LISTENER

Alison

  • 111
  • reviews
  • 316
  • helpful votes
  • 142
  • ratings
  • Middlemarch

  • By: George Eliot
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 35 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,260
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1,013
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,009

Dorothea Brooke is an ardent idealist who represses her vivacity and intelligence for the cold, theological pedant Casaubon. One man understands her true nature: the artist Will Ladislaw. But how can love triumph against her sense of duty and Casaubon’s mean spirit? Meanwhile, in the little world of Middlemarch, the broader world is mirrored: the world of politics, social change, and reforms, as well as betrayal, greed, blackmail, ambition, and disappointment.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • All consuming

  • By Caro on 27-04-11

So Enjoyable - And Accessible

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

Reviewed: 31-10-18

I just know I'd never finish this if I actually read it but by listening to it over the space of a couple of weeks, I loved the sweep and also the slow pace of this novel. And this is just one reason why I love audio books so much. I am so glad I didn't miss out on Middlemarch - just because it is long and has lots of internal monologues, descriptive passages and bits when, if you were actually reading, you might just skim or skip. Or I might anyway! As a narrated book, I loved it all.

It is convoluted in places and you want to shake the characters at times, but that is all part of its joy.

The narration was faultless, as with every book narrated by Juliet Stevenson that I have ever listened to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Behind the Scenes at the Museum cover art
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum

  • By: Kate Atkinson
  • Narrated by: Susan Jameson
  • Length: 12 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 221
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 73
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 72

Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but he was all that was left. She really wanted to be Vivien Leigh, swept off to America by a romantic hero. But here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop beneath York Minster, with sensible Patricia, aged five, greedy Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby, who tells the memorable, witty, and eventful story of The Family.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Classy saga

  • By Andy Parsons on 10-09-05

Very Clever Premise

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

Reviewed: 29-06-18

The model of going back and forth in time, with the footnotes adding the 'flashback' portions, is very clever. The book slowly moves forward from pre-WW1 and the most enjoyable parts were those set in the 1960s, for me. The first-person narration works well too.

There are dozens of characters but the nucleus is the family to which the narrator belongs and these characters achieve something quite rare: they are depicted 'warts and all' and they are often really hard to like - but I did like or at least sympathised with them, mostly.

There is a lot of wry, even bleak humour too, along with drama, pathos and love. I really enjoyed it.

The narrator's rather caustic and ironic tone is perfect - very well read. I was sorry to finish it and have thought about it and the people in it a fair bit since, too.

  • Ma'am Darling

  • 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret
  • By: Craig Brown
  • Narrated by: Eleanor Bron
  • Length: 12 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 173
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 156
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 156

From our funniest writer, a portrait of our most talked-about royal. She made John Lennon blush and Marlon Brando clam up. She cold-shouldered Princess Diana and humiliated Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Warhol photographed her. Jack Nicholson offered her cocaine. Gore Vidal revered her. John Fowles hoped to keep her as his sex slave. Dudley Moore propositioned her. Francis Bacon heckled her. Peter Sellers was in love with her. For Pablo Picasso, she was the object of sexual fantasy.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • La-di-da

  • By Pamela on 06-11-17

Great Listen - stranger than fiction!

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

Reviewed: 16-04-18

I thought I would like her. But in fact, I just ended up feeling really rather sorry for her - and for everyone who had to cope with this tiny tyrant.

The approach of this book - gossipy snippets, really, is perfect. I can see why she often behaved so badly, for she was badly treated - almost sacrificed by The Family and Government - but at the same time, it left me feeling that someone ought really to have dealt with her appalling behaviour from time to time!

Hugely entertaining, often sad, beautifully narrated.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • South Riding

  • By: Winifred Holtby
  • Narrated by: Carole Boyd
  • Length: 19 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 49
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 29

In this rich and memorable evocation of the fictional South Riding of Yorkshire are the lives, loves and sorrows of the central characters. There is Sarah Burton, fiery young headmistress; Robert Carne of Maythorpe Hall, a councillor tormented by his own disastrous marriage; Jo Astell, a socialist fighting poverty and his own illness; and Mrs Beddows, the first woman Alderman of the district (like Winifred's own mother).

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • South Riding re-visited

  • By Painter on 08-12-10

Writer and reader - perfectly matched

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

Reviewed: 16-04-18

Another classic I had somehow managed to avoid and which I don't think I would read, but as an audio book it is perfect.

I have so enjoyed being led through the small-town local politics, family dramas, big and small, and human observations of the South Riding in the 1930s. No character is sketchily drawn - they all have their moment and the economy of description is so good. I enjoyed the inter-twined plots very much.

Carole Boyd is my favourite female reader. It seems effortless to her (I am sure it's not!) and she adds a great deal to the overall enjoyment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Jane Austen at Home

  • By: Lucy Worsley
  • Narrated by: Ruth Redman, Lucy Worsley
  • Length: 14 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 211
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 193
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 191

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the world in which our best-loved novelist lived. This new telling of the story of Jane's life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her and the way in which home is used in her novels to mean both a place of pleasure and a prison. It wasn't all country houses and ballrooms; in fact her life was often a painful struggle.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Outstanding!

  • By Gabrielle Harvey-Jones on 27-05-17

Enjoyable and accessible

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

Reviewed: 19-03-18

I like Jane Austen's books but I am by no means an Austen fan or expert so this was ideal for me - a gentle exploration, in a sensible chronological order, of her home life. Thus, it obviously touched on all her writing but without a really academic exploration of each plot/book/character.

