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  • 11
  • reviews
  • 7
  • helpful votes
  • 58
  • ratings
  • Invitation to the Waltz

  • By: Rosamond Lehmann
  • Narrated by: Joanna Lumley
  • Length: 5 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 12

Olivia Curtis wakes to her seventeenth birthday and her presents: a roll of flame-coloured silk for her first evening dress, a diary for her innermost thoughts, a china ornament, and a ten shilling note. Safe within the bosom of a family at once lovingly familiar yet curiously remote, she stands poised on the brink of womanhood, anticipating her first dance with tremulous uncertainty and excitement - the greatest, yet most terrifying, event in her restricted social life.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Exceptional writing and narration!

  • By B. on 07-09-18

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.

  • A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards

  • By: George M. Marsden
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 5 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Jonathan Edwards is one of the most extraordinary figures in American history. Arguably the most brilliant theologian ever born on American soil, Edwards (1703 - 1758) was also a pastor, a renowned preacher, a missionary to the Native Americans, a biographer, a college president, a philosopher, a loving husband, and the father of 11 children.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Far more illuminating than I expected

  • By B. on 22-04-18

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).

  • Golden Dreams

  • California in an Age of Abundance, 1950-1963
  • By: Kevin Starr
  • Narrated by: Elijah Alexander
  • Length: 29 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

Starr brilliantly illuminates the dominant economic, social, and cultural forces in California in these pivotal years. In a powerful blend of telling events, colorful personalities, and insightful analyses, Starr examines such issues as the overnight creation of the postwar California suburb, the rise of Los Angeles as Super City, the reluctant emergence of San Diego as one of the largest cities in the nation, and the decline of political centrism.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • One of the best history books I've listened to

  • By B. on 22-04-18

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.

  • In the Red Light

  • A History of the Republican Convention in 1964
  • By: Norman Mailer
  • Narrated by: Brian Sutherland
  • Length: 2 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

There was entertainment at the Republican Gala on Sunday night. The climax was a full marching band of bagpipers. They must have been hired for the week since one kept hearing them on the following days, and at all odd times, heard them even in my hotel room at four am for a few were marching in the streets of San Francisco, sounding through the night, giving off the barbaric evocation of the Scots, all valor, wrath, firmitude, and treachery - the wild complete treachery of the Scots finding its way into the sound of the pipes.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Eerie parallels with today's America

  • By B. on 14-10-17

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.

  • Dorothea Lange

  • A Life Beyond Limits
  • By: Linda Gordon
  • Narrated by: Kathleen Gati
  • Length: 17 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

We all know Dorothea Lange's iconic photos - the Migrant Mother holding her child, the shoeless children of the Dust Bowl - but now renowned American historian Linda Gordon brings them to three-dimensional life in this groundbreaking exploration of Lange's transformation into a documentarist. Using Lange's life to anchor a moving social history of 20th-century America, Gordon masterfully re-creates bohemian San Francisco, the Depression, and the Japanese-American internment camps.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • How the American Depression affected Photography.

  • By Graham on 13-07-13

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.

  • The Solitude of Self

  • Thinking About Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • By: Vivian Gornick
  • Narrated by: Theresa Conkin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 1

Vivian Gornick first encountered "The Solitude of Self" 30 years ago. Of that moment Gornick writes, "I hardly knew who Stanton was, much less what this speech meant in her life, or in our history, but it I can still remember thinking with excitement and gratitude, as I read these words for the first time, 80 years after they were written, 'We are beginning where she left off'." The Solitude of Self is a profound, distilled meditation on what makes American feminism American from one of the finest critics of our time.

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Interesting, disappointing, made worse by narrator

  • By B. on 07-10-16

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.

  • Wise Children

  • By: Angela Carter
  • Narrated by: Eileen Atkins
  • Length: 5 hrs and 15 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 80
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 63

Nora and Dora, the 'famous' Chance sisters, prepare to go to their perennially absent father's 100th birthday party. With a wide and colourful, often rather crazy cast, the story veers off in a multitude of directions as Dora's reminiscent narrative slips from past to present suddenly and seamlessly throughout. The illegitimate 'bastard' Chance twins are the black sheep of the family. The all-singing, all-dancing, sweary, aging, make-up caked, high-heeled, bawdy, gritty and overall magnetic Chance twins, that is.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engrossing storytelling

  • By Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits) on 08-07-13

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Father and Son

  • By: Edmund Gosse
  • Narrated by: Geoffrey Palmer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

Everyone has a swipe at their parents and the way they were brought up at some point in their lives. Very few of us exact revenge to the extent that Edmund Gosse did upon his father in this superbly funny, agonising account of a very strange childhood. The subtitle of the book is A Study of Two Temperaments, and these were temperaments not destined to get on. Gosse, Sr. was an eminent naturalist and zoologist and a keen follower of the Plymouth Brethren.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautifully written and absolutely riveting

  • By nigeyb on 04-12-17

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 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

  • By: Maya Angelou
  • Narrated by: Maya Angelou
  • Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 574
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 521
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 523

Maya Angelou's six volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of this extraordinary writer. Loving the world, she also knows its cruelty. As a Black woman she has known discrimination and extreme poverty, but also hope, joy, achievement, and celebration. In this first volume of her six books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white folks at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother's lover.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Such perfect diction and attention to detail

  • By Tessa Hancock on 12-03-15

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.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Artful

  • By: Ali Smith
  • Narrated by: Ali Smith
  • Length: 4 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

Originally four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University, Artful is a tidal wave of ideas in four thematically organised bursts of thought: On Time, On Form, On Edge and On Offer and On Reflection. Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted - literally - by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. Full of both the poignancy and humour of fiction and all the sideways insights and jaunty angles you would expect from Ali Smith’s criticism

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Initially confusing, ultimately engrossing

  • By B. on 03-04-16

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 of 2 people found this review helpful