LISTENER

Barbara

  • 67
  • reviews
  • 231
  • helpful votes
  • 76
  • ratings

Fish gotta swim/Birds gotta fly...

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

Reviewed: 15-12-19

...I gotta listen to Mark Gatiss reading stories till I die. Now if only Mr Gatiss or someone of his calibre would rescue for us those out of copyright stories we currently can't bear to listen to because they are in the Red Door Audio stable. All those wonderful tales by Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Conan Doyle, W F Harvey, Charlotte Riddell et al...

Short but none the worse for that

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

Reviewed: 15-12-19

Come on: you have M R James as the author and David Collings as the reader. This is the dream ticket, right here. This one is short, with a bit of humour thrown in, and like every one of these "Complete Ghost Story" slices, you can put it away and then take it out again later for another listen. Their appeal never fades. The plot of this particular story will be familiar to anyone who ever sat up in the dark as a child with friends and a torch, telling stories of things that go bump in the night. Now it's polished up and embellished by The Master. It's a real treat to hear it told again.

A hidden diamond

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

Reviewed: 15-12-19

I'm so glad I came across a) this anthology and b) this narrator, whose beautiful voice and flawless diction sets the gold standard for Gothic horror narration. I listen to and read a lot of short ghost/horror/Gothic fiction and rarely have the experience of finding a collection with more than the odd one or two I haven't heard before -the good ones all being widely anthologized. But this collection contained several I didn't recall having heard before, and I would have been willing to buy this book just to hear "The Clock" by W F Harvey, surely one of the most genuinely dread-inspiring short stories ever written. Anyone who is trying to avoid Cathy Dobson as a narrator has their work cut out for them when looking for Harvey's work as Dobson/Red Door Audiobooks (she seems to be the narrator for every one of their books. Hmmm) seem to have snapped them up, along with a ton of other out-of-copyright works and recorded them to the agony of listeners everywhere. As soon as I finished this, I re-played The Clock again, just for the delight and sheer horror of the blood-curdling description of what happens when - well, I had better not spoil it for you. But lock the door of the room you're in before you listen. Just in case.

I wonder if there's anyone she likes

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

Reviewed: 25-05-19

Revisiting this book after first reading it more than 30 years ago reminded me of what a misanthrope Rendell comes across as. My Lord, she has it in for everyone, making digs at the rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate with equal glee. You do just want to get a bucket of popcorn sometimes and sit back and watch whilst she helps you understand how vile or stupid just about everybody in the country is these days, what with murdering one another and eating baked goods of inferior quality in cafes. And I do mean these days, because you always get the feeling that Rendell believes things were better in the past. But this is all baffling, because we know what a kind, helpful, generous person she was IRL. This has to be one of her best books. The crime itself isn't really the point: it's more of an excuse for us to gawp at how ghastly some people are, whether they are reading the Guardian arts pages and discussing opera with their children or deploying soft furnishings to silence forever a troublesome invalid. But oh, the crime is horrible, too, and will stay with you.

3 people found this helpful

You'll regret it if you miss it

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

Reviewed: 25-05-19

It's not for nothing that this is shaping up to be the best-selling autobiography of all time, having sold 10 million copies to date. And at first I did what I suspect a lot of us do - put it on the back burner because, ya know, it's a book you OUGHT to read, but how interesting and relevant to a British woman can it be now? How wrong could I be? Once I started I didn't want to stop, listening in bed at night, in the car on the way to work, during meals. There are few people who have such an extraordinary story to tell and can tell it so delightfully - she's a born narrator. There was so much about her life and views I didn't know, and although it's not an "inspirational" book, it's hard not to come away from reading it without feeling inspired. I did get quite emotional from time to time, listening to the emotion in her voice as she recounted some of the most challenging or painful or even happy experiences of her life so far, and to my surprise found that I could relate to many of her experiences and points of view. It's full of humour, drama, and lots of major and minor insights into the life of a POTUS and FLOTUS that I haven't come across elsewhere. I don't know why I found it so interesting that you couldn't hear from inside the Whitehouse the helicopter landing outside because the sound insulation from all the ballistic glass is so effective, but you know it has landed from the smell of the diesel, but I did. My favourite aspect of the book was the way in which she outlines how the adults who supported or tried to discourage her when she was a child affected her choices as an adult.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning

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

Reviewed: 24-04-19

If you aren't at the very least quietly snuffling by the end of this book, you're a stronger person than I am. I found this far more of an emotional challenge than I expected, as the protagonist faced up to a series of moral choices which backed her into tighter and tighter corners, with darker prospects ahead. One of the signs of a really good book, I think, is that it makes you reflect on what some psychologists call "congruence": the extent to which your behaviour matches your ideals. In this story, as the protagonist's behaviour becomes ever more congruent with her ideals, her life becomes tougher and tougher. Wharton was consciously drawing attention to the inability of women to support themselves and the desperate plight this threw them into, but you can enjoy this book without paying attention to any of the psychological or political or social aspects: it's just an incredibly moving human story, and I was really glad that I was alone when I finished reading it so that no-one could see the grit that inexplicably got into my eye.

What could possibly go wrong?

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

Reviewed: 24-04-19

I can't figure out how the author pulls this off, cramming so much action - killing, fighting, horror, death, dismemberment etc - into a novel, without its being as leaden and boringly descriptive as many film-to-book efforts turn out. But who cares? He does it. It's a wonderful, entertaining, well written book. When I finished it, I gave myself two days and then listened to it again.

Where were the dogs?

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

Reviewed: 24-04-19

A good yarn, with lots of enjoyable action and strong, well developed characters, marred only by some pretty obvious plot weaknesses - people doing things it's highly unlikely they'd do, and not doing things it's likely they'd do. When you're as good as Jane Harper is, you can get away with stuff like that.

The Perfect Book

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

Reviewed: 24-04-19

I resented having to go to bed and sleep halfway through listening to this. What a terrific story. It gradually gathers pace, enlisting our sympathy and interest in a cast of well-developed and believable characters. There's just the right amount of the uncanny about this too: different versions of why someone is buried out in the middle of nowhere and the impact that remote grave is having on people still alive (in some cases, not for long, though). More effectively than just about any other contemporary author, Harper makes the landscape an active participant in the drama. And I don't know anyone better at describing the interplay of unhealthy family dynamics - especially between siblings. At times the tension felt both unbearable and irresistible - like watching the final five minutes of a crucial match. You will not want to miss this book.

4 people found this helpful

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain

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

Reviewed: 20-01-19

Extraordinary that this is presented as a romance. Extraordinary that the heroine's love interest has ever been presented as a hero. We aren't too far into the story before the so-called hero is terrorizing women and children and bullying his "social inferiors". And as to the heroine: when she learns that he had punched his wife in the face, thereby showering his infant son with his mother's blood, she speculates that the unfortunate woman must have done something to provoke him. But physical violence is by way of foreplay for our hero: he uses the civil war as an excuse to rob his wife of her property too. His violence and contempt for his son have all too predictable results. It won't do to say that this was somehow accepted when Du Maurier was writing. Born some 50 years before her (and like her, to a violent alcoholic father) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle nonetheless wrote with sympathy and compassion of the horrors that women of his era experienced as a result of the marriage laws as they then stood, which could force a woman to return to a violent spouse, bar her from divorcing him, and deny her custody of her children if he divorced her - and all with his customary light touch, so that it didn't feel like campaigning. He didn't try and sell you you bullying, cruelty, spite and mental illness disguised as romance, the way that Du Maurier does here. I don't know how the book ends. Maybe someone planted their foot in this fool's backside and boosted him off a battlement whilst he was taking his riding crop to a crying child.

1 person found this helpful