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RONAN O'CALLAGHAN

N Ireland
  • 12
  • reviews
  • 33
  • helpful votes
  • 16
  • ratings
  • A House for Mr. Biswas

  • By: V.S. Naipaul
  • Narrated by: Sam Dastor
  • Length: 21 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 43
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40

A House for Mr. Biswas, by Nobel and Booker Prize-winning author V. S. Naipaul, is a powerful novel about one man's struggle for identity and belonging. Born into poverty, then trapped in the shackles of charity and gratitude, Mr. Biswas longs for a house he can call his own. He loathes his wife and her wealthy family, upon whom he is dependent. Finding himself a mere accessory on their estate, his constant rebellion is motivated by the one thing that can symbolize his independence.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Stay with it.

  • By RONAN O'CALLAGHAN on 12-01-19

Stay with it.

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

Reviewed: 12-01-19

I saw another reviewer commenting to the effect that this is a tediously drawn out account of the minutiae of a life story of a nonentity in an obscure location.

I have to confess that there were times in the first third or so of the narrative when I considered not bothering - having begun with the assumption that there would be something more eventful or dramatic than there is.

However the characters and their exquisitely described surroundings gradually wormed their way into my consciousness to a point where I began to dread the approaching end of the story - as there would be no more of those so enjoyable sojourns in that time and place.

This review does not tell you much about what the book is about but others have done justice to that task. Here I am adding my tuppence worth simply to say I am so glad I stayed with it as it is richly rewarding and satisfying in the end.

  • The Blessing

  • By: Nancy Mitford
  • Narrated by: Jenny Agutter
  • Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 33
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 23
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 23

It isn’t just Nanny who finds it difficult in France when Grace and her young son Sigi are finally able to join her dashing aristocratic husband Charles-Edouard after the war. For Grace is out of her depth among the fashionably dressed and immaculately coiffured French women, and shocked by their relentless gossiping and bedhopping. When she discovers her husband’s tendency to lust after every pretty girl he sees, it looks like trouble. And things get even more complicated when little Sigi steps in.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Enjoyable and light-hearted

  • By Kirstine on 06-12-14

Entertaining and witty

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

Reviewed: 13-04-18

Surprisingly daring in some ways, though confined to a privileged world. Great fun altogether.
Jenny Agutter’s English voices are great. The French ones need some tolerance (tante rhyming with ant, m’sewer, Gide with a hard G etc) but I was glad I stayed with it.

  • A Far Cry from Kensington

  • By: Muriel Spark
  • Narrated by: Juliet Stevenson
  • Length: 6 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 299
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 274
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 273

First published in 1988 and described by Ali Smith as 'one of Muriel Spark's most liberating, and meditative novels' - A Far Cry from Kensington shows Muriel Spark at the mature height of her powers.The narrator is one Mrs. Hawkins. She writes from Italy, a far cry from Kensington indeed, taking us back to her threadbare years in postwar London. As a young, rather fat war-widow she spent her days working for a crazy, almost bankrupt publisher; and her nights offering advice from her boarding-house in South Kensington.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • some writer some narrator good story.

  • By Amazon Customer on 16-04-18

Spark flies

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

Reviewed: 26-02-18

What the hell just happened? - you may think at the end. It does not matter so much. The pleasure is mostly in Spark’s idiosyncratic narrative voice, full of surprising turns and dry observations with the occasional devastating image.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Atonement

  • By: Ian McEwan
  • Narrated by: Carole Boyd
  • Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 403
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 370
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 371

On the hottest day of the summer of 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis sees her sister Cecilia strip off her clothes and plunge into the fountain in the garden of their country house. Watching her is Robbie Turner, her childhood friend who, like Cecilia, has recently come down from Cambridge. By the end of that day, the lives of all three will have been changed for ever. Robbie and Cecilia will have crossed a boundary they had not even imagined at its start, and will have become victims of the younger girl's imagination.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Slow start but beautifully crafted...

  • By essjaybella on 22-09-16

Wouldn’t bother

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

Reviewed: 04-02-18

Stuck it out to the end as I had gathered there were author tricks in store. Yes there are.

There are a few very good passages. The nurse in wartime London feels very vivid and genuine.

Mostly I felt McEwan trying hard but just lacking the spark of writing which really touches it illuminates. Occasionally excruciatingly precious, coy, contrived or smug.
I really can’t recommend this.
I found something similar ages ago reading Enduring Love in print - though that has one of the most stunning opening scenes ever, he just can’t seem to keep it up but boy will he try, try, try again.

  • The Kalevala

  • By: Elias Lönnrot, Keith Bosley (translator)
  • Narrated by: Keith Bosley
  • Length: 13 hrs and 22 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10

The Kalevala provides a compelling insight into the myths and folklore of Finland. Compiled by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century, this impressive volume follows a tradition of oral storytelling that goes back some 2000 years, and it is often compared to such epic poems as Homer's Odyssey. However, The Kalevala has little in common with the culture of its Nordic neighbors: It is primarily poetic, it is mythical rather than historic, and its heroes solve their problems with magic more often than violence.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Vivid and fascinating.

  • By RONAN O'CALLAGHAN on 26-08-17

Vivid and fascinating.

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

Reviewed: 26-08-17

Only one third through but I'm in no doubt I'll want all 13 hours. It's like a drug.
I almost didn't click but curiosity made me listen to the sample and I was drawn in by the sound and the imagery straight away.
Nordic noir was never so harsh and lyrical.
What a delight to realise later that the reader Keith Bosley is also the translator! Amazing job.
I would tend to get bored by folk tales and myths if the text is plodding - it takes the driving energy of poetry like this to bring such material to life and that is here in abundance.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Train Dreams and Jesus' Son

  • By: Denis Johnson
  • Narrated by: Will Patton
  • Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 16

Here are two complete audiobooks by Denis Johnson, narrated by Will Patton. Listen to both Train Dreams and Jesus’ Son, as well as an excerpt from Denis Johnson’s National Book Award-winning Tree of Smoke.... In Train Dreams, Robert Grainer is a day laborer in the American West at the start of the 20th century—an ordinary man in extraordinary times. Buffeted by the loss of his family, Grainer struggles to make sense of this strange new world.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Modern Clasic

  • By James on 11-06-12

Extraordinary

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

Reviewed: 30-12-16

Other reviewers here have articulated the qualities of these two very different works. If you only like a 'proper story' you probably shouldn't bother.
The exquisite pleasures here have little to do with what happens and everything to do with originality of language, imagery and superb reading.

  • I Married a Communist

  • Nathan Zuckerman, Book 2
  • By: Philip Roth
  • Narrated by: Ron Silver
  • Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22

Iron Rinn, born Ira Ringold, is a Newark roughneck, a radio actor, an idealistic Communist, and an educated ditchdigger turned popular performer. A six-foot, six-inch Abe Lincoln lookalike, he emerges from serving in World War II passionately committed to making the world a better place and instead winds up blacklisted, unemployable, and ruined by a brutal personal secret from which he is perpetually in flight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Roth read by Silver is stunning.

  • By RONAN O'CALLAGHAN on 22-10-16

Roth read by Silver is stunning.

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

Reviewed: 22-10-16

As a recent newcomer to Roth, I read The Plot Against America in paperback this summer and enjoyed it so then I tried American Pastoral read by Ron Silver on Audible. That was sensationally good so then I tried My Life As A Man but it was a different reader and a few chapters in I realised it was quite disappointing so I returned it and looked for another one read by Silver - which led me to this.
I've been enjoying a variety of good books for several years now on Audible and I always find that having the right reader is incredibly important. But in all my experience there has been nothing to compare with the marriage of Roth's prose with Silver's delivery. No doubt it is bound up in Roth's anecdotal monologue sort of method but if ever there were books which burst into flame when performed aloud they are these ones.
Silver's range of tone, pace and dynamics is virtuosic while expressing the deepest humanity. I wish everything of Roth's was available here read by Ron Silver.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Carol

  • By: Patricia Highsmith
  • Narrated by: Laurel Lefkow
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 306
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 285
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 287

Therese is just an ordinary sales assistant working in a New York department store when an alluring woman in her 30s walks up to her counter. Standing there, Therese is wholly unprepared for the first shock of love. She is an awkward 19-year-old with a job she hates and a boyfriend she doesn't love; Carol is a sophisticated, bored suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce and a custody battle for her only daughter. As Therese becomes irresistibly drawn into Carol's world, she soon realises how much they both stand to lose....

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sublime!!!

  • By rouge on 04-04-15

A real writer

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

Reviewed: 03-05-16

Read my first Highsmith recently (The Talented Mr Ripley) and was knocked out by the qualities of her writing. Decided to try this one as something really different. Lots of good things here, besides being very brave in its day.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Wonderful Town

  • New York Stories from The New Yorker
  • By: Woody Allen, John Cheever, E. B. White, and others
  • Narrated by: Tyne Daly, Timothy Jerome, Joe Morton, and others
  • Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 7

New York City is not only The New Yorker magazine's place of origin and its sensibility's life blood, it is the heart of American literary culture. Wonderful Town, an anthology of superb short fiction by many of the magazine's most accomplished contributors, celebrates the 75-year marriage between a preeminent publication and its preeminent context with this collection of 20 of its best stories from (so to speak) home.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Disappointing selection

  • By RONAN O'CALLAGHAN on 01-11-15

Disappointing selection

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

Reviewed: 01-11-15

Having been a follower of the New Yorker Fiction Podcast for a few years (early on I explored the archive so I've listened to the 100+ stories, many more than once) I turned to this anthology in the hope of feeding my habit.
I am perhaps a little premature in posting a review at this point when I am just over half way through but I have to say I'm very disappointed by this selection - mostly in the choices of story rather than the readers.
There are a couple of gems: the Woody Allen is clever and entertaining while the Nabokov, which I first heard in the fiction podcast, is stunning, worth the price of the download if it were not already available for free!
But most of these stories lack the ingredients of insight, imagination and mastery of language which make me a fan of the form. One, a tedious reminiscence about two twenty year old students visiting girls in New York, published in 1955, lasts 1 hour and 8 minutes and I would like that time back please.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Don Quixote

  • By: Miguel de Cervantes, John Ormsby (translated by)
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 36 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 560
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 470
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 471

The most influential work of the entire Spanish literary canon and a founding work of modern Western literature, Don Quixote is also one of the greatest works ever written. Hugely entertaining but also moving at times, this episodic novel is built on the fantasy life of one Alonso Quixano, who lives with his niece and housekeeper in La Mancha. Quixano, obsessed by tales of knight errantry, renames himself ‘Don Quixote’ and with his faithful servant Sancho Panza, goes on a series of quests.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Mother and Father of all novels

  • By P on 22-02-12

Humanity

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

Reviewed: 05-05-15

Full of surprises even if some of the well known incidents are already familiar. Witty and touching, always entertaining.
The reading is superb with brilliant characterisations.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful