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The Bloody Chamber

Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (363 ratings)

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Summary

A collection of short stories, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories was first published in 1979 and awarded the Cheltenham Festival Literary Prize. 

This Audible exclusive adaptation is narrated by legendary actors, Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox, who take on different chapters of the audiobook. Among these are 'The Bloody Chamber', 'The Courtship of Mr Lyon', 'The Tiger's Bride', 'Puss in Boots', 'The Erl-King', 'The Snow Child', 'The Lady of the House of Love', 'The Werewolf', 'The Company of Wolves' and 'Wolf-Alice'. 

About the book 

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories is a titillating series of dark, sensual and fantastical stories, inspired by well-known fairy tales and folklore. 

Dissatisfied with the unrealistic portrayal of women in these legendary fables, Carter turns them on their head, introducing subversively dark, sensual and gothic narratives. 

Breathing new and unexpected life into favourite childhood characters such as Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast, Carter shocks, seduces and amuses the listener with her unique, iconic and surrealist reimagining. 

About the author 

Angela Carter was born in 1940, in Sussex. She grew up in the shabbily respectable south London district of Balham, the second child of an eccentric journalist father and a neurotic housewife mother. 

She studied English at Bristol University before travelling, teaching and writing numerous best-selling novels. They have all received critical acclaim and remain firm favourites of modern English literature. 

Angela was a feminist throughout her life, wrote for Spare Rib magazine and voted Labour. Her novels are wholly reflective of her world views and continue to inspire new generations of men and women worldwide. 

About the narrator 

Best known for his roles in The Hobbit, Hannibal, Captain America, Robin Hood, Spooks and North and South, Richard Armitage has established himself as one of the greatest British actors of our time. 

With 14 audiobooks under his belt, including David Hewson's Romeo and Juliet: A Novel and Georgette Heyer's Venetia, Richard's story telling abilities have not gone unnoticed. In 2014, he was merited with having narrated the Audiobook of the Year, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark: A Novel

Emilia Fox is an English actress who has starred as Dr Nikki Alexander on BBC Crime drama, Silent Witness, since 2004. Her other TV and film credits include Merlin, Pride and Prejudice, The Pianist, The Casual Vacancy and Inside No. 9

Also no stranger to audiobook productions, Emilia delivers a myriad of powerhouse performances such as in Philippa Gregory's The White Queen, Muriel Spark's The Complete Short Stories, and Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey.

©1979 Angela Carter (P)2018 Audible, Ltd
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Intriguing alternatives to well known tales

Very good listen. Evocative, thought-provoking takes on traditional fairy stories. Well performed by both narrators. Puss in Boots and Werewolves are my personal favourites.

13 people found this helpful

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Modern/feminist twists on well-known fairy tales

What made the experience of listening to The Bloody Chamber the most enjoyable?

The two well-known voices of the narrators, though Armitage did an excellent job of playing roles that totally disguised his voice.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The wife in The Bloody Chamber, recognisable from the originals but almost Wife Number Two from a very much darker Rebecca!

Have you listened to any of Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox ’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I listen to Emilia Fox read 'Pride and Prejudice' almost every December, she is the perfect embodiment of the lead character, and her clear and precise accent brings class to her performances.

While that is, for me, the epitome of audiobooks, her work here is also wonderful, though she does not get a chance to go deeply into any one character.

Any additional comments?

I loved listening to these on Audible. Fairy tales were traditionally tales that were spread via tellings, person to person, so to listen to someone reading them took me back to childhood but in a weird way.

These are NOT Disney fairy tales. In fact, there is some rather adult content in them, as warning for you.

There is a retelling of Bluebeard, two (confusingly, to a listener) back-to-back Beauty and the Beasts, with different plots and twists, Puss in Boots, The Earl King, Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood (three versions of this). Expanding from the original structure of known tales, there is a lot more description, very beautifully written, and a lot more is given to the characters to both say and think. My favourite was the Bluebeard story, The Bloody Chamber.

I found the morals a lot deeper than those you think of from the originals, and loved the new turns Carter came up with for the tales, especially as some tales were rewritten multiple times and from different perspectives.

Emilia Fox has a beautifully clear voice and narrated excellently. Richard Armitage was also superb, and you wouldn't have known it was him through some of the voices he put on. A great pairing and very easy to listen to.

An essential read for anyone studying traditional tales or interested in modern versions and interpretations.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy for review purposes.

21 people found this helpful

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A Literary Treasure

Absolutely loved this as an Audiobook, I had a copy of the written book which I already loved; this audio version, beautifully narrated, is a book I will read and listen to over and over.

6 people found this helpful

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A Beautiful Version of a Timeless Collection

Years ago, I read The Bloody Chamber aloud to my friends as we did a winter road trip through California and Arizona. In the beaten up old car, they listened entranced to these empowering reinventions of classic fairy tales. My listeners were so magicked they even insisted I carry on reading when we were camped in the snow atop the Grand Canyon. (Eventually the car broke down, the number 666 on our mileometer, and once we’d got over our panic and had it fixed, we were able to chuckle at how fitting it was.) We all agreed then that Angela Carter’s stories read aloud particularly well, they’re so poetic, the language is so carefully crafted and the imagery so evocative. But I am no professional, so to hear these stories read by Emilia Fox and Richard Armitage, both masters of the art, was a real treat. I’d give it 6*s if I could!

Recommended without a single reservation.

4 people found this helpful

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A fantastic set of short stories.

I'm not a huge fan of short stories, but these are very, very superior short stories some of which are based on mild horror themes eg vampires, werewolves etc. Angela Carter's source material includes fairy tales and fantasy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard and Beauty and the Beast plus a hugely enjoyable comic version of Puss in Boots.

Two great narrators made this a very enjoyable listening experience and I look forward to reading more of Angela Carter's incredible writing.

9 people found this helpful

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Fabulous!

I cannot praise this audiobook enough. This is one of my all-time favourite books: the stories are brilliantly re-imagined and the language is exquisite. I was, therefore, delighted to find that the narrators handled the material beautifully, their voices perfectly pitched to the various tones of the texts and narrators. This audiobook was a joy to listen to, and a thoroughly enjoyable way of re-"reading" one of my favourite books.

2 people found this helpful

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A delight to return to this as an audiobook

I read this book years ago - yikes, possibly 30 years ago. And it was lovely to reread it as an audiobook. Great narration and beautiful writing. If anything it's actually more lyrical spoken than on the page. Thoroughly enjoyable in all ways

5 people found this helpful

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Mesmeric in its beauty

Powerfully reclaims the stories from the asexual panto versions we prefer to promote - one for my daughters when they are a little older

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Beautifully poetic writing

I haven't heard such beautifully crafted English prose for a long, long time. There are times when it's like listening to poetry. Most modern writers can't write in this way, it's something from the times of Byron, Shelley, Keats and Wilde. The stories are well observed too, even the re-imaginings of the classics are sympathetically handled and given the deserved gravitas by the respectful readings of Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox. Audiobooks of absolute joy and beauty, and probably ones I'll not encounter for a long time.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful.

I enjoyed this very much. Thank you. Great narration. Stories even better than I remembered them. Highly recommended.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Elizabeth P. Fowler
  • 20-03-18

Fairy tales by Angela Carter

Based mostly on popular tales, these pieces are mostly Gothic or macabre with an air of melancholy. The one exception explodes with an eclat of ribaldry, brilliantly performed by Richard Armitage. Emilia Fox is seductively smooth.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Nora
  • 05-04-18

Surprised myself

I don't usually go in for this genre, but the promise of outstanding performances by the narrators led me to give it a try. I wasn't disappointed. Probably not fully won over either, but it was a good use of a credit for "Puss-N-Boots" alone. I laughed out loud repeated as the story unfolded in such an amazing retelling. That Richard Arnitage was having such an obviously wonderful time with the story was the best part. His voice tone for each character were delightful and I know I will return to listen again and again. The dark nature of the other tales demanded you ask some hard questions of your own morals and worldview. I found that challenging and even uncomfortable at times. Congratulations to Audible for another successful audio-book and to Ms. Fox and Mr. Armitage for their brilliant work.

47 people found this helpful

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  • libbromus
  • 27-07-18

Richard Armitage should read everything

And if there was ever a female narrator on par with him, in terms of sheer sensuality, it is certainly Emilia Fox. (Davina Porter is similarly talented in this regard). Now, if only this were my bag. Most of these stories were too visceral for my taste. The writing is excellent, but for me, a bit too disturbing. Except for the Puss in Boots story and the Beauty and the Beast story. Those were my speed; the former being laugh out loud funny and the latter being quite chaste and beautifully told.

35 people found this helpful

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  • RueRue
  • 29-04-18

Lush prose and narration

"Lush". That was my immediate thought as I was listening to these reimagined fairy tales. These are not for children; there is lots of blood and animalistic behavior, all described vividly but with subtlety ( no, that's not contradictory, as you will hear when you listen). The narration is just wonderful by both narrators. The first (4) stories are the best.

17 people found this helpful

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  • S. M. Buck
  • 08-05-18

Unnerving Start, Satisfying Finish

The first of these stories crossed a line I didn't quite like. Bluebeard's chamber, in Angela Carter's world, is removed of mystery and overflowing with gore. The end of this chapter, though, was so excellent, and so incongruously amusing, that against my earlier judgment I continued with chapter two.

What followed was a plunge into chill and heat by turns. The writing is so intense throughout the book, that I could smell the earth of the Erl King's den, hear the congregation chant as the widowed groom prepares his silver bullet, and see the pool of blood in the forest snow.

