LISTENER

Isolde

  • 14
  • reviews
  • 45
  • helpful votes
  • 55
  • ratings
  • The Word for World Is Forest

  • By: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Narrated by: Kevin Pariseau
  • Length: 5 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 75
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64

The planet Athshe was a paradise whose people were blessed with a mystical awareness of existence. Then the conquerors arrived and began to rape, enslave, and kill humans with a flicker of humanity. The athseans were unskilled in the ways of war, and without weapons. But the gentle tribesmen possessed strange powers over their dreams. And the alien conquerors had taught them how to hate....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • brilliant, well performed, failed by sound design

  • By Amazon Customer on 06-02-18

Extraordinary book, belittling narration

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

Reviewed: 18-07-18

This is a wonderful and important book, as relevant as ever. Le Guin makes no attempt to disguise the social and political messages of this story, nor its clear parallels to our world. It is a brilliant use of multiple view points.
The narrator really interrupts this brilliance by using silly voices and accents. Very distracting, unnecessary, and detracts from the impact of this seminal work of contemporary literature. Audible Frontiers needs to improve its production values, and prevent narrators from making bad choices that detract from the reading experiences.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Enderby Outside

  • Enderby
  • By: Anthony Burgess
  • Narrated by: John Sessions
  • Length: 8 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6

Returning in Enderby Outside, Enderby must deal with incongruous plagiarism from the pop star Yod Crewsley and a visit from an apparent personification of his Muse.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • remarkable reading of an excellent book

  • By Nicholas P. on 08-11-16

Extraordinary book, annoying narration

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-04-18

I have found John Sessions’ narration a major impediment to enjoying the Enderby books. In this installment, the narration improves somewhat towards the end, but in general, he charicatures the characters and sneers through every poem he reads. This is such a contrast to the way that Burgess narrated “A Clockwork Orange”. I feel that if the producers of the Enderby books had listened to the author read his own work, they might have made a better choice for narrator. It’s a real shame, because the Enderby books are hidden gems.

  • The Wonder

  • By: Emma Donoghue
  • Narrated by: Kate Lock
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 177
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 165
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 164

An 11-year-old girl stops eating but remains miraculously alive and well. A nurse sent to investigate whether she is a fraud meets a journalist hungry for a story. Set in the Irish Midlands in the 1850s, Emma Donoghue's The Wonder - inspired by numerous European and North American cases of 'fasting girls' between the 16th century and the 20th - is a psychological thriller about a child's murder threatening to happen in slow motion before our eyes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Offence of narration

  • By Isolde on 08-12-16

Offence of narration

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-12-16

This great book by an Irish author was once again destroyed by an ignorant English narrator putting on cartoon accents that made it all but unlistenable. Aside from having one Irish character sound like Bosco and another like Bob Geldof, her overall reading is melodramatic and careless, often getting the names of characters wrong. This recording should not have passed any quality control for a publisher

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

The Oedipus Plays
    An Audible Original Drama
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Sophocles,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Ian Johnston - translator
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Jamie Glover,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Hayley Atwell,
    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Michael Maloney,
    
    
        and others
    


    
    Length: 5 hrs and 5 mins
    391 ratings
    Overall 4.2
  • The Oedipus Plays

  • An Audible Original Drama
  • By: Sophocles, Ian Johnston - translator
  • Narrated by: Jamie Glover, Hayley Atwell, Michael Maloney, and others
  • Length: 5 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 391
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 360
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 356

The three Theban plays by Sophocles - Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone - are one of the great landmarks of Western theatre. They tell the story of Oedipus, King of Thebes, who was destined to suffer a terrible fate - to kill his father, marry his mother, and beget children of the incestuous union. He does this unknowingly but still has to suffer terrible consequences, which also tragically affect the next generation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great!

  • By Anna Maria Rusanova on 25-06-16

Poor translation

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

Reviewed: 15-07-16

This translation is very peculiar, combining modern idioms with formalised speech. It really doesn't work. The performers do an okay job with a very poor script, though the chorus doesn't have a unified in flexion. Disappointing overall

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Star of the Sea

  • By: Joseph O'Connor
  • Narrated by: Peter Marinker
  • Length: 15 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 65
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 50

Winter 1847, the Star of the Sea sets sail from Ireland for New York. Among the refugees are a maidservant, bankrupt Lord Merridith, an aspiring novelist, and a maker of revolutionary ballads. Each is connected more deeply than they know.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Linguistic imperialism

  • By Isolde on 22-05-16

Linguistic imperialism

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-05-16

This is an astonishing book in every respect. The story is gripping, the characters multifaceted, the language glorious. How bitterly ironic that the theme of suppression of the Irish by English authorities is mirrored by the producers choice of an English actor to mangle the Irish language that is part of the narrative of this book. This recording cannot be said to be unabridged: The portion of the printed text that appears in the Irish language, whether written in English or Irish spellings, is absent. That is nothing short of a betrayal of the author and the readers

