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Curran

  • 11
  • reviews
  • 56
  • helpful votes
  • 11
  • ratings
  • The Age Of Innocence

  • By: Edith Wharton
  • Narrated by: Mary Sarah
  • Length: 8 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars 17
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 18

Wharton’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set in upper class New York City. Newland Archer, gentleman lawyer and heir to one of New York City's best families, is happily anticipating a highly desirable marriage to the sheltered and beautiful May Welland. Yet he finds reason to doubt his choice of bride after the appearance of Countess Ellen Olenska, May's exotic, beautiful 30-year-old cousin, who has been living in Europe. This novel won the first ever Pulitzer awarded to a woman.

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • great book but terrible narration

  • By Curran on 18-07-18

great book but terrible narration

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

Reviewed: 18-07-18

Edith Wharton's masterpiece is, of course, a superlative book. Unfortunately this narration is so poor that it obscures it. Mary Sarah reads so fast that she is difficult to understand. That is compounded by frequent mistakes in punctuation, so that the meaning of the sentence is mangled up. Words are mispronounced - and the French words become mostly unrecognisable. I'm afraid this is the worst narration I have ever heard on Audible. I'm wondering whether the recording was not intended for mass publication at all, but was some private reading - in that case, one would feel sympathy for Mary Sarah.

Fortunately, all the other Audible books I have had over the years have had a much higher standard of narration.

  • You Don't Know Me

  • By: Imran Mahmood
  • Narrated by: Adam Deacon
  • Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 567
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 530
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 529

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the closing speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer and decides to give his own defence speech. He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes the truth can be too difficult to explain or believe. But he thinks that if he's going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Stunning

  • By The One Who Reads on 30-06-17

Individual, gripping new perspective

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

Reviewed: 05-09-17

I have never read or listened to anything quite like this book, in which insights into the underworld of London estates and drug rings are presented with immense impact but also warmth and humour.

The device of the first-person narrator is crucial - a young black Londoner on trial for murder, asserting that he has been caught up in a world of violence solely to protect the girlfriend he loves. We see the naivety and, sometimes, the stupidity of the accused but that is more than counterbalanced by his emotion and the passion of his speech to the jury. (Only 4 stars for the story as personally, I thought there was one detour too many - but it's tremendously compelling and had me listening at every available moment.)

Above all, this is a book to enjoy in its audio format. The voice of Adam Deacon is perfect for it, and he delivers a superb performance which adds hugely to the book's impact.

I have largely given up writing customer reviews for lack of time, but this one should be an exception. Excellent.

  • One Night in Winter

  • By: Simon Sebag Montefiore
  • Narrated by: Simon Slater
  • Length: 14 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 69
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 67
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 64

If your children were forced to testify against you, what terrible secrets would they reveal? Moscow 1945. As Stalin and his courtiers celebrate victory over Hitler, shots ring out. On a nearby bridge, a teenage boy and girl lie dead. But this is no ordinary tragedy and these are no ordinary teenagers, but the children of Russia’s most important leaders who attend the most exclusive school in Moscow. Is it murder? A suicide pact? Or a conspiracy against the state?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • enjoyable, rather despite my better judgement

  • By Curran on 04-01-14

enjoyable, rather despite my better judgement

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

Reviewed: 04-01-14

The background knowledge and information conveyed by the setting is certainly interesting and Simon Sebag Montefiore's research into Stalin shows. However the foreground story really is unbelievable and moreover has been softened and sanitized, thereby putting the credibility of the entire book in jeopardy. Worse, it is not helped by a very humdrum rendition by Simon Slater, who frequently makes incorrect sense breaks - odd, because he seemed to read the much more challenging Wolf Hall to considerably better effect. So why, despite all these criticisms, am I still engaged and listening until the end? I suppose because it has the auditory equivalence of being a "page turner". I end with an excellent quote from the Irish Times : "Simon Sebag Montefiore ingeniously blends the invented with the real but, like the author’s name, the story is a tad too long."

