Regular price: £19.99

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
OR
In Basket

Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Fantasy, love and an exuberant celebration of English life and literature, Orlando is a uniquely entertaining story. Originally conceived by Virginia Woolf as a playful tribute to the family of her friend and lover, Vita Sackville-West, Orlando's central character, a fictional embodiment of Sackville-West, changes sex from a man to a woman and lives throughout the centuries, whilst meeting historical figures of English literature.

The book opens with Orlando as a young nobleman in Elizabethan England who finds love with a Russian princess. During Charles II's reign, he is an ambassador to Constantinople and becomes a Duke. Orlando then goes on to wake as a beautiful woman, exploring the roles of women in the 18th and 19th centuries. Eventually becoming a wife and mother the tale ends in the year 1928, a year consonant with full suffrage for women. Upon plans to publish her 1588 poem 'The Oak Tree', written in the opening of the book, she reflects on her centuries of adventure.

An exploration of androgyny and the creative life of a woman, it is considered a feminist work. Arguably one of Woolf's most popular stories, it marked a turning point in her career, departing from her more introspective works. Receiving both critical and financial success, it guaranteed Woolf's financial stability.

There have been many adaptations made, including a 1992 film starring Tilda Swinton and an opera by composer Peter Aderhold which premiered at the Braunschweig State Theatre in in 2016.

Narrator Biography

Clare Higgins is an accomplished actress of screen and stage, winning three Olivier Awards for Best Actress for her roles in Sweet Bird of Youth (1995), Vincent in Brixton (2003) and Hecuba (2005). With a long and successful career in British and American theatre, she has also been a regular feature on our television screens. Her recent roles have included Miss Cackle in The Worst Witch (2017), Ohila in Doctor Who (2013 and 2015), Hazel Warren in EastEnders (2015) and Vivian in Rogue (2014).

Claire Higgins is probably best known for her memorable and sinister performance as Julia in the horror films Hellraiser (1987) and Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), with other film appearances including The Golden Compass (2007) and Small Faces (2006). With a voice and timing perfect for audio she has narrated many audiobooks, including Nick Hornby's How to Be Good and Joanna Trollope's The Best of Friends, and in 2009 portrayed Margaret Thatcher in the BBC Radio 4 drama A Family Affair.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Clare Higgins's supple, silky voice does justice to Woolf's literary landmark. The language of Orlando, peppered with alliterative phrases, flows effortlessly with perfect pacing by Higgins, and Woolf's dry wit shines through her performance." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    61
  • 4 Stars
    24
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    5

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    49
  • 4 Stars
    21
  • 3 Stars
    10
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    39
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    18
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    5
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An imaginative classic...

This is an outstanding pieces of literature. I came to this title by accident following a audible recommendation link from a previous title, The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneggar.
This voyage through life and time is superb. Humorous, intense and subtle. He, then she, Orlando, touches, brushes and grasps each era from the 16th to the 20th century. An imaginative classic, this work is accessible and highly recommended!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

They stream of consciousness style and dry wit is suited perfectly to an audiobook. Also, Clare Higgin's voice is perfectly suited to the work, and I want her to record all of Virginia Woolf's work.

It is magical, perfectly produced and the only disappointment is that 8 hours and 43 mins is over much, much too quickly. It is one of the few audiobooks that I will listen to again.

Wonderful, magical, surprising, original, beautiful, bold and full of love.

Listen to the sample . . . and then you will find that you must get this audiobook.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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

Deserved classic

I deliberately didn't read up about Orlando before I started listening to my Audible download because I didn't want to be be distracted by trying to fit facts of Woolf's life with Vita Sackville-West into whatever the story would bring. I think I made the right decision - and probably wouldn't have got the references anyway!
Orlando is written as the biography of an Elizabethan boy who ages only twenty-odd years while the rest of the world advances by several hundred years. Oh, and Orlando also becomes a woman. As you do.

I absolutely adored Woolf's descriptions of Elizabethan England. Her prose when she allows it to run away with her is sublime and many times I felt as if I were really there. My audio was narrated by Clare Higgins who does a fantastic job throughout, especially during such passages. Other highlights for me were the encroachment of the damp and the sudden sweep of the Victorians. However, I wasn't convinced by the Turkish Gypsy episodes and felt they lacked the same immediacy, and the writing seemed to lose structure towards the very end, probably deliberately, but I thought this made the conclusions tough to follow.

Recurring characters made it seem perfectly natural that Orlando aged so slowly and the story never came across as contrived which, having just reread my two line synopsis, is pretty amazing! The poet Nicholas Greene and his Groundhog Day pronouncements showed just how far people haven't come in so many years. And the same is true of Orlando's androgynous outlook which Woolf uses to great effect to show the restrictions placed on women by societies that revere and patronise concurrently.

I enjoyed listening to Orlando and would even wish that it had been longer. There is a lot of humour, which I hadn't expected, and it didn't seem to matter that I didn't recognise the real people behind many of the characters. The story can be appreciated on its own terms with further layers of understanding added by Googling later.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ant
  • St Albans, United Kingdom
  • 01-08-13

Entertaining, if a little odd

Virginia Woolf is an author I'd never read and felt that I probably should, so I was expecting this book to be "good for me" rather than particularly fun. I found myself pleasantly surprised, The writing was elegant and easily consumable. I was kept interested by the ideas raised and liked that they were posed in a meditative manner that one could take or leave without feeling hounded into agreement by the author.
I wouldn't read the book again for the story or the concepts, but the prose would definitely draw me back:
"For it would seem - her case proved it - that we write, not with the fingers, but with the whole person. The nerve which controls the pen winds itself about every fibre of our being, threads the heart, pierces the liver."
The narrator did an excellent job of not getting in the way of this introspective story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr Henry
  • Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 10-04-13

Gorgeousness heaped on gorgeousness

Seen the film starring Tilda Swinton? It's pretty awe-inspiring in its sumptuousness and magical atmosphere. So, you won't be surprised, is Woolf's novel. Hilarious at times (a surprise for someone who'd only read her experimental works before) and truly revolutionary in its assumptions and form.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Subtle and beautifully written

A delightful voice lulled you through this very diverse tale of an extended life, with its myriad of twists and turns. Easy to get a bit lost at times if the intonation didn't stimulate enough, but a very interesting listen in the main. The screen version from 1992 with Tilda Swinton was my initial experience of this tale, and I was pleased that the book was more compelling than its visual counterpart.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Orlando

A wonderful read that is recommended. A story of strong will that will never give up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Magical story and magical storytelling

I adore Virginia Wools's work so this completely biased.
I love Orlando and have been enchanted by the narration. A hundred stars!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Orlando Reviewed

Beautifully read, beautifully written. Not much story , significant happenings, like the birth of her son, just mentioned briefly. Lists and more lists of observations. Very strange end very different.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Interesting

A lyrical farce examining the evolution of gender roles from the 17th - 20th century. There were times when the writing style was quite confusing and I lost the thread of the story but it was never that difficult to be pulled right back.

Not one for those who need an explanation for everything as lots of things in this book seem to happen just because they do but I really enjoyed it.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mayca
  • 31-05-05

Magical

Orlando by Virgina Woolf has totally enchanted me. It is beautifully written with an extraordinary abundance of vocabulary and mastery of the English language. Woolf transports you effortlessly to a world where ages succeed one another depicting all the world changes typical of the corresponding era. But Orlando lives through them all. And although his gender changes, his personality, so rich and versatile, does not and stays fascinating throughout the whole book which holds you spellbound from the very first word to the last. Clare Higgins is a gifted narrator and her clear and musical diction contributes to the enjoyment of the story. I have listened to the book twice and I intend to do it more times. I also intend to purchase more books by the author.


Mayca Est?vez




18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • J.
  • 21-03-13

wonderful language, unusual style

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Perhaps. It's something that few people would seek out on their own.

If you’ve listened to books by Virginia Woolf before, how does this one compare?

Somewhat less grim than her polemics, a witty fantasy.

What about Clare Higgins’s performance did you like?

Superb reading, showing fluency and thorough familiarity with the material and idiom. It made me able to pretend I was hearing the voice and thoughts of the author, as she projected them into her protagonist.

If you could rename Orlando, what would you call it?

Migrations of a soul

Any additional comments?

Vivid descriptions of wonderful natural and social environments; no direct dialog or conversations; some devastating skewering of the follies of manners and institutions, as in essays; rambling plot and erratic pace, with many digressions and ellipses; humorous turns of phrase; interesting characters.

Not nearly enough pause breaks for skipping back if you miss one or two intricate sentences among the dense verbiage.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Steven
  • 05-02-06

Way Ahead Of All Writers in That Era

What can I say. She was a writer that had visions where a writer would probably dare go in the year "Orlando" was written. She had a style of her own. A style that seem to catch on as time went by. As more writings, essays and stories came to press the more she became excepted as a top writer not only in Britian but also other areas such the US. She was most certain a women's right's supportor. At the same time she loved all her family including her husband Leonard. She also was very close with her sister and brother.
As for the story "Orlando" it kept my interest right up til the very end. It is a love story with twist and turns and surprises. Iam sure you will find in very intersting and mysitical as I did. I have read a many of Mrs. Woolf stories and essays. "Orlando" I would rate high on HER charts for story line and writing expertise. Give it a sample listen it may get your curiosity.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Athene
  • 19-04-12

It might start becoming interesting...

...but I won't be there to find out. This is unlike any Woolf I've read before -- forced and artificial, with great long catalogs of cloying elaboration. The atmosphere is claustrophobic.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lenox
  • 06-09-16

Poetry for the heart and mind!

New author for me. First time reading/listening to this book, although I saw the movie first. I should have read the book first, and I would have better understood the movie. I must say, I had to wrestle with some of my shocked emotions when I came across some passages. She described emotions so beautifully and with such simplicity I was speechless for several moments . I had to stop the book and roll the words in my mind for several minutes. A masterpiece that requires your full attention with a marvelous sense of humor!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • carine
  • 08-05-16

Orlando

Heard lots of amazing things about this book so I wanted to give it a try... It's not the kind of book i'm used to reading but it was still interesting and the lady who read it was excellent!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • 02-07-18

By the truth we are undone. Life is a dream.

"The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity."
- Virginia Woolf, Orlando

A beautiful, poetic look at gender, sex, poetry, time, love, living, etc. This gender-studies masterpiece was inspired by Woolf's reltionship with Vita Sackville-West. According to Vita's son: "The effect of Vita on Virginia is all contained in Orlando, the longest and most charming love letter in literature, in which she explores Vita, weaves her in and out of the centuries, tosses her from one sex to the other, plays with her, dresses her in furs, lace and emeralds, teases her, flirts with her, drops a veil of mist around her."

This is one of the easier Woolf novels to read. Toward the end it gets a bit stream-of-consious (as Modern writers were wont to do), but the narrative of this novel floats and folds through time and gender easily. It was an amazing way of looking at the female experience because Orlando's experience was first fundamentally experienced by Orlando regardless of their gender. So, the novel as biography allowed Woolf to mine the experience from the inside instead of the outside. It also allowed the fluidity of gender to be explored in a way that a less fanciful novel might not have been able to.

It is wild to think this book was published in 1928 AND here we are 90-years-later still working our britches into Puritanical bunches over gender and bathrooms. What a bunch of nonsense. One area of hope does exist. In my lifetime, I have seen a huge increase in the attention paid to the difficulties faced by those who don't fit into the gender norms. Things ARE SLOWLY getting better for my friends and the children of my friends who might not fit easily into the pants or skirts society wants to drop them in. Hopefully, it doesn't take 400 years.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • angela
  • 10-04-12

I know I'm supposed to like it, but...

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Very creative right brained people or those who enjoyed literature class in college would enjoy this book. I had frequent flashbacks to English lit during my confused listening, which may yet necesitate treatment for post traumatic stress. The only reason I continued to listen was that I enjoyed the way that the narrator read it. Her voice made the rambling string of words sound like poetry, though what it all meant was beyond me.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Tori
  • 26-05-18

love

After reading this book I have a love for Virgina Wolfe. I want to read all of them.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 19-04-18

Expert reading of a beautiful novel

Orlando is not an easy novel to read out loud, due to its deliberately baroque language, but Clare Higgins does a masterful job of making it accessible and enjoyable.