After the truly grim first story, with its mix of musky sex and metallic brutality, my enjoyment of this collection was unalloyed. It's beautifully balanced between suspense and certainty, and fully delivers on the promise of all short stories to twist the ending into a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

As if all that were not enough for one audiobook, Emilia Fox and Richard Armitage provide flawless narration and perfect pacing.

One note...these were published in 1979: do any other readers recognize what might well have been the original Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation?

34 people found this helpful

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  • Kathy F.
  • 21-07-18

A bit uneven

A few of the stories really dragged for me, while others were very good. Puss in Boots was so much fun and so delightfully performed by Richard Armitage that I immediately hit replay and listened to it a second time.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Janna Wong Healy
  • 01-04-18

Not for Me

Full disclosure: horror is not really my genre so I probably was not going to fall in love with this collection of short stories based on children's fairy tales but retold with a feminist bent. Mostly, I found them uneven -- there were some I loved ("The Bloody Chamber, "Puss-in-Boots," "The Courtship of Mr. Lyon") but others ("The Snow Child," "The Werewolf") left me cold.

I was enticed to listen by the promise of another great performance by Richard Armitage, who is a favorite narrator. And, he did not disappoint: his narration of "Puss-in-Boots" is truly wonderful. In addition, Emilia Fox's narration of the opening story, "The Bloody Chamber," is also excellent. But I couldn't wait until I finished these stories.

The book just wasn't for me.

29 people found this helpful

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  • lillianschild
  • 17-03-18

Nuanced 5-star narration of masterful storyteller

What did you love best about The Bloody Chamber?

Its rich prose and sensual subtlety.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Bloody Chamber?

The moment when the gorish contents locked up in The Bloody Chamber were revealed was one of the most shocking.

Which character – as performed by Richard Armitage and Emilia Fox – was your favorite?

The feline in Puss-in-boots. It was the perfect vehicle to make Mr Armitage's vocal and acting range shine.

Any additional comments?

This project’s such a vast improvement on the trashy pseudo-erotica novel Audible had him record for them last January. Now, THIS is a female author worthy of his talent as a narrator.

And, boy, did he savour each expertly chosen word the way the refined palate of a gourmand pays homage to a gifted chef’s masterpiece! If there was ever any doubt that British English is THE accent to enjoy Richard’s voice and acting talent in all its glory, this work provides ample proof he’s never sounded better than in his homeland’s careful diction and beautiful musicality.

Emilia got to read the longest tales. However, I believe that the selection Richard was assigned was the most suitable to be read by a male. What's more, his masterful and nuanced reading and the quality of the prose definitely make up for the brevity of his performance.

I confess I couldn’t curb my impatience and skipped Emilia’s stories to get to Richard’s first. And now that I’ve relished these first delicious courses, I’m off to savour the rest.

This is definitely a book and rendition deserving of multiple listenings.

Fingers crossed Audible keeps giving Mr. Armitage material of this stature.

39 people found this helpful

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  • Michael
  • 24-09-18

Sick, Twisted Fairy Tales

I usually love alternate tellings of fairy tales. This book-not so much. I didn’t realize it was written in 1979 until after I had finished it (that’s usually the second or third thing I look at, after title and author; somehow skipped over it on this one). That explained a lot to me as far as the weird sexual stuff. I found her writing a bit similar to that of Richard Matheson in Hell House. Both, a reflection of that period in time as far as the sexual climate. Not my cup of tea. However, a couple of Carter’s stories in this collection were pretty good.

The Bloody Chamber – A good start. Child bride discovers the dark secret kept by her new husband. Satisfying ending.
The Courtship of Mr. Lyon – Re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. I didn’t hate it.
The Tiger’s Bride – Another re-telling of Beauty and the Beast. I appreciated the fact that the father was painted as the low life scum that he was; I mean what kind of man gambles away his child? But the end was long, drawn out and a little confusing. However, a nice twist from the Disney version.
Puss in Boots – One of the best of this collection, in my opinion. Although a very adult version.
The Erl King – I have no idea what this was about. So wordy and so confusing.
The Snow Child – This story alone convinced me to never read another work by Angela Carter. It’s a story of a necrophiliac pedophile that apparently lives happily ever after. Who would write such horrible things? What would be the purpose? And who in their right mind would enjoy reading it, or take anything away from it other than a horrible, sick feeling? What was Carter thinking? I had a hard time even continuing on after this one.
The Lady of the House of Love – Vampire story with a very different kind of ending (although she took foreeeeever to get there!)
The Werewolf – Re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood.
The Company of Wolves – Ms. Carter dabbles in beastiality in this one, making sure she covers all the sick, twisted bases.
Wolf-Alice – I was so over this book at this point, none of it made sense, and I just wanted to be done.

The only redeeming qualities of this book were the narrators.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Katie Cselovszki
  • 29-04-18

New Take On Old Tales

Puss In Boots... Brilliant interpretation by Richard Armitage. That's worth the price of admission alone.

6 people found this helpful