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Summary

Expelled from Oxford for indecent behaviour, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly unsurprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle.

His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze.

As the farce unfolds and the young run riot, no one is safe, least of all Paul. Taking its title from Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Evelyn Waugh's first, funniest novel immediately caught the ear of the public with his account of an ingénu abroad in the decadent confusion of 1920s high society.

©1928 Evelyn Waugh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Decline and Fall

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Give the narrator an oscar!

This is a wonderful, Jeeves-and-Wooster-esque yarn (although with a bigger helping of satire) made fantastic by the skills of a highly adaptable and talented narrator.

High recommended!

5 people found this helpful

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Unsurpassable narration

If you could sum up Decline and Fall in three words, what would they be?

Quaint, clever, wry.

What did you like best about this story?

The narration is absolutely perfect and gave me so much more expressive characterisation than I'd have been able to conjure in my own head - thank you, Michael Maloney!

What does Michael Maloney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

It's honestly as if he wrote the novel himself, so perfectly does he capture each snort, sneer, grimace and tick - he narrates each character with a sort of audible physicality which makes it easy to visualise the characters, and it's laugh out loud stuff. It's ridiculous, it's over the top, and it's jolly good fun.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found it very amusing, diverting, and just what I needed to wind down to each night for a week. Waugh's not to everyone's taste, but if you like a class-based period comedy, boom, here it is. They don't make 'em like this anymore...

Any additional comments?

I read that David Suchet will be appearing in a new TV adaptation, and I can see that working very well; having seen him as Lady Bracknell recently, he can do comedy brilliantly.

10 people found this helpful

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Ripping Yarn

Thoroughly enjoyable book and wonderfully narrated by Michael Maloney who expertly brings the larger than life characters to life.

4 people found this helpful

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Perfect Narration

Would you listen to Decline and Fall again? Why?

I will certainly revisit this production. The story is hugely enjoyable but Michael Maloney's narration really stood out. Not only did he highlight the comical elements but he seemed able to distinguish a fine spectrum of 'posh' voices which hinted at varying degrees of class, income, education etc.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed Waugh's parody of public school life and society in general - criminals of all classes included.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The Sports Day farrago was very enjoyable. On a quieter level, so were many conversations - with much subtle humour.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Certainly not crying - I laughed aloud many times, and smiled many more.

Any additional comments?

This is a really fun listen. I certainly plan to re-listen - and probably more than once.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent narration

I am a fan of Waugh but this is definitely not my favourite of his books. However it was brilliantly narrated and often seems like a full cast rather than a single voice.

3 people found this helpful

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Brilliant narrator

Would you consider the audio edition of Decline and Fall to be better than the print version?

Can't say as I haven't read the print version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Decline and Fall?

All of it.

Have you listened to any of Michael Maloney’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Michael Maloney is brilliant at capturing character, and the mood of the period, all of his voices are distinct and brilliant.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

3 people found this helpful

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  • 05-06-19

classic Waugh

a tale of black humour which makes you squirm and giggle in equal amounts. will listen again and again.

1 person found this helpful

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Pifffection

A short spiffy social commentary on public school education and the absurdity of life, often funny sometimes touching but always true. This is one of the rare gems of audiobooks where the performance is top draw and brings the book to life.

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Took me back to 'o' level days

Don't listen to Waugh if youare easily offended: he is a racist, sexist old snob but he is of his time and deals in sterotypes to portray the simultaneously bright society stars and the gloomy shadows they leave.

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Maloney is my favourite narrator

I love all of Evelyn Waugh's books, bitingly funny and sharply insightful on and critical of early-mid twentieth-century British society. What makes this stand out is the extraordinary narration. Michael Maloney is phenomenal: he completely captures the spirit and pace of Waugh's novels, while being sensitive to their pathos and humour. I'd listen to anything narrated by him, but Maloney and Waugh are a dream match. He's narrated a few of Waugh's novels on audible - all equally fabulous.