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Mary

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The way we live now too - 150 years on.

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

Reviewed: 06-01-18

As always, Timothy West brings vibrant life to Trollope. I am immensely grateful. We see ourselves with all our faults and kindnesses in this story set in the 1870s. Here are social climbers, bankers, merchants and aristocrats laid bare - but also gentle and affectionate people trying to do the best they can. Money and power go hand in hand and can be as destructive and terrible then as now. But there are no sermons within a text that entertains as much as it warns us of our failings.
The narration is perfect.

Joyous listening ("The lemon is in play")

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

Reviewed: 28-01-16

Where does Cabin Pressure, The Complete Series 1 rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I was a little reluctant to use precious credits on audiobooks that are so short - but when you find that you want to listen over and over again to each episode, you realise that these are credits well spent. I now have all 4 series - indeed, every episode ever made (there will be no more) and they still make me laugh aloud in places. (When I listen as I walk with the dogs I tend to have a permanent grin on my face. Anyone seeing me would probably sidle away as quickly as possible.)

What did you like best about this story?

These are all real, believable, warm, lovable and very funny characters. Each is very different. No one character is more important than any other but together they make the MJN airline (consisting of one elderly jet) a "family" whose antics are entirely believable in spite of being often surreal. The writing is just superb, the plots complex and satisfying, and each time I listen to the dialogue I notice something subtle that hadn't struck me before.

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

This is a BBC radio series. I only caught a very few when they were broadcast - but quickly realised that this is BBC radio comedy at its very, very best. John Finnemore, both as writer and actor, is a joy. Stephanie Cole is perfect (and it is so good that she gets her own marvellously idiosyncratic love story!), no one in England has a more splendid voice than Roger Allam, and here is Benedict Cumberbatch giving each episode such a lovable, diffident, self-deprecating seam of fun that his eventual triumph makes one want to cheer aloud.

2 people found this helpful

Hmmm

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

Reviewed: 05-10-15

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Perhaps not to my own friends. The book is slight, sometimes amusing, not always very credible - but it seems to me to lack the warmth and laugh-out-loud moments I relished in "Love Nina".

Would you ever listen to anything by Nina Stibbe again?

Yes. She can write with real originality and sense of fun.

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

No. Nice voice for the young daughter she portrays and good variation for the others.

Was Man at the Helm worth the listening time?

I am rather sad to say that I do not think so.

Any additional comments?

It really wasn't too bad. Faint praise, alas.

9 people found this helpful

Good narrator but weak story

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

Reviewed: 13-12-14

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

The story moves at an unnecessarily slow pace and I found myself groaning at some of the writing. I didn't care about any of the characters in spite of the narrator's efforts to give them life but the dialogue wasn't up to it and the characters did not show any credible development. There was no suspense in this "detective" story, no relevant clues, just red herrings - and it was too easy to guess whodunnit.

Would you ever listen to anything by J. M. Gregson again?

No.

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

I chose this book simply on the strength of the narrator's past performances. His voice has a good range and is easy to listen to. Without it, I should certainly not have bothered to listen to the end.

What character would you cut from Something Is Rotten?

Not a helpful question in this case.

Any additional comments?

I realise that all this is just my opinion. It seems from other reviews that I am very much in the minority. I wrote this just to warn others who read the five star reviews that they might, like me, be disappointed if they use a credit on this.

1 person found this helpful

Surprised by so much here

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

Reviewed: 10-12-14

What did you like most about Goldfinger (with Interview)?

Expecting a very light read to listen to while engaged on mundane tasks, I quickly realised that - perhaps because Fleming wrote this at the end of the fifties - his style here still had a sort of innocence. Even the baddies (with the exception of poor old Oddjob) have their vulnerabilities and their twisted but believable humanity. And Bond certainly does. He is shown worrying about the violence he has to show in his profession and there are moments of real characterisation never seen in the films.The writing too is surprising, with moments of imagery that lift the book way beyond the mere thriller - as too do the lengthy explanations, saved from being boring by little dramatic moments, about the importance of gold to the British economy in the fifties or the intricacies of really good golf. Yes, the treatment of the girls and lesbianism makes us groan nowadays - but it fits the era and adds a lot of colour to this macho tale.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favourite chacacter, apart from marvellous James Bond himself, is the Bank of England gold expert, Smithers. As Bond himself says, one can listen to a really enthusiastic expert with interest, whatever the expertise is in. And given the mess we are in with our ever more worthless fiat currency, the long chapter on gold couldn't be more relevant.

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

I soon forgot the Downton Abbey aristocrat and even Paddington's Mr Brown. Hugh Bonneville brings all the characters alive. Really impressive.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Definitely. I couldn't - but would have done if I could have found enough free consecutive hours.

Any additional comments?

Don't be put off this audiobook by the awful, heartless modern OO7 brand. This is a really exciting and well written story, beautifully read.

1 person found this helpful

A detailed introduction to the period

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

Reviewed: 09-12-14

Would you listen to Georgette Heyer's Regency World again? Why?

No. But I would read it again in the print version, especially if there were plenty of illustrations.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Georgette Heyer's Regency World?

The section on food and meals was fascinating. All the sections were interesting though.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Charlotte Strevens?

I'm afraid not. She has a nice voice but some odd pronunciation and rather elocution-y voice was something of a distraction.

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

Not that sort of book! It is a look at the social history of the period, using as examples some of Georgette Heyer's characters.

2 people found this helpful

All human life is here

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

Reviewed: 15-05-14

Would you consider the audio edition of My Life in Pieces to be better than the print version?

Simon Callow's voice is warm, funny, wise and self deprecating - but the book is intensely "serious" in the sense that its subject really is the whole of human life. No wonder the book is so long. Thinking about what it means to be human is something many of us lazily or fearfully prefer to avoid. More and more, it seems, we use consumerism and desire for quick fix entertainment to hide the realities we'd rather not think about - since to do so requires keeping still and facing up to things. It is easy to sleepwalk through life. Listening to Simon Callow's voice reminds one of how far theatre at its best can wake us up.
And he is a wonderful mimic, parading throughout the book the famous and the extraordinary characters he has delighted in so that we meet them too.

What did you like best about this story?

Simon Calllow gives us the background as well as the foreground - not just about putting on plays but about the creative urge itself. Much of the book recounts articles he has written in ephemeral journals or newspapers and so gives them, thank goodness, a permanence.

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

He has always delighted me with his warmth and with the fact that his eloquence and intellect are always evident - never for show but to enlighten. I shall now search for anything on Audible he has narrated, but especially his own writing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes...but it is long enough to last for several days. When I found, just now, that I had only 20 minutes of the last part left, it was a real sorrow. I know that this is one of those audio books that I'll listen to again, probably many times, and will always hear and understand something new.

Any additional comments?

It has taught me a great deal that I didn't know about plays, players, writers and actors, and also a great deal about the plays, writers and actors I thought I did know about- actually it has taught me a lot about people. There are parts - many - that made me laugh aloud, parts that are moving and parts that open a window into experiences I knew nothing about. I only write reviews for books I love. This is one.

