LISTENER

Alan Coady

  • 38
  • reviews
  • 50
  • helpful votes
  • 195
  • ratings

Much more than objects in the Thames

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

Reviewed: 12-06-20

Occasionally you have a feeling, with little to go on, that a certain book is going to be a winner and this is just such a book. Broken into chapters about different Thames shores, this book is about so much more than what the author, Lara Maiklem, has found during many assiduous riverine hours. You'll learn a great deal about history, natural history, pre-history, geography, geology. The nature of boats means that quite a few interesting details concern events, people, creatures far from our shores. I liked the gentle, non-sensationalist narration which somehow seems to reflect the quiet patience of the task. If you're one of those people who, like me, love books about London and the wealth of stories therein, then this book is a must for your 'shelves' alongside Christopher Winn's 'I Never Knew That About London' and Peter Ackroyd's 'London: The Biography'.

A short blitz of an epic.

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

Reviewed: 18-10-19

I listened to this in one go. Gary Owen's story and Sophie Melville's 'acting' draw you in. There are roller-coaster highs and lows and, by the end, you really feel you'd recognise this iteration of Iphigenia in the street. After the story there are very interesting chats with both writer and actor/narrator which help make sense of the story's ancient origins and how it fits our world. As it's essentially theatre, I'd strongly recommend doing this all in one go if you can. It seems like the only way to enjoy Owen and Melville's skilful pacing.

Wild Tale

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

Reviewed: 11-09-19

This wild tale by Chesterton is very engagingly read by Toby Longworth, who has quite a compendium of voices to keep going. Although much of it is very funny, there are serious points to be made. Plot-wise, it'll keep you guessing to the end and perhaps beyond.There is a great accelerando in the telling; as more characters come aboard, the tempo of the adventure increases and this is well handled by Longworth, for whom I shall look out in future as a favoured narrator.

Loved it

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

I was slightly ambivalent about the book's premise - a talking baby... I should have known better. There's not a McEwan book I haven't enjoyed and I've read nearly everything he's written. Although it's not essential to know Hamlet to enjoy this one, the experience is greatly enhanced if you do. It's a short and immensely enjoyable listen - I won't rabbit on; I loved it.

One to revisit many times

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

Having read and enjoyed Holloway's Leaving Alexandria, and recently having heard him read from and discuss this latest book in St Vincent's Chapel in Edinburgh, I knew what to expect and was delighted with both content and reading. Holloway has a very distinctive voice. The subtitle, Reflections on Life and Death, is one to take seriously because there's more to this book than sepulchral introspection. At the Edinburgh event, I was impressed by Holloway's ability resonantly to quote verse at length and you'll hear in this book how important poetry is to him - and to us. A sign of how time flies when your engaged in something: I was astonished to note that only 15 minutes of the book remained when I imagined I was only around half-way through. You can tell that Holloway really believes what he's saying; his reading is alive and holds the attention effortlessly. Given that one of the things which concerns many people in their final years of life is the feeling of leaving little mark on the world, I feel that this is not a thing which will trouble Holloway. In years to come (hopefully many years) I'll be glad to have the sound of his voice to hand and, when my own hour comes, particularly on this subject.

1 person found this helpful

Thorough

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

Reviewed: 02-05-19

This is a work of monumental scholarship ranging from Moses to the post-9/11 world. At some 36 hours in length, it is not for the faint-hearted and I decided to break off in the middle and refresh the palate with the sorbet of a short novel (Ian McEwan's Nutshell in an excellent narration by Rory Kinnear) so that I could return with renewed vigour to Christopher Andrews thorough revealing of the world of intelligence. Like any book of its span, you'll learn about a lot more than the world of intelligence along the way - no spoilers... Towards the end, I suddenly wondered why there was no mention of the Lockerbie bombing (Pan Am Flight 103) from 1988 and it altered occurred to me that, at the time of writing, the subject matter may well still have been under the UK's 30-year rule. What led me to this supposition was that later events were covered, but not UK ones. There are many errors of editing in this work - most in the form of repeated sentences - an easy mistake to make during editing. I'd encourage potential listeners to grin and bear it. Think of the time and cost of editing the average music CD which, at the most, lasts 80 minutes. This book around 27 times that length. I've since bought Christopher Andrew's Defence of the Realm - the official history of MI5 and am looking forward to reading that.

A Sound Guy

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

Reviewed: 04-02-19

I first came across Steve Silberman on BBC Racio 3's Private Passions - a kind of Desert Island Discs, but more in-depth. The episode is still available at the time or writing: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07qblw7 Silberman came across as a very sound guy an an eloquent spokesman for neuro-atypicals. The book mixes a history of developing theories about autism, with some cruel mindsets getting involved - eugenics - need I say more? The individual tales are a mix of heart-breaking and inspirational. The book is very well written and, like any good study, is as much a study of life and attitudes as it is of the subject at hand.

You have to hear it.

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

Reviewed: 09-12-18

Normally I don't mind if books come my way in tangible, Kindle or Audible format but I'm so glad I heard this one. Unless you've a good inner ear for voices there'll be a dimension missing. For example the differing accents of Windrush parents from their children; the varying accents of those attached to the local mosque; the Northern Irish accent of the principal female voice. One critic described the book as 'a blazing polyphonic debut' and the voices weave around one another like the voices in a fugue. Like a fugue there is a increasingly tense sense of 'stretto' towards the end, where the voices come closer together - in many more senses here than in a fugue. This is one of the most gripping listens I've had for quite some time.

Start from the ground up.

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

Reviewed: 16-09-18

This book was a revelation to me. It contained so many elements which now seem so obvious, but which I'd overlooked completely. I won't spoil your listen by listing them but it's made me look at geopolitics in a new way from the ground up: geology (including mineral wealth); geography (rivers, coastlines); flora (especially when impenetrable) and then, on top of all that, human culture including politics, population stats, size and kit of military etc. No previous knowledge is required to enjoy this book to the max.

I didn't waste a second

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

Reviewed: 12-08-18

While enjoying Volume 1, I bought this concluding volume so that I could continue seamlessly. I must have finished both volumes in a matter of a few days. It's odd combination, knowing that the dark content of much of the story was experienced by Edward St Aubyn, while enjoying the hugely entertaining writing - such fabulous prose. I had, of course, heard of St. Aubyn but only recently read him and he made it straight into favourite writers category - worthy of re-reading! Alex Jennings impeccable standard of narration continues from Vol 1. The loveable rogue, Nicholas, has a superb outburst in At Last. On a more serious note, there's a lot to learn about pain and recovery in these volumes. I can't recommend them highly enough.