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Steve

Doncaster, United Kingdom
  • 12
  • reviews
  • 150
  • helpful votes
  • 13
  • ratings
  • Martin Chuzzlewit

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Sean Barrett
  • Length: 33 hrs and 33 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 159
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 120
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 119

The Chuzzlewits are a family divided by money and selfishness; even young Martin, the eponymous hero, is arrogant and self-centred. He offends his grandfather by falling in love with the latter’s ward, Mary, and sets out to make his own fortune in life, travelling as far as America - which produces from Dickens a savage satire on a new world tainted with the vices of the old. Martin’s nature slowly changes through his bitter experience of life and his enduring love for Mary.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Dickens

  • By Steve on 27-04-11

Great Dickens

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 27-04-11

Great characters, a fascinating story, lots of humour, brilliantly read and characterised by Sean Barrett.
The novel has one or two chapters that are a bit long-winded (don't be put off by Chapter 1), the American section is surprisingly anti-american.
But you must make the acquaintance of some of the unforgettable characters such as Mr Pecksniff, Tom Pinch and may you never be looked after by Mrs Gamp.
Superb.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • A Thousand Splendid Suns

  • By: Khaled Hosseini
  • Narrated by: Atossa Leoni
  • Length: 11 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,039
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 693
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 698

Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss, and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them, in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul, they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Passionate story, passionless reading

  • By Siobhan on 31-07-07

Over-rated and poorly read

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 31-01-09

I think this book is very over-rated. It certainly makes you very, very aware, painfully aware of the horrors of life in Afghanistan, for women particularly, but so much of the novel dwells on the trivia of day to day exitance. It reads like an airport novel for much of its length.
Everything is dictated by events and chracter analysis is minimal. We do not explore the characters in any depth, but see only the events which happen to them.
The final quarter of the book is very moving however.
My wife tells me I'm wrong - so was I perhaps turned off by the flat, characterless reading of Atossa Leoni with her stange hesitancies which broke up phrases and destroyed sense. Such an amateur reading style.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Uncle Tom's Cabin  cover art
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

  • By: Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Narrated by: Kathryn Yarman
  • Length: 22 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    0 out of 5 stars 0
  • Story
    0 out of 5 stars 0

Uncle Tom is a high-minded, devoutly Christian black slave in an "humane" Southern family, the Shelbys. But, when the Shelbys are beset by financial difficulties, Tom is sold to a heartless slave trader. Hailed by Tolstoy as "one of the greatest productions of the human mind," this story describes Uncle Tom's trials, suffering, and religious fortitude.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A must-read, but.........

  • By Steve on 07-05-06

A must-read, but.........

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-05-06

A must-read to appreciate the role the book played in contributing to the abolition of slavery and because of the shocking picture it paints of slavery and the mindset of slave owners and traders who saw 'niggers' as subhuman chattels to be bought and sold at will, with families being split up with no more feeling than one might sell subsets of pieces of equipment. Beecher Stowe at her best uses devastating irony to highligh the hypocricy of the times and the self serving postures adopted by so many.
But........at her worst Beecher Stowe overdoes a mawkish religiosity which is quite off-putting especially when it descends into pages of blatant sermonising.
And... the reading by Kathryn Yarman is so slow and ponderous , rather like a child who is uncertain about reading aloud and forms each word with great care, sometimes pronouncing each sylable distinctly and separately, but losing any flow to the sentence in the process
And.........the format 2 sound quality is not good.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Wives and Daughters

  • By: Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Narrated by: Nadia May
  • Length: 25 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 22
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 7

Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable, but worldly and troubling, Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Lovely novel; wonderful reader (Nadia May)

  • By Jill on 10-10-06

Great Characters & Social-scene Painting

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-06

Mrs Gaskell gives life to a host of characters with their strengths and weaknesses lovingly depicted. None is two-dimensional, all have human depth. Mrs Kirkpatrick is a wonderful comic creation whom I could cheerfully have strangled on a number of occasions.
Mrs Gaskell's view of the foibles and conventions of 19th century England is gently optimistic. Her approach is softer and more domestic than Dickens (who rated her very highly).
Read with splendid chacterisations by Nadia May.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Tristram Shandy

  • By: Laurence Sterne
  • Narrated by: John Moffatt
  • Length: 5 hrs and 3 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3

Tristram Shandy is an ironic masterpiece, a work of extraordinary originality, wit, and learning. It is a work of considerable philosophical complexity but at the same time it is just a piece of flim-flam; it has been called the longest shaggy dog story in English literature. It is both a classic novel and an anti-novel. It includes passages of seemingly serious theology - but it can also be read as an elaborate bawdy joke.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Glorious Shaggy Dog Story

  • By Steve on 08-03-06

Glorious Shaggy Dog Story

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-06

Pull up your chair in the snug, with a pint of ale in your hand, and listen to the glorious ramblings and diversions of Mr. Sterne, raconteur par excellence.
Amazingly modern for a work written in the mid 18th century in the way it handles narrative, time, structure.
An entertainment, beautifully read by John Moffatt whose resonant tones convey the chucklesomeness of the whole thing.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Anna Karenina

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Davina Porter
  • Length: 36 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 56
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 19
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 20

This is the story of the unhappy family of Anna Karenina. The novel contains much concerning Tolstoy's spiritual crisis and his search for the meaning of life. But it is also chiefly about marriage, and the growth and death of love.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Greatest Novel Ever Written ?

