 08-14-20

Spoiled by Awful Narrator

Love this book and as sight now not good, i thought I'd treat myself to having it read for me.
So spoilt by the terrible narrator not suitable at all and her accents and trying to talk like a man were appalling
Get a new narrator fast!

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  • Penster
  • 06-10-20

romantic fiction at its best

love Jilly cooper and this is an old favourite of mine. I've read the book many times and listening to it on Audible has been like revisiting an old friend.