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Publisher's Summary

The Waves traces the lives of six friends from childhood to old age. It was written when Virginia Woolf was at the height of her experimental powers, and she allows each character to tell their own story, through powerful, poetic monologues. By listening to these voices struggling to impose order and meaning on their lives, we are drawn into a literary journey that stunningly reproduces the complex, confusing, and contradictory nature of human experience. It is read with affection and skill by Frances Jeater.

Public Domain (P)2014 Naxos AudioBooks

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What listeners say about The Waves

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The Eternal Renewal

"Yes, this is the eternal renewal, the incessant rise and fall and fall and rise again."
- Virginia Woolf, The Waves

I've read several of Woolf's books. I've loved them all: Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Jacob's Room, A Room of One's Own, Orlando. But I think I loved this one the most. I'm not sure. But the book is swelling in me tonight. It makes me travel back to the night when with my wife's grandfather and uncles, as I ritually dressed my wife's father for burial. It makes me think of all those moments in my life that Virginia's words and phrases could make make alive and make poetic. She could catch the fire of life (and death) and could etch its several meanings on a leaf, or on a wave, or in the stars.

The book is experimental, but also rather simple. It is a narrative with six voices (Bernard, Louis, Neville, Jinny, Susan, and Rhoda) with the silent presence of their dead friend Percival. It is a story about narrative, life, growing old, death, friendship. It is a choir of six, singing a song we ALL sing. It is lovely. My wife isn't a fan of Virginia Woolf. She isn't her cup of tea. My wife prefers Toni Morrison. But I, I prefer Virginia Woolf. I don't mind the abstractions. I feel the weight. I float up and down in her prose. I like recognizing T.S Eliot (perhaps in Louis) or E.M Forster (Bernard?) or Lytton Strachey (Neville). I like seeing these men and women as pieces of Virginia Woolf. I love how she folds them into her book. How she folds them into herself.

12 people found this helpful

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Not an easy read but worth it

A must if one wants to get a full sense of Virginia Woolf, but not an easy book in any sense. Beautifully written, beautifully read, very personal portrait of characters as they develop through life, yet a portrait on the author herself in all her facets. One of those books that stay with the reader whether they want it or not.

22 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

This is with a doubt the most beautiful novel I have both read and listened to. Frances Jeater's performance was magnificent. And as for Woolf's novel? Without a doubt, one of the best books ever written. I gasped as Jeater read the last line, she delivered it so beautifully.

6 people found this helpful

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Poor plot and disliked the performance

Didn't finish the book. I couldn't get used to the narrator inflections and style. I found the plot boring and uninteresting. Prose was inspired and poetic but that's the only good thing I found about this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Not interesting

Did not finish listening to this book. I found it dry and boring. I fell asleep.

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Excellent to fall asleep to.

Sometimes you simply need that.
At 2am I listened; not thinking, just letting the words wash over me.

1 person found this helpful

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human innermost feelings.

Profoundly sensitive, so much that one can see one's reflection on it. Echoes of a person's common concerns and afflictions. Provocative in a way that it makes us confront life and death in our very existence.

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  • Name
  • 12-18-20

Bin

I thought I would contribute to the other review which denounces this audiobook. The review to which I refer attributes some modicum of merit to this audiobook and mentions an alternative that "may be better". The alternative (Franklin) is better, and this one (Jeater) is so much worse than any review has suggested.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul Harper-Scott
  • 12-27-14

Disappointing reading

The reading is well paced and the voice is well chosen for the novel, but there are often two or three misreadings on every page (singulars read as plurals, words omitted, and so on), and so many mispronunciations that I'm not sure the reader actually knows what many of the words mean or has troubled to look up the pronunciation as a professional service to the listener. A few such errors would be natural and entirely forgiveable, but there are hundreds of them, and despite the positive qualities of the reading, they are distracting. I cannot recommend the recording. An alternative reading of this novel is available on Audible, and it may be better.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kostas
  • 01-02-21

A poetic, naked, beautiful account of life

What a beautiful book this is. I am truly lost for words. This is my first book from Virginia Wolf and I was impressed by her beautiful writing style. The book is like one long poem, with some of the most detailed, dreamy descriptions I’ve ever read. The scene descriptions truly take you there, you can feel the tension, smell, see everything. Frances Jeater’s performance is absolutely magnificent - you feel the anguish in her voice and each character’s internal monologue. She understands the characters and the narration is absolutely spot on (although a bit fast for me, but setting speed to 0.9x sorted things out).

The book jumps a lot from character to character and is written in first person so I found it a bit hard to keep up with who’s monologue we’re listening to each time. It’s seeping with sadness throughout. Sadness and tenderness for the daemons that each character carries with them and a lot of us will associate with. Sadness at the beauty of life and the inevitability of death, it’s simplicity and complexity, our choices and paths. Without giving any answers it explores so many aspects of life and growing up (from school to old age). I often found myself weeping uncontrollably when listening to this book that I had to avoid crowds when out and about. Not because of anything in particular, it’s just so beautifully and tenderly written that it touches some sensitive notes that I guess I’m not even fully aware of. So...be mindful of listening to it outdoors in front of people! ;)

I definitely feel I need to read it again as it is so dense with descriptions, allegories and meaning that I’m certain I’ve missed a few bits. Definitely not the lightest read out there but an incredibly beautiful, poetic, dreamy, melancholic, honest and satisfying read. Highly recommended!