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Summary

In the second volume of Proust's great novel, the narrator emerges as an actor in the drama of his own life. Swann has now dwindled into a husband for his former mistress, Odette, and their daughter, Gilberte, becomes the adolescent narrator's playmate and tantalising love object.

We move from Paris to the seaside town of Balbec, from ritualised social performances to midsummer spontaneity and from Gilberte to her successor, Albertine.

In Balbec, the narrator is befriended by the painter Elstir who introduces him both to the craft of painting and to the mysterious 'little band' of girls. An artistic education is thus intricately interwoven with a journey of sexual self-discovery.

This is now the entire audiobook, not in two parts.

©2008 Marcel Proust (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Within a Budding Grove

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"Like floating down a river..."

Beautiful book and beautifully read. I've heard reading Proust feels like floating river and I couldn't agree more. Listening to Proust however, even better!

4 people found this helpful

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Here, John Rowe becomes Marcel Proust.... again!

This wonderful book must be read after ‘ A Budding Grove’ because it is such a privilege to have John Rowe reading them both.
He is a masterful actor, yet not acting, his timing is perfect, he is the personification of the very subtle voice of Monsieur Proust.
Please Do try it!

3 people found this helpful

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  • beatrice
  • 04-10-09

insomniac's dream

Proust writes marvelous stuff, but his interminable sentences can make his work difficult to read. Now, John Rowe to the rescue: he reads so sensitively, it's like listening to one's own thoughts. I was so glad to find he's started another volume of Proust's masterwork, and look forward eagerly to the second installment, and hopefully more to come. Insomniacs, take note: with Marcel Proust/James Rowe on your iPod, you may be able to jettison the Lunesta. I mean this in a good way (and I think that Proust, who wrote at night in that cork-lined room, would have approved): the narrative is absorbing, complex, seductive, and nonlinear, perfect for bedtime (or the wee hours of the night), as it hardly matters where you leave off or pick it up again.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Maggie
  • 13-10-10

more John Rowe, s.v.p.

having now completed the second volume of proust's amazing seven volume work, i am more convinced than ever that the ONLY voice for proust's narrator is john rowe. more, please.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Rajeev A.
  • 04-02-13

A fine reading of Proust

Rowe's performance feels less arch than Neville's. I like them both but preferred Rowe, this time around. I only wish Rowe had finished the series. Or, if he has, I wish Audible would make the rest of it available.

8 people found this helpful

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  • bart
  • 21-01-19

John Rose is a rapturously good narrator

Impressive narration by John Rowe. Volumes 1 and 2 are brilliantly done. So disappointed in the narration on Volumes 3 and forward.

4 people found this helpful

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  • BHMMary
  • 06-02-18

A written and listening masterpiece

John Rowe made this listening experience possible for me. Other readers, at least via the samples, were bad to awful. Please encourage John Rowe to complete the series with his wonderful narrative style.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Janet A Henderson
  • 18-03-20

John Rowe

John Rowe is an excellent narrator for the first two books of Remembrance of Time Past. So good that I cannot even listen to the subsequent books. Please Audible Publishing, produce the entire series with John Rowe.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Tad Davis
  • 04-09-19

Not for me

My first encounter with Proust was Simon Vance’s reading of Swann’s Way. It left me feeling grumpy and irritable. It certainly wasn’t the narration — Simon Vance can make a traffic report sound interesting. And it’s not John Rowe’s narration for this second volume either: he is equally charming and graceful. But he can’t overcome the aspects of Proust that I find so frustrating. The pattern of endless rumination and little overt action established in the first volume continues in this second one. If I had any sense of having something in common with these vapid people, I might not mind. But they bore me; they annoy me; they baffle me. I find myself wishing one of them would have a sudden attack of flatulence, just to liven things up a little.

At one point, I thought things were getting better: at last! the narrator has gone to a brothel! — but Proust managed to make even that potentially interesting development sound shallow and desiccated. Later, near the end of the book, the narrator develops a promising crush on a young woman named Albertine; but alas, she turns out to be either a mean-spirited tease or monumentally dense about the implications of her flirtatious remarks. (She invites him to a secret tryst at night in her hotel room, and then furiously rings the alarm when he tries to kiss her.)

It’s like having to sit through 25 hours of “My Dinner with André.” It’s full of sound and fury, signifying nothing — except that there’s no fury and very little sound.

Proust’s characters — certainly at least the narrator — are cursed with the same kind of morbid self-consciousness that afflicts the characters of Dostoevsky. There’s one crucial difference: in Dostoevsky, the anguish is existential and the consequences are life or death; in Proust, at least as far as the first two volumes are concerned, the anguish is a mild cough and the consequences are a hangnail. He seems not to notice that his characters are mostly buffoons, the narrator being the biggest buffoon of all.

What can you say about a young man who’s old enough to visit prostitutes, even to have a favorite one, and still cries himself to sleep when his grandmother doesn’t invite him to kiss her goodnight? (The same grandmother who exasperates him because.... she wants to get her photograph taken?) I can’t figure his age. Maybe my attention wandered when he mentioned that. At times he seems to be a young adult, but overall he has the emotional maturity of a pre-teen.

As I said in my comments on the first volume, people I know and and whose literary judgement I trust tell me I’m missing something. I accept that. So, Monsieur Proust, it’s not you, it’s me. I will read one more volume, if only to expose myself to yet another narrator (Neville Jason). But then I expect to call a halt to the proceedings. It seems clear at this point that I am not for Proust, and he is not for me.

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  • not guilty
  • 01-02-21

Monty python was correct - it’s impossible to sum up proust

There are few books I have read or listened to that I catch myself thinking I have learned as much about life and people. I find proust alternatively laugh out loud funny and beautiful. He makes me miss friends and family and old flames and love them all more the same. I find this narrator wonderfully soothing and dramatic without being overly so. The moment when proust highlights his own neurosis or poses himself a question and then answers, sublime.

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  • A. Dionysia
  • 14-03-18

So Proust!

Good for lovers of Proust and know how he writes. The narrator has the correctly sensitive voice. Beautifully written ending.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kevin McCoffee
  • 06-06-17

John Rowe is the reader for Proust and Moncrief

I've finished the first two volumes on audio book, occasionally reading on Kindle with the second volume, but I find it almost easier to follow John Rowe's narrative (though I read all six volumes in the tiny-script hardbacks back in the 90s). Now I'm listening to The Guermantes' Way, with the Neville narration. Just started. Maybe I'm in the transition phase, but I really miss my friend John Rowe. He took me through the labyrinthian sentences so smoothly. Maybe I'll grow to like Neville, but at the beginning of volume three he was too fast and didn't lead me as effortlessly Rowe. Anyway, apparently there is no choice. Rowe only recorded the first two volumes. (If I'm wrong let me know).

I have not dipped into newest written translations, which are said to be really good. And after I finish this round of Proust (with the Moncrief translation), I'll start again with the contemporay one). But Moncrief is so good, so good I don't know if I'm hearing Proust or Moncrief (or Rowe). But that's the nature of translation.

Whatever the case, Proust is worth a go. He's not right for everyone. I have friends (novelist friends who can't get into it). But I can. At any rate, dive into Proust, via book, Kindle, or audio. If it doesn't stick. Take a year off. Try again. If it still doesn't stick, you have every right to quit. Reading Proust is always about TIME (among a million other things), and maybe the time is not right for you now.

1 person found this helpful