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common reader

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  • The Lewis Man

  • By: Peter May
  • Narrated by: Peter Forbes
  • Length: 10 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,559
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,138
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,124

An unidentified corpse is recovered from a peat bog on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland. News of the discovery soon reaches Fin Macleod. However, since swapping his life in Edinburgh for a quiet existence on Lewis, such mysteries are no longer a concern for the former detective inspector. Or so he thought. The sequel to The Blackhouse, which was selected for the WH Smith Richard and Judy Bookclub, and the second book in the Lewis trilogy. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Atmospheric sequel to The Blackhouse

  • By Kirstine on 24-02-12

Trapped in this narrow corner of the world

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

Reviewed: 29-09-16

Would you listen to The Lewis Man again? Why?

Certainly. It is beautifully written and beautifully read. The trilogy vividly evokes life in a remote part of the country and presents us with densely real characters. It transcends its genre as crime fiction.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The hero Finn McLeod. A complex and ultimately sympathetic person.

What about Peter Forbes’s performance did you like?

He is a superlative storyteller; adept in the Gaelic language; performing a range of character voices with truth and subtlety; bringing the book to life in the most authentic way.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

No Man Is an Island.

Any additional comments?

Highest praise to Peter Forbes.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Carol Ann Duffy

  • Selected Poems 1985-1993
  • By: Carol Ann Duffy
  • Narrated by: Carol Ann Duffy
  • Length: 2 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 3

Selected Poems is a collection of poetry chosen by Carol Ann Duffy from her first four acclaimed novels: Standing Female Nude, Selling Manhattan, The Other Country, and Mean Time (winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Laureate, deservedly

  • By common reader on 03-10-15

Laureate, deservedly

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

Reviewed: 03-10-15

Carol Ann Duffy has an unique voice. Listening to her reading her poems while walking my terrier, I had a vision of a world transformed by her wise distillations of moments of experience. She is a genius.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Proud: My Autobiography

  • By: Gareth Thomas
  • Narrated by: Matthew Gravelle
  • Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113

Gareth Thomas had it all. He was a national hero, a sporting icon. He was a leader of men, captain of Wales and the British Lions. To him, rugby was an expression of cultural identity, a sacred code. It was no mere ball game. It gave him everything, except the freedom to be himself. This is the story of a man with a secret that was slowly killing him. Something that might devastate not only his own life but the lives of his wife, family, friends and teammates.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Remarkably honest

  • By Steve Richards on 19-01-15

An inspiring and almost unbearably moving book

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

Reviewed: 15-11-14

I have just finished listening to the last chapter, in which Gareth Thomas writes a wonderfully eloquent open letter to his 19-year-old self. I am the last person to read a sporting biography - at school I most of all dreaded being made to play rugby - but I am also Welsh, working-class, and gay. Gareth has touched me to the heart with his brave and beautifully-expressed account of his experience. He truly is a manly soul. I wish him so much happiness.

  • King of the Badgers

  • By: Philip Hensher
  • Narrated by: Mike Rogers
  • Length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 57
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 20

After the success of The Northern Clemency, which was short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Philip Hensher brings us the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of the small English town of Handsmouth. Usually a quiet and undisturbed place, Handsmouth becomes the centre of national attention when an eight-year-old girl vanishes. The town fills with journalists and television crews, who latch onto the public's fearful suspicions that the missing girl was abducted.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • State of England

  • By Nakul on 15-04-13

Multi-faceted novel written for adults

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

Reviewed: 21-10-14

If you could sum up King of the Badgers in three words, what would they be?

Complex, contemporary, intelligent.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sam the cheesemonger, because I readily identified with him - as an urbane gay man vegetating in a dismal semi-rural setting.

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

Nothing specific; although he is an excellent narrator with a good command of dialect. As a result of hearing it read, I do in fact intend to purchase the book, so I can re-experience its layered complexity in a non-linear way.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Any attempt to film the book would distort it beyond recognition. Literature does some things infinitely better.

Any additional comments?

I don't think the gay sex scenes (few in number) are terribly graphic. The lady in Boots and I obviously have widely differing lifestyles.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • A Question of Proof: Nigel Strangeways, Book 1

  • By: Nicholas Blake
  • Narrated by: Kris Dyer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 14

In the first book in the Nigel Strangeways classic crime series, an obnoxious schoolboy is found dead at his school Sports Day. Can amateur detective Nigel Strangeways help find the killer?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Classic English Golden Age murder

  • By common reader on 28-11-13

Classic English Golden Age murder

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

Reviewed: 28-11-13

Would you consider the audio edition of A Question of Proof: Nigel Strangeways, Book 1 to be better than the print version?

Not really, because I wasn't altogether happy with all aspects of the narrator's performance. Nicholas Blake/Cecil Day-Lewis was a donnish crime-writer in the Sayers/Crispin mould. His literary approach calls for a more classically-educated reader than Kris Dyer, who mispronounced many references which he could easily have verified on the internet.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Strangeways himself, I always enjoy this kind of learned eccentric with buffoonish tendencies.

