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Nancy Bowring

Sussex
  • 21
  • reviews
  • 122
  • helpful votes
  • 501
  • ratings
  • Alexander's Bridge

  • Willa Cather's First Novel
  • By: Willa Cather
  • Narrated by: Deaver Brown
  • Length: 2 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars 1

Alexander's Bridge was Willa Cather's first novel and one of her best. Bartley Alexander was the world's leading bridge builder, something that was considered an awesome skill in the early 20th century. Alexander has the strength and regret that weave throughout Cather's male characters much as they do through those of her contemporary authors, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Dreiser, Anderson, Lewis, and others.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Difficult to listen to

  • By Nancy Bowring on 26-08-18

Difficult to listen to

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

Reviewed: 26-08-18

After two attempts, I gave up on this audio-book. The one star for story is misleading but I didn't know what else to put. Despite a pleasant voice, pauses and inflections in odd places made the narration hard to follow.

  • Endurance

  • Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
  • By: Alfred Lansing
  • Narrated by: Simon Prebble
  • Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1,663
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,522
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,521

In August of 1914, the British ship Endurance set sail for the South Atlantic. In October, 1915, still half a continent away from its intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in the ice. For five months, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the most savage regions of the world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Enthralling

  • By penobscott on 10-07-17

Surviving the impossible

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

Reviewed: 28-11-17

After listening to this audiobook the word Endurance has taken on a whole new meaning for me. The fortitude of every single member of the expedition, the vast stores of optimism in the face of appalling odds and the sheer “bouncebackability” of the entire team is quite astounding.
How our problems would reduce if we had a few men/women with the leadership qualities of Shackleton. A truly remarkable story of grit, determination and comradeship. Alfred Lansing has a great ability to tell a story of such magnitude without sentiment yet with great compassion and sensibility. Simon Prebble was superb as narrator.

  • Rasputin

  • The Biography
  • By: Douglas Smith
  • Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
  • Length: 33 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 47
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

A hundred years after his murder, Rasputin continues to excite the popular imagination as the personification of evil. The spectre of the lustful Siberian holy man and peasant still casts its eerie shadow over Russia's bloody 20th century. Numerous biographies, novels, and films recount his mysterious rise to power as Nicholas and Alexandra's confidant and guardian of the sickly heir to the throne.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Narrator

  • By Lewes, on 30-05-17

This book changed my mind about Rasputin

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

Reviewed: 17-12-16

Everything I have ever read about the years leading up to the Russian Revolution had convinced me that Rasputin was one of the chief culprits in the demise of Russia as it was known up until that time. He was evil, debauched and would stop at nothing for power.
After extensive research, Douglas Smith has produced a book which has completely changed my mind about this much vilified/adored, charismatic/weird man.
He was undoubtedly the scapegoat for all the problems of the Romanoff dynasty. Imperialists found it easier to blame a peasant with the “evil eye” than a weak Tsar who did not possess the strength or wisdom to rule Russia and prevent Revolution.
A deeply religious man with supposed super-natural powers, he was a loving husband and family man who cared about the poor and suffering. This deeply controversial man also
loved women and was unfaithful to his wife (with her consent, it would seem).
Haunting, mesmerising eyes and an innate ability to read minds and predict future events gave him the reputation of a mystic. Tragically for him and his country, the saying “no smoke without fire” allowed these “powers” to feed his critics with myths that grew out of all proportion to reality and become the truth to millions.
The only fault I have with this book is that it is too long. Many “stories” were so similar to each other it seemed like repetition and could possibly have been omitted.
Good narrator with clear diction which is a help when listening to such a long audiobook that requires much concentration.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Wind in the Willows

  • By: Kenneth Grahame
  • Narrated by: Alan Bennett
  • Length: 3 hrs and 13 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 92
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 63
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 62

When the Water Rat invites the unassuming Mole to spend his first day ever in a boat on the river, and wise Badger comes along for the ride as well, so begins a marvellous season of adventure for the three friends. Mr Toad (he of Toad Hall) completes a happy foursome, but his tendency to get into hot water leads him into some rather hair-raising scrapes of his own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The definitive version!

  • By Rebecca on 06-07-06

Listening to Alan Bennett is a "comfort listen"

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

Reviewed: 09-09-15

I was read this book by a teacher at school and loved it. Listening to Alan Bennett is even better. He becomes "Ratty", "Mole", "Badger" and most importantly of all "Toad". I have lost count of how many times I have listened to this audiobook and yet I never tire of it. Mr Toad's lisping over-confidence and conceit are a delight as are all the other character's voices. A must-listen - lots of times!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Burmese Days

  • By: George Orwell
  • Narrated by: Allan Corduner
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 419
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 387
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 383

An unabridged recording of Orwell's brilliant first novel read by Allan Corduner. The story is largely based on Orwell's own experiences as a police officer in Burma. Set in the dying days of the Raj, it depicts the harshness and darker side of colonial rule. And at its centre is John Flory, a lone individual hopelessly trapped in a vast political system; themes which set the agenda for much of his writing. Burmese Days was Orwell's first novel, and was issued in 1934 in America, then a year later in the UK where there had been fears and controversy initially that the material could be libellous.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A wonderful listen

  • By Chelin on 05-12-12

Compulsive story to listen to. Highly recommended

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

Reviewed: 02-05-15

Set in Burma towards the end of the British Raj, where bigotry and racism thrive in the closed society of the Englishmen’s club. The story centres around John Flory, whose life has been governed by an ugly birthmark on his face. It is about his two relationships in an otherwise friendless life and the effects of a vicious, scheming and corrupt magistrate. George Orwell tells his tale with empathy, an intimate knowledge of his main character and some scorn towards a society he got to know personally. Allan Corduner’s narration is first rate.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

  • By: Karen Joy Fowler
  • Narrated by: Katharine Mangold
  • Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 551
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 497
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 502

Rosemary's started college, and she's decided not to tell anyone about her family. Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone - vanished from her life. There was something unique about Rosemary's sister, Fern. You'll have to find out for yourself what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fab story beautifully told

  • By Mags on 30-01-15

A must read for all doubters

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

Reviewed: 22-03-15

The inhumanity of man towards animals, particularly in research laboratories, has always been a touchy subject. Karen Joy Fowler tackles it with great sensitivity and with the passion of someone who has witnessed it first-hand. If it hadn’t been told with such compassion and sensitivity I would have found parts of this story impossible to listen to.
I recommend it to anyone who is in any doubt about what goes on behind the closed doors of animal labs.

The Burgess Boys cover art
  • The Burgess Boys

  • A Novel
  • By: Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
  • Length: 13 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 90
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan - the Burgess sibling who stayed behind - urgently calls them home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Authentic characters make for a gripping listen

  • By Nancy Bowring on 17-01-15

Authentic characters make for a gripping listen

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

Reviewed: 17-01-15

After a tragic childhood accident, the Burgess children’s lives and personalities have all been deeply affected; not just in the ways in which their lives have turned out, but particularly in the way they respond to and treat each other. This has a knock-on effect on the sister Susan’s son, Zach and his actions threaten to destroy not only his own life but race-relations in their local community.
Elizabeth Strout has a rare talent for portraying her characters, not only as 3 dimensional, but as whole, totally believable people. As in real life, nobody is totally good (though Bob comes close to that description) or bad.
A narrator can make or break a book. Cassandra Campbell enhances this audiobook by bringing to life each character with its own instantly recognisable voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Amy and Isabelle

  • A Novel
  • By: Elizabeth Strout
  • Narrated by: Stephanie Roberts
  • Length: 11 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 83
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 78

With compassion, humor, and striking insight, Amy and Isabelle explores the secrets of sexuality that jeopardize the love between a mother and her daughter. Amy Goodrow, a shy high school student in a small mill town, falls in love with her math teacher, and together they cross the line between understandable fantasy and disturbing reality. When discovered, this emotional and physical trespass brings disgrace to Amy's mother, Isabelle, and intensifies the shame she feels about her own past.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Compelling story about relationships

  • By Nancy Bowring on 19-11-14

Compelling story about relationships

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

Reviewed: 19-11-14

This is one of the best books I’ve read/listened to for a very long time. Elizabeth Strout has an innate understanding of human nature and how people tick. It is basically about relationships and how our perception about the way people think about us affects our ability to get on with them.
The two main relationships are between the daughter and mother, Amy and Isabelle. Their mutual lack of understanding about each other’s needs is tragic and destructive. It is only when Isabelle faces the truth about herself that she is able to appreciate her daughter’s feelings and recognise her own deep love for her.
The first class narrator breathes life into each intricately drawn character (and there are many varied personalities in the book) and makes every one utterly convincing and real.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Bad News

  • A Patrick Melrose Novel, Book 2
  • By: Edward St Aubyn
  • Narrated by: Alex Jennings
  • Length: 5 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 35

Twenty-two years old and in the grip of a massive addiction, Patrick Melrose is forced to fly to New York to collect his father's ashes. Over the course of a weekend, Patrick’s remorseless search for drugs on the avenues of Manhattan, haunted by old acquaintances and insistent inner voices, sends him into a nightmarish spiral. Alone in his room at the Pierre Hotel, he pushes body and mind to the very edge - desperate always to stay one step ahead of his rapidly encroaching past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Depressing but brilliantly written and spoken

  • By Nancy Bowring on 27-07-14

Depressing but brilliantly written and spoken

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

Reviewed: 27-07-14

This book is so depressing that, although it is brilliantly told, I couldn't give it a higher rating than 4 stars. Edward St. Aubyn relates the sordid world of drug taking in such vivid detail that I felt I was there with him as he dealt with dealers, struggled to find veins that were not damaged from previous abuse and lived in permanent anticipation of his next “fix”.
In New York to collect the ashes of his abusive father, the story is about the endless round of sniffing, injecting, swallowing drugs and, although he knew that the seconds of pleasure they gave him were not worth the agony of withdrawal, he could not stop himself. This book should be on every school syllabus because it would surely discourage any would-be addict from ever attempting to try drugs.
Alex Jennings narration is superb and made the miserable account of an addict’s life bearable.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • We Need New Names

  • By: NoViolet Bulawayo
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 49

'To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?' Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Poor Narration: Zimbabwean/Carribean accent?

  • By Lorraine on 25-03-14

A Must for Westerners to Read

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

Reviewed: 09-01-14

Any additional comments?

We see the newsreels of the corruption of the Zimbabwe government; rigged elections, seizure of white farms etc and are appalled. Through the eyes of 10 year-old Darling we witness at first-hand the intense suffering and starvation this brings to the very people whose lives they were meant to improve. More than any news story, this book made me feel outraged that they are allowed to continue their unremitting destruction of their beautiful country and people.
Emigration to America seems like the answer but is fraught with problems of a different nature; the constant fear of capture as an illegal immigrant, homesickness and constant demands from relatives back home for hard-earned money.
Though there were a few chapters where my concentration lagged, No Violet Bulawayo is a naturally gifted writer and I found most of the book riveting. Robin Miles is a first class narrator. I don’t know if she has spent time in Africa but her accents and pronunciations were spot on. Her slow transition from Zimbabwean to American accent during the second half of the book was subtle and skilful. I recommend this audiobook firstly because it is a captivating story and secondly because it reminds us how fortunate we are to live in this country.