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A Plague on Both Your Houses

The First Chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew
Narrated by: David Thorpe
Series: Matthew Bartholomew, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (299 ratings)

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Summary

Matthew Bartholomew, unorthodox but effective physician to Michaelhouse college in medieval Cambridge, is as worried as anyone about the pestilence that is ravaging Europe and seems to be approaching England. But he is distracted by the sudden and inexplicable death of the Master of Michaelhouse - a death the University authorities do not want investigated.

But Matt is determined to get to the truth, leading him into a tangle of lies and intrigue that cause him to question the innocence of his closest friends - and even his family - just as the Black Death finally arrives.

A Plague on Both Your Houses is the book that introduced Matthew Bartholomew to the world.

©1996 Susanna Gregory (P)2017 Little Brown Book Group

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Just brilliant

I'm so surprised that this book has had so many negative reviews. The story was complex and gripping (I listened to it over a weekend) and the narration was superb, IMHO. The different voices for each character were great, especially Michael, and the twists and turns of the plot kept me enthralled. Fantastic stuff.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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If I could give 3.5 I would. Entertaining enough

What three words best describe David Thorpe’s voice?

A little on the irritating side when acting the character voices.

Was A Plague on Both Your Houses worth the listening time?

Yes

Any additional comments?

No Shardlake but good enough

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not a great listen- the later books are better

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
I like Susanna Gregory's writing but the first couple of Mathew Bartholomew book suffer from weak characterisation and a poor narrator and the combination of the two is unfortunate. The good news is that the later books do improve and the narrater becomes more bearable and are worth a credit but this, alas, isn't and I will be returning it.

What was most disappointing about Susanna Gregory’s story?
Having read all of Gregory's books, the earlier books are definitely the weakest in the series, with poorly sketched characters, unrealistic dialogues and although the historical detail is interesting it isn't enough to keep the reader/listener engaged. As I have said above, the later books do get a lot better but this one, particularly with the terrible narration, is one to avoid.

Would you be willing to try another one of David Thorpe’s performances?
Unfortunately Thorpe is the assigned reader for the Bartholomew books so I can only hope he, or the publisher, take notice of listeners comments and change/adapt his narration because, honestly, I can't bear to hear some of his interpretations of the monks and in particular Michael. In answer to the question, seeing Thorpe's name on an audio book would put me off.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Plague on Both Your Houses?
Not really applicable - it was the first book written a long time ago and Gregory's writing has got better with time, so just take this as an early attempt, not really worth a credit unless you are want to hear how it all started or you are prepared to return it if you don't like it.

Any additional comments?
A different narrator would have made all the difference but we have what we have and it is good that the whole back catalogue is been made available.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The name is ?

A great but complicated story. It was my first audible book and I became hooked. However, at first I found it very difficult to sort out all the characters - when reading I can constantly flip back to check - not so easy when listening hands free. But just how many thousands of times does the name Bartholomew occur?!!

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Too many characters

Perhaps because I am listening to the story rather than reading it, but I lost track of who is who and after a while I gave up caring

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Loved the hardbacks but...

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Just couldn't get into it. I've read the whole series and I wish I'd not listened to this. The characters just weren't as I imagined them. The narrator didn't do them justice. Brother Michael was just lost..really disappointing ..

Would you be willing to try another book from Susanna Gregory? Why or why not?

I've read them all so far but I've returned the ones I had lined up to listen to. Just couldn't get into the first one. Maybe another narrator and I might try again.

What three words best describe David Thorpe’s performance?

Poor, unrealistic, monotonous. Sadly not my cup of tea. First time I've heard him and he just doesn't do the book justice. Didn't hold my attention.

If this book were a film would you go see it?

i would probably as I really liked the hardbacks.

Any additional comments?

Don't be put off by my comments about the book as I did enjoy it when I read it just couldn't get into it with this narrator. Mathew Bartholomew will grow on you .... Give it a go :)

5 people found this helpful

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Couldn't Finish This Book. Don't waste your money!

Would you try another book written by Susanna Gregory or narrated by David Thorpe?

Susanna Gregory - Possibly
David Thorpe - No

Has A Plague on Both Your Houses put you off other books in this genre?

I couldn't finish this book so difficult to comment, but the genre is one I usually enjoy, so probably not. I thought having read numerous positive reviews on this series of books that I would enjoy it but it was ruined by the atrocious narration.

Would you be willing to try another one of David Thorpe’s performances?

Definitely Not. It wasn't read as smooth prose as books should, but as a list of separate sentences with long pauses between them. It therefore did not keep my interest & I was unable to get past the first few chapters. I tried a number of times to get into the story but couldn't. Going to request a credit refund.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from A Plague on Both Your Houses?

Can't comment - didn't listen to enough of the story

Any additional comments?

Doesn't Audible have a quality check in place to prevent books being ruined by the narrator.? An author invests time & effort into writing interesting books but then their work is totally spoilt by a rubbish narrator. Good narration is vital when listening to a book so I am surprised that this is allowed to happen.

13 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Cardboard characters & a dull whodunnit

I was desperate to finish some weeding in the garden, so persisted longer with this book than I might've otherwise. Had I been driving, I would have slept, so a safety warning here!

Some whodunnits are just plain dull and formulaic. Despite the historical setting, the use of disgusting period detail and the nature of the college rule books at the time, this is one of those. Part of the problem is the cardboard characters. They don't live and this is one of those dreary potboiler books in an endless series. Trouble is, the first book in such a series has to hook the reader to keep them reading. This fails, but at least I won't waste any more dosh on the rest of them!

The narrator does his best and gives a creditable performance of this dismal material.

If you want a truly ripping yarn set in the time of the Black Death and full of excellent characters and atmospheric historical detail, I suggest Connie Willis' novel 'The Doomesday Book'. Dunno whether her stuff is on Audible yet, but it should be!

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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My First Matthew Bartholomew - And Not My Last

This is my first listen to a Susanna Gregory novel in my search for a worthy follow-up to C J Sansom's, Shardlake series. It fitted my needs and has a very able narrator that is able to characterise the various voices with great skill. I am pleased to see that he reads the others in the series. I purchased the second in this series with readiness. I listened whilst keeping safe at home from Covid-19. Perhaps because of this the novel's depiction of the plague that descended on Cambridge in 1348 had real impact both in terms of who catches the plague and whom not, and the various attitudes to it. It seemed very realistic. I like the way that Matthew Bartholomew is out of the ordinary as a physician, not being mired in a limited medical outlook. I also liked the manner in which he was not immediately clear about what was going on; this fallibility was appealing. I very much liked the plump ripeness of the character of Brother Michael - at least in the narrator's portrayal of him. I am hoping he returns in subsequent novels. There are other characters too that one hopes will return as they provide healthy energy and challenge to the physician detective.Well worth a listen.

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Perfect narrator.

Susanna Gregory is an amazing author, and David Thorpe is the perfect narrator for her books. The only problem is that Matthew and Michael know more about the other characters than you.

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  • Wilkie Collins
  • 12-01-18

Great Intro to a new series

Love that audible has every book in this series. David Thrope does a great job bringing all the wonderful characters to life.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 03-12-17

Couldn't finish it

I had read a Bartholomew novel from later in the series, so decided to read this one. I assume the author learned a lot about writing mysteries between this one and the later one. The mystery was boring; the characters very superficial, and the plague episodes were more of an interference than interesting.

6 people found this helpful

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  • J. Miller
  • 11-09-19

I should have loved this book.

This series promised me a renewal of something like the Shardlake Mysteries series set in old England. I read every one of those. I was excited about this one but here is a lesson about the importance of the narration. I gave it a bit of time, but the narrator was shouting and speeding through the dialog at the same level and pitch, even when moving from one voice to another. I couldn't follow what was probably a great story because I felt as if my eardrums were under assault. The best way to summarize this is to imagine that a book is being read to you by the Town Crier. Unbearable.

4 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Derk
  • 26-04-17

review

Nice introduction to Bartholomew series. good story but at the end a bit too much plotting for my liking

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sylvane
  • 27-10-17

I don't faultl the reader

I fault the director or producer. I noticed at least 3 instances when the wrong word was said, but it wasn't caught.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Zenobia Woodlife
  • 11-10-19

Sounded like an extended Tweet

Not sure if it was the writing or the narration BUT this entire book SOUNDED as if each sentence was a single tweet.

The result was that the language flow choked, sentence by sentence. Drove me to turn it off again and again... I was curious about the ending so stuck with it but even the ending was... gasp... another set of tweets.

Alas... feel sorry for the narrator & anyone listening. Unless that is, you appreciate tweet length sentences that utterly lack complex structure & elegance. If that's the case then you will probably like this.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan Robison
  • 28-03-19

Loved the performance

Have always loved the books, now I love the audio! Will definitely binge the rest!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • barbara
  • 05-05-18

Good story

The plot might be a little too complicated but comes clear in the end. Great start to a promising series

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-04-20

Are you serious?

The worst narration ever. The voice is so high and screeching. If you turn it down you cant hear the words, turn it up, its unbearable. Thabks for ruining this.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jonathan I. Rosenblatt
  • 03-04-20

Tedious

A charming character trudges through this historical who-done-it. But the time it ends it has become a who-cares-who-done-it. The side-dish history lesson is better than the main course mystery. David Thorpe could read the telephone book and hold me to Z—-but it would still be the telephone book.