1 person found this helpful

A compelling and account of WW1, beautifully read

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

Reviewed: 11-01-14

Where does Goodbye to All That rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This, to my surprise, is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard. Rather ashamed of never reading it before because of my horror of violence, I found the book heartbreaking certainly, but told with calm and even humour at times. This meant that the appalling conditions could be taken in because of the lightness of touch of the writing.Details were fascinating. I hadn't realised, for example, that Robert Graves had become friends with Siegfried Sassoon and others during the war.It is interesting that Graves' story begins with his hard experiences of public school life - and this too perhaps explains why so many heroic young men from such schools who flocked to be officers were able to accept the nasty brutish experience of France. But he makes sure too that we see the bravery and resilience of the men - and how their war was often made so much worse by the insensitivity and even idiocy of the heirarchy whose uniforms never saw blood and mud. The section on the language and attitudes he becomes aware of from the jingoists back in England makes one want to weep.Robert Graves was one of the very few young officers who survived the war - and even afterwards his post war experience makes it clear that the mental suffering of those years was very great even for men like him who were able to keep their sense of humour and perspective. He never once betrays any self pity - and his evident fury at the waste of life caused by the unnecessary prolonging of the war after 1915 is only quietly expressed - and is all the more powerful for that.

What other book might you compare Goodbye to All That to, and why?

It has something of the flavour of "Birdsong" - but what makes it so remarkable is that, unlike Sebastian Faulkes' excellent novel, "Goodbye to all That" is a first hand series of true memories, written with honesty and humour, compassion for others and no plea for pity for himself. The scenes of actual battle are matter of fact - and all the more powerful for that.

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

Martin Jarvis is very easy to listen to and he is one of my favourite narrators.His range - from William stories to the horrors of war - is impressive.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. Sometimes one wanted to stop to let parts of the account sink in. I listened mainly while walking in the country. I think I heard it all in about five sessions.

Any additional comments?

The UK Minister of Education has suggested in this centenary year that accounts of WW1 that emphasise to the public the horrors are only because "left wing academics" choose to "feed myths" about World War One. One wonders if he has ever actually read first hand accounts such as this. Robert Graves, Siegfried Sasson, Wilfred Owen and others, whose medals proved their outstanding bravery, were all too aware of the hell on earth of the trenches - because they were there in the bloody thick of it. Now more than ever we must take on board the message of their writing and not allow politicians to enlist our "patriotism" for their own ends, mere trade advantage or empire building.

10 people found this helpful

Hours of delighted listening

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-09-10

To say that an extra dimension is given by Stephen Fry's voice would be an understatement. He confides, entertains, shocks, confesses, delights, enlightens - rather than merely narrates. It makes the price of this book seem far too low.

In the course of telling the part of his story that stretches from Cambridge to the fame and fortune of his later twenties, he shares with us some of the thoughts and inner fears that he says still haunt him. None of this is solemn or toe-curling though. He always brings himself (and us) back from the brink with a throw-away line of such ludicrous self-mockery that, if most react as I did, the loudness of your own laughter comes as quite a shock.

It's also an insider's look at the way comedy changed and grew in the eighties. Nearly all the radio and television heroes of that era are there. You can hear their voices and each is treated with affectionate glee.

It's rare to find a book where every sentence is satisfying, funny or moving. In an audio book this is a special delight.

He says that it cannot be wondered at that his own rather shy hero, Alan Bennett, is so greatly loved. The self-deprecation that emerges in this book reveals the astonishing fact that Stephen Fry too lacks inner self-assurance - in spite of his cultured, funny, 'Renaissance Man' persona. It's as if he can't quite believe the enormous affection with which the nation regards him but it seems likely that this book will increase that affectionate admiration even more.

188 people found this helpful

Always so much more than fantasy

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-12-09

"I can't be doing with fantasy," said my dear 70 year old neighbour, shuddering with well-bred distaste at my suggestion that he'd enjoy Pratchett. But once I had nailed his ear to the MP3 he was soon as full of praise and awe as I am. And saw what is there under the delightful and funny surface.

WHy oh why are Pratchett's novels called "fantasy"? They are far more about our own down-to-earth Earth than most books that purport to hold a mirror up to nature. Of course this story is about football and is very funny indeed - but it is also about... friendship, racism, the nature of love, bullying, courage,the best kind of politics, the desperate need to find self-worth, pies...

Terry Pratchett just gets better and better. This novel is on a par with Night Watch and Going Postal. I can't praise them enough for their un-po-faced sharing of wisdom and optimism.

37 people found this helpful