Have you listened to any of Kris Dyer’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've heard him reading the third Strangeways novel, There's Trouble Brewing. He does a much better job in A Question of Proof. His strength is in mimicking regional accents, so he does a great job on the dialogue. However, he seems to have had the same vocal training as Princess Diana - i.e. he breaks every phrase and sentence into chunks of three or four words, which makes his delivery jerky and under-inflected. Question of Proof has lots of dialogue, so is not spoilt by this mannerism; but the other book has lengthy monologues from the hero, which become very tedious thanks to this mosaic-like narration.

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

Frequent laughter throughout, much of it from the belly.

Any additional comments?

Given that they are paid professionals, I wish narrators would take more trouble over easily-checked details of pronunciation, foreign phrases, etc. Thanks, however, to Kris Dyer for supplying a treasurable blooper - the 'crème passionelle'.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • The Anatomy of Ghosts

  • By: Andrew Taylor
  • Narrated by: John Telfer
  • Length: 13 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 163
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 61

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge. The ghost of Sylvia Whichcote is rumoured to be haunting Jerusalem, since disturbed fellow-commoner, Frank Oldershaw, claims to have seen the dead woman prowling the grounds. Desperate to salvage her son’s reputation, Lady Anne Oldershaw employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion to investigate.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Good book, brilliantly read.

  • By V. Hannides on 25-09-10

Mourning and melancholia

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

Reviewed: 28-08-13

What made the experience of listening to The Anatomy of Ghosts the most enjoyable?

Superbly crafted writing with a convincing sense of period. It had none of the careless linguistic anachronisms you get in some historical fiction.

What other book might you compare The Anatomy of Ghosts to, and why?

Great Expectations. As in Dickens' classic, the hero's destiny lies in the hands of two rather enigmatic female characters, while he is surrounded by vividly depicted rogues and eccentrics.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I loved the ending. The spectral presence vanishing in the light of dawn.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Haunted by the future.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Stuart Sapphire:

  • Murder in Regency Brighton
  • By: Alanna Knight
  • Narrated by: Joe Dunlop
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

August 1811. George, Prince of Wales, has his own reasons for welcoming time-traveller Tam Eildor to the Royal Pavilion. His latest mistress, Sarah, Marchioness of Creeve, has been murdered in his bed, strangled with her own string of pearls and the newly-created Prince Regent realises that a sordid scandal must be avoided at all costs.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Hanging participles, past and present...

  • By common reader on 23-08-13

Hanging participles, past and present...

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

Reviewed: 23-08-13

Would you try another book written by Alanna Knight or narrated by Joe Dunlop?

No. The reader is ponderous and not very intelligent. The author has a startling ungrammatical mannerism (see review headline), which is a constant irritation. Don't literary editors pick up on such things any more?

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He reads too slowly and sounds under-prepared. Several mispronunciations.

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

Yes. It was set in Brighton, which is why I wanted to read it. I love the place.

Any additional comments?

People who don't mind clumsy prose would certainly find the plot sufficiently gripping.

  • The Song of Achilles

  • By: Madeline Miller
  • Narrated by: David Thorpe
  • Length: 11 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 545
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 484
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 482

Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing. As they grow into young men their bond blossoms into something far deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • gripping and beautiful

  • By mrs on 07-04-13

Inspiring and beautiful

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-12-12

I found this deeply moving as well as elegantly written. The scene where the young men finally come together was so true! A masterly novel.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Maud (BBC Radio 4: Classic Serial)

  • By: Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • Narrated by: Joseph Millson, Katheryn Nutbeem
  • Length: 57 mins
  • Original Recording
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 3

A disturbed young man roams the windswept hills, haunted by his father's suicide and his mother's early death. He blames his father's old friend, the lord of the Hall, for his ruin. The young man was betrothed to Maud, the lord's daughter, when they were children, but she and her family left the area after the suicide. But now there are workmen up at the Hall - Maud has come home.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful and special

  • By common reader on 23-06-11

Beautiful and special

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-06-11

This is a lovely piece of voice acting which I shall listen to again and again.

Tennyson's sombre poem is adapted into an intensely-felt monologue - intimate, painfully immediate, but suddenly irradiated by ecstatic love lyrics in Tennyson's finest vein. Joseph Millson gives the best possible account of this dark and painful work. Even writing about it makes me want to listen again at once.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

The Cutting Room cover art
  • The Cutting Room

  • By: Louise Welsh
  • Narrated by: Robert Carlyle
  • Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 73
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 9

Rilke, an auctioneer, comes upon a hidden collection of violent erotic photographs. He feels compelled to unearth more about the deceased owner who coveted them. What follows is a journey of discovery, decadence, and deviousness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Make the weekend interesting

  • By Karen on 16-03-08

Wonderful... out-Marlowes Chandler!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-03-11

Other reviewers have summarised the plot and locale. All the superlatives have been used up. What is left to say?

Louise Welsh has given us a strangely elegiac account of city life and its squalor. It's a crowded territory for writers, including great ones: Baudelaire, Dostoevsky, Zola. What marks her out is an unsentimental, authentic-feeling sympathy with her characters. Before reading her, I would never have believed that anyone other than a gay man could have created a figure like Rilke.

Robert Carlyle is nothing short of superb, one of the best narrators I've heard. I'd place him alongside Stephen Rea.

Audiobooks don't come any more satisfying than this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful