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Soranus

  • 5
  • reviews
  • 3
  • helpful votes
  • 6
  • ratings
  • Empress Dowager Cixi

  • The Concubine Who Launched Modern China
  • By: Jung Chang
  • Narrated by: Pik-sen Lim
  • Length: 19 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 105
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102

At the age of 16, in a nationwide selection for royal consorts, Cixi was chosen as one of the emperor’s numerous concubines. When he died, in 1861, their five-year-old son succeeded to the throne. Cixi at once launched a palace coup against the regents appointed by her husband and made herself the real ruler of China - behind the throne, literally, with a silk screen separating her from her officials who were all male.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Engaging insight into 19th Century China

  • By Kirstine on 01-02-16

Fascinating insight and well read

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

Reviewed: 08-09-18

This book kept me enthralled and entertained for hours at a time. I normally can only concentrate on books like this for about half an hour at a time but this was difficult to put down.

I had the usual very negative impression of Cixi but this book created a great insight into what was a very complex lady. I ended up sympathetic towards her and admiring her achievements in very difficult circumstances. This book puts into context the decision making process and provides a feeling of life in the Forbidden City and life in China at the time.

The book is very well read by Pik-sen Lim.

I will certainly see the Forbidden City in a different light on my next visit.

  • Indian Summer

  • The Secret History of the End of an Empire
  • By: Alex von Tunzelmann
  • Narrated by: Stephen Thorne
  • Length: 14 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 86
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 58

At midnight on 15 August, 1947, India left the British Empire. This defining moment of world history had been brought about by a handful of people:Jawaharlal Nehru, the fiery Indian prime minister; Mohammed Ali Jinnah, leader of the new nation; and Louis and Edwina Mountbatten, despatched to get Britain out of India. Within hours of the midnight chimes, their dreams of freedom and democracy would turn to chaos, bloodshed and war.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an

  • By M. SAUNDERS on 13-04-13

How and why the British Raj ended.

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

Reviewed: 01-12-15

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely. This not only gives a very readable history of India but also an insight into the characters involved. There is a very interesting insight into the relationship between Lady Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru. It also made me realise that Gandhi was not quite the force I had thought.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I did not have favourites. I did however come to view characters I thought I knew in a different light.

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

This made me embarrassed to be British and made me very thoughtful about other more modern events we have been, and are, involved in.

Any additional comments?

I found this book very easy to listen to. Stephen Thorne reads it well and kept my interest.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Days of the Cathars

  • By: Mike Hoare
  • Narrated by: Mike Hoare
  • Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 4

In the middle of the 12th Century an unknown Christian sect emerged in southern France. They claimed to be the sole successors of the original Church of Jesus Christ. They called themselves Cathars. Despite their sincere belief, the Cathars were deemed by the Roman Church to oppose several of their fundamental principles of Christianity. Because of these unorthodox practices the Cathars were outlawed by the Church of Rome, and sentenced to a merciless extinction.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Amateur reading, superficial story

  • By Soranus on 27-09-15

Amateur reading, superficial story

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

Reviewed: 27-09-15

Would you try another book written by Mike Hoare or narrated by Mike Hoare?

This depends on the availability of other books on the subject being considered

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Mike Hoare?

This is read in an amateurish way with cats heard in the background! Needs a professional actor or presenter for this.

Do you think The Last Days of the Cathars needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Not really. The story is fully covered though in a superficial way. Fortunately for me I have enough background of the Cathars to be able to make sense of the story.

Any additional comments?

This is the only book in Audible on the subject of Cathars and therefore is the best available. A much better book is "The Cathars: The Rise and Fall of the Great Heresy" by Sean Martin (available on Kindle) and would benefit from being an audiobook.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Shakespeare

  • The Biography, Aspiring Spirit: From Stratford to London, Volume I
  • By: Peter Ackroyd
  • Narrated by: Simon Callow
  • Length: 2 hrs and 57 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 16
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Peter Ackroyd's insightful new biography positions Shakespeare in the close context of his world. In this way, Ackroyd not only richly conjures up the texture of Shakespeare's life, but also imparts an amazing amount of vivid, interesting material about place, period and background. Walk with Ackroyd through sixteenth century London and Stratford as he uncovers the intimate circumstances of Shakespeare's life.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Masterly Written and Performed

  • By Soranus on 20-07-15

Masterly Written and Performed

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

Reviewed: 20-07-15

What made the experience of listening to Shakespeare the most enjoyable?

This book is by three masters: the playwright (Shakespeare), the author (Peter Ackroyd) and the narrator (Simon Callow).

Shakespeare himself is something of an enigma. Whilst we know very little about him Ackroyd has managed to get three volumes out of the life story. Inevitably some of the things he has to say is supposition but is dealt with authoritatively.

The story does not always flow and there is some repetition. Nevertheless I found this an intriguing book.

One of the strengths of this production is that the narrator is Simon Callow, one of the great Shakespearian actors of the modern stage. This adds to the reading of the well written text of Peter Ackroyd.

It is disappointing that all three volumes were not included in one volume since all three are required for this to be a true biography and none of the volumes are useful as stand alone texts.

Having said all of this, I did thoroughly enjoy all three volumes.

What other book might you compare Shakespeare to, and why?

The only other audiobook on Shakespeare I have listened to is the Bill Bryson book "Shakespeare". The Ackroyd book comes across as much more authoritative and the narration no where near as effective as that of Simon Callow.

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

There is no doubt that listening to Simon Callow at any time is a treat. He, in his own right, is an authority on Shakespeare and he make the excellent text of Ackroyd all the more believable and worth listening to. He manages to present the nuances of Shakespeare and Ackroyd in a way that I would have missed if I had only read the book.

  • The Island

  • By: Victoria Hislop
  • Narrated by: Sandra Duncan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 591
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 421
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 420

Winner of the British Book Awards, Newcomer of the Year, 2007.
Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Book of the Year, 2007.

Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother's past, but Sofia has never spoken of it. She only admits to growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lovely book

  • By Ragen Nelson on 02-02-08

Moving and well written

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-04-13

A book about leprosy does not seem to be the best subject for a good read - but this book proves the exception. It is not surprising that it has won a book award.



The story starts with Alexis Fielding investigating family history on her mother's side of the family especially since her mother had been reticent about giving any information about her past. She visits the small village on Crete where her mother was born and as the book unfolds we find out about the family history of leprosy and isolation on the leprosy colony of Spinalonga, an island off the coast of Crete.



The story takes us through several generations, through village life, the impact of the German invasion in World War II and the discovery of treatments for leprosy.



This is all written beautifully with wonderful descriptions of the various personalities, the social impact of leprosy and of village life.



Whilst there are moving sad occasions there is also much to uplift.



This audiobook is beautifully read by Sandra Duncan who really gives life to the characters.



A must buy.