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Exceptional writing and narration!

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

Reviewed: 07-09-18

I'm a 60 year old man but I loved this story of a 17 year old girl's first formal dance. Joanna Lumley's narration is perfect: not one nuance or character voicing would I change. I only regret that she has so few other audiobooks available. And Lehmann's writing is continuously interesting and unexpected. She has a sharp eye for both appearances and mannerisms, and we meet quite a diverse cast of characters in the course of the book. There are moments of Virginia Woolf and moments of P. G. Wodehouse, moments of Dickens and moments of Joyce. One of the most satisfying listens of the year so far.

2 people found this helpful

Far more illuminating than I expected

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

Reviewed: 22-04-18

I was one of those who, as George Marsden remarks at the start of this book, only knew Jonathan Edwards through having to read his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" in high school. Marsden's biography shows Edwards to have been much more than the stereotype of the rigid and Calvinistic Puritan he seemed from that one exposure. This book is a distillation of the much longer biography Marsden wrote, but it's not just an abridgement. Instead, Marsden makes it almost a parallel biography of Edwards and his contemporary, Benjamin Franklin, and throughout the book, reveals much about two streams in the American character--the spiritual and the entrepeneurial--that still come together in both complementary and contradictory ways today. And as always, Grover Gardner provides a wonderful reading of the text. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand what makes America tick (and tock).

One of the best history books I've listened to

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

Reviewed: 22-04-18

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish the rest of the volumes in this remarkable series were also available in audiobook form. Starr's approach is a combination of survey and deep focus, covering the broad trends in the state's development during this period through a series of in-depth treatments of people, places, and cultural and political aspects. So he covers everything from the design and construction of freeways to the economic and racial tensions arising from the growth of Los Angeles to the origin and success of West Coast jazz. Along the way, he provides wonderful sketches of characters such as Roger Revelle, Dorothy "Buff" Chandler, Dave Brubeck, and Edmund G. "Pat" Brown (Jerry Brown's dad). The range, diversity, and continuing interest of the material is exceptional. Since listening to this, I've found it tough to find another audiobook that comes up to this standard.

Dear Audible Studios: please put the rest of Kevin Starr's "Americans and the California Dream" series on your "To Do" list.

Eerie parallels with today's America

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

Reviewed: 14-10-17

Although it's over 50 years old, Mailer's account of the 1964 Republican convention at which Barry Goldwater was selected as the candidate of a new, Western, and far-right movement cannot be heard today without finding numerous parallels with today's America. Like Trump's supporters, Goldwater's were overwhelmingly white, suspicious of the mainstream media, fearful of the rise of black power through the civil rights movement, and determined to reverse immigration trends, particularly from Latin America. Mailer was no fan of Lyndon Johnson, either, and he was able to see how Goldwater's extremism could appeal to people who were fed up with what they saw as an American becoming synthetic, technophilic, liberal, and soulless. On the other hand, he also saw how easily someone like Goldwater could transform into a demagogue who would be calling for journalists to be locked up and massive forces to invade a small and mostly harmless island like Cuba merely for what it represented as a symbolic threat. Caustically funny, sometimes pompous, but always interesting. Minute for minute, one of the most satisfying selections in the last year.

Excellent biography, terrible narration

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

Reviewed: 14-07-17

Five stars for Linda Gordon's writing and the rich historical setting she provides, always going into valuable depth about the background, causes, economic factors, prejudices, and prevailing movements that influenced Dorothea Lange's life. Kathleen Gati's narration, however, is atrocious. She repeatedly commits two of the gravest sins of audiobook narration. First, she routinely butchers pronunciations--far more than I could keep track of but many cringe-worthily bad (James Aggy, not AY-gee, Modest-OH, not MOH-desto) and some simply jaw-droppingly bad (at least once "photography" comes out "photoGRAPH-ee"). Second, it quickly becomes obvious that her first reading of the text is the one that got recorded, because many times her intonation drops, as if she thought the end of a line of text was also the end of a sentence--only to sudden pick up again as she discovers there's more left on the following line. Don't let the sample fool you--much audible suffering will be involved to get through this book. Overall, is it worth the effort? Yes, very much so: but it's a real shame what one reader did to muck up a fine book.

Interesting, disappointing, made worse by narrator

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

Reviewed: 07-10-16

I've listened to all of Gornick's audiobooks and have found all of them illuminating and well-written. But I've also found that Audible managed consistently to hire the wrong narrators for the material. They're all too matter-of-fact and aggressive for the reflective tone of Gornick's writing, and Theresa Conklin is by far the worst. Her voice is more appropriate for an instruction manual or superficial self-help book. However, I also found this the weakest of Gornick's books, almost entirely a relatively straightforward biography with only a short introduction that really qualified as "thinking about Elizabeth Cady Stanton," particularly in terms of considering how Stanton's life and work related to Gornick's own experiences in the rising wave of feminism in the early 1970s. Quite disappointing.

An entertaining novel made perfect by the narrator

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

Reviewed: 07-10-16

One of the most enjoyable audiobooks I've listened to in the last year. Eileen Atkins' sly Cockney accent is perfect for the narrator, Dora, 75 year old cynical realist of the once-famous twin Chance Sisters. She manages to bring out every innuendo and irony of Carter's text as Dora relates the story of the Chance Sisters, their thirty-some years on the circuit in Britain and the US as a singing/dancing act, and of their relationship with the more famous Hazards, a great English acting family. The story is fabulous, over the top, funny, and endearing, and as told by Atkins, it's a pure treat. I loved every minute of it. Bravo!

1 person found this helpful

Wonderful reading of a tender and funny memoir

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

Reviewed: 20-05-16

Some accuse Gosse of demonizing his father, which was certainly the impression I had before listening to this book. While Gosse's father was a purist in his view of Christianity, he was also a tender and, in his way, loving father, and I thought the portrait sympathetic. A humor based on long perspective and understanding enlivens the book, and Geoffrey Palmer's reading makes it shine. The combination of his nuanced interpretation and Gosse's rich Victorian prose is marvelous. A thoroughly enjoyable listen.

2 people found this helpful

Better read than heard

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

Reviewed: 03-04-16

I know this book is considered something of a modern classic, but I must say that I found it agonizing to listen to Maya Angelou's reading. Her ultra-precise and ultra-slow diction made me feel as if she were either reading the most secret and sacred text on the planet for the one and only time I would ever get hear it, or reading out instructions while I had my head in the engine compartment, trying to fix a car. How anyone can take hours and hours of is beyond me.

1 person found this helpful

Initially confusing, ultimately engrossing

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

Reviewed: 03-04-16

Although Artful is based on a series of lectures Ali Smith delivered, listeners should be warned that she includes a back story that positions them more as letters to a recently-deceased lover. For me, this was initially confusing, but once I caught on, I found the book fascinating and often wished I had a pencil and paper handy to jot down some of the many literary and cultural references that intrigued me. I found it an engrossing listen that I felt wasn't long enough. I would seriously consider listening to it again, and I almost *never* do that.

2 people found this helpful