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Julia

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Dry and dull

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

Reviewed: 13-12-17

Struggled to get through it. Tedious and slow. Hard going and not engaging at all.

The most awful narration ever.

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

Reviewed: 28-11-16

What disappointed you about The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes?

The appalling pronunciation of the narrator. After a fairly short while I found I could not listen to him without wincing. He strangles the words and gives no pace to the story - his characterisations are ruined by his appalling English pronunciation.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes?

I don't have one - it was too awful to enjoy at all. Memorable might be his way of saying long - lorng - and Holmes as Holumes. Also his pronunciations change and he loses his characterisation too. Truly dreadful.

How could the performance have been better?

By using an english actor who can pronounce english properly.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Complete Stories of Sherlock Holmes?

Just recast the narrator.

Any additional comments?

Awful - wish I had not purchased - cannot listen to it at all.

Absorbing story lots of bad pronunciation!

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

Reviewed: 26-03-16

Would you consider the audio edition of The Milliner's Secret to be better than the print version?

I would definitely not - I think reading it might be more enjoyable as the narrator could not pronounce French and marred the story telling by her appalling mispronunciations. Why use an actress who cannot pronounce basic French words like "Guerre" when the book is set in Paris and involves repeated use of certain French names and words - bad choice. Other than this the story was intriguing and enjoyable and the narrator was mostly good at storytelling and at characterisation.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I don't really have favourite characters in books but Coralie the heroine was great - not perfect but human and flawed.

Did Julie Teal do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Good characterisation for the most part except for her bad pronuciations of names, places and French Words. I think she continually mispronounced the Hero's name - I think it was Dietrich which she repeatedly pronounced as Diertrich - this was grating. She did also give some characters slightly odd accents - like Serge Martell and the forger - but mostly I liked her characterisation especially of Una.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I didn't feel moved but I did enjoy the story and the dilemmas and dramas and choices. Aspects were a bit unreal and tidied away - Dietrich's pain over his son's death and the way he held that against Coralie was a bit too swiftly resolved - on the whole the love story did not hold true for me. Coralie also relinquished her daughter without too much angst on her part - the most moving bits were about the poor Jews being shipped out of Paris.

Any additional comments?

Natalie Meg Evans really writes a good tale that keeps you hooked - she has some rather convenient ways of putting obstacles in the way then removing them when it suits her and her baddies are always simplified and over stated with no redeeming features or apparent human qualities - this book was so much better than The Dress Thief for plotting and for interest in the story and she does write well of the period. My enjoyment of the story was really hindered though by the fact that the narrator did not know how to pronounce so many foreign names and words - I don't understand how such shoddy editing can be allowed in a professional publication. It made some of the words and phrases actually incomprehensible. Why not either hire an actress who has some understanding of foreign pronunciation or get someone to help her with the tricky words? It seems nobody paid attention to this sort of detail. Such a shame as the narration was otherwise pretty good and I liked her voice.

Almost impossible to listen to

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

Reviewed: 12-03-16

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The book is really fascinating and I think I will have to read it instead of listen to it. The writer comes across as arrogant, self obsessed, pompous, pious and extremely unlikable but I think this is due to a horrible narration that makes her sound dry and remote.

Who was your favorite character and why?

As this is an autobiography it is rather odd to consider "favourite character" - this book is about real people and their real lives and deaths not about "characters".

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Sheila Mitchell?

Juliet Stevenson or any other decent actress with a voice that varies in tone and texture and brings life to a story - Sheila Mitchell kills it dead and makes it such a difficult listen.

Did Testament of Youth inspire you to do anything?

Go and read the book and dump the audio! It did make me think about the state of the world - about war and power and how those who want peace are ridiculed, marginalised and sometimes even punished. It did inspire me to reflect on vested interest and how the powerful abuse their position - but the dreary narration mostly inspired me to go and listen to anything other than this.

Any additional comments?

What a waste! Such a good and worthwhile book with such depth of feeling, intelligence and poignant interest turned into a long drawn out drone - read the excellent review on audible.com for a more detailed dissection of how this narrator gets it so wrong and read the book don't bother with the audio it becomes actually painful after several hours listening and is long in any case. HORRIBLE narration - excellent writing - a good book massacred and some dreadful pronunciation too - don't the editors EVER correct these narrators when they repeatedly mispronounce basic words to such a degree it grates. This is badly done and I will wish for someone to re-do the whole thing.

14 people found this helpful

Disappointingly lacking in story and detail

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

Reviewed: 14-11-13

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No I would not recommend this book. I love Dawn French's wonderful vivacity and love of life but the book is an almost endless sequence of gushing eulogies to her friends and family and sadly lacks much of the actual cut and thrust of her life. Far too much time is spent on her childhood memories with a brief nod to the later more interesting (to me) part of life in which she worked with so many actors and comedians that I'd like to hear more about.

What was most disappointing about Dawn French’s story?

Really that you don't hear the actual story of how her life as a comedienne panned out - it is mostly what leads up to that happening and lots of descriptions of people she loves being utterly wonderful and interesting. By the end I felt almost depressed at how she appears to live in an alternate universe to one I know - where everyone is fascinating, accomplished, intelligent and full of fabulous qualities. Certainly as a testimony to those who she loves it is moving but as a memoir and story of a really interesting life it disappoints.

Which character – as performed by Liza Tarbuck – was your favourite?

She simply reads as narrator - it is not a series of characters - she reads pretty well but I did rather miss Dawn French's particular intonation and try to imagine some of the words in her distinctive style. Liza Tarbuck is a good performer but cannot make up for the lack of real drama and interest in the way this book is composed. It does have some charm to it however and she conveys that.

Did Dear Fatty inspire you to do anything?

Actually it did - it did inspire me to get out and play more as above all Dawn French's life seems to have been one in which play has been her work and her leisure - she is so overwhelmingly positive and whilst that makes it a slightly irritating listen at times, I could not help but be infected by her absolute love and appreciation of her own experiences - that was inspiring - to hear how someone could quite simply make the most of and truly enjoy life by playing at every opportunity and not seeming to take it all too seriously. It also inspired me to be a little more expressive in appreciation of those I love - her family's encouragement and absolute love and support is what has provided her with a deep inner security that has meant she has seemingly effortlessly achieved success and recognition - as a testimony to the power of such an upbringing it works.

Any additional comments?

It seems churlish to write a critical review about someone's life story - I would have liked more of the life and less of the gush but you certainly do see what a remarkable and warm person Dawn French really is so I came away with more respect for her as a person but not much desire to read or listen to more of her writing. I lover her performances, her personality and her presence and I would have loved to hear more about her experiences in the world of comedy. If she chooses to write more about that and less about telling friends and family how wonderful they are then I would be interested. But it does give an insight into her success - she just makes the most of everything. As a treatise for the power of not being perfect and of positivity making a life work this demonstrates that more than any self help book. Disappointing story but inspiring woman.

4 people found this helpful

Gripping, annoying and ultimately disappointing

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 24-02-13

What a dark world Karen Maitland conjures up - one where her characters can never be free to choose their destiny or create a life of their own, one in which it seems everyone is doomed to struggle against forces greater than them - a moment of ignorance or weakness leads to a lifetime of struggle, pain, fear and no escape even in death where punishment will continue for ever. The story is exciting, the narration in the person of the Mandrake Root with a strong foreign accent is really irritating at first but after a few hours becomes normal. Like many writers she spins the story out by jumping across the different threads and characters so I found it hard to follow at times and got confused. Possibly it would make more sense on the page. Most disappointing is the ending - just when I thought it would resolve positively it descends into another round of hellish torment making you realise these characters have no escape and no possibility of being happy in their lives.

I love the folklore and the way she creates the period and atmosphere but the sheer weight of darkness is ultimately oppressive - events take characters from bad to worse to far worse to unendurable and there is no relief ever from the tangled knots of circumstance - no redemption and no happy ending. I wish it had ended with at least a note of hope instead of desolation - was going to read her next one but I cannot bear books that offer no hope of a positive outcome and seem to punish characters at every turn. a dark world from which there is no escape - if you like that then you'll love this - I feel cheated now.

4 people found this helpful