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Into the Silence

  • By: Wade Davis
  • Narrated by: Enn Reitel
  • Length: 28 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 138
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 130
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 132

A monumental work of history, biography and adventure – the First World War, Mallory and Mount Everest – ten years in the writing.If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Epic prize winner

  • By M. Griffiths on 22-11-14

frequently gripping, consistently thorough

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

Reviewed: 02-01-14

Many passages of this will make you forget everything else just to listen. The moments of excitement and horror, in both the descriptions of WW1 and the account of the attempts to scale Everest, are overwhelmingly tense and powerful, with details which sear into the memory. The book would, in my opinion, have been even better had an editor persuaded Wade Davis to omit some of the exhaustive knowledge he acquired in his 10 years of research for his account; and occasionally the narrator misses the effect or dims the sense. However, even though I could readily have pruned some parts, overall it is very much worth listening to and brings home a perspective on the late 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century which I would not have missed.

  • A Tiger's Wedding

  • My Childhood in Exile
  • By: Isla Blair
  • Narrated by: Isla Blair
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 19
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8

The actress Isla Blair’s extraordinary, moving and uplifting story of her childhood in India and her separation from her parents. Born in Bangalore India, during the fading days of the Raj, Isla grew up on a tea plantation managed by her father. She spent her early years in the lush, verdant hills of Kerala with her much loved older sister Fiona, secure in the love and affection of her parents and her adored “Ayah”.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Mostly Wonderful

  • By Robert on 15-01-12

all very beautiful

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

Reviewed: 02-01-14

Isla Blair's voice is melodious and lovely to listen to, and of course her reading is professional - would that all performers had her talent and sheer level of literacy. Her story takes you back to a different world - the end of the colonial era in India and the post-war world in Britain mostly before the impact of the sixties. The only reason for not giving this 5 stars is that it struck me as just a little sugary at times.

  • The Complete Essays of Montaigne

  • By: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Donald M. Frame (translator)
  • Narrated by: Christopher Lane
  • Length: 49 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 40
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 30
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 28

“A faithful translation is rare; a translation which preserves intact the original text is very rare; a perfect translation of Montaigne appears impossible. Yet Donald Frame has realized this feat. One does not seem to be reading a translation, so smooth and easy is the style; at each moment, one seems to be listening to Montaigne himself - the freshness of his ideas, the unexpected choice of words. Frame has kept everything.” (Andre Maurois, The New York Times Book Review)

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • a singular experience

  • By Curran on 28-08-13

a singular experience

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

Reviewed: 28-08-13

Montaigne is a seminal French Renaissance essayist, so the content of this work is both influential but also, in its totality, rather esoteric. Having wanted for years to read the essays, but been daunted by the language and the length, I made the very good choice of listening to them instead, and by that means have been able to engage with them all. It remains something of a marathon because, unlike other long audio-books, there is no "story" to help you along and I did have to rely on systematic creation of bookmarks to ensure smooth progress without inadvertently skipping backwards or forwards.

That said, this is an excellent way to come to grips with and to enjoy Montaigne. Top marks to Christopher Lane who interprets faultlessly everything from erudite translations from Latin to the most graphic physical details, not forgetting all the footnotes. Top marks too to Donald Frame for such a comprehensible translation.

Aided by these two interpreters, Montaigne's work can afford you well over 45 hours of real interest, with only a very small percentage which is now beyond the non-specialist. The immediacy and freshness of his style, the pithiness of his comments, the details we get of his life and that of his family and his famed friend La Boetie, the copious illustration of philosophical precepts with lively, concrete examples, and much more, ensure that the Essays still speak directly to the reader/listener.

Listening to this audiobook is a serious undertaking but it is one which I very much value.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • The Canterbury Tales [Blackstone]

  • By: Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis, Jay Carnes, Ray Porter, and others
  • Length: 20 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 113
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 69
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 73

In this edition, we hear, translated into modern English, 20-some tales, told in the voices of knight and merchant, wife and miller, squire and nun, and many more. Some are bawdy, some spiritual, some romantic, some mysterious, some chivalrous. Between the stories, the travelers converse, joke, and argue, revealing much about their individual outlooks upon life as well as what life was like in late 14th-century England.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Olde English classic

  • By Zoe on 07-04-13

masterly reading makes this classic enjoyable

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-01-13

I am not in the least a Chaucer scholar - partly because previously I had not managed to get very far with reading the Tales for myself. So I can only write as a novice and an amateur, but I am listening intently and enjoying the book in a multiplicity of ways. The variety of the Tales themselves, the drama and humour of the work, the way in which is it all structured; and the music of the language , which is retained in this modern translation and which does gain from being read aloud. I hesitated for some time before buying this book, thinking it might be too much for me. On the contrary, I am relishing it and am grateful to such gifted readers for bringing this very special text alive for me.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Vanity Fair

  • By: William Makepeace Thackeray
  • Narrated by: John Castle
  • Length: 31 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 325
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 251
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 246

Set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, this classic gives a satirical picture of a worldly society. The novel revolves around the exploits of the impoverished but beautiful and devious Becky Sharp who craves wealth and a position in society. Calculating and determined to succeed, she charms, deceives and manipulates everyone she meets. A novel of early 19th-century English society, it takes its title from the place designated as the centre of human corruption in John Bunyan's 17th-century allegory.

  • out of 5 stars
  • Bubble and squeak

  • By Andy on 07-04-13

excellent reading of an engaging book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-13

I completely agree with other reviewers : you will be surprised how quickly so many hours of this book fly past. They were all tremendously enjoyable! Thank you, John Castle, for so expert a reading which never missed the sense (this in my experience is unusual), and on the contrary brought out all the humour, the drama, and in particular the wit of the book. When I read Vanity Fair many years ago, I was a little daunted by its length and density; listening to such a masterly rendition of it, I relished every chapter and will certainly listen again.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Damn His Blood

  • By: Peter Moore
  • Narrated by: Michael Maloney
  • Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 31
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 21
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 21

The brutal murder of the Rev. George Parker in the rural village of Oddingley on Midsummer's Day in 1806 - shot and beaten to death, his body set on fire and left smouldering in his own glebe field - gripped everyone from the Home Secretary to newspapermen across the country. It was a strange and stubborn case. The investigation lasted 24 years and involved inquests, judges, and coroners, each determined to solve the gruesome crime. Damn His Blood is a true story of brutality, greed, and ruthlessness.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating book

  • By Caroline on 01-09-12

lives up to the cover

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-01-13

The cover shows it all - historical crime, black deeds and thick red blood. It was recommended to me as an interesting portrait of rural life at the start of the nineteenth century, and it does indeed give a picture of a little-known world, the countryside just beginning to be affected by the changes of the revolutions, industrial and French (both are mentioned). The book is already on the melodramatic side, and this is intensified - in my opinion too much - by the eccentric reading. Hardly ever is the tone neutral, even for the most objective or mundane facts. Everything is menacing, given bizarre emphasis, playing to the full the possibilities of the book. If you can ignore the overemphasis, it's quite enjoyable and informative, and yes, there is plenty of plot!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Pure

  • By: Andrew Miller
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Aris
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 173
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 112
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 109

Deep in the heart of Paris, its oldest cemetery is, by 1785, overflowing, tainting the very breath of those who live nearby. Into their midst comes Jean-Baptiste Baratte, a young, provincial engineer charged by the king with demolishing it. At first Baratte sees this as a chance to clear the burden of history, a fitting task for a modern man of reason. But before long, he begins to suspect that the destruction of the cemetery might be a prelude to his own.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Pure Perfection

  • By Kaggy on 27-10-14

intriguing and clever but sometimes overdone

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-05-12

The setting is intriguing, as you can see from the publisher's details; the handling of the story and the gradual descent into darkness with the counterpoint of the development of sincere love are clever. The use of language is often almost poetic, a delight to listen to. However, at times all these elements just tip over the fine line between the satisfying and the irritating and strain the suspension of belief. It is rather a shame that Jonathan Aris sometimes has trouble with the pronunciation of the (numerous) French names, as in every other way he is a masterly reader. All in all, worth listening to but not, for me, a book of the year.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful