Elizabeth Knowelden skillfully narrates this lengthy Russian novel with gravitas. The classic story of a woman who is torn between her cold husband and a lover travels the drawing rooms of St. Petersburg and the rolling fields of Russia. Knowelden's narration captures the richly emotional nature of this literary work, providing clear representations of the many characters and... Read More
Tacitus writes a warning to the powerful that history will judge them. He himself is critical, even savagely judgmental, in his second-century history of the four Roman emperors who followed Augustus. (Only parts of it survive.) Narrator David Timson captures the author's frequent scorn and disgust; he reads many quotations in a mocking voice. His pronunciation is flawless and... Read More
Narrator Mark Redfield performs the hilarious story of an American family caught up in their very own ghost story after purchasing an estate in England. Redfield provides the perfect inflections and timing for this story of cultural miscommunication, secret murders, and a ghost who is as malleable as any good actor. Redfield is joined by Mackenzie Menter, who provides the... Read More
Judging by his own account, Rousseau must have been a difficult man to know. Irritable, paranoid, and egomaniacal, he is nonetheless portrayed on his own terms by narrator Jonathan Keeble in this audio version of one the first autobiographies. It would be easy to dismiss many of Rousseau's claims about his former friends conspiring against him, or to tone down his anger, or to... Read More
Narrator Edoardo Ballerini gives Turgenev's classic novella a wonderfully expressive reading of the Garnett translation. "First Love," first published in 1860, is an older man's recollection of an adolescent crush he had on a neighboring, and older, princess. The novella splendidly describes youthful infatuation and has an unexpected ending that breaks the young man's heart.... Read More
Jules Verne's debut novel makes a wonderful audiobook. Delivered in tones of discovery and joy by Graham Scott, the story takes listeners on a lengthy balloon trip across what was once known as "darkest Africa." The work is whimsical, and Scott's gentle pace meshes well with its optimistic outlook. Happily, Scott moves more quickly through the tedious parts, such as the... Read More
Kyle Tait's solid delivery closely follows the voice of Fitzgerald's first-person narrator, Nick Carraway, who recounts the doomed romance of Jay Gatsby on Long Island in the 1920s. Tait adopts a matter-of-fact tone for Nick that makes the audiobook's narration clear and well paced. In contrast to his straightforward portrayal of Nick, Tait captures the gruffness of Tom... Read More
Poet Claude McKay, one of the shining lights of the Harlem Renaissance, tended to be a bit old-fashioned. As we hear in Ron Butler's narration, he wrote mostly formal verse and sometimes used archaic poetic diction. But the subjects of his poetry are modern, if not modernist, and often intensely passionate. Butler walks a fine line between passion and formality, revealing the... Read More
Virginia Woolf's third novel, first published in 1922, marked a significant departure from the conventional writing style of her contemporaries. The audiobook is given a thoughtful, sensitive narration by Helen Lloyd, who portrays the many characters in Jacob Flanders's life with period correctness and precise diction. While Jacob isn't truly present in his own coming-of-age... Read More
Narrator Jack de Golia gives a fine and fitting performance of this 1870 excursion in the High Sierras. He narrates with a storyteller's pace and tone and captures both the author's scientific enthusiasm and sense of wonder at the "indescribable grandeur." Professor Le Conte traveled over five weeks with nine other folks from the newly founded University of California at... Read More
This far-reaching collection of short stories featuring desert settings contains some of the most engaging tales in the Western canon. The audiobook is delivered at just the right pace by Jack de Golia. Narrating energetically, he takes on the characters' voices with a chameleon-like effect. His ability to inhabit the spirit and sound of the French, Spanish, and Russians, young... Read More
Julia Lovell's fresh translation of this classic Chinese fantasy epic, paired with Robert Wu's lively performance, delivers hours of listening entertainment. Wu embodies the titular Monkey King's verve, arrogance, and wit as he seeks immortality. His puckish antics soon draw the ire of the Jade Emperor and other spirits. The resulting punishment leads Monkey on a redemptive... Read More
Narrator JD Jackson exudes the perfect jazzy style for this F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Merlin Grainger's entire life is a series of missed moments and frustrated hopes, punctuated by the mysterious appearances of a dazzlingly beautiful woman he mentally dubs Caroline. Jackson's deliciously vibrant narration brings to life Fitzgerald's pointed examinations of class and... Read More
Burke's scathing early attack on the French Revolution, and on the British who admired it, is a long essay cum rant published in 1790, a complex polemic taking in politics, economics, and history. Matt Addis narrates in a slightly sharp-edged voice that is highly articulate and clear and that gives fitting aural shape to Burke's sometimes complicated sentences. Addis's careful... Read More
Devotees of Sherlock Holmes may find this complex novella a delight as narrated by Clive Hayward, whose enthusiasm seems all-consuming. The plot twists can be overwhelming at times, and the dialogue somewhat unclear. While Hayward's energy is immense, sometimes bordering on blustering, the story does blossom, thanks to his firm voice. To some, the stronger part of the audio... Read More
If Edith Wharton is an acquired taste, then this audiobook, narrated superbly by Robin Siegerman, is an ideal first course. Set during WWI, the novel highlights the efforts of a young man's parents to keep him out of the war. Instead of avoiding the fighting, the recent college graduate joins the French army. Wharton's dialogue is precise, and her narrative brings even the most... Read More
Adam Sims gives a splendid reading of Reed's classic account of the seizure of power in Russia by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Reed, an American journalist who was sympathetic to the Bolsheviks, presents a detailed account of these events, which set in motion the dictatorship of the proletariat. Reed himself died in Soviet Russia and is buried in the Kremlin wall. Those who know... Read More
Narrator Joel Froomkin cheerfully brings out the wit of this novel about class and circumstances. Forced by her limited resources to become a governess, Becky Sharp is not afraid to social climb, while her best friend, Emmy, seemingly lives to fulfill the whims of her family. Froomkin's bright tone and light British accent make it seem like he is having a great time sharing the... Read More
Darrell Dennis captures the angst of the unnamed narrator in this classic novel of modern Native Americans on the Great Plains. He adroitly shifts between the flat dialogue of ranch life and the lyricism of the Western setting. Likewise, he captures the cadences of a trio of secondary characters--aspiring Lame Bull, wise Yellow Calf, strong Teresa. Most of all, Dennis's... Read More
Simon Bubb's whimsical narration ideally sets the stage for three of Lewis Carroll's classic works. The collection includes ALICE IN WONDERLAND, ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, and A TANGLED TALE, an interesting collection of short stories centered on mathematical problems. Bubb lends a range of vocal characterizations to the many eccentric characters of Carroll's creation.... Read More
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