Naxos AudioBooks Metadata

Download to CSV File

Title (sorting) URL Title (full) Subtitle Series Genre Compilation Box Set NAB Cat no. NAB Ident ISBN Digital ISBN Authors Readers CDs Download file size Runtime Extras BISAC BISAC 2 BIC BIC 2 Naxos Direct UK Naxos Direct US Rights/Restrictions Blurb CD – GBP RRP (inc. VAT) CD – US SRP (USD) Download Price Band Download – GBP (inc. VAT) Download – EUR (inc. VAT) Download – USD Released Product contents Translator Producer Exec. Producer Director Adapted by Editor Compiled by Abridged by Review 1 Review 2 Review 3 Review 4 Review 5 Review 6
1,000 Years of Laughter (compilation) 1,000 Years of Laughter An anthology of classic comic prose Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA426912 426912 9789626342695 9789629547028 Griff Rhys Jones
4 73 05:00:15 FIC003000 Deleted Deleted World

Laughter is unique to man. This delightful anthology presents some of the funniest extracts in English literature. David Timson starts with Anglo-Saxon riddles and continues with medieval memories, Tudor comic turns and Restoration buffoonery. The rise of the novel in the eighteenth century brought classic humour from Swift, Sterne and Smollet, passing the mantle to Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century. Included here are rarities as well, from the antiquarian’s cupboard. There are also excerpts from children’s literature and twentieth-century classics as diverse as Dorothy Parker and P. G. Wodehouse. An entertainment from start to finish.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Aug02
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (abridged) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Classic Fiction abridged Single NA201412 201412 9789626340141 9789629545765 Jules Verne
John Carlisle
2 38 02:37:32 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The year is 1866. The maritime world is gripped by fear after reported sightings of a huge and terrible sea monster. Monsieur Aronnax, a distinguished Professor of Natural History, pronounces the creature to be a giant narwhal and is invited to join an official expedition to track down the beast. But Professor Aronnax is proved wrong; the beast is not of the natural world, but a huge submarine. When he is pulled out of the sea by the enigmatic Captain Nemo, and imprisoned on the Nautilus, he experiences at first hand the marvels and perils of submarine life. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is possibly the first and finest work of science fiction plausible, terrifying and utterly gripping.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul00
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (unabridged) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0241 0241 9781781980118 9781781980125 Jules Verne
Bill Homewood
15 290 18:53:12 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The year is 1866 and the maritime world is gripped by fear after reported sightings of a huge sea monster. Famous marine biologist Pierre Aronnax, accompanied by his loyal servant Conseil and the redoubtable Canadian harpooner Ned Land, joins the hunt to track down and incapacitate the creature. But their enemy is no sea beast… and they soon come face to face with the sinister Captain Nemo. The story is relentlessly thrilling, while containing beautifully written observations of underwater life.

£50.00 $89.98 Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Aug16 F.P. Walter Sarah Butcher

Jules Verne’s fascinating novel takes the listener on a journey beneath the sea to the far reaches of the world. The figure of Captain Nemo provides a dark undercurrent to the optimism of Verne’s narrator, Pierre Aronnax. Bill Homewood’s narration is truly delightful. His melodic cadence delivers the descriptive prose engagingly, and his vocal characterisations are also convincing. As Professor Aronnax, he enthusiastically expounds upon scientific explanations, adding excitement to what could be dry bits of text. Ned Land has a gruff, burly voice, while the mysterious Captain Nemo speaks in a slightly foreign accent. Homewood’s narration invites the listener onto the Nautilus and a world of undersea adventure.

D.M.W., AudioFile

A Child of the Jago (unabridged) A Child of the Jago Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0614 0614 9781781985021 Arthur Morrison
Nicholas Boulton
6:17:45 FIC004000 FC World

Published in 1896, A Child of the Jago is a gritty and realistic portrayal of life in the slums of London’s East End during the late 19th century. The novel is set in an area known as the Old Jago (based on a real-life slum called the Old Nichol) and vividly describes the poverty, crime and squalor that characterised the impoverished neighbourhood.

The story revolves around Dicky Perrott, a young boy growing up in the Jago, and his struggle for survival in a world of gangs, violence and despair.

A Child of the Jago is considered a significant work of social realism, depicting the harshness of urban poverty and offering a stark critique of the societal structures that perpetuate it.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Feb24 John Foley Timothy Brown
Abraham Lincoln (selections) The Essential Abraham Lincoln Speeches and letters by Abraham Lincoln The Essential Biographies selections Single NA394312 394312 9789626349434 9789629548353 Garrick Hagon
Peter Whitfield
Peter Marinker
Garrick Hagon
3 57 03:55:11 BIO011000 Deleted Available World

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) was one of the most influential presidents of the USA, uniting the country and abolishing slavery after a terrible civil war. On the 200th anniversary of his birth, his life and works are presented here in an easy introductory form. Through a balance of biography and the key speeches and letters, the man is brought to life, demonstrating his keen intelligence and determination, which was maintained all the way to his tragic death at the hand of an assassin.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jan09

The biography outlines the career of this lean, 6ft 4in man from the backwoods who became one of America’s greatest statesmen and brought an end to slavery. The eloquence of his speeches and the humanity of his letters are palpable. An authoritative, not sycophantic, narration.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Adam Bede (unabridged) Adam Bede Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0155 0155 9781843797838 9781843797845 George Eliot
Georgina Sutton
16 316 20:41:59 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

George Eliot’s first full-length novel, Adam Bede, is a profound rendering of 19th-century English pastoral life. This timeless story of seduction and betrayal follows the virtuous carpenter Adam Bede, whose world is soon disrupted when the all-too-beautiful Hetty betrays him for another villager. Her actions precipitate a turmoil of tragic events that shake the very foundations of their serene rural community. Eliot’s gift for leisurely and lyrical prose is in full effect here and her insight into human emotion and complexity is unrivalled.

£55.00 $98.98 Band Q £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Feb15

Through the lens of literary realism, George Eliot examines the female role through Hetty, a woman tempted by illusions of grandeur, and Dinah, a woman whose life is dedicated to a religious calling as a Methodist itinerant preacher. Both women impact the heart of the honest carpenter Adam Bede. Georgina Sutton offers an expressive narration of Eliot’s novel. It’s clear that she grasps the tone of the prose through her delivery of the narrative voice, a voice that Eliot fills with many speculative asides. Sutton also convincingly portrays the country dialect of several characters, especially Adam and his brother, Seth, who both come across as good-hearted and noble. Sutton’s pleasant tone is engaging throughout and draws one into the drama in the fictional community of Hayslope.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0594 0594 9781781984772 Rudolf Erich Raspe
Peter Wickham
5:16:08 FIC004000 FC World

From travelling to the moon to fighting a 40-foot-long crocodile and riding a cannonball through the air, Baron von Munchausen’s incredible account of his own adventures has entertained readers since its initial appearance in 1785. The obvious comedy of the book, which lies in Munchausen’s boasts about his own adventures, is heightened by the calm and objective way in which he frames his narrative. The Baron appears to fully believe the death-defying episodes with which he regales his listeners.

The stories of Baron von Munchausen have loomed large in popular culture and have been the subject of several films, most notably that directed by Terry Gilliam in 1988, while many notable artists have found inspiration in the adventures.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Sep23 Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio
Adventures of Brigadier Gerard, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0025 0025 9781843794479 9781843794486 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rupert Degas
6 100 06:53:20 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

With a horse between his thighs and a weapon in his grip, the dashing Brigadier Etienne Gerard, Colonel of the Hussars of Conflans, gallops through the Napoleonic campaigns on secret missions for his beloved Emperor and his country. He encounters danger and hair-breadth escapes but never loses his bravado, his eye for a pretty girl, his boastfulness or his enormous vanity. Gerard is Conan Doyle’s most lovable character. At times hilarious, at times touching, these stories are amongst Conan Doyle’s most popular.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Feb11

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may be best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories, but they were not his favorites. He loved the stories that promoted the chivalric ethos, even if they sometimes made fun of their heroes, as here. Gerard is a cavalry officer who is devoted to Napoleon and is incapable of seeing the world through any other lens. Rupert Degas is reliably excellent as the ego-inflated officer who fails to see the differences between French and English values, remaining fully confident through what most of us would consider the most embarrassing situations. But Degas never loses touch with the man’s innate courage, grace, and devotion to his principles.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Naxos Audiobooks continue to revive some long forgotten works by that genius writer of detective fiction, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This time it is ‘The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard’ – a swashbuckling set of stories set in the Napoleonic Wars and including some pretty far fetched plots. Rupert Degas is the ideal reader for this type of narrative – his French sounding inflexions are truly a delight to listen to especially in the more tender parts of the tales. The seven hours of stories may be slightly heavy on the ear so it is advisable to take them one at a time but with the well chosen interludes taken from similarly swashbuckling Berlioz overtures, you really cannot miss out. I particularly enjoyed the action packed part on the capture of Saragossa as well as the final part on Waterloo with Degas truly in his element describing the bloodthirsty scenes of battlefield carnage. Yet another winner from the astonishingly diverse Naxos Audiobooks stable.

Gerald Fenech, Malta News Online

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best known for his Sherlock Holmes stories. But he is also the creator of Etienne Gerard, a calvary officer in the armies of Napoleon. The Adventures Of Brigadier Gerard is a collection of colorful (and often humorous) stories of Gerard’s missions during the Napoleonic Wars ranging from Spain and Italy to England and Russia. The Adventures […] are deftly and dramatically narrated by Rupert Degas who does the storytelling talents of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle full and complete justice. […] a technically flawless audio production. The result is pure entertainment and the highest possible recommendation for personal and community library audio book collections.

Library Bookwatch

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (abridged) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Junior Classics abridged Single NA207312 207312 9789626340738 9789629544355 Mark Twain
Garrick Hagon
2 38 02:38:06 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

Floating down the Mississippi on their raft, Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, find life filled with excitement and the spirit of adventure. Join Huck and Jim and their old friend Tom Sawyer as they come up against low-down thieves and murderers, whilst being chased by Huck’s evil, drunken father who is after Huck’s treasure. It is a trip that you will never tire of.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct04
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX36012 36012 9789626343609 9789629545741 Mark Twain
Garrick Hagon
9 165 11:24:04 FIC004000 Available Available World

Floating down the Mississippi on their raft, Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, find life filled with excitement and the spirit of adventure. Join Huck and Jim and their old friend Tom Sawyer as they come up against low-down thieves and murderers, whilst being chased by Huck’s evil, drunken father who is after Huck’s treasure. It is a trip that you will never tire of. In this new unabridged recording, Garrick Hagon brings his remarkable powers of vocal characterisation to the unforgettable portraits created by Twain.

£32.99 $59.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Dec05
Adventures of Odysseus, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Odysseus Junior Classics unabridged Single NA211412 211412 9789626341148 9789629543976 Benedict Flynn
Benjamin Soames
2 33 02:25:56 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The Adventures of Odysseus is the story of what happened after the Trojan War when Odysseus, the most cunning of all the Greek heroes, left Troy and made his way back to his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus. It was first told by a poet named Homer nearly three thousand years ago and is retold in this new version especially for younger listeners.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Mar00
Adventures of Roderick Random, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Roderick Random Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0487 0487 9781781983492 Tobias Smollett
Peter Kenny
17:50:41 FIC004000 FC World

Tobias Smollett, in his creation of the Scot Roderick Random, exposes the sheer incompetence and injustice of the Royal Navy, as well as the snobbery and hypocrisy prevalent in English middle-class society at the time. Set in the mid-18th century, this picaresque novel follows the life and adventures of Roderick, the eponymous hero who has been shunned by his gentleman father’s family on the basis of the lowliness of his mother’s family. Expelled from school, Roderick falls back on his natural wit and the support of his maternal uncle. Embarking on a global voyage, hindered by his naivete and with only a few friends to help him, he pursues the rich ladies of the world in order to rise into the high society from which he was rudely ejected. He ends up twice serving on British ships, latterly a warship onto which he is press-ganged. Where will his travels take him?

N/A N/A Band O £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Mar21 Neil Rosser Sarah Butcher
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume I, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume I The Speckled Band | The Adventure of the Copper Beeches The Stock-Broker’s Clerk | The Red-Headed League Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA315212 315212 9789626341520 9789629545062 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 55 03:44:38 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In this collection are four of the finest cases of Mr Sherlock Holmes, narrated by his faithful friend and admirer Dr Watson. What was the horror of The Speckled Band or the secret behind the curious legacy for men of red hair? These and other puzzles are solved by this bloodhound of a genius.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep00
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • The Adventure of the Stock-Broker’s Clerk
  • The Adventure of the Copper Beeches
  • The Adventure of the Red-Headed League
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume II, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume II The Engineer’s Thumb | Silver Blaze | The Scandal in Bohemia | The Five Orange Pips Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA317012 317012 9789626341704 9789629545079 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 53 03:38:20 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In this collection are four of the finest cases of Mr Sherlock Holmes, narrated by his faithful friend and admirer Dr Watson. What was the mystery of the engineer’s thumb? What was behind the disappearance of the race horse? Why did masked royalty walk up to see Holmes in Baker Street? These and other puzzles are solved by this bloodhound of a genius.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 May05
  • The Scandal in Bohemia
  • The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb
  • The Five Orange Pips
  • Silver Blaze
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume III, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume III The Adventure of the Cardboard Box | The Musgrave Ritual | The Man with the Twisted Lip | The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA319112 319112 9789626341919 9789629545086 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 52 03:32:56 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

In this collection are four more individual cases for Mr Sherlock Holmes, narrated by his faithful friend and admirer Dr Watson. Once more, they are solved by this bloodhound of a genius.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb05
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip
  • The Musgrave Ritual
  • The Adventure of the Cardboard Box
  • The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume IV, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume IV A Case of Identity | The Crooked Man | The Naval Treaty | The Greek Interpreter Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA321312 321312 9789626342138 9789629545093 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 52 03:31:09 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Four more stories from the master detective. The mystery of the missing suitor is solved and Sherlock Holmes raises his whip… an Indian pot stands in the shadows of a Colonel’s death… serious affairs of state and international diplomacy are threatened by a theft… and surely evil intent lies behind threats in a hidden house. The cool observations and swift action of Sherlock Holmes resolves all.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Dec00
  • A Case of Identity
  • The Adventure of the Crooked Man
  • The Naval Treaty
  • The Greek Interpreter
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume V, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume V The Adventure of the Reigate Squire | The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet | The Boscombe Valley Mystery | The Yellow Face Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA326612 326612 9789626342664 9789629545109 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 53 03:39:35 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dr Watson comments ‘The stage lost a fine actor’ when Holmes chose to devote his formidable talents to the solution of crime. two of these stories, The Reigate Squire and The Adventure of Beryl Coronet, Holmes demonstrates his thespian powers as he unravels the mysteries. In the first he explains a rural murder while in the second, Holmes’ timely intervention prevents something of a national – even royal – scandal. The Boscombe Valley Mystery takes Holmes and Watson once again to the English countryside, but the famous detective uncovers old Australian animosities to get to the root of the problem. The Yellow Face, which concludes the selection, is one of the most fascinating in the whole canon, raising some key social issues of the time.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jun04
  • The Reigate Squire
  • The Boscombe Valley Mystery
  • The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
  • The Yellow Face
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume VI, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Volume VI The Final Problem | The Adventure of ‘The Gloria Scott’ | The Adventure of The Noble Bachelor | The Adventure of The Resident Patient Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA328012 328012 9789626342800 9789629545116 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
3 48 03:16:18 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In The Final Problem, perhaps the greatest of the short stories of Sherlock Holmes, the English detective encounters his most formidable rival, Professor Moriarty. ‘The Napoleon of Crime’ is how Holmes describes his adversary to his faithful companion, Dr Watson, as they move to the ultimate confrontation at the Reichenbach Falls. Also in this collection is the intriguing mystery of the disappearing bride in The Noble Bachelor and two threats from the past in Gloria Scott and The Resident Patient.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Dec02
  • The Adventure of the ‘Gloria Scott’
  • The Adventure of the Resident Patient
  • The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
  • The Adventure of the Final Problem
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The (abridged) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Junior Classics abridged Single NA208012 208012 9789626340806 9789629544362 Mark Twain
Garrick Hagon
2 39 02:38:26 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the story of a boy’s adventures growing up in a small town on the banks of the Mississippi river over a hundred years ago. The cheerful, adventurous hero plays truant to form a pirate band and, together with his best friend, Huckleberry Finn, finds fun and excitement, and buried treasure, along the shores of the great river.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul04
Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The (unabridged) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA786812 786812 9789626348680 9789629545758 Mark Twain
Garrick Hagon
7 121 08:15:25 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Tom Sawyer is a dare-devil, a schemer, a prankster, a main-chancer. His inventiveness and energy know no bounds; whenever his Aunt Polly thinks he is tucked up in bed, he is most likely creeping out into the night on deeds of daring – ‘not the Model Boy of the village,’ as the author puts it. In creating this humorous and dramatic story of childhood, Mark Twain has given us a vivid picture of life in a small town on the Mississippi in the mid-nineteenth century and created one of the most popular boy heroes in literature.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Apr08
Aeneid, The (abridged) The Aeneid Poetry abridged Single NA427812 427812 9789626342787 9789629546748 Virgil
Paul Scofield
4 145 05:16:02 POE014000 Deleted Available World

Virgil’s Aeneid, one of the greatest Classical poems, tells the story of Aeneas, son of Priam, after the fall of Troy. His quest is to find the site ‘in the west’ where he will found a new town prophesied to be the seat of a world empire – Rome. This great poem, in a modern translation by Cecil Day Lewis, is superbly read by the great classical actor Paul Scofield, with Jill Balcon.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Oct04 Cecil Day Lewis
Aeneid, The (unabridged) The Aeneid Poetry unabridged Single NA0196 0196 9781843798866 9781843798873 Virgil
David Collins
10 200 13:01:31 POE014000 Deleted Available World

The masterpiece of Rome’s greatest poet, Virgil’s Aeneid has inspired generations of readers and holds a central place in Western literature. The epic tells the story of a group of refugees from the ruined city of Troy, whose attempts to reach a promised land in the West are continually frustrated by the hostile goddess Juno. Finally reaching Italy, their leader Aeneas is forced to fight a bitter war against the natives to establish the foundations from which Rome is destined to rise. This magnificent poem, in the modern translation by Cecil Day Lewis, is superbly read by David Collins.

£35.00 $62.98 Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 May15 Cecil Day Lewis

I hadn’t read any Virgil before listening to this engaging 1952 version of the classic tale of Aeneas escaping from Troy and eventually laying the foundations of Rome. All manner of gods and mythic characters are knitted into it and we find out why the Trojans were stupid enough to haul that wooden horse inside Troy, why poor Laocoön and his sons got strangled by serpents, why Aeneas ratted on Dido and so on and so on. Cecil Day-Lewis’s euphonious hexameters were meant to be easy on the ear, being written for broadcast on the BBC, and are given added force by colloquialisms such as Jupiter’s ‘storm troops’, the golden bough as a ‘passport’ to the underworld, the sneering description of Aeneas as a ‘Phrygian pansy’ and Pyrrhus as a ‘milksop’.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

The late poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis’s translation of this Roman epic is idiosyncratic, but David Collins’s narration is consistently gripping. This is no small achievement, considering how remarkably passive Aeneas is for an epic hero. Letting Virgil do most of the work of distinguishing the characters, Collins brings the drama to life. His portrayal of Dido is particularly moving. Even in this modern (and, to some tastes, too modernised) version, Virgil’s classical Latin can be chilly. Collins adds the heat necessary to make us weep, if not for Hecuba, then at least for Dido and Andromache. There are several good recordings of The Aeneid, and we can add this one to the list.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Aesop’s Fables (selections) Aesop’s Fables Junior Classics selections Single NA120712 120712 9789626342077 9789629548100 Aesop
Anton Lesser
1 19 01:18:42 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

How can the Tortoise run faster than the Hare? What happens when the Dog growls at its image? Or when the Country Mouse goes to supper with the Town Mouse? These wonderful stories have delighted adults and children for centuries, with their witty observations on both animals and humans. In the Fox, in the Crow, in the Lion, in the Ass who puts on a wolf’s skin, we see humankind with all its foibles. The stories are told with the enduring magic of a master storyteller, and set against the bright sounds of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and other concertos.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Dec99
Afghanistan – In a Nutshell (unabridged) Afghanistan – In a Nutshell History unabridged Single NA196112 196112 9789626349618 9789629548520 Tim Albone
Mark Hudson
Benjamin Soames
1 19 01:19:28 HIS026000 Deleted Available World

‘In a Nutshell’, the new 1-CD audiobook series from Naxos AudioBooks, continues with a fascinating history of Afghanistan. For centuries it has been the playground of big powers, from Alexander the Great to the British Empire and the Soviet Union. It has been torn by internal strife and ideological differences, yet Afghans, tribal though they may be, remain a proud nation. Here is a short history, setting the background to the current situation.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jun09

Afghanistan, with its poppies, forbidding geography, earthquakes and internecine clashes, has been invaded since the fourth century. This history ends with the present invasion by Nato forces and explains the tensions between Russia, USA and Britain that led to it.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

It took Alexander the Great six months to conquer Persia and three years to subdue Afghanistan, ‘a land of leonine and brave people’, he wrote to his mother, where ‘every foot of ground is like a wall of steel’. Two millennia on, it was Britain’s turn to take on the legendary warrior horsemen. In January 1842, three years after the start of the first Anglo-Afghan war (we’re now on the fourth), the beleaguered British garrison in Kabul, escorting 1,500 civilians, began the desperate retreat to Jalalabad. As they crossed the snows of the Hindu Kush, they were massacred by Pashtun tribesmen, leaving a single British survivor to tell the story. In 1979, 30,000 Soviet troops were dispatched to help Kabul’s new liberal government fight the Islamist mujahideen guerrillas, in whose ranks a youthful Osama bin Laden was already making a name. They retreated 10 years later with a butcher’s bill of 15,000 dead and 65,000 wounded, leaving behind a million dead Afghans. No country as ethnically, politically and religiously fragmented as Afghanistan, with its warlords, honour codes, Taliban fanatics, suicide bombers and a single illegal source of revenue – opium poppies – could expect an easy ride, but since the Soviet occupation it has not had a single year of peace. If only all guides to complex subjects were as clear, compact and impartial.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Against Nature (unabridged) Against Nature Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0567 0567 9781781984321 Joris-Karl Huysmans
Leighton Pugh
7:45:15 FIC004000 FC World

Published in 1884, Against Nature (À rebours) concerns the attempts of its cultured and neurotic anti-hero, Des Esseintes, to escape contemporary Parisian life. At his rural retreat he is able to indulge his particular artistic tastes as he muses on a range of topics including literature, religion and painting.

Although regarded as shocking on its publication, Against Nature was received with enthusiasm by the aesthetic movement and, most particularly, Oscar Wilde, who featured the book in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Against Nature marks a departure from the classic form of 19th-century literature, and this audiobook features the full text, with previously expurgated parts restored.

N/A N/A Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Feb23 John Howard (updated) Produced by Chris Barstow for Tall Story Audiobooks at The Perfumery

Huysmans’s nineteenth-century study of an aesthete who is trying to transcend dull normalcy and titillate his intellect and senses sounds at times like a series of essays. Despite the lack of incident, Leighton Pugh narrates at a heightened level of feeling, though the clarity of his tone and British accent, the precision of his delivery, and his sensitivity to the text keep the performance from becoming wearisome. No matter how dry its material, the book, pitched at an elevated level of nervous excitation, and its high-strung protagonist justify – even demand – this sustained intensity. Pugh manages to ensure that such topics as Latin literature are given more drama than print readers would likely find on their own. His delivery of this difficult text may keep listeners involved – even entertained.

W.M., AudioFile

Age of Innocence, The (unabridged) The Age of Innocence Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0234 0234 9781843799788 9781843799795 Edith Wharton
Laurel Lefkow
9 167 11:07:31 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

‘The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!’ Awarded the 1921 Pulitzer Prize (the first to be presented to a woman), Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence is a powerful depiction of love and desire in New York’s glamorous Gilded Age. When Newland Archer, happily engaged to May Welland, meets his  fiancée’s cousin Ellen, his entire future is cast into doubt: strong-willed, witty, and entirely unpretentious, Ellen is unlike any woman he has ever met. He is torn between his infatuation for her and his duty to marry May. In subtle and elegant language, Wharton delivers a critical look at the social mores of the time.

£32.99 $59.98 Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Sep16 Hilary Field, Genevieve Helsby Daniel Murguialday

Edith Wharton was looking back to her own innocence when in 1920, in her late fifties, she wrote The Age of Innocence, a story of the cracks that were beginning to appear in old-fashioned fin de siècle New York society. Newland Archer is about to be married when his fiancée’s cousin returns to New York, in search of a divorce from her abusive Polish husband, and his complacent, sedate world rocks on its pedestal. In the best Brief Encounter tradition, the lovers fight their feelings, little realising that their passion is well-understood by their nearest and dearest. It won the Pulitzer prize for fiction, the first awarded to a woman author, and it still has a haunting ‘road not taken’ quality that leaves the listener musing on might-have-beens. Laurel Lefkow, who can sound marvellously raunchy reading such titles as The Devil Wears Prada, adopts a precise well-behaved diction perfectly matched to the novel.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Narrator Lauren Lefkow brings a calm and dignified tone to Edith Wharton’s high-society classic. It’s a novel full of wry comic observations on the social restraints that bind the upper echelon of New York City society, especially its female members. Lefkow contributes a fitting sense of intelligent restraint without sacrificing the warmth and versatility necessary to keep the listener engaged and entertained. Wharton’s strongest asset is her sparkling wit, which proves consistently ironic and fatalistic, and Lefkow seldom misses a beat, ensuring that a character’s twinkling eye or raised eyebrow is available to the attentive listener. Though her character range is understated, a shortcoming noticeable only in scenes with multiple characters, Lefkow’s sensitivity to character gives a constant lift to an insightful classic.

Z.S., AudioFile

Agnes Grey (unabridged) Agnes Grey Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA612812 612812 9789626341285 9789629549329 Anne Brontë
Rachel Bavidge
6 110 07:34:11 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

From its opening sentences Agnes Grey introduces a heroine who is honest, perceptive and charming. Unfortunately, the Bloomfields, who engage her as a governess, are rather less appealing, and the incarnation of the suppressed cruelties and hypocrisies of the Victorian age. When Agnes moves to a marginally less alarming family, one of her charges sets out to disrupt her only romantic hope. Critical, satirical, direct, and honest, Agnes Grey is a fine reflection of its author.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 May10

The only respectable calling for poor but educated young women in Victorian England was that of governess. Brontë’s 1847 novel tells the story of governess Grey’s struggles with the undisciplined Bloomfield children and the callous Murray siblings. Bavidge’s British-laced reading is perfectly tuned to Grey’s efforts to make her way in an unsympathetic world as the governess tries to instill her charges with good sense and kindness, but is confronted with insolence, prejudice, and snobbery. Young Tom Bloomfield reveals his temperament through nasally condescending tones, while his younger sister simpers and whines. One Murray daughter sounds condescending and calculating, and the other child is a hoyden with rough and crude speech patterns, even though her family is a member of the gentry. Grey speaks with a clear and gentle British accent. A scene in which a character seduces and then haughtily rejects a suitor’s advances is redolent of Brontë’s satiric view of British class snobbery.

Mary McCay, Booklist

Aida (unabridged) Opera Explained – Aida Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558009 558009 9781843790969 9781843793069 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 29 01:03:15 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Ancient Egypt and the war with Ethiopia is the setting for Verdi’s grandest opera. It is the story of the love between Rhadames, the Egyptian general and Aida, an Ethiopian slave, and the jealousy of Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt. It was written in 1871 to a commission from the Khedive of Egypt to inaugurate the new opera house in Cairo. Aida generally is considered one of the most spectacular of Verdi’s operas. But Thomson Smillie, in his fascinating introduction to the work, presented by actor David Timson, says it is, more accurately ‘a chamber opera with a grand march through the middle of it’. The historic background – how and why it came to be composed – is clearly explained. This is followed by the plot, the characters, and the principal arias and musical moments – a perfect way of getting to know the work.

£5.99 $11.99 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Jun01
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (abridged) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Junior Classics abridged Single NA213712 213712 9789626341377 9789629543853 Lewis Carroll
Fiona Shaw
2 35 02:22:34 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

Fiona Shaw gives a wonderfully fresh reading of Carroll’s classic tale, making his fantastical characters thoroughly believable through an impression of voices. Vivid sound effects together with music by Delius, Parry and Bruckner complete this delightful production.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jul05
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (unabridged) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Junior Classics unabridged Single NA338412 338412 9789626343845 9789629543860 Lewis Carroll
Jo Wyatt
Sean Barrett
Andrew Branch
Charles Collingwood
Teresa Gallagher
Steve Hodson
David Horovitch
Nigel Lambert
Hayward B. Morse
Richard Pearce
Anne Rosenfeld
Liza Ross
Christopher Scott
Jill Shilling
Stephen Thorne
David Timson
3 43 02:59:22 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

Alice’s adventures, funny, inventive and disturbing, have fascinated children and adults alike since their publication. This is a new unabridged recording using many voices to take the parts of The White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat – and, of course, Alice herself. It makes for a roller-coaster ride of delightful fantasy.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr06 Garrick Hagon and the Story Circle Wolfgang Dienst

The unabridged Alice in Wonderland is read by David Horovitch with other voices playing the characters. Alice actresses can be twee and precocious but Jo Wyatt is utterly convincing.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Allan Quatermain (unabridged) Allan Quatermain Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0088 0088 9781843795902 9781843795919 H. Rider Haggard
Bill Homewood
10 178 11:07:56 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

We have met the intrepid hunter-tracker Allan Quatermain before, in Rider Haggard’s marvellous King Solomon’s Mines. This time, grieving from the tragic loss of his son, Quatermain longs to return to his beloved Africa. He sets out in search of a lost white tribe, the Zu-Vendis, ruled by two beautiful sister Queens. Once again, Quatermain’s companions are the indefatigable Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good, and the magnificent Zulu warrior Umslopogaas. The journey is incredibly dangerous, and thrillingly told. After a fantastic underground journey by canoe, our heroes are embroiled in a bloody civil war when both queens fall in love with the irresistibly handsome Curtis.

£35.00 $62.98 Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Sep12
Ambassadors, The (unabridged) The Ambassadors Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0276 0276 9781781980668 9781781980675 Henry James
John Chancer
16 424 19:46:37 FIC004000 Available Available World

In the second novel of James’s celebrated late period, American Lambert Strether is sent to Paris on behalf of Mrs Newsome, his  fiancée, to collect her son, Chad. When Strether finds Chad, he discovers an altered man and becomes introduced to a free and unconventional style of life that soon intoxicates him. His views begin to change; the morality of Woollett, his hometown, becomes foreign, and the ‘ambassador’ loses sight of his mission… Part tragedy, part comedy, The Ambassadors is a rewarding portrait about one man’s late awakening.


£55.00 $98.98 Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Oct17 Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire
American, The (unabridged) The American Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0466 0466 9781781983263 Henry James
Adam Sims
14:13:04 FIC004000 FC World

Self-made American millionaire Christopher Newman arrives in Paris brimming with hope and optimism, excited to experience the culture and, hopefully, find the perfect woman to become his wife. After a chance encounter with American expatriate friends his attention is drawn to Madame de Cintré, 25-year-old widowed daughter of the late Marquis de Bellegarde. Having fallen on hard times, the centuries-old aristocratic family permits Newman’s courtship to proceed; however, they later persuade the widow to break off her engagement to the nouveau-riche businessman. When Newman finds himself in possession of a dark secret that threatens to destroy the Bellegarde family, he must decide whether to keep to his principles or exact his revenge.

N/A N/A Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Sep20 John Foley Nikki Ruck

Adam Sims offers a solid narration of this classic novel, in which an American makes his way through the social complexities of Paris. The title character, Christopher Newman, has survived the American Civil War and made his own fortune; now all that remains is to experience the wider world and to find a suitable wife. Will his encounters in Paris provide him opportunities for both? Sims’s voice is appealing and measured, clear and rich with the novel’s nuances. His French accents are seamless, and the dialogue is realistic and easy to follow. Sims has the unique skill of voicing female characters without sounding forced, which is important here. The story may drag for some listeners, but this performance illuminates the novel’s value.

L.B.F., AudioFile

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (unabridged) An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding Philosophy unabridged Single NA0157 0157 9781843797876 9781843797883 David Hume
Hugh Ross
5 93 06:03:54 PHI000000 Deleted Available World

As intriguing today as when it was first published, Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is a fascinating exploration into the nature of human knowledge. Using billiard balls, candles and other colourful examples, Hume conveys the core of his empiricism: that true knowledge can only be gained through sensory experience. No other philosopher has been at the forefront of the mind than David Hume; physics, psychology, neuroscience – connections to Hume are everywhere. Here is the book that Immanuel Kant confessed had awoken him from his ‘dogmatic slumber’.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Nov15

Hugh Ross reads Hume’s brief but important philosophical tract as the philosopher himself might, thinking his ideas through as he speaks, explaining them in an avuncular fashion, sounding as if he’s anxious to make them understood – while his skeptical inquiry devastatingly undermines cause and effect, free will, miracles, and skepticism. Ross’s use of intonation, emphasis, and expressiveness to mirror and, in a way, explicate the sense of the text is highly skilled. His British-accented voice is pleasant and clear, and his manner accessible, fitting Hume’s essayistic tone and famous clarity of style (though the arguments do demand close attention). Hume’s writing and Ross’s expressive rendering make listening to this text an enjoyable, thought-provoking walk to the edge of an epistemological cliff and over.

W.M., AudioFile

Analects, The (unabridged) The Analects Philosophy unabridged Single NA0369 0369 9781781982570 Confucius
Bruno Roubicek
90 03:58:41 PHI003000 REL032000 DCF HPDF Deleted Deleted World

One of the undisputed giants in the history of human thought, and the founder of one of the world’s longest-lasting cultural traditions, Confucius (known as Kong Fuzi in his native China) is arguably the most enduring of all the world’s great thinkers. The Analects, the slender volume thought to have been compiled by his followers, has the strongest claim to represent Confucius’ actual words. Sometimes pithy, sometimes conversational, occasionally enigmatic, often profoundly searching, the book contains memorable sayings about the moral health of the individual, the family and the body politic, and continues to be a source of inexhaustible wisdom after more than two and a half millennia.

N/A N/A Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep19 James Legge (updated) Red Apple Creative Red Apple Creative, London
Ancient Egypt – The Glory of the Pharaohs (unabridged) Ancient Egypt – The Glory of the Pharaohs Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0052 0052 9781843795001 9781843795018 David Angus
Nicholas Boulton
2 36 02:26:00 HIS002030 Deleted Available World

Ancient Egypt – The Glory of the Pharaohs tells us about civilisation under the pharaohs, of mysterious statues and tombs, incredible obelisks, the Sphinx… In this recording, the ancient Egyptian kingdom is brought to life in a way that fuels the listener’s imagination, teaching and entertaining in equal measure.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Apr12

Ancient Egypt – The Glory of the Pharaohs is the unabridged audiobook rendition of David Angus’s classic non-fiction exploration of the incredible ancient civilization of Egypt. Egypt’s grand statues, gigantic tombs, towering obelisks, legendary pyramids, and ineffable Sphinx are all vividly described and explained. Listeners of all ages will thoroughly enjoy this exciting and educational audiobook, smoothly narrated by award-winning radio performer Nicholas Boulton.

Library Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

Ancient Greek Philosophy – An Introduction (unabridged) Ancient Greek Philosophy – An Introduction Philosophy unabridged Single NA644412 644412 9789626344446 9789629547370 Tom Griffith
Hugh Griffith
Bruce Alexander
6 201 07:16:42 PHI002000 Deleted Available World

The philosophy of Ancient Greece provides the background of Western ethical thought and politics. In this approachable introduction, Tom Griffith, a leading translator of Plato, covers the main ground from the Pre-Socratics through Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and the Epicureans. In each case, the figures are introduced before a compilation of key texts in lively translations.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 May07 Tom Griffith
Andersen’s Fairy Tales (selections) Andersen’s Fairy Tales Junior Classics selections Single NA201212 201212 9789626340127 9789629543723 Hans Christian Andersen
Erica Johns
2 38 02:34:51 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The world of Hans Christian Andersen is seen through the eyes of children. There is the everyday wonder of an ugly duckling being transformed into a swan; the puffed-up Emperor being fooled by his own importance; the tender tragedy of a little match girl; the upright honesty of John rewarded by his travelling companion. By bringing true feelings to these stories, Andersen’s tales have become part of universal folklore.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul00
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Tinderbox
  • The Travelling Companion
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • The Little Match Girl
  • The Swineherd
  • Big Claus and Little Claus

Gorgeous orchestral music contributes to the dramatisation of these charming tales. In ‘The Emperor’gs New Clothes’, narrator Erica Johns creates the ideal huffy voice for the emperor, shady-sounding voices for the swindlers, and a realistic child’s voice when all is revealed. In ‘The Tinder Box’, listeners can almost see the crafty witch as she cajoles the soldier to steal with her creepy voice. The ugly duckling quacks believably as Johns elegantly describes nature. The hunting dogs’ splashes into the water are also appropriately frightening and dramatic. Listening is an excellent way to enjoy Andersen’s humour and wise lessons.

S.G.B., AudioFile

Anna Karenina (abridged) Anna Karenina Classic Fiction abridged Single NA408112 408112 9789626340813 9789629545697 Leo Tolstoy
Laura Paton
4 74 05:06:09 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Anna Karenina has been described as the perfect Russian novel. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Anna Karenina is defenceless against the power of her passions once they are unleashed by the adoration of Count Vronsky. Having defied the rules of nineteenth-century Russian society, Anna is forced to pay a heavy price. Human nature, with all its failings, is the fabric of which this great and passionate work is composed.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Dec99 Aylmer and Louise Maude
Anna Karenina (unabridged) Anna Karenina Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX13012 13012 9789626341308 9789629549343 Leo Tolstoy
Kate Lock
31 599 41:00:31 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Anna Karenina is beautiful, married to a successful man, and has a son whom she adores. But a chance meeting at a train station in Moscow sets her passionate heart alight, and she is defenceless in the face of Count Vronsky’s adoration. Having defied the rules of nineteenth-century Russian society, Anna is forced to pay a heavy price. Human nature, with all its failings, is the fabric of which this great and intense work is composed. Anna Karenina has been described as the perfect Russian novel.

£90.00 $162.98 Band AG £62.00 €69.00 $85.00 Mar10 Aylmer and Louise Maude

Yes, it’s expensive, but would you expect to pay less for a 41-hour audio of the world’s greatest love story? Dostoevsky called it a flawless masterpiece. There’s a five-hour abridged version with music for £16.99, read with heartrending passion by Laura Paton, but it’s essentially a taster. Don’t settle for less than all eight courses.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Tolstoy’s magnificent panoramic novel Anna Karenina is a daunting listening proposition. Bear in mind that it was written as a serial, published in monthly installments over four years, and download it to take in regular doses (walking the dog or on your commute to and from work). Kate Lock rises to the challenge of this marathon of narration nobly, skilfully reflecting in voice the development of the initially air-headed Kitty and the clumsy, obtuse Levin, and their realisation, from the terrible outcome of the affair between Anna and Vronsky, that happiness cannot be built on another’s pain. It is worth downloading a character list to help you to sort out the names of the enormous cast.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Annals (unabridged) Annals History unabridged Single NA0460 0460 9781781983201 Tacitus
David Timson
18:11:34 HIS002020 HBJD HBLA1 World

Beginning at the end of Augustus’s reign, Tacitus’s Annals examines the rules of the Roman emperors from Tiberius to Nero (though Caligula’s books are lost to us). Their dramas and scandals are brought fully under the spotlight, as Tacitus presents a catalogue of their murders, atrocities, sexual improprieties and other vices in no unsparing terms. Debauched, cruel and paranoid, they are portrayed as being on the verge of madness. Their wars and battles, such as the war with the Parthians, are also described with the same scrutinising intensity. Tacitus’s last major historical work, the Annals is an extraordinary glimpse into the pleasures and perils of a Roman leader, and is considered by many to be a masterpiece.

N/A N/A Band O £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Nov20 Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb Sarah Butcher

Tacitus writes a warning to the powerful that history will judge them. He himself is critical, even savagely judgemental, 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 his pacing a shade quick. He is effortlessly skilled in matching emphasis and the shaping of phrases and sentences to sense. While he brings an actor’s expressiveness to the text, his exuberance and energy sometimes seem excessive for this censorious historian. Nonetheless, Timson’s energy helps engage the listener and hold their attention. His clarity and skill deliver a commendable programme.

W.M., AudioFile

Anne of Avonlea (abridged) Anne of Avonlea Junior Classics abridged Single NA216912 216912 9789626341698 9789629544157 L.M. Montgomery
Liza Ross
2 34 02:19:39 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

This is the second volume in the poignant yet amusing tale of the perky red-headed Anne of Green Gables. This classic of children’s literature is set in Canada at the beginning of the century and is one of the best-selling titles in children’s literature ever.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan00
Anne of Green Gables (abridged) Anne of Green Gables Junior Classics abridged Single NA212312 212312 9789626341230 9789629544164 L.M. Montgomery
Liza Ross
2 38 02:37:08 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

Eleven-year-old orphan Anne Shirley has red hair, a vivid imagination and cannot stop talking. Quite a shock for old Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert who wanted a boy to help them on the farm… Anne is soon the talk of the town with her funny ways and endless adventures, but it is not long before she has won the hearts of everyone. This classic story is set in Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century and is one of the most enduring favourites of children’s literature.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Dec99
Antiquary, The (unabridged) The Antiquary Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0576 0576 9781781984413 Sir Walter Scott
David Rintoul
17:56:36 FIC004000 FC World

Jonathan Oldbuck, the antiquary of the title, has a passion for the past – and delights in trying to convey it. He meets the mysteriously taciturn young Lovel and the two strike up a friendship, bonding over Roman ruins. When Lovel falls for Isabella, daughter of a local landowner, it looks like an impossible situation. Sharp, funny, gothic, romantic, and full of action, this is a thoroughly entertaining window on Scottish life in the summer of 1794: it was Scott’s intention to show the spirit of the times, and how the past affects the present – and it was his own favourite of all his novels.

N/A N/A May23 Neil Rosser Timothy Brown
Arabian Nights, The (abridged) The Arabian Nights Classic Fiction abridged Single NA302912 302912 9789626340295 9789629544683 Richard Burton
Philip Madoc
3 54 03:43:34 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Though The Arabian Nights are generally known as stories for children, they were originally tales for adults full of adventure, sexuality, violence and the supernatural. They certainly inspired the imagination of Sir Richard Burton, the nineteenth-century explorer, linguist and erotologist who brought all his worldly experience and a superbly expressive prose style to bear on the tales of Sinbad the Seaman and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Scheherazade must keep her king entertained with stories if she is to avoid the promised sentence of death. Philip Madoc’s sonorous performance allows the tales to weave their own enchantment as they have done down the centuries.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jan00
Arabian Sands (unabridged) Arabian Sands Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0336 0336 9781781981887 9781781981894 Wilfred Thesiger
Laurence Kennedy
11 297 12:58:58 TRV015000 TRV010000 Deleted Available World

Arabian Sands is Wilfred Thesiger’s stunning account of five years spent crossing the Arabian Peninsula by foot and on camels, with nomadic Bedouin tribesmen as guides. Travelling between 1945 and 1950, the British explorer treks through Yemen, The Empty Quarter, Oman and parts of the then Trucial States, crossing and re-crossing around 250,000 miles of this most inhospitable terrain. He was the first European ever to set eyes on the dunes and wadis of these deserts. Faced with constant challenges and trials beneath the punishing sun, his journey is also spiritual and enriching, as it requires the utmost courage, patience, generosity and humour. In clear and evocative prose, Thesiger documents a journey of unimaginable hardship and startling beauty, as well as a time, place and people on the cusp of change.

£38.50 $67.98 Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 jun18 John Foley Sarah Butcher

This audiobook is not only a portrait of a way of life on the edge of extinction. Thesiger is also one of the main sources that author Frank Herbert used in creating his classic novel, Dune. Laurence Kennedy narrates the story of Thesiger’s experiences with the Bedouin of Arabia like a man reminiscing about the best times of his life. He conveys the wit and wonder of an explorer who plunges himself into an alien world and the sorrow of an observer who sees that that world is about to be destroyed by the discovery of oil. Traditional Bedouin culture has almost vanished now, but this valuable and fascinating record survives.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Aristotle – An Introduction (unabridged) Aristotle – An Introduction Philosophy unabridged Single NA485412 485412 9789626348543 9789629547394 Hugh Griffith
Hugh Ross
4 73 05:01:47 PHI002000 Deleted Available World

No thinker has had a more profound influence on western civilisation than Aristotle. Whether we realise it or not, his work has been one of the main props of our culture for over two thousand years. Underlying all of it is a conviction that system and order can be found to govern everything, even human conduct. In the Ethics and Politics Aristotle examines what is the best kind of life, and what is the best kind of society for making this possible.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Jan08

What is life? How should we live it? And why are difficult books so much easier to digest on audio than in print? Ever since I heard Jim Norton reading Ulysses and John Rowe transforming Proust’s impenetrable prose into a novel I wish I’d read years ago, I now recommend everyone who has struggled unsuccessfully with Paradise Lost or A Brief History of Time to get the audio version instead. Even so, there were passages in the Griffith brothers’ admirably digestible guide to the often wacky belief systems of some of those pre-Socratic thinkers, cynics, sceptics, Epicureans et al that I had to rewind a few times. There’s Heraclitus, for instance, who advised that sexual pleasures should be confined to winter and believed that everything was composed of and reverted to fire. The eightfold division of the soul upheld by the Stoics also took a bit of unravelling, but it was worth it if only to appreciate that Stoicism originally meant a great deal more than grin and bear it. Having several readers brings the Platonic dialogues to life, and I defy anyone not to be moved by Socrates’ cool, courageous speech to the Athenian jury which has just condemned him to death for impiety. We may have über-technology, the internet, DNA and The Moral Maze, but the ethical beliefs and clear-headedness of those legendary first thinktanks – Plato’s Academy, Aristotle’s Lyceum, Zeno’s Stoa and the Garden of Epicurus – still have a lot to teach us.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian, 29 March 2008

Armadale (unabridged) Armadale Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0409 0409 9781781982624 Wilkie Collins
Nicholas Boulton
684 30:01:57 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Two young men linked by a familial murder mystery, a beautiful yet wicked governess who spins a web of deceit, and five individuals named Allan Armadale: Wilkie Collins’s follow-up to The Woman in White and No Name is an innovative take on mistaken identity, the nature of evil and the dark underbelly of Victorian England. The story concerns two distant cousins, both named Allan Armadale, and the impact of a family tragedy, which makes one of them a target of the murderous Lydia Gwilt, a vicious and malevolent charmer determined to get her hands on the Armadale fortune. Will the real Allan Armadale be revealed, and will he survive the plot against his life?

N/A N/A Band Y £49.00 €55.00 $67.00 Mar20 John Foley Anthony Anderson Timothy Brown
Arnold, Matthew (selections) The Great Poets – Matthew Arnold The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA0271 0271 9781781980569 9781781980576 Matthew Arnold
Jonathan Keeble
1 30 01:18:28 POE005020 Available Available World

Considered the bridge between romanticism and modernism, Matthew Arnold wrote verse that is simple, unadorned and straightforward. From the hypnotic and beautiful lines of Dover Beach to the pastoral narrative of The Scholar Gipsy, Arnold cast a gaze at the main intellectual issues of the nineteenth century while giving a timeless insight into man and nature. This collection covers his major poetic works, including the narrative poems, sonnets and elegiac poems, illuminating the lyricism and serenity of Arnold’s best poetry.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Aug17
  • Dover Beach
  • Desire
  • Longing
  • A Summer Night
  • Consolation
  • Philomela
  • A Dream
  • The Scholar Gipsy
  • East London
  • West London
  • Thyrsis
  • Immortality
  • Growing Old
  • A Wish
  • Bacchanalia; Or, The New Age
  • A Modern Sappho
  • The Hayswater Boat
  • The River
  • Human Life
  • The Buried Life
  • Austerity of Poetry
  • A Farewell
  • Requiescat
John Foley Andrew Riches

Matthew Arnold’s poetry is not widely read today, except for Dover Beach and perhaps The Scholar Gipsy, but this selection shows the strengths that made him popular in the nineteenth century. Jonathan Keeble’s readings are romantic, as the poems are, and they show the result of careful thought. Arnold’s writerly craft and ideas come through. Keeble reads the antique diction and Romantic ideals as they might have been first heard, even if those qualities are no longer in fashion. The contemporary audience for Arnold’s poetry is probably rather specialised, but these texts helped shape later poems and thinking about poems. Keeble gives us a more than worthy introduction to an important mid-Victorian artist.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Around the World in Eighty Days (abridged) Around the World in Eighty Days Classic Fiction abridged Single NA203312 203312 9789626340332 9789629545772 Jules Verne
Harry Burton
2 37 02:30:12 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

To take on the bet – to go around the world in eighty days, faster than anyone had gone before – was madness. If Phileas Fogg missed a single connection he would lose £20,000. Phileas Fogg was an eccentric Englishman who lived a quiet ordered life and believed that, with technology and planning, nothing was unforseeable. But he could not plan for the ebullient nature of his French servant, Passepartout, for the adventures that crop up on their journey and for the totally unexpected collision with romance. The humour and freshness of Verne’s writing – vivid despatches from a newly accessible world – make Around The World In Eighty Days an ideal subject for an audiobook.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb00
Around the World in Eighty Days (unabridged) Around the World in Eighty Days Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0231 0231 9781843799726 9781843799733 Jules Verne
Bill Homewood
6 118 07:39:13 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Undoubtedly one of the most celebrated tales of all time, this is both high-octane thriller and fascinating travelogue. Phileas Fogg, intrepid Victorian gentleman-about-town, accepts a wager that he cannot travel around the world in 80 days. Naturally, he immediately sets off, accompanied by his French manservant Passepartout. They are pursued by a police officer, Detective Fix, who is foolishly convinced that Fogg is a bank robber. Much hilarity ensues. On the way, Fogg bravely rescues Aouda, a beautiful Indian princess, from a ceremony of ritual sacrifice. Unexpectedly, our thriller becomes a love story.

£24.99 $41.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Apr16

Audiobook of the Week

The next big BBC thing is an eight-hour serialisation of Jules Verne’s famous book, with David Tennant as the imperturbable Phileas Fogg. It’s worth getting to know the original, especially as read by Bill Homewood, who thrillingly conveys tension. The tale is as rapid as the express trains and steam-assisted sailing ships that power Fogg’s journey. Knockabout humour is provided by his French valet, Passepartout, and love interest by the Indian princess Aouda, who is saved from suttee by Fogg. Meanwhile, Detective Fix’s attempts to arrest Fogg as a bank robber have disastrous effects. A balloon does not feature in the original story, but there is a splendid elephant.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes (unabridged) Arsène Lupin versus Herlock Sholmes Arsène Lupin Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0418 0418 9781781982808 Maurice Leblanc
David Timson
06:59:11 FIC004000 FC World

The world’s greatest gentleman thief is back and this time he must summon all his brilliance and prowess to escape the clutches of his most worthy adversary: the master English detective, Herlock Sholmes! Assisted by his trusty companion Dr Wilson, Sholmes is called to Paris to investigate crimes believed to involve the legendary debonair rogue Lupin. In The Blonde Lady, the first of the volume’s two stories, Sholmes finds himself on the trail of Lupin after a series of seamless thefts by a mysterious woman, while in The Jewish Lamp the two are drawn back into conflict after the inexplicable disappearance of an antique piece of jewellery. Will the mischievous French gentleman outsmart his determined opponent, or will Sholmes emerge victorious?

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Oct20 George Morehead Thomas Goose

David Timson masterfully narrates this entertaining mystery in which two formidable opponents match wits. Famed English detective Herlock Sholmes is initially called to Paris to investigate the disappearance of a blue diamond. The prime suspect is Arsène Lupin, the legendary gentleman thief and master of disguise, who was introduced in 1905 by French author Maurice Leblanc. Timson keeps the tension high as Lupin eludes and tricks Sholmes and his trusted assistant, Wilson, even causing them to become trapped overnight in an empty house. Timson expertly creates each character, including an array of male and female secondary personalities. He imbues Lupin with a bold, canny demeanour and expresses notes of exasperation amid Sholmes’s determined persona. Listeners will stay glued to their headphones throughout the twisty fun.

M.J., AudioFile

Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar (unabridged) Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar Arsène Lupin Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0411 0411 9781781982662 Maurice Leblanc
David Timson
145 06:20:58 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

The first of Maurice Leblanc’s collections about his devilish, debonair rogue, Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar presents eight dazzling short stories that display some of Lupin’s greatest thefts and escapes. Lupin robs from within prison, leaves its walls with ease, steals priceless diamonds from the rich and outwits the greatest detective of all: Sherlock Holmes. Witty, cunning and taunting, Lupin is a genius on the wrong side of the law, although his noble code of ethics and Robin-Hood-like ways often see him use his talents for good.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Apr20 Alexander Teixeira de Mattos Anthony Anderson Thomas Goose
Art of Literature, The (unabridged) The Art of Literature Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0251 0251 9781781981306 Arthur Schopenhauer
Mark Meadows
80 03:49:03 PHI009000 PHI001000 HPCD1 HPN Deleted Deleted World

Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Art of Literature is a lively, illuminating and brutally honest collection of essays on literary style and values, writers and critics, and the nature of genius. The volume is comprised of eight chapters: On Authorship, On Style, On the Study of Latin, On Men of Learning, On Thinking for Oneself, On Criticism, On Reputation and On Genius. Schopenhauer advises seclusion and independent thought, criticises Pliny’s reading habits, and explains the pitfalls of certain schools of thought and even virtues like modesty. His thought-provoking arguments, caustic wit and accessible style make this a must for any aspiring writer.

N/A N/A Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Dec19 T. Bailey Saunders (updated) Chatterbox Audio Chatterbox Audio

[L]ike an outfit that’s never in or out of fashion, the great German thinker speaks to a long tradition of arts and letters, rather than to the style of the moment. One example is his essay on the endurance of Latin. The overlying sense of permanence – in literature, history, culture and voice – is itself reassuring, and one of the chief pleasures of these thought-provoking essays.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Arthur Conan Doyle, A Life (abridged) Arthur Conan Doyle, A Life Biographies abridged Single NA224212 224212 9789626342428 9789629547301 Hesketh Pearson
Tim Pigott-Smith
2 39 02:38:05 BIO007000 Deleted Available World

Conan Doyle (1859–1930) will always be remembered for the character of Sherlock Holmes, but he was a prolific writer – of short stories, of science fiction and historical fiction – including The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard. In his comprehensive biography, Pearson considers how his life is reflected in his books – including his background as a doctor and his enduring (and public) belief in spiritualism.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jun01
Aspern Papers, The (unabridged) The Aspern Papers Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0238 0238 9781843799863 9781843799870 Henry James
Adam Sims
3 59 03:46:52 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In The Aspern Papers, a cold and ruthless literary biographer travels to Venice on the trail of personal letters belonging to the deceased American poet Jeffrey Aspern. His journey takes him to a dilapidated, rambling house belonging to an elderly woman, named Juliana Bordereau, and her lonely niece, Miss Tina. Just how far will he go to get what he wants? Will morality confront his personal ambition and literary curiosity?

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jun16

A plot, according to some critics, starts with a person with a problem. The unnamed narrator of this classic, ably narrated by Adam Sims, doesn’t even know what his real problem is. Sims brings to life the protagonist’s pursuit of some papers concerning the fictional poet Jeffrey Aspern, revealing along the way just how unaware he is of the effects of his actions on those around him. There is a considerable challenge in portraying a character who only inches toward self-awareness. Sims makes him sound young, callow, and almost – but not quite – likable. The narrator’s treatment of Tita Bordereau is callous, but Sims makes clear just who gains and who loses from the connection.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Assommoir, L’ (unabridged) L’Assommoir Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0352 0352 9781781982266 Émile Zola
Leighton Pugh
362 15:45:24 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Brutal, gripping and heart-wrenching, L’Assommoir (also known as The Drinking Den) chronicles the tragic downward spiral of Gervaise Macquart, a good-natured and hardworking laundress who slides into alcoholism and despair. After her lover abandons her and their two children, Gervaise marries a tin worker, Coupeau, who helps her rebuild her life. She starts her own business and the two have a daughter, Anna (the protagonist of Zola’s later novel, Nana). But their happiness is short-lived as a freak accident leaves Coupeau seriously injured, beginning the family’s fall into alcohol, desperation and violence. Disturbingly realistic, L’Assommoir is a vivid portrayal of life in late 19th-century Paris.

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Jun19 Translation updated by Leighton Pugh Red Apple Creative Red Apple Creative, London

Leighton Pugh provides a meticulous performance of this tragic novel, embracing the drama of Zola’s details and immersing himself in the protagonist Gervaise’s misfortunes. Eking out a living as a laundress, Gervaise is derailed by the perils of drink – the book’s title is often translated to mean ‘The Drinking Den’ – and the horrors of poverty. Many scenes are drawn out to the extreme, and Pugh is patient with the details, devoting careful attention to subtle accents and a multitude of distinctive voices. Pugh is a bright light in a bleak story; his lively pace and capable delivery make this novel accessible. The question is whether the listener is prepared to take a look at such a sad life.

L.B.F., AudioFile

At Swim-Two-Birds (unabridged) At Swim-Two-Birds Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0476 0476 9781781983362 Flann O’Brien
Aidan Kelly
129 8:13:13 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted Commonwealth Only

More preoccupied with drinking, sleeping and writing, an unnamed student neglects his studies and invents three separate openings for a novel. The first introduces the Pooka MacPhellimey, ‘a member of the devil class’, the second involves Mr John Furriskey, a character belonging to another of the student’s creations (writer Dermot Trellis), while the final opening features legendary Irish heroes Finn Mac Cool and Mad King Sweeny. Soon, Trellis’s creations rebel against him, doing as they like while he sleeps, and the characters from each story begin wandering in and out of each other’s tales. Published in 1939, At Swim-Two-Birds is a madcap exploration of Irish literature and mythology, and the unending possibilities of fiction.

N/A N/A Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Feb20 John Foley Anthony Anderson Andrew Riches
At the Edge of the Night (unabridged) At the Edge of the Night Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0595 0595 9781781984833 Friedo Lampe
Jot Davies
5:00:12 FIC004000 FC World

Banned by the Nazis, the haunting novel At the Edge of the Night (Am Rande der Nacht), by the German writer Friedo Lampe, is a work of magic realism. This poignant book, beautifully translated by Simon Beattie, was, in Lampe’s own words, ‘born into a regime where it could not breathe’; he hoped that one day it might rise again. It evokes the sensations and impressions of a sultry September evening on the waterfront of Bremen, with its charm and tenderness, squalor and lust. The plot contains a stream of images with many characters: children, old and young people, men and women, townsfolk, performers, students and sailors. Its depiction of raw reality was unacceptable to the Nazis: the book was seized by them in December 1933 and withdrawn from sale.

At the Edge of the Night is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that offers a unique perspective on the experience of the Second World War. Lampe’s prose is lyrical and evocative, and his characters are complex and multi-dimensional. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the war or the human experience of conflict. It drew praise from Hermann Hesse, who first read it in 1933 and said that ‘what struck us at the time… as so beautiful and powerful has not paled, it has withstood; it proves itself with the best, and captivates and delights just as then’.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Nov23 Simon Beattie Produced by Chris Barstow for Tall Story Audiobooks at The Perfumery
At the Mountains of Madness (unabridged) At the Mountains of Madness Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0090 0090 9781843795940 9781843795957 H.P. Lovecraft
William Roberts
4 71 05:03:40 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

At the Mountains of Madness first appeared in 1936, in the February, March and April editions of the American magazine Astounding Stories. One of H.P. Lovecraft’s most chilling works, it draws on Edgar Allan Poe’s Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, as well as Lovecraft’s deep fascination with the Antarctic. The sinister discoveries made by a group of explorers in At the Mountains of Madness are testament to the author’s enormous powers of imagination.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Oct12
Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, The (unabridged) The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest Biographies unabridged Single NA0470 0470 9781781983300 John Gerard
Gareth Armstrong
06:56:31 BIO006000 BIO018000 BGHA BGXA World

Jesuit priest John Gerard (1564–1637) hid from English authorities for eight years before his eventual capture and torture in the Tower of London. Risking everything to preserve Catholicism in Tudor England, Gerard moved from house to house, converting many people and evading capture by mere seconds. Following a hair’s-breadth escape from the Tower to the Continent, he survived to tell his tale and pass on his experience to future missionaries and martyrs in The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, a fascinating tale of espionage, disguise, priest hunters, invisible ink and brilliantly designed hideouts. A heroic story of grit and determination, Gerard’s Autobiography unequivocally captures humanity’s courage and resolve in the face of oppression.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Nov20 John Foley Thomas Goose

British actor Gareth Armstrong brings to life the story of Jesuit priest John Gerard (1564–1637) who is hunted throughout Elizabethan England during the Protestant Reformation. Armstrong delivers a powerful performance as he shares Father John Gerard’s account of hiding from priest hunters, being imprisoned in chains, and having his faith disparaged at every turn. As he recounts harrowing days trapped behind hidden panels in homes and his triumphant conversions of ‘heretics’, Armstrong’s narration keeps listeners thoroughly engaged. The Elizabethan English can be confusing at times, but Armstrong makes it accessible and allows listeners to sigh with relief at Father Gerard’s tense escapes.

V.B., AudioFile

Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth, The (unabridged) The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie and The Gospel of Wealth Biographies unabridged Single NA0473 0473 9781781983331 Andrew Carnegie
David Rintoul
11:28:30 BIO003000 BGBA World

A leading industrialist of the 19th and 20th centuries, Andrew Carnegie was one of America’s most successful and generous businessmen. The Autobiography tells of his rise to power, from humble beginnings in Scotland to controlling the biggest steel empire in the history of the United States. Carnegie lays down the blueprint for success, with an abundance of inspiring life lessons, while also giving unique first-hand impressions of burgeoning 19th-century America and some of the most prominent people of the age, including Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain. In The Gospel of Wealth he writes about his philanthropy and urges the rich to use their wealth responsibly, revealing the reasons that famously led him to donate over 350 million dollars during his lifetime.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Dec20 John Foley Ross Burman
Awakening, The (abridged) The Awakening Classic Fiction abridged Single NA210812 210812 9789626341087 9789629544720 Kate Chopin
Liza Ross
2 38 02:36:13 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

This is the moving and powerful story of Edna Pontellier, a beautiful young wife and mother who discovers her true feelings and identity through her love for Robert Lebrun, and in so doing challenges the bourgeois assumptions of her day. First published in 1899 in America, it prompted shock and outrage, but has since come to be recognised as a modern classic.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep00
Aye-Aye and I, The (unabridged) The Aye-Aye and I Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0357 0357 9781781982365 Gerald Durrell
Rupert Degas
139 06:01:39 TRV000000 NAT046000 WTLC RNKH1 Deleted Deleted World

Gerald Durrell’s last book, The Aye-Aye and I records his final animal-collecting expedition, a trip to Madagascar in 1990, and his efforts to save the elusive and mythical lemuroid known as the Aye-Aye. Prompted by the country’s radical deforestation, and slash-and-burn agriculture, Durrell, his wife, and their team of zoologists embark on a mission to capture and conserve the species – distinguished by its ‘giant, chisel-like teeth’, ‘round, hypnotic eyes’ and large ‘spoon-like ears’. During the course of their journey, they encounter golden river snakes, flat-tailed tortoises, the gentle lemurs of Lac Alaotra, and the Malagasy chameleons. Durrell’s exuberant descriptions of the island, its people and ecology are among his best.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Apr19 Nikki Ruck

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Oh, the utter delight of adventuring in Madagascar with the late English naturalist Gerald Durrell and his poly-voiced narrator, Rupert Degas, who beautifully channels Durrell’s slightly raspy voice, his exuberant personality, and his enthusiasm for every variety of fauna, including human. The book describes a 1990s trip to Madagascar’s remotest regions to find and collect a breeding population of a mysterious and endangered lemur known as an aye-aye. As Durrell’s team and a BBC film crew endure drenching rain, oven-baked heat, and giant mosquitoes with edifying humour, Degas evokes a wealth of personalities and accents, adding technicolor to the lively writing. Where else, for example, could one meet a hammerhead shark with a mouth reminiscent of ‘Somerset Maugham’s drooping smile’?

A.C.S., AudioFile

Bach, Johann Sebastian (unabridged) Life & Works – Johann Sebastian Bach Life & Works Music unabridged Single NA558051 558051 9781843790228 9781843793724 Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann
John Shrapnel
Trevor Nichols
Ruth Sillers
David Timson
4 128 04:34:43 116-page booklet BIO004000 Deleted Available World

Although now beloved and revered by millions as the greatest composer who ever lived, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) was best known in his lifetime as an organist, and was eclipsed in fame as a composer by two of his twenty children. For the last twenty-seven years of his life he was a schoolteacher and choir director whose duties extended to meal supervision and dormitory inspection. Yet throughout his career he composed a vast body of music which is amongst the most joyful, dancing and enrapturing ever written. This portrait-in-sound includes many examples of the music that made him immortal. With compelling narration by Jeremy Siepmann, character portrayals by acclaimed actors, and the interpolation of over twenty-five substantial musical extracts reflecting the development of one of music’s most enduringly awe-inspiring composers, we are transported back three centuries straight into the life of Johann Sebastian Bach. This innovative sense of immediacy is at the heart of this comprehensive audio-biography, depicting the life of a composer whose music is universally admired.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May02
Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion, A (unabridged) A Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion ...or a personal introduction to Britain’s 50 most obvious birds Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA444612 444612 9789626344460 9789629547042 Simon Barnes
Simon Barnes
4 70 04:47:10 NAT004000 Deleted Available World

Simon Barnes is one of Britain’s leading bird writers and humorists. His weekly column in The Times, his essays for the RSPB magazine and his two books on bad bird-watching have made him one of the characters of the bird world. Here he reads his own illuminating introductions to the fifty main birds of Britain, supported by the distinguishing bird song of each species. He not only gives helpful identifying features, but enriches them with whimsical observations on their characters and tendencies. It is a delightful text, superbly presented by the author himself.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr07

As a committed non-twitcher, I’m eternally grateful to Simon Barnes for inspiring me to get up at daybreak this morning to listen to the dawn chorus. His latest quirky bird book, with its gloriously uplifting recordings of birdsong, is tailor-made for audio and will help you to identify the 50 British birds he writes so engagingly and enthusiastically about. Don’t worry, this isn’t a field guide full of statistics that requires you to buy binoculars, keep a diary and make endless lists. It is that rarest of manuals, a handbook that makes you want to go out and discover for yourself if all the fascinating things he has told you about robins, blackbirds, yellowhammers and buzzards are really true. If chaffinches were rare, he writes, they’d be prized above Siberian ruby-throats and red-flanked bluetails. Here he is writing about chaffinches in spring: “The cock is outrageous, admire him – a cap of more or less Wedgwood blue, conker-brown back and a breast of the tartiest pink any designer could come up with.” If you follow the precise instructions for identification at the start of each section, you can’t fail. “Wren: where to look – tangled undergrowth, low down. When to look – all year round. What to look for – tiny tawny bird, cocky tail. What to listen for – astonishing volume.” This is followed by a generous earful of wren song. I love his descriptions of, say, mistle thrushes – “big, chunky and hops in a bold, rather in-your-face way” – and song thrushes – “the jazz musicians of suburbia”. By the way, wood pigeons don’t coo. What they’re actually saying, in a cooing sort of way, is “steal two cows taffy”. Don’t believe me? Get out there and listen.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Yes, I know I recommended this three years ago but, like the above authors, I can trace my addiction to birds (well, birdsong, really – I can’t see birds) to one particular book. This one. The brilliant thing about Barnes’s guide to 50 British birds (apart from its wit, charm and spot-on descriptions – ‘Swifts are profoundly committed to their habitat of the sky. As they fly they scream like customers on a Big Dipper, hooliganing round the rooftops, screaming at the tops of their voices, the ultimate avian flying machine. They lift the heart’) is that you get to hear a snatch of their songs. Bird-wise, audio is the best.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Nothing could be more appropriate for the great outdoors than A Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion, by the Times writer Simon Barnes. Specially constructed for audio, with examples of the songs of our best-loved twitterers prefacing a salmagundi of curious facts about each bird, it is designed, Barnes says, for those whose hearts lift at the sound of the dawn chorus and a melody from a tree, but who can’t identify the singers because they never get round to opening a field guide. Barnes makes amateur twitching easy, with witty mnemonics to help you remember bird calls.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

The Times Best Audiobooks of the Year

Knowing one feathered friend from another has long been an ambition, so thanks to Simon Barnes for his reading of A Bad Birdwatcher’s Companion. The audiobook format means he can provide superb aural mnemonics. Chaffinch: think fast bowler warming up for his run: dadadadadada deeeeeee. Thrush: sings his song twice over, just as Robert Browning told us. Wood pigeon: ‘take two pies, taffy, take two pies taffy’.

The Times

Ballet Stories (unabridged) Ballet Stories Coppelia | Sleeping Beauty | Nutcracker | Swan Lake | Giselle Junior Classics unabridged Single NA223112 223112 9789626342312 9789629543747 David Angus
Jenny Agutter
2 26 01:48:05 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The stories of the most popular ballets are told in refreshing style against the backdrop of the music written by Delibes, Tchaikovsky and Adam. Naxos Audiobooks draws on its own roots in classical music to present the definitive introduction for children in this sympathetic reading by Jenny Agutter.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Apr01
  • Coppélia
  • The Sleeping Beauty
  • The Nutcracker
  • Swan Lake
  • Giselle

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Naxos Audiobooks has consistently found ways to enrich audiobooks with music. Ballet Stories takes this skill to a new height. Presenting the storylines of five classical ballets – Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, The Nutcracker and Giselle – former ballerina and narrator Jenny Agutter personally delivers a tour of the stories. She could be sitting in the audience beside you. The lively text is rich with detail and imagery to describe the scenes. The music punctuates and enlivens; the sound is perfect – clear, beautifully edited and mixed. Liner notes on the history of ballet and Agutter’s own involvement with the art round out an exceptional program. The notes could have been recorded into the program itself. A wonderful gift for families to enjoy.

R.F.W., AudioFile

Balthazar (abridged) Balthazar Modern Classics abridged Single NA304612 304612 9789626340462 9789629545864 Lawrence Durrell
Nigel Anthony
3 57 03:56:14 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

The politics of love, the intrigues of desire … love and murder, moved obscurely in the dark corners of Alexandria’s streets and squares, brothels and drawing-rooms – moved like a great congress of eels in the slime of plot and counter-plot…’ In Balthazar, the second volume in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, the story and the characters come more clearly into focus. Darley, the reflective Englishman, receives from Balthazar, the pathologist, a mass of notes which attempt to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband Nessim, Clea the artist, Pursewarden the writer; new figures emerge and play key roles. Balthazar, in his ‘Interlinear’, explains and warns.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr00
Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

The four linked novels that comprise English author Lawrence Durrell’s masterpiece, The Alexandria Quartet, are set in Alexandria, Egypt, around the time of WWII. The four novels explore the city’s polyglot society, full of intrigue, mystery and sensuality, telling essentially the same story from different points of view. Justine focuses on the beautiful Jewish wife of a wealthy Copt. Her story is told by Darley, her English lover. In Balthazar, Darley reconsiders and retells the story he told in Justine, using information from a mysterious new character, Balthazar. In Mountolive, as war begins to loom, British Ambassador David Mountolive enters the intrigues of the interwoven community of characters. In Clea, Darley returns to a war-fevered Alexandria as the stories of the many characters move toward conclusion. Narrator Nigel Anthony provides a brilliant reading, keeping the variety of voices – English, French, Egyptian – distinct throughout. He offers a one-man play, conveying the passions, disappointments and triumphs of the complex cast. The classical music interludes that delineate sections of this beautifully produced and packaged set help transport the listener to back-streets of Alexandria.

R.E.K., AudioFile

Balthazar (unabridged) Balthazar The Alexandria Quartet Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0523 0523 9781781983874 Lawrence Durrell
Nicholas Boulton
08:24:30 FIC004000 FC World

‘The politics of love, the intrigues of desire, good and evil, virtue and caprice, love and murder, moved obscurely in the dark corners of Alexandria’s streets and squares, brothels and drawing-rooms – moved like a great congress of eels in the slime of plot and counter-plot.’ In Balthazar, the second volume in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, the story and the characters come more clearly into focus. Darley, the reflective Englishman, receives from Balthazar, the pathologist, a mass of notes which attempt to explain what really happened between the tempestuous Justine, her husband Nessim, Clea the artist, and Pursewarden the writer; new figures emerge and play key roles. Balthazar, in his ‘Interlinear’, explains and warns.

N/A N/A Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Aug21 John Foley Andrew Riches

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Although each of the novels of the Alexandria Quartet can stand alone (this is the second), they gain depth if experienced in sequence. Fortunately, Nicholas Boulton is narrating all four, and here, at least, his performance is masterly. He deploys a range of voices and accents that never leave us in doubt about who is speaking, and he draws out the characters’ emotions and perceptions, which are important in a series that is about the differences between perception and reality, seen through the lens of love. Most of the characters are enigmatic (except, perhaps, in their own eyes), so Boulton cannot bring them to clarity, but he manages to bring the listener to an understanding of their humanity.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Barber of Seville, The (unabridged) Opera Explained – The Barber of Seville Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558008 558008 9781843790891 9781843793052 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 36 01:18:13 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

The Barber of Seville is Rossini’s most popular opera. Its effervescent overture (written originally for another work!) presents a perfect platform for the amusing plot in which the barber, Figaro, stage-manages a romance between Count Almaviva and Rosina, and puts to flight the old suitor, Dr Bartolo. ‘Largo al Factotum’ is one of the most popular arias in opera – nearly 200 years after its first performance it is still one of the great show-stoppers. But why was the opera received with boos and catcalls at its first performance in 1816, and why did Rossini return to the plot and environment presented so sublimely by Mozart? Opera writer Thomson Smillie and actor David Timson present the background in their informative but entertaining manner.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jun01
Barchester Towers (unabridged) Barchester Towers Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0147 0147 9781843797661 9781843797678 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
17 248 21:44:39 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Barchester Towers, the sequel to The Warden, is the second novel in Trollope’s major series, the Chronicles of Barsetshire. It focuses on the power struggle between Archdeacon Grantly, Mr Slope and the Proudies as they fight for control of the diocese of Barchester. Meanwhile, another struggle is taking place for the heart of Eleanor Bold. Who will win her? The vile Mr Slope, the idling Bertie Stanhope or someone else entirely? This is a witty and sparkling novel about greed, hate and love; Trollope captures the intricacy of human emotion and character with warmth, humour, wonderful characterisation and, of course, perfect dialogue.

£55.00 $98.98 Band R £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Jan14

Trollope is one of our greatest comic novelists, as well as having an extraordinary talent for taking you confidentially and irresistibly into the flow of his story. Oblivious of the snail-like pace of Oxford’s flood-impeded traffic, I was grinning from ear to ear as David Shaw-Parker explodes into the clerical indignation that follows Obadiah Slope’s iconoclastic sermon in Barchester Cathedral. ‘“Abominable,” groaned the dean. “Abominable,” muttered the meagre doctor. “Abominable,” re-echoed the chancellor, uttering a sound from the bottom of his deep chest. “I really think it was,” said Mr Harding.’ Proof positive that Trollope wrote with an ear to being read aloud.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

David Shaw-Parker’s exemplary reading of Trollope’s masterpiece is like sitting in your club in a comfortable chair after a good meal and listening to one of the particularly good-natured other members tell you a story about some people he knows. His tone is confiding and personal, perfectly capturing the spirit of Trollope’s narrative voice. There’s no attempt to impersonate characters; Shaw-Parker’s voice changes just enough that we are never in doubt who is speaking or what kind of person the speaker is. (The unctuous Mr Slope is particularly fine.) There are occasional peculiar changes in the sound quality for a phrase or two, but these are minor distractions from a charming and witty performance.

A.C.P., AudioFile

Shaw-Parker follows up his outstanding recording of The Warden (also available from Naxos) with an exceptional reading of the sequel, perhaps Trollope’s most beloved novel. Romance vies with church politics as Archbishop Grantly battles against the new bishop and his smarmy assistant for control of religious life in Barsetshire. Shaw-Parker totally embraces his role as narrator, and in delightfully plummy tones, he guides listeners through the twisty plot, witty dialogue, and humorous asides. His animated portrayal of the large cast enlivens characters, from the poor pensioners to elite government officials. The narration highlights the strengths of this charming tale and, despite the novel’s size, makes this a compelling listening experience.

Joyce Saricks, Booklist

Barnaby Rudge (abridged) Barnaby Rudge Classic Fiction abridged Single NA690812 690812 9789626349083 9789629548148 Charles Dickens
Sean Barrett
6 107 07:18:33 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Barnaby Rudge, one of only two historical novels by Dickens, deals with the ‘Popery’ riots of 1780. Read here by one of Britain’s most popular readers, Sean Barrett, (his reading of Bleak House was widely praised) in a useful 6CD abridgement. The recording is part of the extended Dickens collection offered in both abridged and unabridged form by Naxos AudioBooks. The only available version of the novel on audiobook.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Mar09

Barnaby, the vulnerable man-child, prompts some of Dickens’s finest writing. Overall, however, it’s not one of his best novels, although Sean Barrett’s magical voice somehow persuades you that it is.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Barnaby Rudge (unabridged) Barnaby Rudge Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX90912 90912 9789626349090 9789629548209 Charles Dickens
Sean Barrett
22 392 25:20:59 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

For the background to this historical novel, a tale of mystery, suspense and unsolved murder, Dickens chose the anti-Catholic Gordon Riots of 1780. Mayhem reigns in the streets of London, vividly described by Dickens, and the innocent Barnaby Rudge is drawn into the thick of it. Against the public disorder, Dickens tells of the private discord within families – with fathers and sons at loggerheads – and creates a wealth of colourful characters: the sinuously evil Lord Chester; the pretty and vivacious Dolly Varden; and the host and regulars at the Maypole Inn – a symbol of security in those uncertain and violent times.

£70.00 $128.98 Band U £42.00 €48.00 $58.00 Aug10

Barnaby, the vulnerable man-child, prompts some of Dickens’s finest writing. Overall, however, it’s not one of his best novels, although Sean Barrett’s magical voice somehow persuades you that it is.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

After writing Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, the author next turned to historical fiction, using the notorious Gordon Riots of 1780, a clash between Catholics and Protestants, as the backdrop for this novel. It’s a dark story but one that yields rich prose and a murder mystery. Narrator Sean Barrett has the kind of elastic, wide-ranging voice that is well suited to Dickens’s writing style. Barrett can affect a sprightly youngster, a wise but weathered old man, a scheming politician, and an assortment of women, all of whom play major roles in this classic tale. It’s a joy to listen to him alternate between characters and his own deep, robust reading voice, an accomplishment he keeps up for 25 hours.

R.I.G., AudioFile

The long hours put in by this household’s squad of Santa’s elves raced by as we listened, high-Victorian style, to Sean Barrett giving the performance of his audio career as the narrator of Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Dickens is brilliant heard aloud and the book, written in short instalments, lends itself well to being your own book at bedtime or your reading during your daily commute. Set during the anti-Roman Catholic Gordon riots in London during the 1780s, it has an utterly loveable simpleton hero and three of the best villains known to literature: the smooth and cynical Sir John Chester, the devil-may-care and unhinged inn-servant Hugh, and Dennis, the whimsical hangman. Add the heart-of-oak Gabriel Vardon and his disastrously flirtatious daughter Dolly, plus a Romeo and Juliet love affair between the Anglican son and the Catholic daughter of sworn enemies, and the mid is as rich and unexpected as a good plum pud.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Forget that Kindle loaded with literary classics. Headphones are far more comfortable on the beach. Sean Barrett gives the performance of his audio career as the narrator of Charles Dickens’s Barnaby Rudge. Dickens is brilliant heard aloud, as he intended his novels to be narrated in instalments. Set during the anti-Catholic Gordon riots in London in the 1780s, Barnaby Rudge has a loveable simpleton hero and three first-rate villains: the smooth and cynical Sir John Chester, the devil-may-care inn servant Hugh, and Ned Dennis, a whimsical hangman. Add the heart-of-oak Gabriel Varden and his flirtatious daughter Dolly, plus a Romeo and Juliet love affair between the Anglican son and the Catholic daughter of sworn enemies, and the mix is rich and unexpected.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Barry Lyndon (unabridged) Barry Lyndon Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0121 0121 9781843797081 9781843797098 William Makepeace Thackeray
Jonathan Keeble
11 194 13:15:15 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Like Tom Jones before him, Barry Lyndon is one of the most lively and roguish characters in English literature. He may now be best known through the colourful Stanley Kubrick film released in 1975, but it is Thackeray who, in true 19th-century style, shows the darker side of this 18th-century hero; hence it remains a startling novel. Following the death of an English officer, Barry flees his native Ireland and attempts to establish himself as one of England’s aristocratic elite. Through backstabbing and scheming he reaches the level of society to which he always aspired. However, intent on criticizing the period’s social order, Thackeray ensures that this success is soon followed by the hero’s ultimate decline. Jonathan Keeble’s energetic reading imbues the period with colour and illuminates the sheer inventiveness of Thackeray’s literary and topical satire.

£38.50 $67.98 Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 Jan13

Thackeray’s classic tale of Barry Lyndon, who escapes his life on the Emerald Isle to pursue a more luxurious existence in England, is reimagined in this audio edition, narrated by Jonathan Keeble. Reading in a rich, accented voice and making use of understated narration, Keeble immediately transports listeners back to the 18th century. His tone is firm and commanding, and he digs deep into Thackeray’s prose to precisely capture the very essence of Lyndon. Keeble’s narration is well paced, his timing impeccable. And while this audiobook weighs in at about 13 hours – a lengthy commitment for the casual listener – Keeble manages to keep his audience engaged for the duration.

Publishers Weekly

In this 1844 classic, English author ­ Thackeray delights readers with the tale of Barry Lyndon, a classically unreliable narrator. Lyndon is an Irish rogue who joins the British army after an ill-fated love affair and then goes on to fame and fortune as a fashionable gambler. As in his masterpiece, Vanity Fair, Thackeray presents his characters accurately and realistically. His portrayal of the dissolute, unscrupulous protagonist, a degenerate who thinks he is royalty among men, is masterly. Barry Lyndon may be unlikable, but the beauty of the words and the depth of the story make for a fantastic read. British voice artist Jonathan Keeble brings this amusing tale to life with his rich and wonderfully faceted voice. VERDICT: Recommended for all fans of classic English literature.

Erin Cataldi, Franklin College Library, Indiana

This classic promises an entertaining look at the corruption, duplicity and ambition of Thackeray’s ironic narrator, Redmond Barry Lyndon. A confident social upstart, Redmond draws little empathy from the listener as he expounds upon his villainous actions to obtain wealth and prominence. Jonathan Keeble captures Redmond’s voice perfectly in his narration. Keeble has a deep, bold voice that becomes especially emphatic when his narrator grows heated, and his expert use of intonation often leaves Redmond’s veracity open for interpretation. This audiobook offers Keeble the challenge of creating not only the haughty Redmond but also a diverse set of characters, from Irish commoners to German aristocracy. Keeble meets the challenge admirably, providing a unique vocal personality for each character. His narration enlivens this intriguing fictional autobiography.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Bartleby the Scrivener and other stories (unabridged) Bartleby the Scrivener and other stories The Lightning-Rod Man | The Bell Tower Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA240112 240112 9789626344019 9789629545550 Herman Melville
William Roberts
2 39 02:38:57 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Melville’s Bartleby is a classic American short story, a strange tale of an assiduous copyist whose catch-phrase is ‘I would prefer not to’. It is joined here by two other stories from The Piazza Tales, Melville’s idiosyncratic collection: The Lightning-Rod Man and The Bell Tower.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Dec05
  • Bartleby the Scrivener
  • The Lightning-Rod Man
  • The Bell-Tower
Basil (unabridged) Basil Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0545 0545 9781781984093 Wilkie Collins
Nicholas Boulton
11:24:00 FIC004000 FC World

Appearing in 1852, Basil was Wilkie Collins’s second published novel. The eponymous narrator is emotionally torn between two women: Margaret Sherwin and his sister Clara. His marriage to Margaret, a draper’s sexually precocious daughter, is to remain secret and unconsummated for the first year, as agreed with her father. Anticipating Collins’s later sensation novels, the plot involves betrayal, insanity and death, with a thrilling conclusion set among the cliffs and whirlpools near Land’s End. The book was received with shock upon its publication, most especially due to its treatment of adultery.

Here Basil is read by the prolific and popular narrator Nicholas Boulton.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jul22 John Foley Timothy Brown
Beast in the Jungle, The (unabridged) The Beast in the Jungle Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0416 0416 9781781982761 Henry James
Kris Dyer
48 02:13:00 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Bachelor John Marcher is haunted by the premonition that something terrible lies in store for him, like a ‘beast in the jungle’ lying in wait. So he spends his life in idleness, unable to carry out his dreams or desires, while his friend May Bartram, curious to see how this spectacular fate will manifest, helps watch out for the arrival of the beast. The two develop a strong platonic relationship, stoked by this mystery, and gradually the best years of their life roll by, unfulfilled – lost to John’s dread and fear of the unknown. Written soon after The Wings of the Dove, The Beast in the Jungle is a haunting story of crippling obsession and a life unlived.

N/A N/A Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jun20 Rushforth Media Anthony Anderson Rushforth Media
Beasts in My Belfry (unabridged) Beasts in My Belfry Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0356 0356 9781781982341 Gerald Durrell
Rupert Degas
127 05:53:33 TRV000000 NAT046000 WTLC RNKH1 Deleted Deleted World

Beasts in My Belfry is the wonderfully funny memoir about Gerald Durrell’s time at Whipsnade Zoo and his experiences as a young zookeeper. Following the Second World War, Durrell joined Whipsnade Zoo as a junior keeper – an opportunity that fulfilled a lifelong dream. Thanks to Rupert Degas’s brilliant voicing, which captures all of Durrell’s charm and wit, the listener can enjoy being taken behind the scenes of one of the world’s very first zoos. This is a delightful portrait of the animals who lived there and those who looked after them.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Mar19 Nikki Ruck

Rupert Degas delivers a bang-up performance – including tiger growls and buffalo snorts – of Gerald Durrell’s colourful and often comic memories of his first job as a student keeper at England’s Whipsnade Zoological Park. Be forewarned that the legendary founder of the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust wrote the book in 1970 about events in 1945. While he’s forward-thinking about animal preservation, some references, including ‘red Indians’, are dated and off-putting (even if he clearly admired America’s indigenous tribes more than subsequent European settlers). That said, Degas narrates with zest and believably inhabits everyone from the endearing lady who fed (and fed and fed) our lad to keepers of every personality and accent. Plus, those animals, including the bear who sang duets with the author.

A.C.S., AudioFile

Beau Geste (unabridged) Beau Geste Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0515 0515 9781781983799 P.C. Wren
Rupert Degas
15:00:08 FIC004000 FC World

First published in 1924, Beau Geste tells the story of a stolen sapphire and three brothers, who consequently join the Foreign Legion. Michael ‘Beau’ Geste, as his nickname suggests, represents honour and bravery in the midst of deceit and treachery. An action-packed adventure, much of the plot is set in French North Africa where the Geste brothers have to contend with both a mutiny in their ranks and the attacks of the Touaregs. The novel has given rise to many films, most notably the 1939 version starring Gary Cooper and Ray Milland, and a stage production with Laurence Olivier in the title role.

N/A N/A Band £ $ Sep21 Sarah Butcher

This 1924 classic has been adapted for three films, two radio plays, and a stage play (not including parodies), but this audiobook still manages to provide surprises. Rupert Degas’s performance is not among them; we have come to expect excellence from him, and he delivers. The three Geste brothers are to some extent aspects of a single personality, and they have similar voices here, but everyone else is persuasively distinguished by tone and accent. Even when the story slows down (and for an action novel it can be quite slow), Degas keeps the pace up and carries us along. The best-known film version is fairly faithful to the original story but leaves out much of the detail of life in the French Foreign Legion and the desert.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Beethoven, Ludwig van (unabridged) Life & Works – Ludwig van Beethoven Life & Works Music unabridged Single NA558024 558024 9781843790914 9781843793700 Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann
Bob Peck
Neville Jason
David Timson
Elaine Claxton
Karen Archer
4 138 04:56:07 184-page booklet BIO004000 Deleted Available World

For many people, Beethoven is the greatest composer who ever lived. In this portrait-in-sound, actors’ readings combine with his music to reveal a titanic personality, both vulnerable and belligerent, comic and tragic, and above all heroic, as he comes to grips with perhaps the greatest disability a musician can suffer. No man’s music is more universal, few men’s lives are more inspiring. In every sense but one – his modest height – he was a giant. The great bonus of this audio-biography is that the development of Beethoven’s music can be heard in the context of his life. What did he write in those early, ambitious years when he was at the peak of his musical powers? What did he write when beset with anxiety over his failing hearing? And what was the music that insisted on pouring out of him, even though he couldn’t hear it himself? Jeremy Siepmann draws us into the private world of Ludwig van Beethoven, with the composer portrayed with rugged vividness by Bob Peck.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jun01
Beetle, The (unabridged) The Beetle Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0527 0527 9781781983911 Richard Marsh
Gunnar Cauthery
Jonathan Aris
Natalie Simpson
Andrew Wincott
John Foley
12:26:53 FIC004000 FC World

The Beetle is a horror novel that was published in 1897 and significantly outsold Dracula, which appeared in the same year. A polymorphous Egyptian creature – the Beetle – seeks revenge on the eminent British politician Paul Lessingham for crimes committed against the disciples of an ancient cult. Although it is less well-known than Dracula to modern readers, The Beetle remains a leading example of the Gothic novel.

The story is told from the perspectives of four different characters, concluding with the account of the detective Augustus Champnell. The action takes place within a three-day period in an undisclosed year in the 1800s.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jan22 John Foley Andrew Riches

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Although largely unknown to American audiobook listeners, all five of these rich, distinctive voices demonstrate extensive experience in British theater and television. Together they evoke the atmosphere of Victorian privilege and decorum that defines this forgotten gothic thriller. A series of four proper Britishers recount their struggles against an ancient Egyptian cult. A fifth voice, John Foley, announces the chapter titles and serves to link both the narrative and the narrators. The plot may be a bit dated, but that’s part of its genre appeal, and its prevailing creepiness. This fine ensemble delivers the maximum wallop out of its antique thrills and builds a sense of menace that’s hard to shake. Those with entomophobia would be wise to pass on this title.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Marsh’s tale of an ancient Egyptian shape-shifting creature – the titular Beetle – seeking revenge against a British politician may not be widely known today, but when it was released in 1897, it substantially outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was published the same year. The plot unfolds from the point of view of four people. Robert Holt is a clerk who meets the Beetle on a dark and stormy night and is mind-controlled by him into stealing letters from a politician named Paul Lessingham. Sydney Atherton agrees to help the Beetle, in exchange for the love of Marjorie Lindon and later for the creature’s help in saving his friend’s life. Marjorie Lindon is a politician’s daughter who has romantic connections to both Lessingham and Atherton and is eventually captured by the Beetle. The story’s final section is told from the point of view of Augustus Champnell, a detective who takes Lessingham’s confession about his involvement in a cult devoted to Isis, which has led to the Beetle’s obsession with him. Gunnar Cauthery, Jonathan Aris, Natalie Simpson, and Andrew Wincott provide resonant, compelling narration.

Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

Belinda (unabridged) Belinda Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0574 0574 9781781984390 Maria Edgeworth
Lucy Scott
18:52:13 FIC004000 FC World

Published in 1801, Maria Edgeworth’s Belinda is an absorbing novel that mirrors social and domestic life among the English gentry. In her pursuit of a suitable marriage, Belinda encounters an array of characters including the dazzling socialite Lady Delacourt, the feminist Harriet Freke, the wealthy and handsome West Indian Mr Vincent and the impulsive Clarence Hervey.

Belinda follows the tradition of society novels charting the journey of an intelligent young woman in search of an ideal husband, with its heroine Belinda eschewing material wealth in favour of happiness and self-fulfilment. Anticipating the realism of Jane Austen’s female heroines, the novel presents a vivid portrayal of life in late 18th-century London, depicting leisured society in all its aspects.

N/A N/A Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Apr23 John Foley Timothy Brown
Ben Hur (abridged) Ben Hur Classic Fiction abridged Single NA237512 237512 9789626343753 9789629545789 Lew Wallace
Jeff Harding
2 38 02:38:14 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Ben Hur could be said to be the first blockbuster. When it was published in 1880, it sold over two million copies and was translated into numerous languages. It combines all the best elements of popular classic, epic and action story against a background of authoritative historical detail. The pace and immediacy of Ben Hur was the basis of its appeal to film-makers – Charlton Heston’s portrayal of the title role is one of the classics of the cinema. Wallace’s original novel has been largely forgotten now, but as this vivid reading shows, the story – together with the sweeping rhythm of the writer’s prose – make it ideally suited to the audiobook.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Mar06
Beowulf (unabridged) Beowulf Poetry unabridged Single NA242512 242512 9789626344255 9789629546359 Benedict Flynn
Crawford Logan
2 35 02:24:09 POE014000 Deleted Available World

The oldest long poem in Old English, written about 1000 A.D., Beowulf tells the story of a great warrior in Southern Scandinavia in both youth and maturity. The monster Grendel terrorises the Scyldings of Hrothgar’s Danish Kingdom until Beowulf defeats him. As a result he has to face her enraged mother. Beowulf dies after a battle against a fierce dragon. The tale is powerfully performed here by Crawford Logan in a lively modern verse translation from the original West Saxon dialect by Benedict Flynn.

£13.99 $22.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep06 Benedict Flynn

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

The Great warrior-king sallies forth against Grendel, Mama Grendel and an unnamed dragon in a worthy addition to the dozen extant audio versions of the Old English epic poem. This vigorous translation amply conveys the dignity, stylisation and swift flow of the 1,000-year-old original. Crawford Logan uses his virile, seasoned baritone well, reciting sonorously in cadences that smooth the difficult locutions, all the while sustaining a grave tone and a steady, unhurried pace. He husbands his energy, never going full throttle and sometimes flagging, particularly while circumnavigating the poem’s more digressive passages. Like the author, he pays little attention to characterisation. So while he has not made our hero’s exploits as interesting as perhaps he could have, he has made them admirably clear and mellifluous.

Y.R., AudioFile

Best Of Our Island Story, The (abridged) The Best Of Our Island Story Junior Classics abridged Single NA443812 443812 9789626344385 9789629544140 H.E. Marshall
Anna Bentinck
Daniel Philpott
4 76 05:13:33 JNF025070 Deleted Available World

Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall is an Edwardian history book for younger listeners (aged six–twelve years old) which tells the story of England, concluding with the reign of Queen Victoria. Having released it unabridged in three volumes, Naxos AudioBooks now offers an attractive collection of the main stories and personalities. This skilful abridgement nevertheless maintains the narrative of British history, from the arrival of Julius Caesar to the height of the British Empire and the long reign of Queen Victoria.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Sep06
Betrothed, The (unabridged) The Betrothed Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0344 0344 9781781982105 Alessandro Manzoni
Nicholas Boulton
566 24:39:33 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

After the jealous tyrant Don Rodrigo foils their wedding, young Lombardian peasants Lucia and Lorenzo must separate and flee for their safety. Their difficult path to matrimony takes place against the turbulent backdrop of the Thirty Years War, where lawlessness and exploitation are at their height. Lucia takes refuge in a convent, where she is later abducted and taken on a nightmarish journey to a sinister castle, while Lorenzo goes to Milan, where he witnesses famine, riots and plague – all evoked through meticulous description and with stunning immediacy. The Betrothed is a masterful example of historical fiction and remains one of the most famous novels in Italian literature.

N/A N/A Band T £42.00 €48.00 $58.00 Apr19 John Foley Timothy Brown
Beyond Good and Evil (unabridged) Beyond Good and Evil Translated by Ian Johnston Philosophy unabridged Single NA687712 687712 9789626348772 9789629547813 Friedrich Nietzsche
Alex Jennings
7 123 08:24:49 PHI000000 Deleted Available World

Continuing where Thus Spoke Zarathustra left off, Nietzsche’s controversial work Beyond Good and Evil is one of the most influential philosophical texts of the nineteenth century and one of the most controversial works of ideology ever written. Attacking the notion of morality as nothing more than institutionalised weakness, Nietzsche criticises past philosophers for their unquestioning acceptance of moral precepts. Nietzsche tried to formulate what he called ‘the philosophy of the future’. Alex Jennings reads this new translation by Ian Johnston.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Jun08 Ian Johnston
Bhagavad Gita, The (unabridged) The Bhagavad Gita Poetry unabridged Single NA0368 0368 9781781982556 Sagar Arya
57 02:48:00 PHI003000 REL032000 DCF HPDF Deleted Deleted World

Sanskrit for ‘Song of the Lord’, the Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse Hindu epic that constitutes part of the faith’s vast cornerstone work, the Mahabharata. The book provides timeless truths and indispensible advice for believers trying to overcome internal tensions, doubt and indecision. The teachings are conveyed in the form of a dialogue between the Pandava general Arjuna and the deity Krishna, who helps Arjuna understand his position in the Kurukshetra War, and guides him towards the right course of action. The Gita’s treatment of duty and devotion has inspired many, including the peaceful activist Mahatma Gandhi, who referred to it as his ‘spiritual dictionary’.

N/A N/A Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Aug19 Swami Swarupananda (updated) RushForth Media RushForth Media
Billy Budd, Sailor (unabridged) Billy Budd, Sailor Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA330012 330012 9789626343005 9789629545581 Herman Melville
William Roberts
3 52 03:34:38 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A maritime classic from the master pen of Herman Melville. Written some forty years after Moby Dick, Melville’s Billy Budd is a moving tale of good versus evil. Set aboard a British navy ship at the end of the eighteenth century, a young, innocent sailor’s charm and good nature put the men around him at ease. Ship-life agreed with Billy. He made friends quickly and was well liked, which infuriated John Claggart, the ship’s cold-blooded superior officer. Mutiny was a continual threat greatly feared by naval officers. Even minor offences were dealt with harshly to keep crews in their place – regardless of whether the accused was guilty or innocent. The envious Master-at-Arms becomes obsessed with the destruction of the ‘Handsome Sailor’ and torments the young man until his false accusations lead to an eventual charge of treason against Billy.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jun03
Birds in Town and Village (unabridged) Birds in Town and Village Non-fiction unabridged Single NA0091 0091 9781843795964 9781843795971 W.H. Hudson
Neville Jason
6 108 07:23:13 NAT043000 Deleted Available World

William Henry Hudson was a founding member of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Though born in Argentina, Hudson came to England in 1874, where he remained until his death in 1922. Absorbed by nature, and in particular by the lives and activities of birds, his acute observations on wildlife led to some charming books which helped establish the pastime of bird watching. Birds in Town and Village is one of his classics. It is a truly engaging rumination on birds, as he watched them go about their daily lives. It is unfailingly charming, and read with an easy, relaxed tone by Neville Jason.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Dec12

This is the delightful 1893 classic from W.H. Hudson, a founding member of the RSPB. His memories go back to when five sparrows were sold for three farthings, and linnets, considered a pest, were made into pies. His plea to a hunter is to ‘put aside his fowling piece’ and for women to eschew hummingbird feathers in their hats. His descriptions are charming, his observations of habit and song acute.

Rachel Redford, The Oldie

Birth of Tragedy, The (unabridged) The Birth of Tragedy Philosophy unabridged Single NA0131 0131 9781843797272 9781843797289 Friedrich Nietzsche
Duncan Steen
5 94 06:05:43 PHI000000 Deleted Available World

Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music was published in 1872. In 1869, at the age of 24, he had been appointed a professor of classical philology at the University of Basel, a remarkable position for one of his age, and the book was his first significant publication. It did little, however, to help his reputation as a scholar; his views were controversial and aroused strong criticism in some quarters, while his deliberate espousal of the cause of the composer Richard Wagner was, to say the least, unhelpful. Nietzsche later revised his views on Wagner and re-issued The Birth of Tragedy in 1886 under the title The Birth of Tragedy, or Hellenism and Pessimism, introducing it with An Attempt at a Self-Criticism. The present reading includes this last, his 1871 Preface to Richard Wagner and the original book itself, with its famous discussion of the Apollonian and Dionysian in Greek tragedy.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Nov13
Black Beauty (abridged) Black Beauty Junior Classics abridged Single NA216512 216512 9789626341650 9789629544256 Anna Sewell
Jonathan Keeble
2 32 02:12:11 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

Black Beauty, the friendly, patient stallion with a white blaze upon his forehead, is one of the most familiar figures in children’s literature. After the first lively carefree years in the fields, Black Beauty learns to accept the saddle and bridle and the rule of his masters. But a succession of misfortunes shows that the life of a horse can be harsh and painful. This touching portrait, full of drama and sadness, is as moving now as when it was first written in 1877.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep00
Black Gang, The (unabridged) The Black Gang Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA639112 639112 9781843793915 9781843793922 Sapper
Roy McMillan
6 114 07:48:00 FIC002000 Deleted Available World

Bulldog’s back! This time, there is a plot to foment a revolution in England, a plot that has left the Police baffled and the nation at the mercy of a master criminal. A disguised clergyman, a beautiful sidekick, an arcane poison, car chases and abductions all fail to see off Hugh Drummond and his gang of ex-Army friends. But when the plotters capture Drummond’s wife, the game is up… isn’t it? Undaunted, charming, brave and resourceful, Bulldog Drummond is an archetypal English adventure hero, and the forerunner of The Saint and James Bond.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Sep10

The Black Gang (1922), the second book (of ten) in the Bulldog Drummond series, finds Captain Hugh Drummond, DSO, MC, married to Phyllis Benton but still bored with calm civilian life in England. Villain Carl Peterson and his female accomplice Irma have escaped to the Continent but Drummond has enlisted some ex-army buddies to round up the remaining Bolshevik thugs trying to destabilize English society. They are soon dubbed “The Black Gang” by the media because of their long black coats and black masks. After they have captured and enlisted about fifty of the baddies, Peterson comes back disguised as an American clergyman helping poor Europeans. He is accompanied by his “daughter” Janet. He is furious about the loss of six priceless diamonds. Scotland Yard begins to notice the escapades of the Black Gang. Fortunately his old school chum Sir Bryan Johnstone, the Director of Criminal Investigations and Chief Inspector McIver think Hugh is a witless ninny. It takes Hugh a long time to see through Peterson’s disguise. In the meantime Phyllis is kidnapped and held on an estate surrounded by an electrified fence and a gang of goons. Hugh must also deal with a large vicious dog and a murderous Bolshevik named Yulowski who enjoys beating people to death with a rifle butt. There is a fair amount of anti-Semitism in the story typical of the 1920’s. The author, Herman Cyril McNeile, wrote under the pen name “Sapper” because serving officers were not allowed to publish under their own names. However, so popular was the series that it appeared on film and radio. After McNeile’s untimely death in 1937, his good friend Gerard Fairlie continued to create more adventures for Drummond. The series is narrated by Roy McMillan, a director, writer, actor and abridger. He is especially adept with accents (British, Russian, German, American) as well as believable female characters. He maintains the frantic pace of the action nicely. The series is highly recommended to fans of adventure novels.

Janet Julian,

Private eye Bulldog Drummond is just slightly over 80 years old. Despite his age and controversial nature, he lives on in fond memories of many who have come across him in a variety of ways. The private detective has probably entertained and shocked readers, radio listeners, film-goers and comic book enthusiasts in equal measure. There are ten original Bulldog Drummond novels written by Sapper, a.k.a. Herman Cyril McNeile, seven written following his death by his friend Gerard Fairlie, who had served as Sapper’s model for Drummond, and a final two by Henry Reymond. All of them feature the private eye of British upper-middle-class origins in books that have the format of an unabashed thriller. Drummond is unlike Agatha Christie’s cerebral, yet entertaining characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, who came into being around the same time as Sapper’s far more muscular and robust detective.

Now Naxos AudioBooks has come out with an unabridged audio book of the second Bulldog Drummond novel, The Black Gang. Published in 1922, it pits Drummond and his clubby chums against Carl Peterson, a man reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis, Moriarty. Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, admitted Peterson, in turn, served as the model for the evil Blofeld with whom James Bond battled on behalf of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Admittedly, Fleming and Conan Doyle, Holmes’ creator, wrote much more nuanced books than Sapper, but the lack of refinement does not detract in the least bit from the thriller aspects of The Black Gang.

So, who is Drummond? He is described by his creator as retired British Army Captain Hugh Drummond, DSO, MC. He is wealthy and bored after serving in the trenches of France in World War I, and seeks a way to fill his time with adventure. Working as a private eye seems to be his idea of a good way to find the excitement he craves. On his first assignment in a book called simply Bulldog Drummond, which came out in 1920, he stumbles across the evil Carl Peterson, who desires world domination. Besides, Drummond’s original ad for a job in The Times leads to his first assignment from a young woman, Phyllis Benton, who ends up becoming his wife. In 1922, upon the publication of The Black Gang, he once again gets ensnared in Peterson’s evil plans.

As for McNeile, he adopted the nom de plume ’Sapper’ because British officers were not allowed to write under their own name. As he had served in the Royal Engineers, choosing to call himself ’Sapper’ seemed natural. He began his writing career in 1915 with several short stories about his experiences in the trenches. But instead of placing the focus on war’s horror, he kept an up-beat tone that made his tales immensely popular. He served with distinction and gained the Military Cross for bravery in the first and second battles of Ypres. But he chose his friend Fairlie as the model for Drummond because he had served in the Scots Guards, had been an Army boxing champion, and served on the British bobsled team that ended up in the 1924 Olympics. He, thereby, suited the image of Drummond more than the dapper though bookish McNeile.

The Black Gang is probably the best of the four books dealing with this gang. Actor Roy McMillan is highly effective as the reader of this tale in audio book format. His vocal impersonations of the various characters, good and evil – there are no shades in between these two – are excellent. For those who recall Bulldog Drummond from radio programs, this version of The Black Gang will lead them on a sentimental, albeit violence-charged journey into the past.

The Black Gang, in addition to all of the other Bulldog Drummond stories, contains passages that will make today’s audience squirm because – and rightly so – the team that put this audio book on disc did not choose to make it politically correct. Consequently, the listener gets a novel of its time: jingoistic and prone to racial slurs. While we do not like such images today, to change the references would rob the novel of its original flavor, which includes the snobby attitudes of the 1920s British upper crust and the fears of the lower. One still shudders at the idea that now some schools have chosen to give their students a sanitized Adventures of Tom Sawyer to read in which the ’N-word’ has been expurgated. Talk about changing history. No matter how bad the past has been, to remove the truth from it denies what has been achieved for the better today.

Without giving away too much of the plot of The Black Gang, Peterson is once again attempting a coup d’état to enable a pro-communist takeover of Britain. He does so strictly for his own profit, not for political belief. The Black Gang, headed by Drummond and consisting of his clubby public school friends, even aided by Phyllis, manages to foil him once again. We also meet the clueless Sir Brian Johnstone, New Scotland Yard’s director of criminal investigation and Chief Inspector McIver, who are disturbed by the activities of the secret, black-dressed, black-hooded Black Gang. A certain popular mystique surrounds this gang, seemingly consisting of ruffians who have a tendency to beat up London’s lower class of criminals, even abducting them for re-education.

In the books that featured the Black Gang, Sapper made no attempt to give dimensions to his characters. He wrote on the surface, aiming for entertainment with a dash of melodrama, peppered by violence, and nothing more. That is why his detective attracted the movie industry and stars such as Ronald Coleman, Ralph Richardson, and Walter Pidgeon portrayed him. With such starry company from the past, Roy McMillan is in good company and listeners can be sure they will have a few evenings of good entertainment. They can also be assured that The Black Gang is no more two-dimensional than most current TV offerings. And this audio book comes without commercial interruption!.

Alidë Kohlhaas, Lancette Arts Journal

Black Moth, The (unabridged) The Black Moth Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0144 0144 9781843797593 9781843797609 Georgette Heyer
Julian Rhind-Tutt
9 170 11:38:09 FIC004000 Deleted Available USA OnlyUSA/Canada only

When the dashing Jack Carstares is unfairly accused of cheating at cards, he leaves the country in disgrace. Returning some years later disguised as a highwayman, his reappearance heralds a dramatic chain of events that includes a Duke, a damsel, a duel and not one, but two kidnappings. Written when she was just seventeen, The Black Moth was Heyer’s first novel, but it bears many of the hallmarks of her later romances, being vivid, witty and peppered with historical insight.

£32.99 $59.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jul13

Now published for the first time as an audiobook, and written when she was only 19, Georgette Heyer’s The Black Moth is a much more refined recreation of the past. It is, however, rather more raunchy than her later comedies of manners, which she liked to think of as a mix of Dr Johnson and Jane Austen. The narrator Julian Rhind-Tutt enters in with a will on the skulduggery of ‘Devil’ Andover, the pluck of Diana Beauliegh and the gallantry of highwayman Jack Carstares.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Julian Rhind-Tutt is simply superb in his narration of this delightful and charming Regency romance, written in 1921, the first novel by Georgette Heyer, ‘the Queen of Regency Romance’. In this tale, the hero turns highwayman after he takes the blame for his younger brother’s cheating at cards. The handsome hero must save the beautiful lady who helps him when he is wounded when she’s later kidnapped by the dastardly duke, played by Rhind-Tutt to sneering perfection. He easily moves from the commanding voice of the hero to the shrill voices of the hero’s sister-in-law and her friends and positively reeks of snobbery and villainy when portraying the duke. Filled with interesting details of the period combined with an expert narration, this audio offering is captivating.

A.C.P., AudioFile

Black Tulip, The (unabridged) The Black Tulip Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0033 0033 9781843794639 9781843794646 Alexandre Dumas
Peter Joyce
7 124 08:57:42 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

When tulip-grower Cornelius van Baerle is framed for treason and sentenced to death, he is powerless against the brutal factional politics that put him in prison. But Rosa, the jailer’s daughter, is beautiful and strong-willed, and when they fall in love she determines not only to save him but also to grow the near mythical flower: the black tulip. Set in the savage turmoil of Holland’s late 17th century, this intimate novel celebrates the power of integrity over obsession, and tolerance over violence; and it creates in the black tulip a symbol of humanity’s potential.

£27.99 $47.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Sep11

Published in 1850 and set against the turbulence of 17th-century Holland, this is a dramatic story of obsession, adventure, danger and romantic love. Its star is the black tulip, symbol of triumph over evil. Tulip fanatic Cornelius van Baerle is framed for treason by his jealous neighbour, but his sentence is commuted just as the executioner’s axe is raised. In prison Rosa, the jailor’s daughter, nurtures Cornelius’s dream of producing the mythical bloom. A masterly narration re-creates the full magnificence of Dumas’s theatre.

Rachel Redford, the Observer

The black tulip has come to be synonymous with the concept of artificial demand: that anything, if arbitrarily deemed rare or valuable enough, can become so expensive that its real worth is forgotten. We have come to know of certain black tulips in our own time, including the demand which was created when banks started buying up mortgaged-backed securities and the resulting fall-out. Alexandre Dumas’s The Black Tulip takes us back to an early example of this in seventeenth-century Holland, where the cultivation of tulips of all colors was a pastime of the wealthy. The Haarlem Horticultural Society devises a contest to award the person who can grow a black tulip a prize of one hundred thousand guilders (which seemed to have been a great deal of money at that time). Naturally, because greedy human beings are involved, the race to be the first one to grow the black tulip compels certain ‘tulip-fanciers’ to go to any lengths – including incrimination – to win the prize.

Cornelius van Baerle is an affluent tulip-fancier who has successfully cultivated many types of tulips. He takes up the black tulip challenge and gets very close but his envious neighbor, Mynheer Isaac Boxtel, discovers a means to get van Baerle imprisoned and hopefully executed so that Boxtel may grow the tulip and win the prize. Van Baerle would be ruined were it not for the beneficence and creative scheming of the jailer’s daughter, Rosa, who falls in love with van Baerle when he is locked up in her father’s jail, and maneuvers to save both him and the tulip.

The Black Tulip’s beginning is rather tough going for a modern listener, especially one not familiar with, or particularly interested in, the complicated political machinations of Holland four centuries ago. Dumas uses a rather lengthy, melodramatic exposition to explain the background of his main character, Cornelius van Baerle, and the ways in which this background was used to land van Baerle in prison on trumped-up charges, all in an effort to steal away the prize. If The Black Tulip were written today, there is no doubt that there would be less discussion of this old Dutch political wrangling, but once listeners make their way through this, the twists of the plot draw us in and the exposition is neatly tied to the story’s final thrilling conclusion.

A fascinating story, intertwined with a true-love tale and some truly funny moments –including Rosa’s sarcastic replies to van Baerle when he tries to convince her that he loves her more than the tulip – make The Black Tulip withstand the more than hundred and fifty years that have passed since it was published, and the emergence of more modern examples of artificial demand.

Peter Joyce, a stage, radio, and television actor, revels in the reading of Dumas’s characters and this high-stakes story. He expresses the excitement of certain crucial moments– will Rosa succeed in convincing the prince of Boxtel’s treachery in time? – through his beautiful and deep voice, carrying the listener with him through the telling.

Joanna Theiss, SoundCommentary

Alexandre Dumas is known mostly for The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. His novel The Black Tulip deserves to be better known, and Naxos has done something about it. In an excellently real audiobook, we are taken to late seventeenth-century Holland. There, the conflict between the Dutch and France is one theme of the book, and the obsession with tulips is another. Treason, deceit, greed and love drive the story of The Black Tulip. Peter Joyce gives it a highly dramatic reading that makes listening to the story almost compulsive.

Alide Kohlhaas, Seniors Review

The quest to grow a black tulip doesn’t have the same narrative appeal as Dumas’s Count of Monte Cristo or Three Musketeers, but it provides adventure enough for those who love the great melodramas of the nineteenth century. Peter Joyce delivers a fine rendition of Dumas’s meaty prose and is especially good at depicting villains and brutal jailers, less effective at conveying his nubile heroine. Although this is a lesser work by Dumas, the author’s judicious detachment, voiced so well in Joyce’s calm and untroubled delivery, holds the promise throughout that innocence will triumph and justice eventually prevail: The villain will be vanquished, and the power of the black tulip will somehow open the prison doors and unite the fateful lovers.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Blake, William (selections) The Great Poets – William Blake The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA147212 147212 9789626344729 9789629546458 William Blake
Robert Glenister
Michael Maloney
Stephen Critchlow
1 15 01:02:24 POE005020 Deleted Available World

Naxos AudioBooks begins its new series of Great Poets – represented by their most popular poems on one CD – with William Blake, whose 250th anniversary of birth falls this year. This CD contains all of his most popular works – Tyger, the Auguries of Innocence, Jerusalem, as well as some lesser-known poetry that demonstrates the range and power of his verse. They are strikingly read by Robert Glenister, Michael Maloney and Stephen Critchlow.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Jul07

Auguries of Innocence
Introduction to Songs of Innocence
A Cradle Song
Introduction to Songs of Experience
A Dream
The Chimney Sweeper
The Chimney-Sweeper
The Divine Image
A Divine Image
from The Gates of Paradise, For The Sexes, Prologue
Infant Joy
Gnomic Verses
The Fly
Holy Thursday
Laughing Song
The Garden of Love
from An Island in the Moon
A Little Boy Found
A Little Boy Lost
The Little Girl Found
A Little Girl Lost
I Heard an Angel
The Human Abstract
from Jerusalem
The Land of Dreams
Nurse’s Song
Love’s Secret
A Poison Tree
preface to Milton
The Little Vagabond
On Art and Artists
The Sick Rose
Ah, Sunflower
The Voice of the Ancient Bard
To The Muses
The Lamb
The Tiger
On Another’s Sorrow

Blazing World, The (unabridged) The Blazing World Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0534 0534 9781781983980 Margaret Cavendish
Lucy Scott
04:07:09 FIC004000 FC World

Born in 1623 as the youngest child of a wealthy Essex family, Margaret Cavendish became a Maid of Honour to Queen Henrietta Maria before going on to marry the widowed William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle. She was a prolific writer whose work encompassed a range of genres including poetry, moral tales, romance, scientific treatises, philosophy, drama and biography. Pepys wrote of her: ‘The whole story of this Lady is a romance, and all she doth is romantic’.

The Blazing World is part fiction and part feminist text in which a lady is shipwrecked and seeks to ensure that the Blazing World in which she finds herself is transformed into a Utopia – free of war, sexual discrimination and religious discord. It is a fascinating and extravagant combination of what the author herself calls ‘romancical’, ‘philosophical’ and ‘fantastical’.

N/A N/A Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr22 Neil Rosser Thomas Goose
Bleak House (abridged) Bleak House Classic Fiction abridged Single NA844312 844312 9789626344439 9789629544867 Charles Dickens
Sean Barrett
Teresa Gallagher
9 165 11:15:48 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The long, drawn-out case of Jarndyce versus Jarndyce provides the background to this novel which takes us into Dickens’ world of impoverished people on the street, lovers fallen on hard times and the grand riches of the upper classes. It is read movingly by Sean Barrett as the main narrator and Teresa Gallagher as the young Esther Summerson.

£29.99 $54.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Apr07
Bleak House (unabridged) Bleak House Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX43112 43112 9789626344316 9789629544874 Charles Dickens
Sean Barrett
Teresa Gallagher
28 35:15:31 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A complex plot of love and inheritance is set against the English legal system of the mid-nineteenth century, with all its tortuous avenues and disguised resolutions. Here is the firm, Jarndyce & Jarndyce, the young orphan and ward of court Esther Summerson (who tells much of the story). As always, it is the skilled pen of Dickens himself that creates the momentum with his acute eye for both individual characters and their traits, and the backdrop of Victorian London.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AC £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Sep06

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

After its recent warm reception on ‘Masterpiece Theatre’, you may be thinking that it’s time to read this classic. But will you really do it? Audio is a great way to enjoy Dickens, especially as he himself believed the best way to deliver his material was to read it aloud. By turns darkly humorous, horrific and poignant, this is great entertainment. Narrators Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher more than hold their own with the complex story and multitude of characters. Gallagher breathes new life into young Esther, portraying her with charm and intelligence and avoiding the cloying sweetness she is frequently accused of. Barrett gives weight and voice to the loftiest and lowest members of mid-19th-century British society, while drawing out every ounce of humour in what can be, in the right hands, a very funny novel.

D.G. AudioFile

The Times Best Audiobooks of the Year

This has been an exceptionally rich year for audio-listening. Naxos is proceeding apace with its magnificent range of unabridged Austens and Dickens. My favourite remains Bleak House, so much more than the diatribe against the legal system that abridgements can make it. It lends itself well to audio, told as it is in two voices, the narrator (Sean Barrett, mesmeric as chill Mr Tulkinghorne) and Esther Summerson (spoken with freshness and honesty by Teresa Gallagher).

The Times

Bliss and Other Stories (unabridged) Bliss and Other Stories Modern Classics unabridged Single NA289612 289612 9789626348963 9789629547677 Katherine Mansfield
Juliet Stevenson
2 38 02:34:38 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

One of Katherine Mansfield’s finest short stories, Bliss, introduces us to Bertha, who experiences a sense of rapture as she reflects on her life. On her walk home one day, she is overwhelmed by a sense of bliss and contentment. However, her joy later turns to disappointment as she discovers her husband is having an affair with her new friend Pearl. Katherine Mansfield became well-known for her focus on psychological conflicts and complex characters; and Bliss displays these qualities brilliantly, exploring themes of marriage, adultery and duplicity. This set also contains five other short stories by Katherine Mansfield – Mr Reginald Peacock’s Day, Pictures, The Little Governess, Feuille D’Album, and A Dill Pickle.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep08

Juliet Stevenson is the perfect narrator for these six delicately observed stories. In one, Bertha in her white dress and jade beads presides over a dinner party, her happiness to be obliterated by seeing her husband kiss heavy-lidded Pearl; in another, ex-lovers meet again beside a Japanese vase of paper daffodils. Unbeatable.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Before there were minimalist writers, there were great miniaturists such as Katherine Mansfield, whose work has deceptive power, so cannily and quietly did she craft her scenes. In Mansfield’s stories the level of detail is astonishing, and each central character so fully present that when the climax comes, the listener draws a breath of surprise and simultaneous recognition of the necessary and often painful truths of life. This recording presents six of the 13 stories originally published together in the 1920s – how lucky we are to have even these six. Each is served up by Juliet Stevenson as a rare delicacy, each character brought forth with perfect accent and timbre, each tale with full awareness of every nuance. The result? The listener is blessed with the good fortune of hearing two great storytellers working in concert, and it is absolute bliss.

J.L.B., AudioFile

Blithe Spirit (unabridged) Blithe Spirit Directed by Sheridan Morley Drama unabridged Single NA226312 226312 9789626342633 9789629546823 Noel Coward
Corin Redgrave
Kika Markham
Joanna Lumley
Thelma Ruby
2 32 02:10:54 DRA003000 Deleted Available World

When novelist Charles Condomine invites a medium into his house in order to learn about the occult for his new book, the last thing he or his second wife dream is that the séance will bring back his first wife, Elvira, who wants Charles all to herself! Things are further complicated by the fact that only Charles can see her, which results in some hilarious exchanges and misunderstandings. Elvira’s plots to get him to ‘the other side’ do not go to plan however, and instead of Charles dying in her contrived ‘accident’ his new wife does! Many consider this to be one of Coward’s best and most unusual farces.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jul04 Nicolas Soames Sheridan Morley Mike Etherden
Body Snatcher and Other Stories, The (unabridged) The Body Snatcher and Other Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA298212 298212 9789626349823 9789629548803 Robert Louis Stevenson
Roy McMillan
2 36 02:26:42 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A dark night, a graveyard and the suspicion of murder… The Body Snatcher is one of Robert Louis Stevenson’s most chilling tales. After many years, a chance encounter between two former medical students forces them to recall their sinister past and foul play that was better left buried. Perfect for long winter nights, these stories have been specially selected to create an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. Read by Roy McMillan, with Naxos AudioBooks’s trademark of carefully chosen music.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Oct09

Otherworldly but this time seriously scary is Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatcher and other stories read by Roy McMillan. Perfectly chilling tales of graveyards and murder.

Kati Nicholl, Daily Express

Although The Body Snatcher, The Poor Thing and The Bottle Imp are not as well known as Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Child’s Garden of Verses, they are well worth listening to. The Body Snatcher, a gruesome tale, probably the best known of the three has been made into at least one horror movie. Two medical student assistants are responsible for taking in dead bodies in the middle of the night to be dissected by the other students. What happens when Fettes, the younger one, recognizes two of them? The Poor Thing is a Joseph Jacobs-like fairy tale in which an odd little wraith tells a poor man he will be his son one day. The Bottle Imp reminds one of an Arabian Nights tale and O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi: who will best love and outdo the sacrifice of the loved one? Roy McMillan’s mellow, low key reading is richly done. Most enjoyable.

Mary Purucker,

Boneland (unabridged) Boneland Contemporary Fiction unabridged Single NA0109 0109 9781843796367 9781843796374 Alan Garner
Robert Powell
4 72 04:56:39 FIC000000 Deleted Deleted World

Boneland is Alan Garner’s continuation of the story thread which began in his first and enduringly popular fantasy children’s novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The Weirdstone was published in 1960 (it has never been out of print since), and The Moon of Gomrath followed, in 1963. This took the story further with the same two children, Colin and Susan. But Boneland is particularly fascinating because it takes the story into adulthood, with Colin again the main proponent. Boneland is read by the experienced actor Robert Powell, at the request of Alan Garner himself. Powell notes that he has ‘known Alan for 40 years – we are old friends, and of course I knew Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath. So I was delighted that after all these years, Alan wrote the sequel – and particularly delighted to be asked to record Boneland. I would have been upset if anyone else had been asked.’

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep12

I’ve been listening to Boneland while doing my early morning walks through the fields and the woods here at the Kinrowan Estate. It took me just a week to work my way through this amazing work by Alan Garner.

Let’s start off with what Boneland isn’t: despite sharing a primary character with The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, beloved children’s novels known as The Adderly Tales that were published in 1957 and 1964, this is very much an adult novel not intended for the pleasure of children whatsoever. Indeed its tone is more akin to what the late Robert Holdstock did in his Ryhope Wood series than anything else Alan Garner has done excepting Thursbitch and Strandloper.

Fortunately I have not read The Adderly Tales, as the two much earlier novels are called. I will listen to them as Naxos has done them as audiobooks because I’m now curious as to how this story started oh so long ago. And I must say that many of the reviewers (and fans of the previous novels) would have been fairer reviewers if they had treated this as the separate work it indeed is.

That primary character is Colin, now fifty years older than in The Adderly Tales, and he’s now convinced he’s going mad. It’s important to add that Garner thinks that The Adderly Tales were ‘very poor on characterization’ as he said in a 1989 interview, but Boneland is not. Indeed Colin and all other characters here feel like real individuals, a result of good writing by the author and superb voicing by the narrator Robert Powell who, as Naxos notes correctly, ‘delivers Garner’s poetic prose with the conviction and understanding that come from being a longtime collaborator with the author. Powell’s Lancashire accent is especially good in the scenes of dialogue between Colin and his psychiatrist, Meg, who is determined to get to the bottom of Colin’s fascination with Celtic magic’.

(Side-note: as with Garner’s The Owl Service, music from the Naxos back catalogue is used here to great effect.)

It is a very tight tale with just three primary characters – Colin, Meg, and an unnamed narrator – living at some point in the distant past. Powell’s voicing is so superb that each feels like an actual individual to me. There’s an echoing effect used on the narration by the third character, which gives a slightly eerie feel.

Colin is either quite mad or has had a very strange life. He is under the care of Meg, a therapist, who is trying to get him to deal with his belief that he has a sister who disappeared when they were still children. Colin thinks he’s insane and Meg thinks he’s not quite there, and she wants him to finally face whatever trauma he’s refusing so far to deal with. Oh and he has an ability to recall literally everything in his life after twelve years and nine months but nothing before that time. Or so he says.

The other story is the life and death of what sounds to be a shaman. It’s an amazing story, which I’ll say nothing about. All you need to know is that it takes place where Colin lives, but that’s true of everything Garner does as his use of true geography in a story is intrinsic to what happens in all his stories including The Stone Book Quartet.

If you hear this story told as it is here and you have not read the earlier novels, you’ll no doubt leave quite puzzled as to what exactly happened. Did Colin have a sister, or did he, as the result of some trauma as a child, just imagine had a sister? Why is Meg so determined to get him to confront his past self?

The ending will surprise you and I’ll not say why, as that’d spoil it for you. I will say that many of those who had read (and deeply loved) The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath oh so many years ago weren’t terribly happy with this conclusion to the story as it suggests things weren’t as they appeared to be. It’s neither a neat resolution, nor is it an upbeat ending. Garner in the end leaves it up to us to decide what happened oh so long ago.

One final note: this was originally to be voiced by Philip Madoc, a Welshman who had lived in the area of England where all three novels are set. He died in 2011 before he could so. I think the use of a different narrator given the fifty years in time between the first two books and this one actually makes for a better theatre of the mind.

Now I’m off to start my listening to The Adderly Tales. That should be interesting!

Iain Nicholas Mackenzie, Sleeping Hedgehog

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Professor Colin Whisterfield is a brilliant astrophysicist. He believes the stars are telling him a story. He reads them like he reads ancient myths and Jungian psychology. Often he hears his sister’s voice calling to him from the heavens. Narrator Robert Powell delivers Garner’s poetic prose with the conviction and understanding that come from being a longtime collaborator with the author. Powell’s Lancashire accent is especially good in the scenes of dialogue between Colin and his psychiatrist, Meg, who is determined to get to the bottom of Colin’s fascination with Celtic magic. In Garner’s Tolkienesque first novels, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (1960) and The Moon of Gomrath (1963), 12-year-old twins Colin and Susan were whisked into a world of fierce wizards and dwarves. This philosophical finale to the Weirdstone trilogy, featuring the adult Colin, is very much worth the fifty-year wait.

B.P., AudioFile

Book of Disquiet, The (unabridged) The Book of Disquiet Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0313 0313 9781781981429 9781781981436 Fernando Pessoa
Adam Sims
15 399 17:28:00 FIC019000 Deleted Available World

Assembled from notes and jottings left unpublished at the time of the author’s death, The Book of Disquiet is a collection of aphoristic prose-poetry musings on dreams, solitude, time and memory. Credited to Pessoa’s alter ego, Bernardo Soares, who chronicles his contemplations in this so-called ‘factless’ autobiography, the work is a journey of one man’s soul and, by extension, of all human souls that allow their minds and hearts to roam far and free. Though his outward life as an assistant bookkeeper in downtown Lisbon is a humdrum affair, Soares lives a rich and varied existence within the contours of his own mind, where he can be and do anything. Soares has no ambition, nor has he any friends; he is plagued with disquiet, and only imagination and dreams can conquer it. Compiled by the translator Richard Zenith, Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet is a fulgent tribute to the imagination of man.

£50.00 $89.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Jul18 Richard Zenith John Foley Nikki Ruck

Many of the greatest Portuguese writers of the last century are Fernando Pessoa, who wrote under dozens of names. This audiobook is presented as having been written by Pessoa’s fictional friend, Bernardo Soares. Adam Sims narrates the 481 sections – some as short as a single sentence – with a detached air appropriate to someone to whom identity is no longer an interesting question. The narration is not flat, just somewhat cool, befitting the emotional level of the text. There’s more than a hint of Marcus Aurelius in this series of meditations on life, human experience, and how to endure them both. This is an audiobook that might be best heard bit by bit, rather than in one extended session.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Having plumbed the depths with its fine unabridged recordings of Samuel Beckett and Marcel Proust, Naxos brings still more existential dimension to the world of audiobooks with this debut of Portuguese author Pessoa’s enigmatic, incomparable masterpiece, ably narrated by Sims. Assembled from trunks of papers – ‘a definitive collection of dregs’ – after the author’s death in 1935, Pessoa’s magnum opus drifts freely between reveries, renunciations, meditations and maxims, often saturated with an air of disillusionment, alienation, and malaise. And yet this ‘saddest book in Portugal’ is oddly comforting, peering into the darkest recesses of life with an indefatigable appreciation for the absurd and reverence for mystery. Though not lacking in irony or effect, Sims’s reading maintains a confiding, conversational humility that allows Pessoa’s own searching intellect and paradoxical moods to hold sway. Rather than listening cover to cover, Pessoa himself might have suggested sampling the book on shuffle play, or while falling asleep as an introduction to dreaming. Sims’s candid rendition of Richard Zenith’s 2001 translation will admirably suit the purpose.

David Wright, Booklist

Book of Margery Kempe, The (unabridged) The Book of Margery Kempe Biographies unabridged Single NA0483 0483 9781781983454 Margery Kempe
Lucy Scott
9:19:34 REL002000 BIO018000 HRC HRCS1 World

The Book of Margery Kempe is the extraordinary account of a medieval wife, mother and mystic from Norfolk. Having married in c. 1393, given birth to 14 children, and pursued unsuccessful ventures in brewing and milling, Kempe made a vow of chastity and embarked on a life of prayer, penance and pilgrimage. Known as the earliest autobiography in the English language, it contains intimate portraits of people and places, and a remarkable eye for detail, as it traces the transformation of a ‘sinful wretch’ to a holy pilgrim.

N/A N/A Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Dec21 Neil Rosser Timothy Brown

A fascinating glimpse of the medieval past, this audiobook details the life and spiritual experiences of Margery Kempe, a Christian mystic who lived in England at the turn of the fifteenth century. Lucy Scott’s narration draws listeners into Kempe’s autobiographical details. Her delivery of Kempe’s dialogue with God expresses earnestness and humility. The contrast between Kempe’s voice and the firm yet encouraging voice of God makes the dialogue between the two convincing. One of the most poignant parts of the audiobook recounts Kempe’s trip to Jerusalem, where she feels and sees the suffering of Jesus. As this audiobook uniquely presents Kempe’s experiences, spiritual and otherwise, Scott’s temperance in her narration helps listeners find much to appreciate.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Book of the City of Ladies, The (unabridged) The Book of the City of Ladies Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0456 0456 9781781983164 Christine de Pizan
Georgina Sutton
11:17:54 HIS037010 SOC010000 HBLC1 JFFK World

Shocked and distressed by a male writer’s vilification of women, Christine de Pizan has a powerful dreamlike vision in which she is visited by three personified Virtues: Reason, Rectitude and Justice. They tell her she has been chosen to write a book which will be like a city, housing virtuous women and protecting them from feminist attack. Heroines past and present form the foundations of this city – biblical and mythical heroines, ruling queens, Christian saints, and inventors are among them. Partly myth, partly fact, The Book of the City of Ladies is an extraordinary, pioneering and impassioned defence of women that set out to shatter medieval misogynist clichés, and serve to instil self-worth in its female readers of the time.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jul20 John Foley Timothy Brown

In a smooth, cultured voice, narrator Georgina Sutton inhabits French noblewoman and author Christine de Pizan, who is most famous for her 1405 work about women. Christine, in a dreamlike state, meets three Virtues – Reason, Rectitude and Justice – who help her build the City of Ladies. As Christine asks questions about the roles, vitality and superiority of women, Sutton fluidly portrays the personified Virtues, each of whom recounts stories drawn from classical mythology, the Bible, Ovid, Herodotus, Homer, Petrarch, Boccaccio and others. Sutton’s melodic voice maintains its courtly tone as the women dispassionately discuss philosophy, ethics and religious beliefs, as well as advances in the arts and sciences. Listeners will hear no vocal flinching from Sutton when Justice describes the horrific tortures and deaths of female saints.

M.B.K., AudioFile

Book of the Courtier, The (unabridged) The Book of the Courtier Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0305 0305 9781781981245 9781781981252 Baldassare Castiglione
Nicholas Boulton
10 261 11:24:15 LCO010000 Deleted Available World

Set in the court of Urbino in 1507, Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier presents an invaluable look at court life and culture during the Renaissance. Over four nights of dialogue, the book explores the key question, ‘What should a courtier be like?’; it presents a deep and timeless discussion that is reminiscent of Plato’s Symposium and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and invites comparisons with Machiavelli’s The Prince. It is absorbing and enlightening, and encompasses a wide range of topics that include dancing, fencing, war, religion, culture, courtly and corporeal love and gender relations, with a surprisingly modern defence of women and equal rights.

£35.00 $62.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 May18 Leonard Eckstein Opdycke (updated) John Foley Andrew Riches
Bostonians, The (unabridged) The Bostonians Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0351 0351 9781781982242 Henry James
Adam Sims
349 15:59:47 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Taking place in Boston, Massachusetts, a decade after the Civil War, The Bostonians tells the story of two cousins who battle for the affections of and control over an enchanting prophetess. While visiting his cousin Olive Chancellor, a fierce feminist deeply involved in the Suffragette movement, Basil Ransom, a Confederate Civil War veteran turned lawyer, attends a speech by the talented young orator Verena Tarrant. Basil quickly falls in love with Verena, although he disagrees with her politics; Olive, however, sees her as the future of the women’s rights movement. Will Verena join forces with Olive and fight to further the women’s cause, or will she fall for Basil’s romantic advances?