There was just enough 'literary' content, but for the main part, this book explores Jane's many homes, and the domestic relationships in each. Lots of domestic detail, drawing often on surviving records of diaries and letters.

I really enjoyed it, and I learned a fair bit.

The narration is good. What is odd, is the interjection from time to time of really strange 'other voices' - irritating and completely pointless as the main reader is perfectly fine.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Election Notebook

  • By: Nick Robinson
  • Narrated by: Simon Shepherd
  • Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 123
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124

Just after 10 o’clock on Thursday, 7th May 2015, Nick Robinson stared down the lens of camera five in the BBC’s Election Night Studio to explain to millions the significance of an exit poll that shocked the country and heralded an earthquake in British politics. That moment was a personal milestone for the BBC’s political editor, who had been discharged from hospital just hours earlier following weeks of treatment for cancer and the loss of his voice after surgery.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Outstanding

  • By Elizabeth Stewart on 21-10-15

Recent history - seems so long ago now!

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

Reviewed: 02-02-18

So much happened, during the time period covered by this book, but so much has happened since that it makes these events seem really distant!

I very much enjoyed it. I love diaries and this was a good mix of political gossip, insider-knowledge and reflections of Nick's own diagnosis of and successful treatment for cancer. I think he is very brave. And his personality shines through.

Excellent narration, perfectly capturing the right tone throughout.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Provincial Lady Goes Further

  • By: E. M. Delafield
  • Narrated by: Georgina Sutton
  • Length: 5 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 20
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21

The Provincial Lady Goes Further is the immediate sequel to Diary of a Provincial Lady - and life mirrors art. Our Provincial Lady has found herself, unexpectedly, with a literary success on her hands! She is suddenly 'somebody', both in her Devonshire environs and in London, where she establishes a bolthole - ostensibly so she could concentrate on the much-awaited sequel, but also so that she can enjoy the fruits of being a best-selling author!

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Hooray,more Provincial Lady!

  • By Catherine on 03-09-17

Really Good

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

Reviewed: 24-01-18

The first volume is also available on Audible and I have very much enjoyed each of them. Set not that long before the outbreak of WW2, it humorously describes a way of life in middle class England that now seems as if it happened centuries ago and I think this, and its gentleness, is what I most like about these books.

Really good narration.

  • The Brandons

  • A Virago Modern Classic
  • By: Angela Thirkell
  • Narrated by: Jilly Bond
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

Lavinia Brandon is quite the loveliest widow in Barsetshire, blessed with beauty and grace as well as two handsome grown-up children, Delia and Francis. So thinks their cousin, Hilary Grant, when he comes to stay and - like many before him - promptly falls for his fragrant hostess.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Very enjoyable antidote to 2017.

  • By Alison on 13-12-17

Very enjoyable antidote to 2017.

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

Reviewed: 13-12-17

If you fancy a dose of completely un-taxing, stress-free fiction, try this. It all seems like light and frothy nonsense - and yet it does also shine a gentle light on some aspects of English Upper Middle Class life in this era (1930s) versus their servants/the Lower Classes. It is gentle satire, really. Lots of lovely domestic details too which I like; you feel as if you are at the tea parties, picnics and outings.

It is mildly funny, except the fun-fare scene at the church fete which is - I hope deliberately -hysterical. It might just be my mind...

Well read - the narrator hams it up when needed, is good at mens' voices and has a great range of characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Anne of the Island

  • By: L. M. Montgomery
  • Narrated by: Colleen Winton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 38
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 35
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 34

In this continuation of the story of Anne Shirley, Anne leaves Green Gables and her work as a teacher in Avonlea to pursue her original dream (which she gave up in Anne of Green Gables) of taking further education at Redmond College in Nova Scotia. Gilbert Blythe and Charlie Sloane enroll as well, as does Anne's friend from Queen's Academy, Priscilla Grant. During her first week of school, Anne befriends Philippa Gordon, a beautiful girl whose frivolous ways charm her.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Nice easy listen

  • By Dawn on 03-09-15

Very soothing and nostalgic

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

Reviewed: 04-12-17

There are lots of narrators for these books - I think this was a good version. As many people probably download the books but have already read them (maybe many times!), the quality of the reader is a big factor. This was fine.

The story is just as old-fashioned, comforting and pleasing to me as it was when I was about 15 and first read it.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Camomile Lawn

  • By: Mary Wesley
  • Narrated by: Carole Boyd
  • Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 131
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 107
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 105

Summer 1939 and five cousins gather at the house with the camomile lawn for what, for many of them, will be the last summer of their youth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • As good as I remembered

  • By Jockette61 on 28-11-13

Going Back to an Old Favourite

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

Reviewed: 12-09-17

I read this many years ago and I remember really enjoying it. It must have been fairly recently published when I read it first. I didn't enjoy it quite as much this time round. But as it has clearly not changed, that must be me!. Also it reminded me of, but compared slightly unfavourably to the Cazalet Chronicles - all on Audible too. They take themselves far less seriously. But if you like the Cazolet books, I think you'd also like this.

It is a good and easy-going saga of several generations in three families. I like books that move between time frames as this one does. It seems 'tame' compared to a lot of recent popular fiction but at the time of publication in the early 1980s it was a bit racy. I bet Mary would have been good fun in her time!

The narration is perfect. I have listened to a lot of Carole Boyd's narrations and they are all excellent.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful