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Publisher's Summary

Wildly popular upon its release, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a Gothic novel of undeniable charm and power. The virtuous and loving Emily, the young protagonist, finds herself in the care of her aunt following the death of her father. Her aunt promptly marries the villain Montoni, a cruel and calculating man whose scheming leads him to lock both women in the dark and winding castle of Udolpho. Will they survive to tell of its terrors?

Public Domain (P)2016 Naxos AudioBooks

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

WARNING! BAD ACCENT ALERT!

What did you like best about The Mysteries of Udolpho? What did you like least?

While Karen Cass does a fine job when using her own voice, she made the ill-advised decision to perform the spoken dialogue parts in a cringe-inducing and amateurish "French" accent, that becomes more and more onerous as the hours pass. And seeing as this is a 30+ hour book, that is onerous indeed. Audible really needs to make it a point to capture a representative passage for their sample narration, as if I had heard the baffling use of cartoonish accents, I would have sought another edition.

What aspect of Karen Cass’s performance would you have changed?

As above. It is understood the characters are speaking French, there is no need to flog us with inane accents to remind us of this at every spoken dialogue section.

Any additional comments?

I'm not commenting to review the book per se. It's a very long classic gothic novel, proceed at your own risk.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Grant
  • Arlington, VA, United States
  • 09-20-16

Dull, wordy, plodding

Full disclosure -- I have only listened to about a third of the book so far, but I may never finish it. The first 7 hours or so have been dull and slow and swimming in elegant but pointless verbiage. This is a gasbag of a book. I actually burst out laughing at one point -- the word 'blather' came to mind. For the love of God, get on with it! What is this all about and why should I care?

On the plus side, if you enjoy florid descriptions of nature, this is the book for you. If you love descriptions of other people appreciating nature and rhapsodizing to each other about it at great length, you have found Nirvana. Aficionados of stilted dialog will also be gratified. Apparently the gothic part of the book is coming, and with it some signs of life, but I don't think I will be along for the ride.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Why All This Weeping and Wailing?

As a rule, I have little patience for reviews that condemn books merely for being works of their time. When dipping into an Arthurian Romance—the original works, not the modern knock-offs—expect several hundred yards of love-sickness, painstakingly delineated. Turning to the Victorians, don’t be surprised to find heavy-handed (Dickens) or witty (Trollope) critiques of society. And the social attitudes expressed in classic hardboiled detective fiction is what makes them, well, hardboiled. I get it. But Ann Radcliffe has pushed me over the edge. In the interest of fair play, I perused the introductory essay in our paperback copy of Udolpho, hoping my irritation and impatience were misplaced. But even there I found only faint praise. And we all know what that does.

“…Mrs. Radcliffe wrapped these themes about with such an abundant eiderdown of ‘the picturesque’ a to make them still more acceptable to the appetites of her day, infused with a lyrical sense heightened by the poems she interspersed—‘all pleasing, but rather monotonous’, according to Coleridge—usually written by her talented heroines to enhance the effect of, as a rule, contemplative moments.” Bonamy Dombrée, the scholar who wrote that (Oxford University Press, 1966), takes some pains to explain why Udolpho has survived so long after its 1794 publication. I suspect the biggest reason is Northanger Abbey and, though Professor Dombrée suggests that, “it was not quite fair of Jane Austen” to tweak Mrs. Radcliffe’s delineations of human nature, that “not quite” speaks volumes.

Having enjoyed Northanger Abbey more than once, my real motivation for listening to Udolpho was to understand Austen’s novel better. But Austen led me to expect something far more lurid and outlandish, and those thwarted expectations may be a source of some of my impatience with Udolpho. All supernatural phenomena are soon explained, vile tortures are merely alluded to, and our villain Montoni’s direst threats go unfulfilled. As Theresa, the level-headed old family retainer asks Emily, “Why all this weeping and wailing?”

Though this is an historical romance, Radcliffe fails to convince us that the action occurs in 1584; references to period clothing, food and events are rare. But the chief obstacle to a willing suspension of disbelief may be her importation of late 18th Century Romanticism into late Renaissance France and Italy (“romantic” is used repeatedly, though an adjective—indeed, a concept—that didn’t exist in 1584). But no matter; we're told civilization is corrupt and corrupting; true spiritual uplift can only be achieved amid towering mountains and plunging cataracts. And, as Professor Dombrée says, we get scads of those, along with shady woods, verdant fields, ripening vines and purpling sunsets, none of which fail to transport our heroine into paroxysms of pseudo-religious ecstasy. For all her father’s warning about the cult of sensibility (another late 18th Century import) Emily only stops weeping when she’s blushing or fainting—or throwing together those poems, complete with perfect rhymes and regular meter, at a moment’s notice (apparently without the aid of pen and paper). Thank goodness Karen Cass’ diction is clear enough that I could race through the final hours at 1.25 or even 1.5 speed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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it has everything

the story was great, twists and turns in the dark passages. the narrator was perfect.

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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

hooked

my first meeting with this novel and I am going to miss it..... beautiful reading, which helps you fall into the fanciful fairy tale.