This novel was the basis for Alfred Hitchcock's classic film of the same name.
©1915 William Blackwood and Sons;
The language and certain phrases used can now appear a little old fashioned (even to someone in their late 50's!) but this does not detract from a cracking story, that is well read. If you enjoyed the Robert Donat film (1935) you will like this book, it is of a similar style and reflects attitudes and a period long since gone - servants, milk deliveries and many other examples. The recording, although unabridged, is short enough to be listened to in a couple of sittings which also adds to the pleasure. Recommended!
I first read this about 25 years ago, when I was in my teens. It was the recent TV version with Rupert Penry-Jones as Richard Hannay that inspired me to download and listen to the proper book again and I was very glad that I did. It evokes the era very well and is written in rather a literary style compared to more modern spy novelists and, for me, that added to the enjoyment of the tale. The narrator had the perfect accent for it.
I'm sure that most if not all of you who are reading this review will be familiar with the story. If you haven't read it, you really ought to, and if you have, this audio version is a great way of revisiting the novel. I finished listening to this whilst sitting in my living room with the coal fire burning and the lights dimmed and it was definitely a moment. Its length makes it easily digestible in a couple of sittings so it's a great choice for when your credits are starting to pile up after having had long audible listens for a couple of months.
a ripping yarn taking you across britain from the centre of london to the highlands of scotland, the description of the innkeeper and the politician are a real delight and it leave you in suspense right to the very end
I have seen all three films, but never actually read the book, so I was a little unsure of what I was getting for my money. However Robert Powell's narration is second to none. So good in fact I doubt I will ever wish to watch any of the films again.
I dance around and sing a song and know that I can do no wrong.
I am a big fan of turn of the century novels of this type, the stories are usually far less important than the language used for me. It's like stepping back in time to a place when a man's character was written on his face: "He was a tall man with a poorly nourished moustache". There, that's everything you need to know about that blaggard.
The story itself is well crafted and well told. If you enjoy writing from this period in time, then I highly recommend this. As for the narrator - you can't go wrong with Robert Powell.
Some may find this 1915-penned adventure yarn too dated and unbelievable, but I love Buchan's spare, tight writing style which drives the story along. Robert Powell brings just the right world-weary, risk-anything tone to the central character of Richard Hannay, the mining engineer who flees to Scotland after the murder in his flat of an English spy, only to be chased by both the police and murderous German spies. Powell is also completely convincing in his handling of the diverse characters that Hannay meets on his adventures, making for a wonderfully engaging audiobook.
Alas this Audible version has noticeable drops in volume for quite lengthy passages. I'd knock a star off for that, but Powell's reading is so terrific that I'll put up with the sound faults for the sheer pleasure of hearing this recording.
This is a splendid recording of John Buchan's classic tale of pre-First World War daring do. Robert Powell narrates with verve and has an amazing range of accents, including some pretty good broad Scots. Some of the attitudes towards Jews and the "lower orders" make one cringe, but are a reminder of how prejudiced people could be. It may be old-fashioned, but it's a great yarn that keeps you listening.
Retired landscape historian who wrote a few books and articles in his time but now concentrates upon the garden, the family, and travelling.
There have been many movies, of varying quality, and at least two dramatised radio versions, probably better than any screen adaptations, but this audio-book takes us back to the original and still the best version, where 39 steps really do mean 39 steps, and the menace of German agents in the years up to the outbreak of war is palpable. No playing around with deep cover master spies with missing fingers; here the German mastermind is not only a master chameleon but one who can hood his eyes as only an agent of the Kaiser could ever do. Listen to the our hero's rapid disgust with Edwardian London, watch in your mind's eye as he thinks on the hoof, whether trying to get away from the murder scene unnoticed or trying to get as far away as possible by train lines and drover roads over the Galloway hills. A tale of daring do, this remains all the more exciting as our hero is making it up as he goes along, his experiences in Africa providing far less in the way of survival skills than we might expect. His dealings with road menders, inn keepers, and cads of the highest order demonstrate his honest ordinariness. At every turn his desire not just to survive but to find out what the Germans are trying to do that is so important they will do almost anything to capture him keeps the listener engaged. Though these times may be almost a hundred years ago, this is still a modern world of railways and telephones, and more particularly of short-sighted xenophobia that ignores the real threats to Britain and its way of life, all of which retains a certain currency even today. So, listen to this original version, particularly if you have little interest in music hall memory men, preferring your 39 Steps to be about spies thwarted at the very last by an ordinary person cast up amidst extraordinary times. It's almost as good as Geoffrey Household's more intense Rogue Male, another loner on the run from German agents 25 year later.
"Way different to the movies"
This is a classic adventure story of its day, very well read by Robert Powell. It is dated, but quite enjoyable still if you regard it as a period piece. I was expecting it to be very similar to the original Alfred Hitchcock movie made in England in 1935, but the movie only bears a superficial resemblance to the book. Even the significance of the '39 Steps' title is completely different between the book and movie. A good 'read' nevertheless.
"Brilliant Narration of a Classic!"
Exceptional story telling of a well scripted novel. Evil is so poignantly described in that it is scarcely noticeable to the eye of the average onlooker. The protagonist doesn't miss a detail!
"Buchan - maybe the father of this genre."
Yes. I like the story. I like the movie adaptations. It is a war story with enemy agents daring do and a good plot.
All of his books. I particularly liked this because there are no damsels in distress.
His voice is a little grating, flat, and slow at the same time. His reading didn't convey the excitement of the most, well, exciting parts.
"The Thirty Nine Steps not an adaptation"
This narrative moves quickly, but it never seems that the events of the narrative are being pushed to further the action. Though the actions of three weeks are compressed into just four hours of story-telling, the story never feels rushed. While Richard Hannay is thrust into political intrigue, his history as a military officer and mining engineer allows him to engage with German operatives without being out of his element. Though perhaps the narrative allows him to escape too easily from capture or figure out connections a little too readily, this story is quite enjoyable and worth the time.
I'd recommend this book to a friend who likes an exciting plot and an excellent narrator.
I don't read many thrillers but I heard about this old one on a recent trip to Scotland.
No, never heard him before. Will look for him in the future.
Yes! I found myself wanting to get back to my listening.
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