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JOHN

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The Narration is Fine - Ignore the Naysayers!

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

Reviewed: 08-03-20

I'm about a quarter of the way into the book so am not in a position to give a definitive review. However, it has garnered almost universal praise and from what I've listened to thus far it is easy to see why. What has prompted me to post this review is the surprising number of listeners who have been disappointed with the narration ("awful", "terrible", "appalling", etc). This genuinely perplexes me as I think Ben Miles does an excellent job. He was also chosen for the job by Mantel herself. He has played Cromwell in the RSC production of "Wolf Hall" and "Bring Up the Bodies" and so understands the character inside out. Mantel, in a statement issued by Macmillan Audio in January, said: "“His insights from the rehearsal room helped shape the story. He is familiar with how all the characters grow, from first page to last. His voice is as close as can be to the voice that’s in my head as I write.” [Edit: 29/3/20 - I finished the book yesterday. Absolutely brilliant from start to finish. Thank you Hilary Mantel and thank you Ben Miles for the outstanding narration.]

23 people found this helpful

A Work of Genius

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

Reviewed: 30-01-20

This is an astonishing book. The incandescently good writing coupled with the phantasmagorical landscape and cast of characters makes for an unforgettable listening experience. It's a kind of mix of Clockwork Orange, Mad Max, and Blood Meridian replete with brute savagery but with an undertow of great humour throughout. I think it is best listened to rather than read as Barry is an outstanding narrator and he brings the exotic characters to life with their mixture of Cork and Limerick working class accents (Barry is a native of Limerick and worked for some years in Cork). That said, I intend to buy the hardcopy version in order to dip into it every now and then to savour the brilliant writing and renew acquaintance with some of the disreputable types who populate the pages. The only other book I do that with is Joyce's "Ulysses". I was sorry when the story came to a close as inhabiting the City of Bohane for an hour or two per day was something to be savoured. Without a doubt, one of the best Audible experiences I've had.

1 person found this helpful

Another Brilliant Le Carré Novel

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

Reviewed: 11-11-19

I found this book to be compulsive listening. It is superb intelligent entertainment. The story is compelling and the writing, as expected, is faultless - on a par with vintage Le Carré. Some reviewers here have disparaged the narration but I have to strongly disagree - I found the author's diction, tone and timbre to be excellent and his voicing of the individual characters made them come alive. A wonderful book. I have been a fan of Le Carré for years and the fact that he is still producing such stellar work at the age of 88 is astonishing. Long may he continue to do so.

A Powerful Story

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

Reviewed: 17-08-19

Brilliantly written and narrated, this autobiography by Moby is searingly honest and never fails to engage the listener with its extraordinary tales of his youth and his adventures and misadventures as a rock star. Highly recommended.

Have A Book of Velazquez Paintings To Hand

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

Reviewed: 14-04-19

This book is beautifully written, the story is intriguing, and Siobhan Redmond's narration is superb. I'm not sure however if it is best suited to audio, at least not for people like me who listen to books while walking or driving. The problem is that there are in-depth descriptions of several of Velazquez's works and unless you are *very* familiar with them you will find it frustrating if you don't have a book of the artist's paintings to hand that you can refer to while listening. Which of course is impossible when walking, running or driving. I do have such a book but there was an obvious disconnect between listening to the story while out and about and then checking out the paintings referred to hours later. Not ideal. I presume the hard copy book has photos of the artworks concerned and for that reason I think buying the paper book would be the best option in this instance.

1 person found this helpful

An Amazing Story Brilliantly Told

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

Reviewed: 23-03-19

This is one of the best audiobooks that I have listened to. It is an astonishing story replete with all sorts of arcane details about the secret world of espionage and counter-espionage, the KGB, MI5/MI6, the CIA and other intelligence services. And while we know the eventual outcome of the case - the successful exfiltration of Oleg Gordievsky from the USSR by MI6 - Ben Macintyre succeeds in investing the actual operation with a suspense that is positively cinematic: we can "see" the car and its occupants as it nears the Russian border posts and even though we know they got through, one's heart is still in one's mouth until they are safely across. All this makes the book the audio equivalent of "unputdownable": unstoplistenable. Superbly written and narrated, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in espionage and the Cold War.

Simply Superb

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

Reviewed: 15-11-18

William Boyd is one of my favourite authors and this, his latest work, is his best since Any Human Heart. It is a wonderful story with a great range of characters (including James Joyce and his brother Stanislaus who feature in a little vignette while Brodie Moncur, the main character, was living in Trieste). The narration by Roy McMillan is masterly and he has an admirable command of accents including Irish, something that non-Irish narrators usually fail at.

Doesn't Live Up To The Hype

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

Reviewed: 06-11-18

I was disappointed with this book given some of the rave reviews it has received. For a start, it's too long - it should have been subject to more rigorous editing to make it a more compelling read. And while the descriptions of wartime Britain and France are well done, they are nothing out of the ordinary. Most readers will also have guessed the identity of Icarus from early on so when it was eventually revealed there was no surprise. The denouement struck me as fanciful in the extreme and totally unbelievable. I was relieved to have finally finished it - I had been tempted to give up about three quarters of the way through - but it certainly is not a book that I will re-visit nor is it one that I will recommend to others. On the plus side, the narration is very well done and the three readers help to relieve the tedium of having to plough on with the story.

2 people found this helpful

Well Written but Poor Plot

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

Reviewed: 23-08-18

This was my third Slough House story in a row. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two but this one disappointed me. Mick Herron's writing is top class as usual but the plot seemed unconvincing if not downright ludicrous. This is a pity as I had high expectations based on many of the critics reviews. I think I'll give the series a rest for a while and I hope that when I return to it I'll find subsequent books to be much better than this rather pedestrian production.

Superb!

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

Reviewed: 31-07-18

This is without doubt the best of the Great Courses I've purchased. Professor James Hall is a pleasure to listen to: he is a master of his subject and has an excellent speaking voice. He doesn't assume any prior knowledge on the part of the listener and his descriptions of (for instance) the Ontological, Cosmological and Teleological Arguments for the existence of God are the best I've come across. Highly recommended to anyone - believer, agnostic or atheist - interested in the subject.

1 person found this helpful