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Mary

  • 20
  • reviews
  • 81
  • helpful votes
  • 130
  • ratings
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party

  • By: Susan Vreeland
  • Narrated by: Karen White
  • Length: 16 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Instantly recognizable, Auguste Renoir's masterpiece depicts a gathering of his real friends enjoying a summer Sunday on a café terrace along the Seine near Paris. A wealthy painter, an art collector, an Italian journalist, a war hero, a celebrated actress, and Renoir's future wife, among others, share this moment of la vie moderne, a time when social constraints were loosening and Paris was healing after the Franco-Prussian War.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good story but poor narration

  • By Lynn on 26-07-09

A lovely book

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

Reviewed: 07-11-18

The author classifies this book as an historical novel, based on the incidents surrounding the painting by Renoir of the Luncheon at the Boating Party. It is none the worse for that. Her research has obviously been thorough, but this book rises above the bare facts to represent a completely 'readable' story of how theses real characters interacted with one another to contribute to this wonderful painting. Until I 'read' this book, I considered Renoir to be one of the least of the Impressionists, painting the pretty pictures one sees on chocolate boxes etc. Now, I understand his pivotal role in the movement and how he influenced later painters. I can't wait to get to Washington DC to see the picture in the flesh.
The narration is very much in tune with the spirit of the book, and most of the French pronunciation excellent, is though it is let down by some strange anomalies, such as the pronunciation of Montmartre (naturally a frequently mentioned place) as MonTmartre.

  • Facades

  • By: John Pearson
  • Narrated by: Frazer Douglas
  • Length: 28 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell were the children of possibly the most selfish and mismatched couple in the annals of the British aristocracy. They became in the 1920s, in Cyril Connolly's words, 'a dazzling monument to the English scene... had they not been there a whole area of life would have been missing.' John Pearson describes the public and private life of this strangest and most flamboyant of literary families.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A restrained insight into indulgent eccentricity.

  • By Alison St Pierre on 11-03-14

Absolutely fascinating

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

Reviewed: 07-11-18

This is really good listen, long but enthralling. I knew little about the Sitwells and what I did know did not endear them to me. This book, based on detailed research, puts them into the literary context of the first half of the twentieth century and transforms them into real and almost likeable personailities. In order to produce a definitive biography of the famiy, the author has taken a year by year approach, which is necessarily repetitive and accounts for the length of the book.
The reading by Frazer Douglas is vigorous and helps to overcome the repetitiveness and length. It's a great shame though that Douglas was so badly let down by the producer (this is an Audible production 2012) who evidently did not brief him before or edit him during the read. To mispronounce Sacheverell would be be entirely forgiveable were it not for the fact that he is one of the chief chracters in the book and his name is mentioned countless times. There are many other mistakes and not just on proper names.

  • Mary Boleyn

  • The True Story of Henry VIII's Favourite Mistress
  • By: Josephine Wilkinson
  • Narrated by: Debra Burton
  • Length: 5 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 4

Mary Boleyn, ‘the infamous other Boleyn girl’, began her court career as the mistress of the king of France. François I of France would later call her ‘The Great Prostitute’ and the slur stuck. Mary would emerge the sole survivor of a family torn apart by lust and ambition, and it is in Mary and her progeny that the Boleyn legacy rests.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Very disappointing

  • By lisa mendola on 26-01-17

Insight into one of history's supporting cast

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

Reviewed: 04-07-16

What did you like most about Mary Boleyn?

It was really interesting to have the spotlight turned onto one of the supporting characters in the drama of Anne Boleyn, her sister Mary.
Mary was mistress to Henry long before he ever met Anne and was, apparently, held in some affection long after their affair was over. Sadly, there's not much evidence of what she was like as a person, but she comes out of this book as a far nicer character than her sister. Beside Mary, I also got to meet other members of the cast list whose names I had vaguely heard of but whose history is otherwise obscure (to me at least), such as Henry Fitzroy, Henry Carey and Catherine Carey, all of whom were Henry VIII's illegitimate children.
I also very much appreciated the way in which the author presents the evidence and then argues the case for various theories about what happened to Mary and her family. It's nice to be let in on the inside rather than having the 'facts' dictated.

If you’ve listened to books by Josephine Wilkinson before, how does this one compare?

