Ann Radcliffe's most popular novel, The Mysteries of Udolpho, with its titular enigmatic castle, vivid landscapes, supernatural portents, and brooding characters is considered by many to be the standard by which all Gothic novels are judged. When her father dies, Emily is forced to live at the castle of her aunt's new husband, the malevolent Count Montoni. The drama unfolds as Emily is treated cruelly by Montoni and alarming events constantly trouble her. Alison Larkin performs the grotesque and the sumptuous elements of the audiobook with equal dexterity, excelling at the villainous men who inhabit the story. If you're ready to escape into a romantic and chilling world, you won't want to stop listening to this classic tale.
This was the most popular novel of Radcliffe's time; Radcliffe's portrayal of her heroine's inner life raised the Gothic romance to a new level. The atmosphere of fear and the gripping plot continue to thrill today.
This is the story of the orphaned Emily St Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the Castle of Udolpho by her aunt's new husband Montoni. Here she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors which threaten to overwhelm her.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
You have to like gothic fiction to tolerate this book. Luckily I love it, so really enjoyed this reading of a book I already knew. Alison Larkin reads the sections of poetry really nicely, I often don't 'get' poetry but this made the passages enjoyable, rather than a struggle which I normally skip over to return to the narrative.
The characters are French and Italian in this book, but to differentiate between different persons, Ms Larkin uses Scottish, West Country and Yorkshire accents! This however does not spoil the story and makes it easy to tell who is speaking. The heroine Emily St Aubert is a little insipid for modern tastes perhaps, always with unsupportable spirits and fainting away, but remember what kind of novel this is and enjoy the luscious description of the landscape and, once about a quarter of the way in, a really gripping tale of mysteries.
"Thank You, Audible"
I have been waiting for this English classic to come out on audio for years. A brilliant performance by the narrator ranging from upper class English to serving maids, from lords to thieving brigands all rendered with exactness and enthusiasm that carries us through the narrative like a Harry Potter story. I'll have to reread my Jane Austen collection now that I can fully understand all her "Udolpho" references. One more benefit of this audio.
So great to have the privilege of listening to this on audio by award winning Alison Larkin who is in dazzling form here. She should win an award for her portrayal of the villainous Montoni who very much reminds me of Scar in The Lion King.
Any serious fan of classic literature will recognize Ann Radcliffe as the grandmother of gothic fiction and the vampire craze we have to day owes much to her writing. This novel I believe was the first "best seller" and after listening one can understand why.
What separates a great book like this from the popular Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse novels is the obvious well rounded education of Ms Radcliffe. For example at the heart of the novel's mystery are the rogue italian militias that roamed the Apenines and Ms Radcliffe makes glorious use of the dark history. Where else would we learn about that? In addition the sentence structure and descriptive details are some of the best in literature and Ms Larkin renders them like Horowitz playing Chopin.
I've listened to it twice and look forward to at least a few more.
"Only Alison Larkin Could have Narrated This Story"
One of the most memorable moments was the heroine was reunited with her lover.
This book has sentences that seem to go on like arias in an opera. Only Alison Larkin could give the listener every subtle sense of meaning behind every word. Alison Larkin helped carry me along an experience that was like riding a great wave of powerful prose. I could only ride the wave because she gave me the support--through her clear evocation of every emotion and through every description--that we were moving towards an exciting shore.
I have never heard a story with such deep descriptions of every mental, and emotional experience. Only Alison Larkin has the range of tone and wit and sympathetic and sometimes passionate delivery to have made such a story a great and moving work of art.
This book and Alison Larkin's brilliant interpretation of every line was much too grand an experience to try to absorb in one sitting.
I decided early on to let this remarkable experience--like listening to the greatest symphony of life and loves--continue over time. I would listen to it in the evenings.
All day I would look forward to hearing Alison Larkin's melodic voice give powerful meaning to a story that seemed to have almost every possible emotion in it.
I am grateful that Alison Larkin narrated this story for us. Without her remarkably sensitive and powerful reading of this material it might not have come alive in such a dramatic way.
"A Classic, but not my style"
Though this book is one of the greatest classics of all time, and I hear it's never been out of print, I can't say I found it a compelling listen. I struggle a little with 18th and 19th century period pieces anyway, but this one seemed to be more than usually drawn out, and though there is a great deal of drama and high suspense, I found it all rather contrived. However, several of my friends, more in tune with the Gothic style, really enjoyed it.
This, I beleive, was Radcliffe's first book. I might try some of her later work.
The reader performs well, she's comfortable with Radcliffe's high style, and has a pleasant voice.
I've been wanting to read this book ever since I read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, which is probably the reason why most people read it today. What a fun listen! Admittedly, this book is somewhat shallow; it's kind of like the late 1700s equivalent of the Twilight series, but without the vampires. I think it would have appealed to the same audience of teenage girls. Anyway, it's a delightful book if taken in context, and the performance is good.
"Wordy" takes on a whole meaning. I think there can only be ONE reason that this book has made it through the ages, and that is because Jane Austin refers to it in her works.
There was almost NO dialogue in the first 5 chapters. There were a lot of indirect speeches. I think this annoyed me more than the descriptions and poetry. I could tune out for them but the lack of dialogue really threw me off.
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