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Nellig

UK
  • 11
  • reviews
  • 42
  • helpful votes
  • 85
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  • Shirley Jackson

  • A Rather Haunted Life
  • By: Ruth Franklin
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 19 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 9

Known to millions mainly as the author of the "The Lottery", Shirley Jackson has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America more deeply than anyone. Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nice chewy one

  • By Nellig on 28-05-17

Nice chewy one

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

Reviewed: 28-05-17

This is a nice long, workmanlike, properly-researched account of Shirley Jackson's life. Very listenable. Perceptive and sympathetic without losing objectivity. Kept me entertained for ages.

  • Perdido Street Station: New Crobuzon, Book 1

  • By: China Mieville
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Oliver
  • Length: 31 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 442
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 334
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 330

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to none—not even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Flawed. Overlong. Masterful.

  • By Will on 31-01-12

Over-egged and under-edited; strangely addictive

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-10-11

Well this thing will definitely give you a run for your money. The writing is often horribly clumsy, but sometimes hits a lovely precise perfection.

As with Embassy Town, the best bit is the set-up. Here we learn about the huge roiling vibrant messy city of New Crobuzon, and the engaging protagonists of the story. I could have done with even more of this stuff.

Then the action starts, and while the author's amazing creativity goes into overdrive, the character development is sacrificed to the needs of the plot, and the protagonists do all sorts of things that don't really make internal sense. The prose gets larded and encrusted with excess verbiage, and the whole thing generally turns to custard (still quite tasty). I just wish he'd had an old-school editor (Diana Athill would have been ideal) to stop him using the word "pugnacious" more than three times a page, making detours totally irrelevant to the plot, and things of that nature.

The text makes huge demands on the narrator, and Jonathan Oliver does an inspired job.

In short, it's a baggy old mess, but still vastly entertaining.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Embassytown

  • By: China Mieville
  • Narrated by: Susan Duerden
  • Length: 12 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 182
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 124

China Miéville doesn’t follow trends, he sets them. Relentlessly pushing his own boundaries as a writer—and in the process expanding the boundaries of the entire field—with Embassytown, Miéville has crafted an extraordinary novel that is not only a moving personal drama but a gripping adventure of alien contact and war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Imaginative and thought provoking

  • By ZX80 on 15-08-11

A bit of a corker

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 29-07-11

This is a proper, muscular SF novel that grabs you by the arm and pulls you right in. It sets the stage magnificently, laying out a believable society with enjoyably mind-boggling features. At first, quite a lot is left half-explained, and only make sense later: this is really delicious, and skilfully done.

This stage-setting takes up a huge chunk of the book, but it’s so fascinating I could have lapped up quite a lot more. When the plot gets going, things get a bit hectic, but it’s worth holding on tight right to the end. There are some nice twists, plenty of momentum, and a good resolution.

The whole issue of language is so often dismissed or sidestepped in SF, but here it’s at the heart of things. China Mieville has actually done something new here.

There’s a special kind of shivery exhilaration that only high-class SF can deliver, and this story comes across with the goods. It’s also excellently read by Susan Duerden, who deftly fleshes out the characters (I particularly liked the way she voices the aliens and the AI) and makes them a bit more 3-D.

Basically, it’s a bit of a corker.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Within a Budding Grove, Part 2
    Remembrance of Things Past
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Marcel Proust
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        John Rowe
    
    


    
    Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
    12 ratings
    Overall 4.8
  • Within a Budding Grove, Part 2

  • Remembrance of Things Past
  • By: Marcel Proust
  • Narrated by: John Rowe
  • Length: 10 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5

In the second volume of Proust’s great novel, the narrator emerges as an actor in the drama of his own life, and as an avid explorer of new worlds social, sexual and artistic... Swann has now dwindled into a husband for his former mistress Odette, and their daughter Gilberte becomes the adolescent narrator’s playmate and tantalising love-object. We move from Paris to the seaside town of Balbec, from ritualised social performances to midsummer spontaneity, and from Gilberte to her successor Albertine.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wonderful

  • By Caryl on 23-07-10

Relax and float downstream

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-05-11

The outrageously wet, spoiled and weedy teenage Marcel is taken to the seaside by his granny, and makes some new friends, thank goodness. Intensely soppy and prone, much like Fotherington-Thomas, to holding conversations with hawthorn-bushes, he also manages to be a shocking snob. He falls in with a bunch of schoolgirls and has long reveries about them, with his typical diffuse lecherousness, and eventually makes a great big clumsy pass at one, who quite properly handbags him sharpish.

The narrator, John Rowe, does a bang-up job of this, suavely keeping abreast of all those nested relative clauses and endless tangents. This is no mean feat, and without his impeccable pacing and surefooted navigation down the winding paths between full stops, the listener?s brain might well explode.

If you don?t mind ponderous, dreamy wallowing, the whole thing is strangely addictive.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Wives and Daughters

  • By: Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by: Josephine Bailey
  • Length: 26 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 7

Wives and Daughters, Elizabeth Gaskell's last novel, is regarded by many as her masterpiece. Molly Gibson is the daughter of the doctor in the small provincial town of Hollingford. Her widowed father marries a second time to give Molly the woman's presence he feels she lacks, but until the arrival of Cynthia, her dazzling stepsister, Molly finds her situation hard to accept. Intertwined with the story of the Gibsons is that of Squire Hamley and his two sons.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Ripping yarn!

  • By Nellig on 16-03-11

Ripping yarn!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-03-11

An engrossing tale of maidenly virtue rewarded, with plenty of top-notch melodrama, muslin, beef tea, vague Victorian illnesses, worsted, swooning, rampant xenophobia and tea-drinking.

The narrator, Josephine Bailey, deserves some sort of award. She manages to sound Victorian, and gives every character just the right accent and energy; each individual leaps, as it were, from the page, three-dimensional and totally convincing. The whole thing feels like a brilliantly-directed radio play. Loved it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck's Life in China
    
    
        By:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Hilary Spurling
    
    


    
    
        Narrated by:
        












    





    





    
        
            
            
                
            
        
        Hilary Spurling
    
    


    
    Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
    9 ratings
    Overall 3.6
  • Burying the Bones: Pearl Buck's Life in China

  • By: Hilary Spurling
  • Narrated by: Hilary Spurling
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

Pearl Buck was the first person since Marco Polo to open China up to the West. She recreated the lives of ordinary Chinese people in The Good Earth, a worldwide bestseller in 1932 that won her the Nobel Prize for Literature. Pearl foresaw China’s future as a superpower long before anyone else. She witnessed the first stirrings of Chinese revolution as a teenager, and narrowly escaped being killed herself in the subsequent battles between Communists and Nationalists.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating story, badly narrated

  • By Nellig on 02-03-11

Fascinating story, badly narrated

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-03-11

This is a proper, well-researched, serious biography of a fascinating woman who lived in interesting times. I got a real sense of what Pearl Buck was like, and even better, what it was like to live in China in the early 20th century (i.e. eye-wateringly tough).

The major drawback of this edition is that it?s badly narrated by the author. She reads in a flat, lifeless drone, with many frogs-in-the-throat and slips of the tongue. I know we all make slips of the tongue, but in this case, it makes the book sound as if it were riddled with typos.

This just goes to show that it?s worthwhile getting a trained actor to narrate a book properly. Miriam Margolyes, for example, could have made a magnificent job of this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Trespass

  • By: Rose Tremain
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 9 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 189
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 71
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 71

In a silent valley stands an isolated stone farmhouse. Its owner is Aramon Lunel, an alcoholic so haunted by his violent past that he’s let his hunting dogs starve and his land go to ruin. Meanwhile, his sister, alone in her modern bungalow within sight of the Mas Lunel, dreams of exacting retribution for the unspoken betrayals that have blighted her life. Into this closed world comes Anthony Verey, a wealthy but disillusioned antiques dealer from London.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A slow-burner of a book

  • By Kirstine on 31-05-10

Totally engrossing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-04-10

Fantastic. Tried to ration myself, but ended up gobbling this one in two days.

Each of the point-of-view characters is made totally understandable, even the most revolting ones. Loved the cool, precise description of their thoughts and experiences. She makes it easy to watch the movie in your head. Lots of nice sneaky prefiguring, and things are tied up in a satisfying way. Delicious, high-protein, slow-release food for your head.

Juliet Stevenson reads this really, really well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • The Year of the Flood

  • MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 2
  • By: Margaret Atwood
  • Narrated by: Lorelei King
  • Length: 12 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 561
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 419
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 423

Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners - a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, the preservation of all species and the tending of the Earth - has long predicted the Waterless Flood. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have avoided it: the young trapeze-dancer, Ren, locked into the high-end sex club; and former SecretBurgers meat-slinger turned Gardener, Toby, barricaded into a luxurious spa. Have others survived?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Sharp Divide

  • By Isolde on 31-01-13

Floated my boat

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 20-09-09

Yup, it's up there with Oryx and Crake. I followed Toby and Ren with bated breath, those truly dreadful hymns notwithstanding. Nice how the God's Gardeners religion is cringeworthy yet ultimately effective. Loved Toby's arc. Could have done with more nuanced baddies, but hey, this is still top-quality stuff.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Diaries 1969-1979

  • The Python Years
  • By: Michael Palin
  • Narrated by: Michael Palin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 47 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 210
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 153
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 154

In this first volume of his diaries, Michael Palin tells for the first time how Monty Python emerged and triumphed. Perceptive and funny, it chronicles not only his struggle to find a niche in the world of television comedy, but also the extraordinary goings on of the many powerful personalities who coalesced to form the Python team.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • fascinating

  • By Gillian on 17-06-10

Surprisingly dull

Overall
1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-08-09

Michael Palin is adorable, but does not spill any beans. These diaries are too safe and innocuous to be of interest.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Thud!

  • By: Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: Stephen Briggs
  • Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,171
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,743
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,742

Koom Valley? That was where the trolls ambushed the dwarfs, or the dwarfs ambushed the trolls. It was far away. It was a long time ago. But if he doesn't solve the murder of just one dwarf, Commander Sam Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch is going to see it fought again, right outside his office.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hrrruuurrh

  • By Vinx on 30-07-08

One of the best ones

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-08-09

Very nice. Lots of stuff about the dwarves. Carrot, Angua and Cheery feature prominently, which is always a good sign. Fairly taut plot and not too much dawdling for predictable jokes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful