Rupert Degas narrates this collection of stories published in 1901. Degas's aristocratic English accent suits the audiobook's tone of moralistic ethnocentricity. In fact, the authors use the preface and final chapters to frame this work as a quasi-Christian Bible prequel. Most stories, however, seem without bias, and Degas portrays the celestial host of characters with... Read More
Edith Wharton's last, unfinished, novel (completed by Marion Mainwaring in 1993) is, unsurprisingly, about young women from New York's moneyed class. In this audiobook they travel to England to seek their fortunes and husbands. Carol Monda's British accent sometimes wavers, and the voices she creates for the characters are not uniformly strong and distinctive. But she conveys... Read More
Set in a corrupt Italian principality, Stendhal's 1839 comic masterpiece is often called the greatest of political novels. This fine new audiobook narration by Nicholas Boulton captures all the cosmopolitan wit and worldly detachment of its author's distinctive voice. Like many other nineteenth-century masters, and unlike today's more detached authors, Stendhal is companion and... Read More
This audio collection is difficult to describe--and even harder to resist. Zora Neale Hurston's range as an author is showcased by some supremely talented narrators whose voices radiate innocence, experience, and all the stops in between. Bahni Turpin's skills are at their best in "Drenched in Light" as she repeatedly transitions between grandmother and granddaughter without... Read More
Pliny's 240-odd letters reveal the Roman world of roughly 100 CE in all its complexity and sophistication. Russell Bentley enters into Pliny's many roles--lawyer, judge, landowner, poet, government official--not only by expressing the sense of the letters clearly, but also by illuminating Pliny's varied moods and emotions, often implicit and only subtly indicated. Bentley's... Read More
Gabrielle de Cuir narrates this feminist work, originally published in 1910 and long out of print. After receiving her first kiss from a man known for his wild ways, a young woman falls deeply in love with a man everyone in her life deems unsuitable. After moving to Colorado, she discovers that the man she loves has syphilis and gonorrhea, and she believes that marrying him... Read More
Classically trained British narrator David Timson has just the right comfortable yet aristocratic delivery to highlight the detailed character sketches, easy satire, and languid atmosphere of John Galsworthy's towering examination of a highborn family of wealth and property. The work spans the late Victorian era and the Roaring Twenties. Composed of the three novels and two... Read More
Does anyone still read Edna Ferber? Her best novels--SHOW BOAT, SO BIG, GIANT, CIMARRON--hold up pretty well, but her short stories, as in this audiobook collection, show their age. Written just after WWI, they are solidly embedded in their own historical moment. The performances by a rotating cast are uniformly strong. Stefan Rudnicki stands out for the depth and resonance of... Read More
Laurel Lefkow narrates this beloved classic featuring the March sisters as they grow from children to young women. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy remain home with their mother as their father serves during the Civil War. They grow and change from the bumps and bruises of childhood and young adulthood, making their way despite deaths, burned first drafts, and broken hearts. Lefkow's... Read More
Victor Hugo's genius for verbosity is on ample display here; he never used two words when a hundred would do. Simon Vance's narration is fluid and evocative, but even his excellent work may not be enough to get many listeners through sections of this audiobook such as the exposition on English lighthouses. The story of a man whose mutilated face makes him a successful clown has... Read More
This classic depiction of Black family life in Kansas in the 1930s is narrated with grace and skill by Jaime Lincoln Smith. The work brings the struggles and challenges of early-twentieth-century Black American experience to life, complete with Hughes's skillful use of dialect and prose. Smith deftly switches into period diction and local accents, voicing each family member so... Read More
C.S. Lewis, author of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, believed that "you should hear every sentence you write as if it were being read aloud or spoken." So it seems apt that we should now have the opportunity to LISTEN to Lewis's observations on the art of writing, all delivered in John Lee's sonorous Oxbridge tone and phrasings. Lee does a wonderful job of rendering the balance and... Read More
This audio collection includes most of Wilde's short fiction, most of which, in turn, is fairy tales. The writing is beautiful, of course, but the stories preach a rather simplistic morality, more appropriate for children than for adult listeners. All the narrators are equally good, but they were recorded in different studios with different production values. The background... Read More
Anna Julia Cooper was, in her day (1858-1964), an educator and a civil rights advocate of some fame. This rather academic audiobook collection of her writing is aimed at restoring some recognition for her, at least among scholars. Although some of Cooper's essays originated as speeches, Karen Murray keeps their tone cool and reasonable, downplaying their occasional rhetorical... Read More
Flaubert's exacting prose has a particular affinity to the ear, and Andrew Wincott's narration of three late stories highlights the French master's style, and his verbal evocation of the senses. Flaubert's art is defined by keen observation of detail, precision of word choice, and command of prose rhythms, and Wincott stresses these qualities with an unhurried delivery that... Read More
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