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The Brandons

A Virago Modern Classic
Narrated by: Jilly Bond
Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4.5 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Summary

Lavinia Brandon is quite the loveliest widow in Barsetshire, blessed with beauty and grace as well as two handsome grown-up children, Delia and Francis. So thinks their cousin, Hilary Grant, when he comes to stay and - like many before him - promptly falls for his fragrant hostess.

Meanwhile the Brandons' ill-tempered dowager aunt is stirring up controversy over her legacy, and Lavinia's attention is further occupied by the challenges of making a match between the vicar and gifted village helpmeet Miss Morris and elegantly deterring her lovestruck suitors.

Angela Thirkell's 1930s comedy is bright, witty and winning.

©2016 Angela Thirkell (P)2016 Hachette Audio UK

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    4 out of 5 stars

Very enjoyable antidote to 2017.

If you fancy a dose of completely un-taxing, stress-free fiction, try this. It all seems like light and frothy nonsense - and yet it does also shine a gentle light on some aspects of English Upper Middle Class life in this era (1930s) versus their servants/the Lower Classes. It is gentle satire, really. Lots of lovely domestic details too which I like; you feel as if you are at the tea parties, picnics and outings.

It is mildly funny, except the fun-fare scene at the church fete which is - I hope deliberately -hysterical. It might just be my mind...

Well read - the narrator hams it up when needed, is good at mens' voices and has a great range of characters.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Bette
  • 24-02-17

What a joy!

It is such a pleasure to revisit Mrs Thirkell's books through Audible. I hope they will all be converted soon.

If you've never read the Barsetshire novels, do start! And The Brandons is a very good place to start; introducing many of the characters I love most including Mrs Brandon herself, Lydia and Keith Merton.

The Barsetshire novels begin in the perpetually sunny 30s between the wars and continue into the 60s: one book a year, intertwining the families of the various towns. They begin where Trollope leaves off, but that is no barrier. You can read them without Trollope but do try to read them in order.

The War years books are particularly fascinating. Read as a whole they give a marvellous socio-economic view of middle class England from the 30s to the 60s, and show Thirkell's growth from full-on snob to much more generous observer of social mobility. Note particularly her gradually creeping fondness for Mr Adams and women like Jimmy's family.

Do read on and encourage the publisher to convert her entire oeuvre to Audible files.

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  • Mitzi
  • 26-11-19

Terrible reader spoiled my enjoyment of the text

I wish I had bought the printed book.

The story seems delightful, but unfortunately the “reading” experience was completely ruined by Jilly Bond’s dreadful performance. Being an audiobook, Jilly Bond’s absolute failure becomes a major issue. It is a pity because it affects one's impression of the text in an unfavorable manner, when, perhaps, the story itself is so much better than it transpires from this Audible.

Bond is the kind of reader totally in love with her own style, who, therefore, is too distracted by “sounding a certain way” to pay actual attention to what the text needs and requires. So she emits strange sounds that one is not sure what they are meant to convey because either the rapidity, or the distress, or the shrill of the performer’s tone do not match at all what is being narrated. Not to mention the very worst flaw: the performer smiles while speaking in the narrator’s voice and, worst of all, when there’s absolutely no reason to do so in the plot!

Since Bond does not properly pace her rhythm, she pushes too far one single breath and, by the time she reaches the end of a sentence, she literally chokes. Those last few words uttered as if the speaker were about to die of asphyxia were really unbearable.

She speeds up in ways that do not allow the listener to drink in fully the meaning of what is being said. She also tries to “convey humor” with her voice which produces an awful effect: it is up to the script to convey humor not to the performer. If the story is funny at times, its humor is killed by Bond's interpretation.

Lastly, not a good rendition of the upper-class accent: she often falls into low class modulations. In her eagerness to sound upper-class-like, she ends up pronouncing words like chauffeur, for example, “shofar.”

Unendurable reader: her accent, her way of reading, her choking old-lady performance… Utterly off-putting.

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  • Cosmy H.
  • 19-06-18

A simple pleasure

A lovely listen
A delightful little story about a simpler time and the quirks of family and the heart
Sadly wishful thinking that all could be like this again- if it ever was
But I had a smile throughout and sweet dreams- well worth it

1 person found this helpful