I haven't read Josephine Wilkinson before, but I will certainly search out her work.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I'm sorry to go on about the quality of narration, but for me it can spoil the overall satisfaction of listening to an audiobook. This narrator has a good strong voice but is let down by her pronuniciation of English and frequent stumbles over emphasis. Some words were obvioulsy completely unfamilar to her, such as tryst (pronounced like Trieste) and marquess (as marquee). It's clear that the latter example was picked up by the producer and in later sections the correct pronunciation is delivered. That raises the question as to why all these very glaring faults were not corrected in the editing process?

Any additional comments?

This audiobook has also been subjected to brutal cutting, so there is hardly a pause between one chapter and the next. This only adds to the slightly frenetic mood of this listening experience.

  • Penhallow

  • By: Georgette Heyer
  • Narrated by: Ulli Birvé
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 28
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 24
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 25

Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusations and suspicion turn in one direction and then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Kill Me Now

  • By Tab on 24-02-15

Great book - shame about the narrrator!

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

Reviewed: 28-06-16

Where does Penhallow rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Really good novel (mystery not Regency) from Georgette Heyer, with a truly unexpected, unusual ending. It will have taken some courage to break so many of the established 'rules' of crime fiction. Good for her!!

Who was your favorite character and why?

They are all pretty dreadful, but that's the point of the book.

Would you be willing to try another one of Ulli Birvé’s performances?

Not knowingly! Although she's good at performing the voices, and hence the characterisation benefits, she is awful at pronunication. For instance there's a character called Charmian, but the narator pronounces it as Charmain throughout. What's even worse, she made it sound like Chow Mein! It was an irritant that never went away.

Any additional comments?

Does Audible check the merchandise it retails for quality? Does it pass on listener feedback to the recording companies? I'd love to see some evidence of Audible's quality control.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • The Little Friend

  • By: Donna Tartt
  • Narrated by: Laurel Lefkow
  • Length: 24 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 583
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 538
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 533

The second novel by Donna Tartt, best-selling author of The Goldfinch (winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize), The Little Friend is a grandly ambitious and utterly riveting novel of childhood, innocence and evil. The setting is Alexandria, Mississippi, where one Mother’s Day a little boy named Robin Cleve Dufresnes was found hanging from a tree in his parents’ yard. Twelve years later Robin’s murder is still unsolved and his family remains devastated.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stunning

  • By Julie on 08-07-15

An enthralling listen

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

Reviewed: 11-11-15

Would you listen to The Little Friend again? Why?

For the whole length of this book I lived the story of Harriet, her family, her friends and the small town on the Mississippi. I don't think I could do it again - for a while at least.

What did you like best about this story?

The wonderful cast of characters: Harriet's grandmother and great aunts, Ida the maid, Hely her schoolfriend and the Ratliffe family. In fact, there isn't a character in the book who isn't fully formed.

What does Laurel Lefkow bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

The sounds of Mississippi!

Any additional comments?

I just wish Donna Tartt was more prolific!

  • SPQR

  • A History of Ancient Rome
  • By: Mary Beard
  • Narrated by: Phyllida Nash
  • Length: 18 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,630
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,474
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,457

Ancient Rome matters. Its history of empire, conquest, cruelty and excess is something against which we still judge ourselves. Its myths and stories - from Romulus and Remus to the rape of Lucretia - still strike a chord with us. And its debates about citizenship, security and the rights of the individual still influence our own debates on civil liberty today. SPQR is a new look at Roman history from one of the world's foremost classicists.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting and erudite

  • By Mr. D on 01-12-15

Brilliant!

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

Reviewed: 09-11-15

Where does SPQR rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very very highly. Mary Beard has provided me with a much needed overview of Roman history. It's a cleverly crafted book, moving steadily forward through the historical dimension but pausing from time to time to explore the big themes in depth or to meet the big characters. And it's not just the big names it introduces us to; some of the most moving episodes concern ordinary people whose lives we can only glimpse through the archaeology, perhaps an inscription on a gravestone.The author always tells us what evidence lies behind the historical consensus, sometimes questioning it and sometimes admitting to lack of conviction. It was often funny and irreverant and never dull or self important.

What other book might you compare SPQR to, and why?

Other good histories such as Robert Goodwin's Spain.

What does Phyllida Nash bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

A model narrator. She animates Mary Beard's prose (which hardly needs animating) and, importantly, stays in the background.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Very satisfying.

31 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • The Dreyfus Affair

  • The Scandal That Tore France in Two
  • By: Piers Paul Read
  • Narrated by: David Pevsner
  • Length: 16 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 12

On October 13, 1894, Captain Dreyfus was summoned by the General de Boisdeffre to the Ministry of War. Despite minimal evidence against him he was placed under arrest for the crime of high treason. Not long afterward Dreyfus was incarcerated on Devil's Island. But how did an innocent man come to be convicted? And why was he kept locked up for so long? The Dreyfus Affair uniquely combines a fast-moving mystery story with a snapshot of France at a moment of great social flux and cultural richness.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Addresses us as though we were a public meeting

  • By Mary on 09-11-15

Addresses us as though we were a public meeting

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

Reviewed: 09-11-15

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Maybe, if you can stand being read to in the pompous, ponderous, portentous manner of this narrator.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Don't know. Couldn't get beyond Chapter 1.

How could the performance have been better?

Tone down the narrator or choose someone different.

Was The Dreyfus Affair worth the listening time?

Not for me. And it was expensive, too.

Any additional comments?

Piers Paul Read is a significant writer who deserves a better narrator

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Evelina

  • Or, the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World
  • By: Frances Burney
  • Narrated by: Orson Scott Card, Emily Rankin, Stefan Rudnicki, and others
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

Originally published in 1778, Evelina is Frances Burney's first and most beloved novel. It was a landmark in the development of the novel of manners and went on to influence such enduringly popular authors as Jane Austen. By turns hilarious and grim, witty and lyrical, the story follows young Evelina as she leaves the seclusion of her country home and enters into late eighteenth-century London society - both its pleasures and its dangers. Life in eighteenth-century England is vividly rendered as Evelina is educated in the ways of the world and, eventually, love.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Unlistenable due to accent.

  • By Hannah Kilpatrick on 12-10-15

Spoiled by heavy handed narration

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

Reviewed: 08-07-15

How could the performance have been better?

This book was written at the end of the 18th Century as a satire on the society of the day. Ideally it should be read in a light hearted tone of voice that allows the irony and humour to float to the surface, naturally. That's quite a difficult challenge given the rather stiff or unfamiliar prose of parts of the book and sadly in my view these narrators do not rise to this challenge. Instead they obviously feel the need to add dramatic colour to point up or underline the humour.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Hope so, so I'll try a different version.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Spain

  • The Centre of the World 1519-1682
  • By: Robert Goodwin
  • Narrated by: Jeremy Clyde
  • Length: 21 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 58
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 54
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 52

The Golden Age of the Spanish Empire would establish five centuries of Western supremacy across the globe and usher in an era of transatlantic exploration that eventually gave rise to the modern world. It was a time of discovery and adventure, of great political and social change - it was a time when Spain learned to rule the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant intro to a history I knew little about

  • By Mary on 08-07-15

Brilliant intro to a history I knew little about

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

Reviewed: 08-07-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely! Robert Goodwin cleverly weaves together descriptions of the main historical characters & landmark events of Spain's Golden Age with wonderful insights into the staggeringly great art and literature of the period.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Miguel de Cervantes who, as well as writing the first modern novel (Don Quixote) was a tax collector, prisoner of the moors, soldier and courtier. He's witty, ironic, brave and evidently not entirely to be trusted.

Which character – as performed by Jeremy Clyde – was your favourite?

Robert Goodwin gives a precis of Don Quixote, read delightfully by Jeremy Clyde. (Thank God for a decent narrator.)

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Possibly a bit too long for one session, but it was engaging stuff.

Any additional comments?

Now I want to read more about Garcy Lasso and the other poets dicussed in the first part of the book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Grey Mask

  • The Miss Silver Mysteries
  • By: Patricia Wentworth
  • Narrated by: Diana Bishop
  • Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 99
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 88

The first of the classic mysteries featuring governess-turned-detective Miss Silver, who investigates a deadly conspiratorial ring. Charles Moray has come home to England to collect his inheritance. After four years wandering the jungles of India and South America, the hardy young man returns to the manor of his birth, where generations of Morays have lived and died. Strangely, he finds the house unlocked, and sees a light on in one of its abandoned rooms. Eavesdropping, he learns of a conspiracy to commit a fearsome crime.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Very good - get the lot!

  • By Dru on 21-12-14

Rather more penetrating than I had expected.

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

Reviewed: 30-06-15

Daft plot, but interesting characters portrayed with more insight than many books of this genre. I will read more Patricia Wentworth.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful