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The Pale Horseman cover art

No pale imitation - this is as good as it gets

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-11-10

Want to know what it was like living in Saxon England, when all was in turmoil and the Danes were busy colonising the land? Want to understand how a young Northumbrian boy, taken in a Viking Raid, can become a warrior, grow to a man and be able to fight for both sides? Want to hear as if it was direct from his own lips? Then this fabulous audio recording is for you! It brings to life Uttrehd, an Earl's son, with all his strengths and weaknesses- his utter determination to get back to Bamborough and re-claim his land; his allegiances and loyalty to those Danes who raised him - yet his willingness to fight for King Alfred, whilst having utter contempt for the power and the pious ways of the King and of the priests who rule Alfred's life. There's double dealing all round and a whole cocktail of characters with their own agendas.

Yes, there's blood and gore, as Uttrehd's trusty sword 'Serpent Breath'does its work, but there's brilliant flashes of humour and irony too, to leaven the mix.

Tom Sellwood's narration is superb, as he carries us forward with the second book chronicling Uttrehd's life as a warrior, his marriage, his friendship with Leofric. The text is salty, it's stimulating, it's vibrant, its breathtaking in portraying the utter disregard for women, (or at least most of them) yet it is utterly captivating when the characters are so ably brought to life by Tom Sellwood. I loved the first book, and this one was a worthy successor. I've listened to it through twice in succession, so sorry was I that it had finished. Given the reviews I've read about the change of narrator for the following books, I am almost loath to try them... but I would encourage everyone to try these first two in the series - they're up there amongst the top 5 of the 100 audiobooks I've downloaded so far.

A great way to spend your evening(s)

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-10

This has to be my favourite of all Maeve Binchy's books, both the written and audio versions. A medley of characters, portrayed with generosity and sympathy, all embarking on the class for different reasons. I loved the way the back stories of the characters are melded together and how, the group moves forward together, to plan and then embark on their trip to Italy - which visit is the scene of some surprises for more than a few of them.

The marvellous 'Signora' - Nora - tugs at your heart with her heart warming simplicity and honesty and how good to have a love story where the key characters are not young, trendy, aspirational and career oriented 'thirty somethings' but instead are gently middle-aged with disappointments and disillusion behind them. Other individuals and couples in the story, similarly chime true and with the bonus of picking up some handy Italian phrases on the way, this novel is worth curling up with any evening, several times - it is always pleasant to revisit Mountain View - both in Italy and Ireland, to meet up again with these old friends. Hats off, again, to Kate Binchy, for her flawless and characterful narration.

8 people found this helpful

Binchy echoes strongly with real life

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-10

Another satisfying Maeve Binchy offering, dealing with class prejudice, education, aspirations, growing up and moral dilemmas seen from the viewpoint of the realistically drawn characters who populate Castlebay. Whilst involving some 'heavy' issues, dealing with traumas such as as post- natal depression, loss of religious vocation the story is leavened, as is usual with Binchy's novels, with light heartedness and humour which make the whole an intelligent and thought provoking read, with memorable and believable characters. As ever, Kate Binchy's narration of the book is a joy and adds pleasure to the whole experience.

4 people found this helpful

Bill Nighy definitely on the right side of the mic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 19-09-10

Never having read or listened to any of Simon Brett's work, I took a chance on this based on someone else's positive review. I am very glad that I did so. It introduced me to a new amateur 'sleuth', Charles Paris, splendidly portrayed by Bill Nighy. Enjoyed the whole experience and have to say, I've since treated myself to several early nights, with the naughty but sublimely sexy voice of Bill Nighy, (sorry, Charles Paris) murmuring in my ear!

1 person found this helpful

Appreciating Austen through an Engaging Emma

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-10

This one is easy to review - totally loved it!
Characterisation and period brought to life - a good story which didn't lose much (as is inevitable) in the editing to achieve the dramatisation.

4 people found this helpful

Room for improvement

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-10

I was looking forward to this dramatisation but found myself somewhat disappointed and distracted by the 'overacting' by certain characters, if you can apply that term to radio dramatisation. Whilst the core story stands the test of time, for some reason many of the characters came across as too 'modern' for the period the story was portraying. Still worth a first listen though I won't put it amongst my favourites to listen to again (and again!).

3 people found this helpful

Classic Christie keeps you guessing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-10

This is one of the Christie's I first read as a teenager in the 60s (when it had a less politically correct name). None of which detracts from the craft Christie employs to bring together a group of diverse characters, each with their own secrets from the past, to an isolated island, where they are 'bumped off' one by one. The mechanism to get them there is a little contrived, but that is forgotten as the sense of menace and suspicion which imbues what follows builds up and increasingly affects the party and their actions. The lack of sympathy for the 'serving classes' struck me, but this is probably representative of Christie's time and background. It doesn't stop the book being a 'cracking good who dunnit?' though and the characters come through the narrators voice as being distinct and believable. The perpetrator and his/her motives are somewhat a surprise... or at least they were to me!

5 people found this helpful

Old favourite stands the test of time

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-08-10

first read this in the early 1960s and have re-read it periodically since then, though not for 10 years or so, so I was very encouraged to see Norah Lofts' work on audio. Her books don't appear in the local library and I haven't seen them offered in either chain or local bookshops. 'Bless this House' is typical of much of Norah Lofts 'historical'fiction - taking you on a journey through the lifetime of a particular house and the people who inhabit it. It was an engrossing listen with vivid characters brought to life by the narration and provided the backdrop and sense of atmosphere for the times each character lived through and the social mores and economic circumstances, which constrained their behaviour. I could see the house itself, 'Merravay', in my mind and felt for its gradual deterioration and its need to be loved and cherished by owners who appreciated it. A good introduction to listeners not familiar with Norah Lofts historical fiction. I am hoping an audio version of the' House at Old Vine' will be made at some time in the near future.

4 people found this helpful

Complete Circle - Binchy satisfies on all counts

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-10

Maeve Binchy has done it again, this is one of her better books and the audio version helps bring to life those characters who spring off the page - cosseted and somewhat suffocated Benny, in love with the faithless handsome Jack; Eve her best friend,ever staunch and reliable; naughty Nan - whose beauty captures the eye but not the heart. You can almost imagine the awful Sean, wringing his hands in 'Uriah Heep' fashion, such is Kate Binchy's excellent narration which brings this circle of friends (and foes) to life. A feelgood tale which yet portrays some of the trials and tribulations of young people growing up in less permissive times,with a satisfying and somewhat surprising conclusion.

5 people found this helpful

Maeve Binchy at her Best

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-08-10

Another pleasing tale from Maeve Binchy ... gentle yet dealing with sometimes painful subjects such as infidelity, domestic violence, bereavement and their impact. Great characterisation - I especially loved the hapless young Brian - saying out loud those things which made his families cringe. Also well drawn are the cool and false friend Rosemary; Ria's bustling mother 'Holly' forever 'only staying for a minute'; the charming philandering husband, Danny and the visiting American, Marilyn, dropped into this perplexing whirlpool of Irish friends and family knowing each other's business and being intimately involved in each other's lives. As ever, narrator Kate Binchy rises to the challenge of bringing this diverse range of characters to life. I felt that I could fly to Dublin, find then wander down Tara Road and meet these characters for real,on that well portrayed street.