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  • Beowulf | Julian Glover

    Beowulf

    • ABRIDGED (1 hr and 14 mins)
    • By Julian Glover
    • Narrated By Julian Glover
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (10)
    Story
    (10)

    The epic story of this hero’s battle against dragons, monsters, and their mothers is particularly suited to being recorded as an audiobook given that for the first 300 years of its existence it was only ever spoken. The first known (and indeed the only surviving manuscript) of the poem was written in AD 1,000. It survived Henry VIII’s attempts to destroy it (as a religious artifact) and a catastrophic fire that destroyed many other historical British documents.

    aaa says: "Beowulf"
  • Lady Chatterley's Lover | D H Lawrence

    Lady Chatterley's Lover

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By D H Lawrence
    • Narrated By Samantha Bond
    Overall
    (19)
    Performance
    (17)
    Story
    (16)

    The story of Lady Chatterley and her love for her husband's gamekeeper outraged the sensibilities of Edwardian England. Lawrence had already been dismissed as a purveyor of the obscene for the attitudes to sex that he had shown in The Rainbow, which had been fiercely suppressed on its publication in 1915. Chatterley, written in several versions around 1928 in Italy in the final part of Lawrence's life, was a deliberate choice on the author's part to address sex head on.

    Cara says: "Probably a five 🌟 book, but my courage failed me."
  • A Christmas Carol | Charles Dickens

    A Christmas Carol

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By George Cole
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without A Christmas Carol. At the time Dickens was writing it, many of the time-honoured customs linked with Christmas were beginning to disappear. It is largely due to this book that we carry with us much of the imagery that is now associated with the traditional celebration and spirit of Christmas.

  • Joseph Andrews: The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams | Henry Fielding

    Joseph Andrews: The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Henry Fielding
    • Narrated By Rufus Sewell
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (4)

    Riotous, sexy and groundbreaking, Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews: The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams, published in 1742, was one of the first English novels. Fielding was melding and parodying the two major forces battling for control of the fiction market at the time - the mock heroic, neoclassical tradition as practiced by Pope and Swift and the popular and populist fiction of the new novelists such as Defoe and Richardson.

    Anfisa says: "Humour at its best"
  • The Chronicles of Clovis | H. H. Munro - Saki

    The Chronicles of Clovis

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By H. H. Munro - Saki
    • Narrated By Ian Richardson
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    The Chronicles of Clovis, published in 1911, was the third in Saki (H. H. Munro)'s series of very funny and very vicious stories. As an insider, Saki was ideally poised to eviscerate the Edwardian middle class way of life, and his pitiless and magnetic sense of humour - teamed with an ability to wield that sharpest of writer's tools, the (very) short story - makes these some of the funniest and most quotable of tales. All of the running themes in Saki's work are here.

    Hawfinch says: "The Joy of Saki"
  • My Lady Ludlow | Elizabeth Gaskell

    My Lady Ludlow

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Gaskell
    • Narrated By Susannah York
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Lady Ludlow's appalling snobbery, prejudice and bred-in-the-bone conviction as to the superiority of the English aristocracy and their feudal way of life are deliciously tested, and found wanting, in this gently radical tale of the collapse of a social system. Elizabeth Gaskell's My Lady Ludlow is a brilliant picture of the shift in power in a rural northern village, from the velvety feudal Ludlows to the glitter of the new money rattling through the system courtesy of the brazen baker from Birmingham.

  • The Snow Queen and Other Fairy Stories | Hans Christian Andersen

    The Snow Queen and Other Fairy Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Hans Christian Andersen
    • Narrated By Greta Scacchi
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales have become so much a part of the Western culture that they are often assumed to be a part of folklore and not credited to the strange and gangling Dane who wrote them. Several years before the fairy tales came out, the Brothers Grimm had published their tales taken from the folklore of European stories, but Andersen was to change the understanding of what a tale can achieve.

  • Love Among the Haystacks and Other Stories | D H Lawrence

    Love Among the Haystacks and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By D H Lawrence
    • Narrated By Geraldine James
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    This is a selection of D. H. Lawrence’s short stories, mostly about women. Although much wider known for his novels and in particular for his forthright attitude to sex and its description in literature, it is for his short stories that Lawrence has most commonly gained critical acclaim. He was a beautiful creator of this most difficult of forms, giving us glimpses into the lives he describes in his stories, which often tell us more than full-length novels written by lesser hands.

  • In the Bleak Midwinter, Goblin Market and Other Poems | Christina Rosetti

    In the Bleak Midwinter, Goblin Market and Other Poems

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 55 mins)
    • By Christina Rosetti
    • Narrated By Natascha McElhone
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (0)
    Story
    (0)

    A collection of Rosetti's most well known and loved poetry. Alongside the famous beauty of Rosetti's 'In the Bleak Midwinter', 'Goblin Market' is a deceptively simple poem. The story of two sisters and their temptation, punishment and redemption, written in Christina Rosetti's characteristically songlike poetry, is easily passed over as a fable or fairy story. But there are several layers more to discover in this most intriguing of poems.

  • The Real Thing and Other Stories | Henry James

    The Real Thing and Other Stories

    • UNABRIDGED (4 hrs and 23 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Illusion and love - two of James' favourite things - grin thorough this collection of funny and wicked tales. The illusion of social class, a favourite stamping ground for James, is explored in the glittering social comedy "The Real Thing", first published in 1892, in which an artist attempts vainly to capture the nature of aristocracy via painting what he takes to be 'real' members of that social group.

  • The Aspern Papers | Henry James

    The Aspern Papers

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By Jeremy Northam
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    One of the wittiest and most scathing of Henry James' novellas, The Aspern Papers chronicles the attempt to extract the valuable letters of the famous and recently deceased poet Jeffrey Aspern from the hands of his past lover and formidable adversary in the battle Juliana Bordereau. The plot was reputedly suggested to James by a story he heard of an illicit attempt to get hold of several of Lord Byron's letters.

  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Robert Louis Stevenson

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 6 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Alan Howard
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    It was a nightmare from which he was furious to have been woken which triggered Robert Louis Stevenson's most successful and famous work. Having been stirred from what he termed 'a fine bogey tale', Stevenson set about putting his nightmare onto paper. It reputedly took him only three days to write, but the story of a split personality warring with itself between righteousness and immorality is as much a part of modern thought as it became in 1885.

  • The Railway Children | Edith Nesbit

    The Railway Children

    • UNABRIDGED (5 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Edith Nesbit
    • Narrated By Margaret Tyzak
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    'My Daddy! My Daddy!' has become one of the most famous tearjerking lines. Bobby's cry as her father's figure appears through the mist of the steam train in this story of a family's stalwart struggle to keep calm and carry on when forced by the wrongful arrest of their father on spying charges to move from their idyllic life to a rundown cottage by a railway line has jerked the tears of generations of readers (and, in latter years, filmgoers and theatre audiences).

  • The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker | Tobias Smollett

    The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By Tobias Smollett
    • Narrated By June Whitfield, Suzy Aitchison, Hywel Simons, and others
    Overall
    (3)
    Performance
    (3)
    Story
    (3)

    Written as the letters of the five members of Squire Bramble's household sent as they journey around Britain, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker is a grouchy, very funny examination of how one story varies depending on who's doing the telling. The tale is centered around the arrival of Mr. Clinker into the otherwise uneventful household, who never speaks and does not even enter the novel until a third of the way through.

  • The Water Babies | Charles Kingsley

    The Water Babies

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 55 mins)
    • By Charles Kingsley
    • Narrated By Nicola McAuliffe
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    (0)

    There are very few children's stories that have raised as much outrage in grown-up politics as The Water Babies did when it first appeared in 1863. It was written by Charles Kingsley for his own little boy and shortly after he had been made tutor to the Prince of Wales.

  • Washington Square | Henry James

    Washington Square

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Henry James
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ehle
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (6)
    Story
    (6)

    The battle between a father and a daughter is usually portrayed in literature as a struggle between a headstrong but feisty girl and a tradition-bound lead weight of a father. Henry James, of course, had to do it somewhat differently. He tells a story of an intelligent man riding the turn of the tide in mid-19th-century New York and watching what he sees as his numbingly dull and conventional daughter making the mistake of her life in her choice of husband.

  • The Miller's Tale: With Spoken Notes by Terry Jones | Geoffrey Chaucer

    The Miller's Tale: With Spoken Notes by Terry Jones

    • UNABRIDGED (39 mins)
    • By Geoffrey Chaucer
    • Narrated By Terry Jones
    Overall
    (0)
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    (0)
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    (0)

    In his own inimitable style, Terry Jones leads you through Chaucer's filthy and very funny tale of adultery, the feared coming of the second flood and burnt bums. The Canterbury Tales broke the literary mould in many ways. It established English as an acceptable language for literature, where previously it had been almost exclusively Latin or Norman French. It was also one of the first books to create a link between all the pieces of work in a literary collection.

  • The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems | Alexander Pope

    The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By Alexander Pope
    • Narrated By Emilia Fox
    Overall
    (2)
    Performance
    (2)
    Story
    (2)

    'The Rape of the Lock' was one of Alexander Pope's most popular poems. It was a satirical attempt to reconcile the real-life warring of two Catholic families whose feud had started with the supposed nicking of a lock of hair from the undeniably beautiful head of Arabella Fermor by her admirer, Lord Petre.

    Stewart Gardiner says: "Great reading: selection of poems could be better"
  • The Chimes | Charles Dickens

    The Chimes

    • UNABRIDGED (3 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By Charles Dickens
    • Narrated By George Cole
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1)
    Performance
    (1)
    Story
    (1)

    Filled with an array of comic characters, The Chimes tells the story of Toby Veck, a humble porter whose loses his faith in human nature at the hands of his presumed social superiors but regains it thanks to the spirits of the bells. Like its predecessor, it carries a heartfelt plea for charity and brotherhood and examines such distressing themes as suicide and infanticide as well as the question of whether the poor have any right to live at all.

  • Kidnapped | Robert Louis Stevenson

    Kidnapped

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By Robert Louis Stevenson
    • Narrated By Nicholas Rowe
    Overall
    (7)
    Performance
    (7)
    Story
    (7)

    The wild adventure that David Balfour takes in Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped starts with the newly orphaned boy travelling to his uncle's terrifying House of Shaws. Having failed in an attempt to murder young David, the miserly Ebeneezer Balfour, who would rather keep the fortune to which the child is now entitled, arranges for a kidnapping aboard a ship bound for the new world.

    Joe says: "A Classic"
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