  • By Steve on 26-01-06

The Greatest Novel Ever Written ?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-06

Tolstoy creates a world of complex characters whom one gets to know and understand and with whom one develops great empathy as the events unfold. The analysis of chatacters' motivation is supreme as Tolstoy demonstates enormous insights into the dilemmas they face as they seek happiness and meaning in their lives. Some fail, some achieve a measure of success, some deceive themselves, some aim low, some aim high.
This book is deeply moving because of its sympathy with humanity.
It is so well written that you cannot put it down but it demands time and concentration.
It is the greatest novel that I have ever read.
If you read only one novel in your life, read Anna Karenina!
Davina Porter judges her reading beautifully

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

In Cold Blood cover art
  • In Cold Blood

  • By: Truman Capote
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 14 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 2

Why we think it’s a great listen: It’s a story that most people know, told here in an unforgettable way – an audio masterpiece that rivals the best thrillers, thanks to Capote genre-defining words and Brick’s subtle but powerful characterizations. On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Cool, balanced recounting of brutal event

  • By Steve on 26-01-06

Cool, balanced recounting of brutal event

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-01-06

Capote avoids all the easy options. His book is not a blood and guts horror tale; it's not a socio-pschological tale trying to evince sympathy for the murderers; it's not a who dunnit detective story.
In a sense it's all these and more as he recounts events from multiple points of view - the murderers', the police, the community, the families affected, the judicial system - all are given their place so you have an objective and balanced account where you have to form your own views and decide where your own sympathies lie. Capote's tone is cool (old sense!) and measured throughout.
Well read by Scott Brick

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • The Last Precinct

  • Kay Scarpetta, Book 11
  • By: Patricia Cornwell
  • Narrated by: Lorelei King
  • Length: 15 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 124
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 84
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 85

Virginia's Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta is under suspicion and criminal investigation. And the nightmare perpetuated on Scarpetta's doorstep continues as she discovers that the so-called Werewolf murders may have extended to New York City and into the darkest corners of her past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Serial Killers and other nasty men

  • By Steve on 17-12-05

Serial Killers and other nasty men

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-12-05

Fairly well plotted. One is soon drawn deeper into complexities of a mystery and a conspiracy. Good on the details of autopsies, procedures and what certain findings indicate about cause of death.
Some interesting characters; it was particularly interesting to read this book in the light of an interview in the Times recently with Patricia Cornwell as a result of which one can spot many autobiographical strands from her own personal experiences which are woven into the novel and which give her principal character, Scarpetta, real credibility.
Written very much with a woman's voice (which makes sense, of course) I was troubled at one early stage in the book that the world seemed to be divided into good guys (female) and bad guys (male) but this view mellowed a little as I progressed.
A reasonably good read for this kind of book.
Very well read by Lorelie King who gives each character its own voice and reflects the moods of each.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • War and Peace

  • By: Leo Tolstoy
  • Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
  • Length: 61 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 190
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 122
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 118

Often called the greatest novel ever written, War and Peace is at once an epic of the Napoleonic wars, a philosophical study, and a celebration of the Russian spirit. Tolstoy's genius is clearly seen in the multitude of characters in this massive chronicle, all of them fully realized and equally memorable.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I knew I'd never read it

  • By Judith on 09-08-08

An epic sweep of characters and history

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-12-05

Brilliantly read by Davidson who has a great sense of pace and character.
1300+ pages made accessible.
Described as 'the greatest novel ever written' - I'm not sure I agree with that view, but certainly a very great novel.

35 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Pere Goriot

  • By: Honoré de Balzac
  • Narrated by: Walter Covell
  • Length: 11 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 24
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

One of the greatest of French novelists, Balzac, trained as a lawyer, was a great judge of human nature. In 1833 he conceived the idea of linking together his novels so that they would comprehend the whole society in a series of books. This plan eventually led to 90 novels and novellas (including more than 2,000 characters) that he called "The Human Comedy". Balzac's huge and ambitious plan drew a picture of the customs, atmosphere, and habits of the bourgeois France.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • King Lear meets the French Novel

  • By Steve on 21-11-05

King Lear meets the French Novel

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 21-11-05

Tremendous tale of woe as Goriot's daughters display utter lack of feeling as they exploit their father's love.
A picture of the preoccupations of 19th century France and the development of Rastignac from innocent youth from the country to would-be city sophiticate. How does his integrity survive the temptations of worldly success?
Walter Covell's reading is, sadly, desultory at times which spoils the atmosphere which Balzac creates so masterfully.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful