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Mary Carnegie

UK
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Doctor Thorne cover art
  • Doctor Thorne

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 20 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 205
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 203

Doctor Thorne is the third audiobook in Anthony Trollope's series known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire. Long regarded as one of Trollope's greatest works, it is a complex story of love, greed and illegitimacy. Set in fictional Barsetshire, it concerns the romantic challenges facing Doctor Thorne's penniless niece, Mary, and Frank Gresham, the only son of the impoverished squire of Greshambury. Mary falls in love with Frank but he is constrained by the need to marry well to restore the family fortunes.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hooray! Real Trollope

  • By Philadelphus on 16-01-08

Probably my favourite Trollope novel.

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

Reviewed: 22-07-19

Dr Thorne is a modest country GP with admirable personal qualities and as good medical skill as could be expected for his times. He is unmarried but lives with his niece, Mary, whose origins are somewhat mysterious. Much of the plot (and subplots) concern the complexities of perceived social class of that age, with all the nuances so highly regarded by the idle affluent who have little to do but worry about their status in society. Dr Thorne is hard-working, and not rich, so is regarded as passing for a gentleman but “not quite our class, dear” even by his good friends in the squire’s country house. He has an amusing rival in the snooty but less competent Dr Fillgrave.
I know some may find the book long, but for me that’s part of its charm, with rounded characters, Trollope’s asides to the reader, and well-observed social comment.

Barchester Towers cover art
  • Barchester Towers

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 19 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 351
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 276
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 278

Barchester Towers is the second of six in the series known as Chronicles of Barsetshire. Narrator Timothy West brings life to the story, begun in The Warden, of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor. It chronicles the struggle for control of the English diocese of Barchester after one Bishop dies and a new one is selected. The rather incompetent new Bishop, Dr. Proudie, led by his formidable wife, and ambitious chaplain, Mr. Slope, begin to create turmoil with their desire to shake up the church establishment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • West is best

  • By Francis on 28-10-08

Beloved classic enlivened by narration.

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

Reviewed: 21-07-19

With Trollope’s novels a story is enhanced by the manner of his telling of it, his asides to the reader, humour and satire. When West reads Trollope for us, it seems as if the author himself were talking to us, with the extra talent of an accomplished actor.
19th century novels may seem long to some folk in the present age where short books are those which win literary prizes but I enjoy the slower pace which gives a longer acquaintanceship with your heroes and favourite villains. Trollope’s characters are rarely entirely saintly or completely demonic (cf Dickens, satirised as Mr Popular Sentiment), and he avoids the inflexible strict moral tone of Carlyle (Mr Pessimist Anticant) - I do love how he names many minor characters (Mr Quiverfull does not find his 14 children the unalloyed blessings from the Almighty of psalm 127, which hasn’t stopped a group of evangelical Christians from appropriating his name for their polyphiloprogenitive movement.)

The American Senator cover art
  • The American Senator

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Flo Gibson
  • Length: 19 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

As we follow the various romances intrigues of the flirtatious Arabella Trefoil, a visiting American senator observes, with some perplexity, English country life in all of its social echelons. Needless to say, the local feelings towards the American senator are equally rancorous.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Trans-Atlantic incomprehension amusingly recounted

  • By Mary Carnegie on 15-07-19

Trans-Atlantic incomprehension amusingly recounted

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

Reviewed: 15-07-19

Mr Gotobed turns up again in a more prominent role. He’s a senator from an imaginary western state, who is visiting England with anthropological intent, determined to observe the culture as widely as possible, initially as a guest of a UK diplomat returning from his US posting. He is, of course, completely convinced of the superiority of his own country and is never afraid to broadcast his views wherever he goes. You can imagine how popular he becomes! Some of his criticism is fully justified but he goes too far, preaches and interferes. His assertions about the freedom and equality of his homeland provide extra amusement.
The narrator has a stab at English accents, not always convincingly, (pronunciation of “duke” as “dook” by an English aristocrat for example). The heroine is given a simpering voice at odds with her character.
Generally I prefer UK narrators for UK books, but I gave this a go because there was an important personage from that side of the pond.
I enjoyed it as a light, amusing story.

The Way We Live Now cover art
  • The Way We Live Now

  • By: Anthony Trollope
  • Narrated by: Timothy West
  • Length: 32 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 687
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 527
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 518

In this world of bribes, vendettas, and swindling, in which heiresses are gambled and won, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury is 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix has 'the instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte - the colossal figure who dominates the book - is a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel...a bloated swindler...a vile city ruffian'. But as vile as he is, he is considered one of Trollope's greatest creations.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic! Fantastic!

  • By Sharon on 15-11-09

Financial chicanery, politics, journalism and marriage à la mode.

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

Reviewed: 12-07-19

Inspired by the historical recession of 1870s with its dodgy speculation and scandals, this is not one of Trollope’s cosier novels. Melmotte, a charismatic businessman with a mysterious past, gains enormous status in the City of London, although “good society” regards him as definitely “not our class”. He becomes imprudent, arrogant, bullying and grandiose. And, of course, he is courted by scroungers and playboy minor nobility short of cash cynically seek to marry his daughter. This is fiction, not real life, so his triumph cannot continue indefinitely, and many others will be affected by his downfall.
Well-drawn characters, various sub-plots, humour, and fairly gentle social comment, as usual, form part of Trollope’s attraction. The prejudices of mid-19th century England are nasty, but as long as they stay in the past, it’s as well to be reminded of “the bad old days”.

The Huguenot Chronicles, Books 1 - 3 cover art
  • The Huguenot Chronicles, Books 1 - 3

  • Merchants of Virtue, Voyage of Malice, Land of Hope
  • By: Paul C.R. Monk
  • Narrated by: David Pickering
  • Length: 20 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

A family torn apart. A king with an iron fist. Will their faith be strong enough to survive persecution and reunite? Jeanne is the wife of a wealthy merchant, but now she risks losing everything. Louis XIV's soldiers will stop at nothing to forcibly convert the country's Protestants to the "true" faith. The men ransack Jeanne's belongings and threaten her children. If Jeanne and Jacob can't find a way to evade the soldiers' clutches, their family will face a fate far worse than poverty and imprisonment. They may never see each other again....

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting stories, less explored in English.

  • By Mary Carnegie on 12-06-19

Interesting stories, less explored in English.

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

Reviewed: 12-06-19

Reasonable historical fiction. Some anachronisms (French republican tricoleur in Bourbon times, Spain’s papal approval for S American colonisation not being shared with Portugal) suggesting inadequate basic historical education. It addresses subjects less popular in anglophone literature, visits places less explored, reminds us that the difficulties of refugees are not new. Louis XIV impoverished French economy and culture by persecuting and expelling Huguenots. A large number of migrants challenges even the most tolerant nation. Migrants may accept great danger and hardship to escape unacceptable conditions, but can prove resilient and adaptable, beneficial to the country which accepts them. There’s much resonance with Jewish history.

Jeeves & Wooster: The Collected Radio Dramas cover art
  • Jeeves & Wooster: The Collected Radio Dramas

  • By: P.G. Wodehouse
  • Narrated by: full cast, Michael Hordern, Richard Briers
  • Length: 17 hrs and 56 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 115
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 106
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 105

A rollicking collection of six acclaimed dramatisations of P.G Wodehoue's Jeeves & Wooster novels, starring Michael Hordern and Richard Briers as Jeeves and Wooster. Also featuring Maurice Denham, Paul Eddington, David Jason, John Le Mesurier, Miriam Margolyes, Jonathan Cecil, Liza Goddard and Patrick Cargill. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Stories in wrong order

  • By AmandaM on 18-05-19

Reasons to be cheerful.

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

Reviewed: 12-06-19

I haven’t given this collection high marks because of its literary merit, but because it’s going to lull me to sleep during difficult political times. (I often switch from more serious books at bedtime.)
Of course, it’s satirical, but also celebratory of the inter-war status quo of useless parasitic drones and undeserved privilege, and the inexplicable support they received from their servants.
2019, Trump, crazy Brexit, and Tory leadership chaos, it’s good to remember that things were even worse in the past and laugh at the English national myths that may yet drag 4 nations out of EU.

0 of 4 people found this review helpful

Things Can Only Get Worse? cover art
  • Things Can Only Get Worse?

  • By: John O'Farrell
  • Narrated by: John O'Farrell
  • Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 94
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 77
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

Things Can Only Get Worse is the personal story of one political activist helping Labour progress from its 1997 landslide to the unassailable position it enjoys today. Along the way he stood for Parliament against Theresa May; he was dropped from Tony and Cherie's Christmas card list after he revealed he always sent their card on to a friend from the SWP; and he campaigned for a new nonselective inner-city state school, then realised this meant he had to send his kids to a nonselective inner-city state school.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Political Testament of a Lefty

  • By Judy Corstjens on 23-01-18

Highs and lows of Labour supporters, with humour

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

Reviewed: 31-05-19

It’s not always easy being a Labour Party member! John O’Farrell has lived through it all at local and national level. AND he retains a sense of humour and hope.
This book covers the years between the euphoria of the 1997 general election when the Tories were swept out of power after the years of Thatcher’s destruction of the UK society she didn’t believe in, and Major’s rather less malignant premiership. If only the Blair government hadn’t been overshadowed by the Iraq war so many of us marched against, no doubt we’d remember the good things that happened, and there were a lot.
The author successfully campaigned for a secondary school in Lambeth where he lived, but in the long run there were disappointments in that.
He has sat through long sparcely attended meetings, knocked doors, distributed leaflets and even once stood against Theresa May in a general election in true-blue Maidenhead, his home town.
He’s seen his local Labour MP, Kate Hoey, palling up with Nigel Farage (!) of all people.
The book ends with the encouraging result of the 2017 general election, but a sequel will be needed to reflect on the subsequent chaos of Brexit.

Susan Calman Is Convicted: Series 1 and 2 cover art
  • Susan Calman Is Convicted: Series 1 and 2

  • BBC Radio 4 Stand Up Comedy
  • By: Susan Calman
  • Narrated by: Susan Calman
  • Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 27

Susan Calman has some very strong opinions, and in her radio debut she expresses them with her trademark wit and charm. In series 1, she examines the current hot political topic of equal marriage, looks at the issues surrounding the death penalty from the perspective gained whilst working on death row, considers how best to deal with depression and evaluates what it means to be Scottish. In series 2 she explains why she has never been interested in having children, explores society’s obsession with appearance, discusses intellectual snobbery and asks what it is that makes us human.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • #Susan is awesome

  • By Mary Carnegie on 28-05-19

#Susan is awesome

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

Reviewed: 28-05-19

Recently discovered Susan Calman on an Audible binge of the News Quiz. The only antidote to anxiety about the way the world is going is to approach current affairs through humour!
I haven’t seen her on TV; I don’t have the concentration to watch Strictly.
Susan is funny and she’s opinionated in a good way.
She’s even met Sr Helen Prejean and visited death row in USA, as a sort of elective.
I even forgive her for studying at Glasgow, in spite of the eternal rivalry between my alma mater, Edinburgh, and the Weegies of the west.

Bel ami cover art
  • Bel ami

  • By: Guy de Maupassant
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roland
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

L'histoire d'un illustre inconnu qui, à force d'opportunisme, d'arrivisme et de culot, parvient à conquérir la capitale, à se faire un nom et une place. Une fresque des mœurs parisiennes où règnent l'ambition, l'ambiguïté sexuelle des discours et la décadence amoureuse au XIXème siècle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fake news and political corruption

  • By Mary Carnegie on 21-04-19

Fake news and political corruption

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

Reviewed: 21-04-19

The ignoble rise of an unscrupulous journalist, handsome son of Norman peasants is told from his point of view, but in the third person, giving the author more freedom for irony and distance from the self serving thinking of the protagonist.
The influence of Balzac and Flaubert is apparent, but the style is crisper, more concise, so the plot is more gripping.
Duroy- Bel-Ami, as he is nicknamed- IS bel but no ami!
There are regrettable 19th century stereotypes - the Jewish newspaper baron, for example, is described with more prejudice than was his 20th century real life counterpart Robert Maxwell, as far as I know. M Walter, however, is not the worst villain of the piece. He may be despised for being Jewish but the Gentiles around display even more strongly the characteristics they regard as specifically Jewish. Maybe that’s the point.

Dominion cover art
  • Dominion

  • By: C. J. Sansom
  • Narrated by: Daniel Weyman
  • Length: 20 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,423
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,106
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,116

The Great Smog. London. A dense, choking fog engulfs the city and beneath it, history is re-written…1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dominion: Fantastic and Atmospheric Novel!

  • By David on 21-11-12

A good alternative history thriller-but bad propaganda

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

Reviewed: 19-04-19

Fictions based on the premise that fascism won out in WWII are a fairly common trope in alternative historical novels. This one is well written but its avowed intent to denigrate those who supported indyref1 - portraying Yes voters as potentially pro-Nazi terrorists and collaborationists - it was written in 2012 in anticipation of the 2014 referendum- has turned out to be ridiculous as real events have unfolded.
It would have been a better book if the author hadn’t written it to prove a point.
It could also be seen as anticipatory pro-Brexit, pre-Brexit allegory- the nastiness of Europe and the dangers of associating with the people on the mainland. As it has turned out it has been the successors of the far right fictionalised real people ruling Samson’s UK after an imagined 1940 peace treaty, subservient to Nazi Germany, who are now the anti-European promoters of an intolerant English nationalism
The setting is 1952, the year of my birth, so some of the background is a recognisable variation of the era.