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • North and South

  • By: Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 18 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,134
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 955
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 954

Written at the request of Charles Dickens, North and South is a book about rebellion that poses fundamental questions about the nature of social authority and obedience. Gaskell expertly blends individual feeling with social concern and her heroine, Margaret Hale, is one of the most original creations of Victorian literature. When Margaret Hale's father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience she is forced to leave her comfortable home in the tranquil countryside of Hampshire....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • an interesting novel made special by the reading

  • By Margaret on 27-12-10

A true classic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-12-13

Gaskell should be as well-known and loved as Austen, Elliott and Dickens, and our understanding of 19th century literature and its relationship to society is incomplete without her. Her observation, subtlety, craft and humour make all her works thoroughly engaging and enjoyable, and North and South is perhaps her masterpiece.
While the novel is often viewed as a picture of class struggle and the tension between tradition and progress in Victorian England, I believe both of these approaches to be simplistic. Throughout this expansive work, she asks the question, "When is it right to resist authority?" Those authorities which she challenges include the Church, the government, the army, class expectations, trades union and gender roles. Her answers are never simplistic, and the consequences of resistance are never easy.
The novel has also been criticised for its seemingly abrupt ending, where it has been said that it is all "resolved over tea". Understanding that the novel was written in serial form for Dickens' "Household Words" journal, and that he sprang the need for a conclusion on her at short notice goes some way to answering this criticism. But I think she brilliantly encapsulates the themes of business, economic life and the balance of power between men and women. Decide for yourself!
Juliet Stevenson seems to be the ideal narrator for 19th century novels, and this performance demonstrates why. She is animated without resorting to caricature, and her accents never seem forced or out of place.
One final health warning: this novel contains unreflective anti-Irish racism! It mirrors an attitude I have heard creditted to Engels before: an anger at the Irish workers brought over to break strikes in the mid-19th century. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that these Irish workers were fleeing a devastating famine brought about by English Imperialism. So be warned, and try not to let this deeply ingrained attitude spoil an otherwise brilliant novel!

  • Silas Marner

  • By: George Eliot
  • Narrated by: Andrew Sachs
  • Length: 6 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 180
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 152
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 151

For 15 years the weaver Silas Marner has plied his loom near the village of Raveloe, alone and unjustly in exile, cut off from faith and human love, he cares only for his hoard of golden guineas. But two events occur that will change his life forever; his gold disappears and a golden-haired baby girl appears. But where did she come from and who really stole the gold? This moving tale sees Silas eventually redeemed and restored to life by the unlikely means of his love for the orphan child Eppie.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • More extraordinary insight from George Eliot

  • By Isolde on 04-11-13

More extraordinary insight from George Eliot

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-11-13

Every George Eliot book is a joy and a revelation, and Silas Marner is no exception. It seems like a deliberate reversal of classic motifs - the Prodigal Son, the Lost Princess, the Wicked Hunchback. She deals with her recurring themes of gender and disability / difference with astounding subtlety and complexity. Her radical ideas about the role of religion in society and the upbringing of children are straightforwardly described, yet natural and believable in how they affect the lives of her characters.
Sachs does a good job in the narration, although some of the more peripheral characters can become caricatured, which can belie the integrity of every actor in Eliot's human dramas.
And her description is simply sublime! I particularly like this vignette from Chapter 16:
"The sharp bark was the sign of an excited welcome that was awaiting them from a knowing brown terrier; who, after dancing at their legs in a hysterical manner, rushed with a worrying noise at a tortoiseshell kitten under the loom, and then rushed back with a sharp bark again, as much as to say, 'I have done my duty by this feeble creature you perceive'; while the lady mother of the kitten sat sunning her white bosom in the window, and looked around with a sleepy air of expecting caresses, though she was not going to take any trouble for them."
The observations and loving humour that underlie such passages are, to my mind, part of what makes Eliot a writer for all time.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Genus

  • By: Jonathan Trigell
  • Narrated by: David John
  • Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 15

In the Britain of a few tomorrows' time, physical perfection is commonplace and self improvement has become an extinct expression: all the qualities men and women could aspire to can be purchased prior to birth. Genus is a time of genetic selection and enrichment - life chances come on a sliding scale according to wealth. For some there is no money or choice, and an underclass has evolved; London's King's Cross, or The Kross as it is now known, has become a ghetto for the Unimproved.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Insight into the apartheid of disability

  • By Isolde on 08-06-13

Insight into the apartheid of disability

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-06-13

I am surprised to learn that Jonathen Trigell does not identify as a disabled artist. As an artist with disabilities myself, I thought surely here was a perspective I could recognise. And surely only a fellow member of the genetic underclass could have created such full characters. Holman, a visual artist who sees the beauty in a fettid world, partly by virtue of his own deformity, having the kind of disability distinguished by meeting disgust in the reactions of others combined with the constant invisible torture of pain. Crick, whose narrative propensities are bottle-necked into literary art by the loss of his sight. Surely, I thought, this is a work of disability arts? How delighted I am to be wrong!
This is a real work of art and craftsmanship. We are treated to prose-poems on the unlikeliest of subjects, and a rich density of plot. As an example of this genius, there is one character in the book whom we only meet briefly in the last few chapters. But his name tells an entire story - "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair".
And this is a work of incisive social relevance. Like all good works of speculative fiction, it holds a magnifying mirror up to our present society. So accurate is this mirror that Trigell has given a savage account of the recent London riots, which was written before the riots even took place. The over-arching tension between ideologies of science and religion are integral to the story as a whole, not just background-painting.
And a host of diverse and seemingly disparate characters are masterfully woven into a plot that insistently moves forward, even beyond the end of the narrative itself. If you love brilliant language employed for masterful storytelling, this book will be a delicious treat for you.

  • The Year of the Flood

  • MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 2
  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Lorelei King
  • Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 548
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 407
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 411

Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners - a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, the preservation of all species and the tending of the Earth - has long predicted the Waterless Flood. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have avoided it: the young trapeze-dancer, Ren, locked into the high-end sex club; and former SecretBurgers meat-slinger turned Gardener, Toby, barricaded into a luxurious spa. Have others survived?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Sharp Divide

  • By Isolde on 31-01-13

A Sharp Divide

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-01-13

I was both curious and dubious about this book after reading the reviews. I do like Margaret Atwood, and had read and loved Oryx and Crake. But the negative reviews meant I didn't buy it immediately.

Part of what changed my mind was the striking division in customer reviews: female readers loved it, male readers hated it. So I thought I'd find out for myself...

The production decision to arrange and perform the hymns was COMPLETELY wrong - bad idea, bad arrangements, bad performances! Fortunately, my audio-book reader meant I could listen to them at x2 speed, with the added bonus of making them sound like they were underwater!

Aside from that, I loved the book and the reading. Atwood has always been great at problematising the relationships between religion, science and society, and this could be the real triumph of the book.

As for the characters, I found them believable, engaging and sympathetic. Perhaps (this is just a suggestion!) some male readers can't relate to the experience of most of the earth's women as sexual commodities.

I wondered whether it made a difference as to whether one had read Oryx and Crake, as this book is something akin to a sequel. It also works to balance out the masculine perspective of the earlier work. I'd be interested to read a "positive" review from someone who hasn't read Oryx and Crake - if there's any out there?!

Be forewarned about the awful hymns! They would be readable as straightforward text, but are unbearable as "sincere" performed works. Fortunately, they only come at the ends of chapters, so you can just skip forward to the next chapter if your tech has that capability. Otherwise, grit your teeth and set your ears to "satire" - there actually aren't as many of them as there seems!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Middlemarch

  • By: George Eliot
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 35 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,336
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,085
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,080

Dorothea Brooke is an ardent idealist who represses her vivacity and intelligence for the cold, theological pedant Casaubon. One man understands her true nature: the artist Will Ladislaw. But how can love triumph against her sense of duty and Casaubon’s mean spirit? Meanwhile, in the little world of Middlemarch, the broader world is mirrored: the world of politics, social change, and reforms, as well as betrayal, greed, blackmail, ambition, and disappointment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • All consuming

  • By Caro on 27-04-11

An Indisputable Classic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-12-12

I recently heard a culture critic claiming that Middlemarch is "irrelevant". He may as well have said that about Shakespeare. No matter how much we might want to think otherwise, certain works of literature never lose their relevance, and continue to speak to all human experience.

Whether it is the story of Dorothea Brook falling in love with the first intellectual man she ever meets, Fred Vincy blaming the world for his own poor judgement, Nicholas Bullstrode using his piety as an excuse for his selfish concerns, or the heart-breaking self-sacrifice of the reverend Fairbrother, each character and their journey through the narrative of this immense work is a complete, recognisable human being. Their choices are often poor, but no different to the choices you or I might make in the same circumstance. Elliot masterfully (mistressfully?) plunges into themes of party politics, class, religion, money, science, art and technology with intelligence and empathy. And the stories will simply leave you breathless.

Juliet Stevenson is a delight to listen to, and I suspect is a great lover of the book herself. This audiobook is an investment that will pay you dividends over a life-time, and perhaps for your children and grandchildren. My grandmother called this the greatest work in the English language, and I can't help but agree.