The NAB Blog

2023 – A Year in Retrospective

By Anthony Anderson

27 November 2023

The Gallic War (unabridged)As we move towards the end of another year, with many of us being able to take some days of rest and recreation, it is natural to reflect on the past 12 months. That’s something that Naxos AudioBooks has been doing, though not looking back for too long – we are already in the midst recording further audiobooks for release in 2024. A part of the reflection is represented in this round-up of a few of our highlights from the past year. It might also be that this brief retrospective whets your appetite for some holiday listening.

Our Wilkie Collins project continued apace with the publication of Jezebel’s Daughter read by Nicholas Boulton and The Law and the Lady read by Lucy Scott. This series has been a true revelation of an author best known for The Woman in White and The Moonstone. Collins knew how to pen a page-turner – sometimes melodramatic, often sensational, but always gripping. He is also notable for his presentation of strong women, and both of these books contain good examples, with the lead characters of Mrs Wagner and Valeria Woodville respectively.

Our Wilkie Collins project… has been a true revelation of an author best known for The Woman in White and The Moonstone

Another strong female character is evident in A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. Standing at a diminutive 4’11” and plagued by ill health in her younger years, Isabella Bird was the first female member of the Royal Geographical Society and blazed a trail in her own time. This book, in the form of letters to her sister, outlines her 800-mile, incident-filled journey on horseback in Colorado. Clare Wille’s riveting reading was recognised by AudioFile magazine with an Earphones Award.

The Roman Empire has received much attention in the mainstream media over recent years, and a recent study suggested that many men think regularly about some aspect of it. Julius Caesar is one of Roman history’s best-known characters and his successful military campaigns in Gaul represent an important step in his rise to political supremacy. In The Gallic War we have his own account of his conquest of Gaul, told by listener favourite, David Timson.

Netflix has just broadcast season three of its hit series Lupin, and our audiobook series continued with The Confessions of Arsène Lupin, also read by master storyteller David Timson. While the dramatisation is very much a 21st-century re-imagining of the Maurice Leblanc books, it makes much use of the original material and characters. At its heart, the central character remains a master criminal, but with (most of the time!) laudable motives.

Sir Walter Scott’s The Antiquary was the author’s favourite novel and its chief theme is a depiction of how the past impacts on the present. Set in 1794, the novel, which has its fair share of big set scenes, was praised for its insight into human nature and manners. Here it is given an admirable reading by David Rintoul, which earned another Earphones Award from AudioFile magazine.

One of the year’s final releases is Elmer Gantry, a book perhaps better known through its film version (released in 1960 and featuring Burt Lancaster). Superbly read by Adam Sims and deservedly winning an AudioFile Earphones Award, it depicts the blatant hypocrisy and manipulation of the titular character and his increasing influence in both Church and politics. Several of Sinclair Lewis’s books have been cited for their prescience and very obvious correlation to the exercise of power in our own time. We can only hope that this proves to be less the case in 2024.

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