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Feb19 John Foley Thomas Goose
Brahms, Johannes (unabridged) Life & Works – Johannes Brahms Life & Works Music unabridged Single NA558071 558071 9781843790570 9781843793748 Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann
Jasper Britton
Karen Archer
Ruth Sillers
Neville Jason
Nicholas Boulton
David Timson
4 139 04:59:31 136-page booklet BIO004000 Deleted Available World

Brahms is one of the best loved yet most controversial of all the Romantics. Almost uniquely, his works have never suffered the slightest period of eclipse. Profoundly emotional yet governed by an iron discipline, the music, like the man, is a fascinating, entertaining, often deeply moving blend of opposites. He had a gift for friendship and a capacity for love far beyond the ordinary, yet no man could be ruder or more hurtful. Though humble, he was consumed by a sense of destiny, and his inner life, coloured by his adoration and fear of women, found expression in some of the greatest music ever written. Listening to this audio-biography is leaping inside the life and times of a great German Romantic, understanding the man who was haunted by the ghost of Beethoven for years and was forty-three before he wrote his first symphony. Accompanied by a richly detailed booklet, this 4-CD set is a sympathetic, absorbing account of a fascinating composer.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Nov02
Breath of French Air, A (unabridged) A Breath of French Air Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0247 0247 9781781980019 9781781980026 H.E. Bates
Philip Franks
4 66 04:25:26 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

In the second novel in the Pop Larkin series, the Larkin family descends upon Brittany in France. Like fish out of water, they find that things don’t quite turn out their way: the weather is less than ideal, the food is awful and the hotel is in a bad state of repair. But things slowly improve as Pop manages to sweet-talk Mlle Dupont, Angela Snow and her sister Iris, and Charley and Mariette celebrate their first wedding anniversary. A Breath of French Air is a delightful book full of nostalgia, fun and frivolity.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Mar16

When England’s eccentric Larkin family decides to visit Brittany for a summer holiday, the dissimilarity between British and French culture offers opportunities for hilarity. As narrator, Philip Franks has a friendly, upbeat tone and keeps a steady pace throughout the audiobook. His rendering of the dialogue is where his talents especially shine. Franks provides suitable country dialects for Ma and Pop Larkin, which are particularly entertaining in their feeble attempts to speak French. He is equally successful in portraying the French characters with more convincing French pronunciation than the Larkins demonstrate. Franks adds a lighthearted feel to the novel that makes its fun even more so.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Brief Lives (abridged) Brief Lives Biographies abridged Single NA237812 237812 9789626343784 9789629547233 John Aubrey
Brian Cox
2 38 02:38:03 BIO000000 Deleted Available World

William Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, Thomas Hobbes – three of the greatest Englishmen who ever lived. They, and many others, are here remembered by another great Englishman, John Aubrey, whose Brief Lives are some of the wittiest and most moving miniature portraits ever written. Aubrey – a scholar, antiquarian and close observer of both the foibles and the courage of his contemporaries – lived through the upheavals of the English Civil War in the seventeenth century. His little biographies are amusing, ribald, moving; a testament to the brevity of human existence and one of the most precious relics of a distant age.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr06

Brief Lives was posthumously published from the notebooks of the well-connected 17th-century biographer John Aubrey. Behind its unassuming title is a treasure trove of outrageous gossip about famous people. By talking to people who knew his subjects, Aubrey offered bizarre personal details about such celebrities as Walter Raleigh and Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon and René Descartes. Brian Cox reads these extracts with a nice 17th-century precision.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Brothers Karamazov, The (abridged) The Brothers Karamazov Classic Fiction abridged Single NA830612 830612 9789626343067 9789629545048 Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Tim Pigott-Smith
8 154 10:33:52 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dostoyevsky’s famous and well-regarded 1880 novel The Brothers Karamazov is a tale of bitter family rivalries. Three brothers live in a small, typical Russian town. Their father, a selfish, cunning, lascivious figure with little love for them, tries to maintain his control over them and anyone who comes within his orbit. The roots of dissent, unhappiness, hope, ambition and desire run deep in this community as everywhere, and Dostoyevsky brings them to the fore with an unexpected death. The atmospheric spell of this great work of Russian literature is maintained throughout by a masterly reading by Tim Pigott-Smith.

£29.99 $54.98 Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Feb04

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Three brothers, a difficult estranged father, murder, love, hate, goodness and evil – Dostoyevsky’s classic has it all. Most of all, it has Tim Pigott-Smith reading. The veteran British actor and audiobook reader offers a nuanced narration in a pleasant baritone that pitches with excitement when the action explodes and paces evenly when the story calms. It’s an intelligent reading by an actor who seems to know the story intimately – no miss-paced phrasing, no character confusion. Speaking of characters, the voices of the central personalities, including the women, are distinct, believable and revealing. Musical interludes by Scriabin and Borodin are a mood-enhancing plus, and the booklet with the detailed track listing is a model that other producers should follow. Simply lovely.

A.C.S., AudioFile

Brothers Karamazov, The (unabridged) The Brothers Karamazov Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0113 0113 9781843796824 9781843796831 Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Constantine Gregory
29 540 37:01:19 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a titanic figure among the world’s great authors, and The Brothers Karamazov is often hailed as his finest novel. A masterpiece on many levels, it transcends the boundaries of a gripping murder mystery to become a moving account of the battle between love and hate, faith and despair, compassion and cruelty, good and evil.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AD £59.00 €66.00 $80.00 Jul13 Constance Garnett
Browning, Robert (selections) The Great Poets – Robert Browning The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA192212 192212 9789626349229 9789629548230 Robert Browning
David Timson
Patience Tomlinson
1 19 01:16:20 POE000000 Deleted Available World

Robert Browning’s popular poems The Pied Piper of Hamelin and How They Brought the Good News are often anthologised, but it is in his dramatic lyrics such as My Last Duchess and the chilling Porphyria’s Lover that his poetic genius shines. Browning, with his unusual use of language, can be a challenging poet, but one who is always rewarding. This selection shows the many imaginative facets of this often neglected Victorian poet.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 May10
  • How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix
  • Life in a Love
  • A Light Woman
  • The Statue and the Bust
  • My Last Duchess
  • The Confessional
  • A Grammarian’s Funeral
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin
  • ‘You should have heard the Hamelin people…’
  • The Lost Leader
  • Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister
  • The Laboratory
  • Porphyria’s Lover
  • Evelyn Hope
  • Home Thoughts from Abroad
  • Pippa’s Song
Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path, The (unabridged) The Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path Religion unabridged Single NA541612 541612 9789626344163 9789629547479 Urgyen Sangharakshita
5 81 05:34:41 REL007000 Deleted Available World

The Eightfold Path is the most widely known formulation of the Buddha’s teaching. It is ancient, reaching back to the Buddha’s very first discourse, and it is highly venerated as a unique treasury of wisdom and practical guidance. The teaching of The Eightfold Path challenges us to grasp the implications of that vision, and asks us to transform ourselves in its light. Like the teaching itself, this work covers every aspect of life.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Jun06
Bulldog Drummond (unabridged) Bulldog Drummond Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA712912 712912 9789626341292 9789629549336 Sapper
Roy McMillan
7 126 08:38:39 FIC002000 Deleted Available World

Demobilised officer, finding peace incredibly tedious, would welcome diversion. Legitimate if possible; excitement essential. When Captain Hugh Drummond, DSO, MC placed that advertisement, he was looking for adventure. What he finds is an international plot headed by the greatest criminal mastermind in the world. For the sake of the beautiful Phyllis, he faces murderous schemers, acid baths and even wild animals in his attempts to save her father – and his own life. In this, his first appearance, Bulldog Drummond is charming, undaunted and endlessly resourceful: the template of the modern action hero.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Jan10

Many older listeners will have fond childhood memories of reading Bulldog Drummond. Herman McNeile (1888–1937), a vital link between Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Ian Fleming and rich in 1920s social colour, is ripe for revival. He used the pseudonym Sapper for his tales of the trenches because, as a serving member of the Armed Forces he was required to do so, and he kept it on for the nine Drummond novels. These are summed up by the narrator and presenter Roy McMillan as ‘James Bond written by P. G. Wodehouse’. Our hero’s adventures begin when he inserts a personal advert asking for ‘diversion, legitimate if possible, excitement essential’. He gets it in spades in the non-stop action that follows.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Sound Commentary Best of 2010

Sound Commentary Starred Review

Bulldog Drummond was published in 1920 and was a great hit. It was adapted for the stage and filmed starring such luminaries as Ronald Colman and John Barrymore. Drummond also appeared on the radio and TV as well as in ten novels. Captain Hugh Drummond, DSO, MC is fearless, cool under pressure, humorous, a former boxer, big and strong, suave, a sportsman, a gentleman, and intelligent. He kills, but only when necessary.

After he comes home from World War I, Drummond is bored. He craves excitement, so he places an ad offering his services for an adventure, even a criminal one. He receives hundreds of replies, which are sorted out by his ex-bat man James Denny. One letter stands out. It is a plea for help from a damsel in distress, one Phyllis Benton, whose father has fallen into the clutches of the two most dangerous men in England. Henry Lakington, a ruthless killer and torturer, is the second most dangerous man. A fellow calling himself Carl Peterson (who is the villain in the first four novels in the series) is the most dangerous man and has a ‘daughter’ (we’re never quite sure who she is) named Irma. Peterson’s plot is to get money from various millionaires and engineer a Bolshevik revolution in England. He lines up three rich dupes but they will not come into the scheme without an American shipping magnate, Hiram C. Potts. When Peterson pitches the idea, Potts calls him a scoundrel and refuses to cooperate.

Peterson drugs Potts and takes him to a country house next to the Bentons. There, Lakington applies torture in order to get Potts’ signature on a damning document. At this point Drummond snatches the American and whisks him to supposed safety in London. Thus begins the struggle between good and evil, with the fate of an entire nation at stake. Drummond is aided by ex-army buddies, fellow sports club members, and an American cop. He also falls in love with Phyllis Benton. The novel is a nonstop thriller with witty dialogue, romance, deadly wild beasts, and the occasional murder. The action is narrated by Roy McMillan, a director, actor, writer, and abridger. He uses his considerable talents individualizing characters with accents (various British, French, German, American) as well as female characters. Peterson is usually suave, Lakington is usually snarling, Benton is usually drunk. Bulldog Drummond is highly recommended.

Janet Julian, Sound Commentary

Burns, Robert (selections) The Great Poets – Robert Burns The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA196812 196812 9789626349687 9789629548582 Robert Burns
Forbes Masson
1 19 01:18:29 POE005020 Deleted Available World

The 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns (1759–1796), one of the most popular of poets, is celebrated in 2009. A pioneer of the Romantic movement, works such as A Red, Red Rose, A Man’s a Man for a’ That and the ubiquitous Auld Lang Syne, have made him an international figure. Naxos AudioBooks’ popular Great Poets series marks the anniversary with a CD bringing together all the key works.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan09

A Man’s a Man for a’ That
A Red, Red Rose
A Winter Night
Address to a Haggis
Address to the Unco Guid
Ae Fond Kiss
Apology for Declining an Invitation to Dine
Auld Lang Syne
Bessy and her Spinnin’ Wheel
Epistle to a Young Friend
Holy Willie’s Prayer
I’ll Meet Thee on the Lea Rig
Man Was Made to Mourn
My Bonie Mary
My Love She’s but a Lassie Yet
On a Suicide
Robert Bruce’s March To Bannockburn
Such a Parcel of Rogues In A Nation
Tam O’Shanter – A Tale
The Banks o’ Doon
The Cotter’s Saturday Night
From The Jolly Beggars
To a Louse On seeing one on a lady’s bonnet, at church
To a Mouse On turning her up in her nest with the plough
To Mary in Heaven

Caleb Williams (unabridged) Caleb Williams Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0514 0514 9781781983782 William Godwin
Andrew Wincott
17:52:46 FIC004000 FC World

Young, honest Caleb Williams enters the employment of Squire Ferdinando Falkland – a cultured, kindly gentleman who harbours a dreadful secret. When his curiosity uncovers the truth, Caleb finds himself the victim of false accusations, persecution and a corrupt system of justice. His vulnerability is apparent at every turn. Published in 1794, the novel was William Godwin’s sophisticated attack on the political oppression and gross inequality that he saw all around him. It is no ordinary rich-versus-poor narrative; as gripping as a thriller, it is a multi-layered and provocative story with a searing reality at its core.

N/A N/A Band O £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Dec21 John Foley Ross Burman
Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories, The (unabridged) The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0014 0014 9781843794257 9781843794264 H.P. Lovecraft
William Roberts
4 64 04:23:18 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

At the heart of these stories, as with all the best of Lovecraft’s work, is the belief that the Earth was once inhabited by powerful and evil gods, just waiting for the chance to recolonise their planet. Cthulhu is one such god, lurking deep beneath the sea until called into being by cult followers who – like all humans – know not what they do. It is because of these dark, mythic tales with their terrified awareness of the limits of Man’s knowledge, that H.P. Lovecraft is one of the most influential American writers.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct10
  • The Call of Cthulhu
  • The Hound
  • The Dunwich Horror
  • Dagon

One of our favorite narrators, William Roberts is a film actor whose audio projects are rare delights. He once narrated Strangers on a Train, which I rank as one of the 10 best audiobook recordings ever. Here we have “The Call of Cthulhu” by classic horror author H.P. Lovecraft, which includes the title story, plus The Hound and The Dunwich Horror. Outstanding.

H.P. Lovecraft is the master of dark tales, envisaging that in a time before this the Earth was inhabited by evil gods who now wait to retake all that was theirs. Naturally, they are worshipped by a few humans who kid themselves that they can control events. The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories read by William Roberts is full of monstrous beings and dark deeds – gorgeous!

Kati Nicholl, The Daily Express

Call of the Wild, The (abridged) The Call of the Wild Classic Fiction abridged Single NA206412 206412 9789626340646 9789629545505 Jack London
Garrick Hagon
2 38 02:37:44 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Buck is living the good life in the soft South, when he is snatched and transported to the savagery of the Northland, where the Klondike gold rush has brought out rough basic instincts of survival in men – and dogs. He adjusts to the gruelling regime of a sled dog, which almost kills him, but he survives to find a new and fulfilling way of life. The Call of the Wild is not only a classic ‘ripping yarn’, but also an enduring masterpiece of the inescapable laws of nature.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul00
Call of the Wild, The (unabridged) The Call of the Wild Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA392312 392312 9789626349236 9789629548247 Jack London
William Roberts
3 54 03:40:35 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Buck is living the good life in the soft South, when he is snatched and transported to the savagery of the Northland. There, the Klondike gold rush has brought out rough basic instincts of survival in men – and dogs. He adjusts to the gruelling regime of a sled dog, which almost kills him, but he survives to find a new and fulfilling way of life. The Call of the Wild is not only a classic tale, but also an enduring masterpiece of the inescapable laws of nature. Now in unabridged form in a new reading by William Roberts.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb09

In the great tradition of classic animal stories, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, read by William Roberts, is a wrenching story. From the peril Buck the sled dog faces in the Arctic to the suffering he endures under brutal masters, listening to his adventure is no tame experience. Roberts has a voice that could have belonged to one of this era’s gold panners. He sounds like a grizzled man who would never display overt emotion but who, nonetheless, can tell a captivating yarn. While Roberts doesn’t use great character range, he lets London’s writing – especially the passages about the mysterious, enchanting call of the wild – ring with its startling beauty.

R.L.G., AudioFile

Sound Commentary Best of 2010

Jack London’s deceptively simple direct way of writing combined with one of best dog stories ever, is why this book is such an enduring classic. And TV, film and stage actor William Roberts’s reading is perfect. His robust voice, his ability to keep listeners glued, and the fond care with which he reads is spellbinding. When gold is found in the Klondike, there is a great need for sled dogs. Buck, part St. Bernard and part Scotch shepherd is stolen and moves from his happy life as ‘king’ of the Santa Clara ranch where he lives a life of adventure, peril, though also often cruelty, to Alaska. There is a string of tales from his ‘taming’ to the ways of sled pulling, to the inept trio who are doomed, dog fighting, survival, and finally to meeting John Thornton and their mutual love and understanding for one another. The longer he lives in Alaska, the more in tune with the ancestral ways of his dog ancestors Buck becomes, dreaming of old half clad masters and ‘shades of all manner of dogs, half-wolves and wild wolves’ until he is drawn deep into the wilderness. This listener found this to be one of the best recordings I’ve listened to in a long time; I had to be careful while driving and listening because I got caught up in being in one of my favorite places and living the life of a dog. Any parent or librarian looking for something short and exciting for a child, young adult or family listening can’t go wrong with Roberts’s performance and Call of the Wild, a guaranteed hit!

Mary Purucker, Sound Commentary

This was the story first published in 1903 that made the struggling writer Jack London famous. Listen to William Roberts’s majestic reading and you will understand why. Set in the 1890s Klondike gold rush, it tells how Buck, a huge wolfhound, is stolen from his pampered Californian home and becomes a sled dog in the arctic wastes of the Yukon. As brutal as his successive masters are, the pack of dogs he is harnessed alongside is even deadlier. How Buck survives the rule of club and fang is a classic, once misguidedly described as a children’s book because it is narrated by a dog. Of course it is an allegory – civilisation versus the old primordial instinct for survival at any price – but for pure excitement and adventure it has no equal.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Camilla (unabridged) Camilla A Picture of Youth Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0365 0365 9781781982495 Fanny Burney
Lucy Scott
859 37:28:00 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Among Jane Austen’s favourite novels, and a key work in the rise of Romanticism, Camilla follows the story of three young women, from childhood to young adulthood, and their pursuit of matrimony. Kind but naive Camilla is in love with Edgar Mandlebert, a handsome and noble young man, but must suffer a series of frequent misunderstandings that threaten their happy union. Intelligent Eugenia, destined to inherit her uncle’s great wealth, is plagued with misfortune as she is left disfigured by smallpox and has men court her for financial gain only. Meanwhile their cousin, beautiful but selfish Indiana, never finds a fortune for her good looks. Accompanying them is a cast of memorable characters, such as the rowdy prankster Lionel, the dim-witted Mr Dubster and the scornful Miss Margland.

N/A N/A Band AD £59.00 €66.00 $80.00 Jul19 John Foley Timothy Brown
Can You Forgive Her? (unabridged) Can You Forgive Her? Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0264 0264 9781781980422 9781781980439 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
28 766 33:36:16 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Young, attractive and wealthy, Alice Vavasor is a woman in the prime of her life. And yet one question torments her: ‘What should a woman do with her life?’ Torn between the kind but dull Mr Grey and her dangerous and exciting cousin George, she is prone to constant indecision and uncertainty, much to the detriment of Mr Grey. Can you Forgive Her? is a crisp and engaging novel, brimming with romance, humour and pathos. It is the first of six in Trollope’s celebrated Palliser series.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AA £52.00 €61.00 $71.00 Apr17 John Foley Thomas Goose
Candide, and Zadig (unabridged) Candide, and Zadig Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA688112 688112 9789626348819 9789629547820 Voltaire
Neville Jason
6 104 07:03:48 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Voltaire’s razor-sharp satire on philosophical optimism Candide is coupled here with another of the author’s most celebrated works, Zadig. Both challenge the moral and philosophical orthodoxies of the day with humour and sly wit, whilst parodying the clichéd formulas of so many contemporary novels. Candide traces the fortunes of its titular character, a staunch optimist who eventually becomes disillusioned by a series of hardships and misfortunes. Zadig likewise follows its main character Zadig, a Babylonian philosopher, as he is subjected to the whims of Fate and the machinations of those around him.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Jul08
Candle in the Wind & The Book of Merlyn, The (unabridged) The Candle in the Wind & The Book of Merlyn Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA988012 988012 9789626348802 9789629547615 T.H. White
Neville Jason
9 150 10:16:56 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

One of the most inventive and charming retellings of the Arthurian legend, this is the final part of The Once and Future King. In these last two books, the ageing king faces the greatest challenge of his reign, when his own son threatens to overthrow him and destroy everything he has worked for. In The Book of Merlyn, Arthur’s tutor Merlyn reappears, and the ancient magician teaches him that, even in the face of apparent ruin, there is still hope.

£32.99 $59.98 Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Aug08
Canterbury Tales II, The (unabridged) The Canterbury Tales II Poetry unabridged Single NA325612 325612 9789626342565 9789629546472 Geoffrey Chaucer
Philip Madoc
Frances Jeater
John Rowe
Charlie Simpson
John Moffatt
3 51 03:30:12 POE022000 Deleted Available World

Four more delightful tales from one of the most entertaining storytellers of all time. Though writing in the thirteenth century, Chaucer’s wit and observation comes down undiminished through the ages, especially in this accessible modern verse translation. The stories vary considerably from the uproarious Wife of Bath’s Tale, promoting the power of women to the sober account of patient Griselda in the Clerk’s Tale.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb02

The Clerk’s Tale
The Wife of Bath’s Tale
The Nun’s Priest’s Tale
The Reeve’s Tale

Frank Ernest Hill John Tydeman Sarah Butcher
Canterbury Tales III, The (unabridged) The Canterbury Tales III The Summoner’s Tale | The Friar’s Tale | The Manciple’s Tale | The Physician’s Tale | The Seaman’s Tale | The Lawyer’s Tale | The Prioress’s Tale Poetry unabridged Single NA330412 330412 9789626343043 9789629546489 Geoffrey Chaucer
Tim Pigott-Smith
Timothy West
Michael Maloney
Philip Madoc
Stephen Tompkinson
Charles Kay
Rosalind Shanks
Sean Barrett
3 52 03:33:32 POE022000 Deleted Available World

Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a collection of narratives written between 1387 and 1400, tells of a group of thirty people from all layers of society who pass the time along their pilgrimage to Canterbury by telling stories to one another, their interaction mediated (at times) by the affable host – Chaucer himself. Naxos AudioBooks’ third volume presents the tales of six people, here in an unabridged modern verse translation (by Frank Ernest Hill, (1935)). This is an ideal way to appreciate the genuinely funny and droll talent of England’s early master storyteller. Seven leading British actors bring the medieval world into the twenty-first century, and at least in terms of character, not much seems to have changed!

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jan04

The Summoner’s Tale
The Friar’s Tale
The Manciple’s Tale
The Doctor’s Tale
The Lawyer’s Tale
The Seaman’s Tale
The Prioress’s Tale
The Physician’s Tale

Frank Ernest Hill John Tydeman Sarah Butcher
Canterbury Tales, The (unabridged) The Canterbury Tales The Prologue | The Knight’s Tale | The Miller’s Tale | The Pardoner’s Tale | The Merchant’s Tale | The Franklin’s Tale Poetry unabridged Single NA304412 304412 9789626340448 9789629546465 Geoffrey Chaucer
Philip Madoc
Edward de Souza
Anthony Donovan
Clive Merrison
Clive Swift
Anton Lesser
3 49 03:21:40 POE022000 Deleted Deleted World

Chaucer’s greatest work, written towards the end of the fourteenth century, paints a brilliant picture of medieval life, society, and values. The stories range from the romantic, courtly idealism of The Knight’s Tale to the joyous bawdy of the Miller’s; all are told with a freshness and vigour in this modern verse translation that make them a delight to hear.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct04

The Prologue
The Knight’s Tale
The Miller’s Tale
The Pardoner’s Tale
The Merchant’s Tale
The Franklin’s Tale

Frank Ernest Hill Nicolas Soames Perry Keenlyside
Canterville Ghost, The (unabridged) The Canterville Ghost Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA197412 197412 9789626349748 9789629548735 Oscar Wilde
Rupert Degas
1 19 01:17:29 FIC012000 Deleted Available World

A terrifying ghost is haunting the ancient mansion of Canterville Chase, complete with creaking floorboards, clanking chains and gruesome disguises – but the new occupants seem strangely undisturbed by his presence. Deftly contrasting the conventional gothic ghost story with the pragmatism of the modern world, Wilde creates a gently comic fable of the conflict between old and new. Rupert Degas’s hilarious reading brings the absurdity and theatricality of the story to life.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Oct09

When it comes to handling ghosts, the characters in Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost are far bolder than Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. When Marley’s ghost comes rattling his chains, you may remember, the old miser drops his gruffness in the face of his old associate’s awful warnings. Not Wilde’s Hiram B. Otis, an ‘American minister’ who purchases an English country house and moves in with his family despite dire warnings that it is haunted.

The ghost, Sir Simon Canterville – who’s been scaring the daylights out of the house’s inhabitants since his death in 1584 – wastes no time in mounting a haunt. In the dead of night, Otis hears chains clanking in the halls and beholds an awful sight:

Right in front of him he saw, in the wan moonlight, an old man of terrible aspect. His eyes were as red burning coals; long grey hair fell over his shoulders in matted coils; his garments, which were of antique cut, were soiled and ragged, and from his wrists and ankles hung heavy manacles and rusty gyves.

‘My dear sir,’ said Mr. Otis, ‘I really must insist on your oiling those chains, and have brought you for that purpose a small bottle of the Tammany Rising Sun Lubricator.’

Oiling those chains! Rupert Degas is pitch-perfect in the Naxos recording – quite a departure from some of his previous Naxos recordings, including Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Kafka’s The Trial. The grimness and desperation of those stories is far from the desperation Sir Simon faces with the Otises. No matter what he does, he can’t bloody well scare them! The couple’s twins boys hit him in the knees with pea-shooters, and, when Mrs. Otis hears the ghost’s terrible laugh, her reaction is: ‘I am afraid you are far from well … and have brought you a bottle of Dr. Dobell’s tincture. If it is indigestion, you will find it a most excellent remedy.’

Degas captures the nasally voices of the Americans (for Wilde, Americans are the ones with the accents) and Sir Simon’s exasperated harrumphs – which turn, later, into sighs of relief as somebody finally pities him: the Otises’ daughter, Virginia. Degas gives listeners a hilarious performance that’s an ideal antidote for the shivers if you’ve seen Paranormal Activity.

Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times

British actor Degas’ gift for accents and flair for the dramatic make him an excellent choice to read Wilde’s beloved gothic ghost story set in Great Britain. A ghost has been haunting residents at Canterville Chase for centuries. But these poltergeist powers seem lost on the Otis family from America. Degas’ reading is lively, brisk, and laced with just the right amount of foreboding, and he subtly raises pitch during suspenseful moments. Degas gives Mr. Otis the deep, monotone, matter-of-fact tenor of a dull diplomat, while he portrays Mrs. Otis, a Manhattan socialite, in a much higher register, pretentious and pinched. The ghost, frustrated and world-weary over failure to frighten, is appropriately raspy and guttural. Each chapter is introduced by classical music and abundant sound effects – rattling chains, creaking floorboards, thunder and lightning – to greatly enhance the mood. Perfect for a dark and stormy night.

Allison Block, Booklist

Anyone who is only familiar with the old Margaret O’Brien and Charles Laughton movie version or one of the more recent versions of The Canterville Ghost will enjoy meeting the Otises and the ghostly Sir Simon as Wilde actually envisioned them. When the American Minister to the court of St. James purchases Canterville Chase and is warned of the ghost, he declines to believe in it and says he will ‘take the furniture and the ghost at evaluation.’ As Sir Simon proceeds to haunt (and he has fearsomely haunted before) he comes to believe in him, but he and his family will brook no nonsense. They give him something to oil his noisy chains. The twin sons bedevil him, and the daughter takes pity on him.

Rupert Degas is an excellent narrator with his fine cultured British voice as the present Lord Canterville, the past Sir Simon, and with a pretty good set of American accents for all members of the Otis family, male and female … This is such fun to hear the authentic and brilliant Wilde and it is very enjoyable family listening for all ages.

Mary Purucker,

Captive – Part I, The (abridged) The Captive – Part I Modern Classics abridged Single NA319012 319012 9789626341902 9789629546090 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
3 55 03:45:21 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

Volume IX of the Naxos AudioBooks recording of Remembrance of Things Past. In The Captive, Part I, Marcel’s obsessive love for Albertine makes her virtually a captive in his Paris apartment.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Mar00

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Neville Jason strives for clarity and succeeds with distinction. Proust spent more than a decade cloistered in his sickbed, writing his massive, autobiographical novel, or rather, series of novels, In Search of Lost Time. In this volume, published posthumously in 1923, our hero Marcel remembers his obsessive affair with Albertine, whom he sequesters in his Paris flat. Naxos is publishing the entire oeuvre narrated by the indefatigable Neville Jason. No one could undertake such a job thoroughly without decades of preparation. Judging by this, the actor has put in plenty of time, even abridging the text himself. As reader he has a fine voice and excellent technique. He strives for clarity – not an easy job considering some of the author’s page-long sentences – and succeeds with distinction. If the resonances at times elude him – well, they elude a lot of people. What he has achieved is well worth hearing. And he deserves plaudits for the sheer chutzpah of taking this job on.

Y.R., AudioFile

Captive – Part II, The (abridged) The Captive – Part II Modern Classics abridged Single NA320312 320312 9789626342039 9789629546106 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
3 58 03:56:36 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

The fractured relationship between Albertine and Marcel continues, with Marcel’s fixations of his lover’s outside interests driving the affair to a bitter conclusion. Neville Jason’s outstanding abridgement and performance of this great classic draws near a conclusion with only two more volumes to go – The Fugitive and Time Regained. This is the tenth volume in this widely admired series.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jun00
Captive, The (unabridged) The Captive Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0104 0104 9781843796220 9781843796237 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
16 570 19:54:39 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. Neville Jason’s unabridged recording of the work runs to 150 hours. The Captive is the fifth of seven volumes. The Narrator’s obsessive love for Albertine makes her virtually a captive in his Paris apartment. He suspects she may be attracted to her own sex. Based on the translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

£55.00 $98.98 Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Sep12 C. K. Scott Moncrieff
Carmen (unabridged) Opera Explained – Carmen Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558010 558010 9781843790365 9781843793076 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 31 01:05:54 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Carmen is among the most popular operas for all the obvious reasons: great characters, a gripping story and fabulous music. But what sets it on a pinnacle is an amazing combination of three factors: a sizzling gipsy heroine (one of the most psychologically complex and compelling characters in all theatre), great atmosphere (Spain, hot sun, the bull-ring) and the prodigality of melodic invention – one great tune after another, at least a dozen of which are the staples of Madison Avenue and the animated cartoon. Like a surprising number of opera-house staples, Carmen was not a success at its first performance. In fact, it is likely that its failure contributed to the early death of the composer. But as Thomson Smillie shows in his accessible introduction, the emotionally driven nature of its heroine and her admirers, Don José and Escamillo, makes Carmen unforgettable. As always in the Opera Explained series, the music itself plays an integral role.

£5.99 $11.99 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Apr02
Casebook of Sherlock Holmes – Volume I, The (unabridged) The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes – Volume I The Problem of Thor Bridge, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone, The Adventure of the Creeping Man, The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA446512 446512 9789626344651 9789629545123 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
4 68 04:41:32 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

These six cases are among the last undertaken by Sherlock Holmes before he retired to the Sussex downs. However, the problems facing the sleuth are as diverse and challenging as ever. With seeking the whereabouts of the stolen Mazarin Diamond, discovering the importance of being called Garrideb, encountering a mysterious murder on Thor Bridge, searching for eternal youth and the threat of a Vampire in Sussex, there is no sign of Holmes’s deductive powers slowing down. David Timson’s award-winning series is widely acknowledged to be among the very best interpretations of the master sleuth.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jul07
  • The Problem of Thor Bridge
  • The Adventure of the Mazarine Stone
  • The Adventure of the Creeping Man
  • The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
  • The Adventure of the Three Garridebs
  • The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier

It’s just a regular day for Sherlock Holmes and his admiring sidekick Dr Watson – no sooner has a cipher of seemingly random numbers been rapidly revealed by the razor-sharp Baker Street sleuth to contain a dire warning, than a policeman turns up to whisk the two men off to a moated castle where someone has been murdered in baffling circumstances. Holmes sees the hand of his deadly enemy Professor Moriarty behind the deed, but the roots of the tale turn out to be in the violent gang culture of the Pennsylvania coalfields. This backstory extends Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Valley of Fear beyond the usual length for a Holmes adventure, although David Timson, who reads the story, has to work hard to keep us entertained until the great detective comes back on the scene.

Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

With The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes Volume I David Timson has almost completed his unabridged reading of the entire Sherlock Holmes Canon – and what a triumph it is! As fine an achievement in its way as the complete BBC Radio 4 dramatisation. Once again Mr Timson proves that he is the equal of any of our great ‘voice men’, capable of creating a living character by the pitch of his voice and the rhythm of his speech. As an example, there are bellicose old autocrats in four of the six stories here (‘Thor Bridge’, ‘The Mazarin Stone’, ‘The Creeping Man’, and ‘The Blanched Soldier’) but each comes across as a unique individual. The stories themselves vary considerably in quality; Mr Timson has treated the worst as seriously as the best – and so unintentionally made me aware while listening of just how poor the writing is in ‘The Mazarin Stone!’. As usual, David Timson himself has provided perceptive and informative notes to the stories, and Sarah Butcher has chosen thoroughly appropriate music, this time by Saint-Saëns, Grieg and Borodin.

Roger Johnson, The Newsletter of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London

Casebook of Sherlock Holmes – Volume II, The (unabridged) The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes – Volume II The Veiled Lodger | The Illustrious Client | The Three Gables | The Retired Colourman | The Lion’s Mane | Shoscombe Old Place, Plus: The Wonderful Toy – written by David Timson Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA486212 486212 9789626348628 9789629545130 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
David Timson
4 77 05:17:36 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In the last six stories written by Conan Doyle featuring Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, the duo face some of their most challenging cases. In The Adventure of the Illustrious Client, Holmes puts his own life in danger as he tries to cut short a young girl’s infatuation with the notorious wife-murderer Baron Gruner. Why is Mrs. Maberley offered a handsome price for the Three Gables, provided she leaves at once and takes nothing with her? Even in his retirement, Holmes’s skills are called upon, as he follows a trail of death on the Sussex coast in The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Mar08
  • The Veiled Lodger
  • The Illustrious Client
  • The Three Gables
  • The Retired Colourman
  • The Lion’s Mane
  • Shoscombe Old Place
  • The Wonderful Toy

Seven more truly ingenious criminal cases, only some of whose arch villains are the intellectual match of the legendary violin-playing, opium-smoking Baker Street sleuth, as he modestly observes to his long-suffering sidekick Dr Watson. Here’s one Baron Adelbert Gruner, “cool as ice, silky voiced, poisonous as a cobra with a superficial suggestion of afternoon tea, and all the cruelty of the grave behind it”. If Holmes’s insufferable conceitedness didn’t get under your skin (and David Timson portrays him brilliantly), you probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

With this package David Timson and Naxos complete their 10-year project to record the entire Holmes writings by Conan Doyle. Sherlockians regard The Casebook with mixed feelings, being the last and probably the least of Conan Doyle’s Holmes efforts. David Timson, however, excels in these respectful readings and more than compensates for the lesser material. He goes beyond voicing words clearly; he savors the language and gives attention to every phrase. The subtle use of music to mark setting changes is also effective. The collection concludes with a bonus story written and read by Timson (‘The Wonderful Toy’) on Holmes’s encounter with the new gramophone and, by implication, the birth of the audiobook era.

G.H., AudioFile

Castle of Otranto, The (abridged) The Castle of Otranto Classic Fiction abridged Single NA237912 237912 9789626343791 9789629545796 Horace Walpole
Neville Jason
2 37 02:33:31 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The Castle of Otranto is regarded as the first Gothic novel. The son of Manfred, Prince of Otranto, is mysteriously killed on his wedding day by a huge helmet. The event leads to a fast-paced story of jealous passion, intrigue, murder and supernatural phenomena unfolding in an atmosphere of thunderclaps, moonlight, and dark castle walls – mirroring the inner turmoils of the characters themselves. Horace Walpole’s tale, an immediate success when it first appeared in 1764, is a classic of its genre.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr06
Castle of Otranto, The (unabridged) The Castle of Otranto Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0186 0186 9781843798651 9781843798668 Horace Walpole
Neville Jason
4 71 04:40:02 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The Castle of Otranto is regarded as the first Gothic novel. The son of Manfred, Prince of Otranto, is mysteriously killed on his wedding day by a huge helmet. The event leads to a fast-paced story of jealous passion, intrigue, murder and supernatural phenomena unfolding in an atmosphere of thunderclaps, moonlight and dark castle walls – mirroring the inner turmoils of the characters themselves. Horace Walpole’s tale, an immediate success when it first appeared in 1764, is a classic of its genre.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Aug14
Castle, The (unabridged) The Castle Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0004 0004 9781843794059 9781843794066 Franz Kafka
Allan Corduner
10 189 13:04:46 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A land-surveyor, known only as K., arrives at a small village permanently covered in snow and dominated by a castle to which access seems permanently denied. K.’s attempts to discover why he has been called constantly run up against the peasant villagers, who are in thrall to the absurd bureaucracy that keeps the castle shut, and the rigid hierarchy of power among the self-serving bureaucrats themselves. But in this strange wilderness, there is passion, tenderness and considerable humour. Darkly bizarre, this complex book was the last novel by one of the 20th century’s greatest and most influential writers.

£35.00 $62.98 Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 Nov10

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

This novel-length parable by the brilliant master of existential angst Franz Kafka was published posthumously in 1926. Our hero, K. (pronounced ’Kah’ in this recording), enters a small village ready to assume duties as municipal surveyor. He finds that the mysterious, bureaucratic, and wilful denizens of the nearby castle exercise absolute and self-serving rule over the precincts, and choose to throw obstacle after obstacle in his path. At times humorous and always nightmarish, this unfinished existential parable, while already powerful on the page, gains additional potency from British actor-director Allan Corduner’s spot-on narration. He treats the shocking and bizarre with matter-of-fact cool while breathing life into the dramatis personae. Through his efforts we feel K’s humiliation and alienation, and it makes us shiver.

Y.R., AudioFile

Cathedrals – In a Nutshell (unabridged) Cathedrals – In a Nutshell Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA138712 138712 9781843793878 9781843793908 Jonathan Gregson
Roy McMillan
1 19 01:17:52 ARC016000 Deleted Available World

For almost two millennia, cathedrals have been among the most imposing, astonishing and inspiring buildings in Europe. Regardless of faith, their scale and architectural daring has never ceased to spark wonder. This guide traces the development of the cathedral from its earliest beginnings as a Bishop’s house, through the Romanesque and Gothic periods and up to the most extravagant contemporary designs around the world. In doing so, it sheds light on social, religious and architectural history, as well as bringing the story of these extraordinary buildings to life.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep10

Original audiobook productions are increasing in number and variety. Jonathan Gregson, who was accidentally dropped into the font at his christening in St Paul’s Cathedral, Calcutta, developed a critical eye for architecture that serves him well in Cathedrals – In a Nutshell. Although Gregson begins with an appreciation of the great European cathedrals, he ranges onwards and outwards to ebulliently Baroque cathedrals in South America, ’corrugated-iron Gothic’ in colonial Africa and such triumphs of modern engineering as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool from 1967, the concrete triumphalism of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasília and the $300 million Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Ivory Coast, the world’s largest church, built in 1990. Roy McMillan narrates with his customary intelligent energy.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Cavalleria rusticana (unabridged) Opera Explained – Cavalleria rusticana Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558080 558080 9781843790846 9781843793205 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 36 01:16:41 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Cavalleria rusticana is the short opera that has all the elements of a grand opera compressed into a single highly dramatic time span. The story of love, lust, blood-feud and betrayal played out against the pageantry of the Easter celebrations in a Sicilian village delivers an emotional wallop because of the youthful vigour and musical wealth of its great score which includes the glorious Easter Hymn and the deeply moving Intermezzo. Mascagni was never to repeat his youthful success but this brief work is enough to ensure his immortality.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Feb04
Cellist of Sarajevo, The (unabridged) The Cellist of Sarajevo Contemporary Fiction unabridged Single NA633312 633312 9789626343333 9789629549510 Steven Galloway
Gareth Armstrong
6 77 05:28:11 FIC000000 Deleted Deleted USA Only

Sarajevo, in the 1990s, is a hellish place. The ongoing war devours human life, tears families apart and transforms even banal routines, such as acquiring water, into life-threatening expeditions. Day after day, a cellist stations himself in the midst of the devastation, defying the ever-present snipers to play tributes to victims of a massacre. A true story of a cellist’s resistance helps to form this pivotal event in Steven Galloway’s extraordinary novel. Against this, the author touchingly describes three ordinary townspeople and their efforts to retain their humanity, sanity and autonomy as war takes hold of their lives. This bestselling novel is immediate, vivid and deeply affecting on audiobook, fully immersing the listener in the havoc of war.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Jan10

Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo is set in war-torn Sarajevo in the Nineties. When 22 civilians are killed as they queue for water a cellist determines to play the piece of music that gives him the most hope, Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor, at the same spot every day for 22 days in their memory.

Meanwhile, three other Sarajevans live their lives in constant peril. Kenan, frightened but determined to make the dangerous, daily journey to fetch water for his family; Dragan, who has to cross the city to get to the bakery where he works; and Arrow, the nom de guerre of a young sniper assigned to protect the cellist. Wonderfully moving.

Kati Nicholl,

Why did the Sarajevan cross the road? To get to the other side without fatally exposing himself to sniper fire. In Sarajevo, the city that was under siege for three hellish years in the early 1990s, every excursion outside was a risk. ‘Sniper alley’ wasn’t just the road that international journalists took between the airport and the Holiday Inn, reflects Kenan, one of the three intertwined characters enduring the almost unendurable in this novel. Kenan braves the streets to collect water for his family; Dragan has to go to the bakery where he works; and Arrow is on a mission to pick off with her rifle the gunmen aiming at her area. Amid it all, a cellist emerges daily to play Albinoni’s Adagio at the spot where the enemy wiped out a bread queue – a real event around which Galloway has created this intimate chamber-piece novel. Strains of the haunting work, played by Sarah Butcher in a specially made recording, add to the book’s power to move.

Karen Robinson, Sunday Times

Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo is an elegant fictional embroidery of a true protest: that of the cellist Vedran Smailovic, who mourned the deaths of 22 people – who were queuing outside a shop when a missile struck them – by playing Albinoni’s Adagio on the same spot on 22 successive days, despite the ubiquitous snipers. The novel shows how the cellist’s protest affects other people’s struggles with their consciences. One is a sniper who finds that her task of protecting the cellist presents her with ethical problems. Gareth Armstrong narrates with impeccable pace and timing, beautifully counter-pointed by Sarah Butcher’s playing of Albinoni’s music.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Unlike Khaled Hosseini and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, both of whom are natives of the war-torn countries in which their bestselling first novels were set, Galloway has no personal experience of the city in which this grim story of survival through the Bosnian war takes place. His main characters, however – including the cellist and Arrow, a female sniper shooting at the Serbian soldiers bombarding Sarajevo from the surrounding hills – are based on real people. The story is simple. A shell explodes in the market. The cellist witnesses the carnage from his window and, for the following 22 days, takes a stool and his cello to the marketplace and plays Albinoni’s famous adagio in memory of the 22 victims. It makes headlines around the world. The cellist represents the return of hope to a besieged city. Within a week, the Serbs have sent a sniper to kill him, but Arrow has the situation in hand. Or has she? Sarajevo’s enemies are not confined to the surrounding hills: there are hostile agents, spies and traitors in the city, the army, the government itself, exploiting the horror of war for their own ends. The style is spare, the reading remorseless, the pressure relentless. This is a book you won’t easily forget.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

In 1990s Sarajevo, war is devouring people’s lives. In the midst of this vividly conveyed hell of massacre and destruction, one cellist braves the snipers to play his tribute to the dead. This is based on a true story and includes Albinoni’s haunting Adagio.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

The Times/Sunday Times Best Audiobooks of the Year

The audio version of Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo, one of the year’s outstanding titles, has one unassailable advantage over the book: its inclusion of the work that the eponymous hero plays daily at the spot where enemy snipers wiped out a bread queue during the hellish siege years of the 1990s. The cellist Sarah Butcher recorded Albinoni’s Adagio for this production, and its haunting sound weaves itself into the story in this harrowing novel, read by Gareth Armstrong.

Karen Armstrong, The Sunday Times

Charles Dickens: A Portrait in Letters (selections) Charles Dickens: A Portrait in Letters Biographies selections Single NA0116 0116 9781843796886 9781843796893 Charles Dickens
Simon Callow
4 61 04:10:00 BIO007000 Deleted Deleted World

Those who only know Charles Dickens from his novels will be fascinated to discover the private and personal Dickens in this selection of his letters. His sister-in-law Georgina Hogarth thought they expressed his individuality; his friend Forster thought them literature. They give us a portrait of a complex man with so many different facets to his personality, ranging from the serious, when discussing social issues, to the outrageously humorous when writing merely to entertain his many friends. 200 years after his birth he still enlightens and entertains us.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct12

Charles Dickens hoped that none of the many letters he wrote would ever surface after he was gone. In fact, he implored his friends and relatives to destroy them. But, luckily, many of these letters have survived, and they paint a fascinating picture of him as a man.

Always the actor and novelist, Dickens loved to assume a character in his writing, seeking to entertain his audience as much as convey information. Letter writing seems to have been as much a joy to him as working on his novels.

In this audio presentation of Charles Dickens: A Portrait in Letters, Simon Callow shares some of his more interesting letters. Focusing on themes like friendship, work, travel, the theatre, and love, the letters are arranged to dig deeper into his personality. And the letters themselves are read with the sense that Dickens is reading them aloud as he is writing them. Interspersed between the letters, some general information about Dickens or the intended recipient are provided.

The novels of Dickens have enchanted readers, and his fans will enjoy a more intimate look at this very interesting man. I highly recommend Charles Dickens: A Portrait in Letters.

Alice Berger, Bergers Book Reviews

Dickens leaps out from these letters as a man of energy and empathy. He’s horrified by the levity of the crowd at a barbarous public execution ‘as though the name of Christ had never been heard’; disgusted by the universal expectoration in America which left drawing-room carpets as if they’d been covered in oysters; indelibly marked by tending a dying man after the Staplehurst train crash. Above all, he’s a superb dramatist, which makes Simon Callow an inspired choice of narrator.

Rachel Redford, The Oldie

Not surprisingly, over his lifetime, Dickens wrote many letters. David Timson and Simon Callow find the man behind the letters, exploring Dickens’s emotions – from joy and humour to confusion, great sadness, and resignation. Timson is as interested in the material as the listener will be. His crisp tenor voice is a pleasant contrast to Callow’s deeper, rounder tones. Callow is a full cast unto himself. Not only is he Dickens but he also creates a complete panoply of prominent and lesser-known recipients of Dickens’s letters. Callow and Timson create myriad personalities with varying accents, tones, class distinctions and personal idiosyncrasies that are nearly flawless.

S.J.H., AudioFile

Charterhouse of Parma, The (unabridged) The Charterhouse of Parma Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0546 0546 9781781984109 Stendhal
Nicholas Boulton
19:21:46 FIC004000 FC World

The Charterhouse of Parma is a twisting tale of passion and intrigue following the adventures of Fabrizio del Dongo, a young Italian nobleman who dreams of glory on the battlefields of Europe and finds himself fighting alongside Napoleon at Waterloo. After returning home, Fabrizio becomes entangled in Machiavellian scheming, an ill-advised romance, and a fatal duel that lands him in prison, where he begins a star-crossed love affair with the ethereal Clelia, the commandant’s daughter. Admired by Balzac, who considered it the most important novel of his time, The Charterhouse of Parma is a profoundly moving reflection on power, prestige and freedom.

N/A N/A Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Jul22 C.K. Scott Moncrieff John Foley Timothy Brown

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 guide, and he oversees the adventures of ‘our hero,’ the headstrong Fabrizio, with open partiality. Boulton slips easily into that traditional narrative role and takes us through Stendhal’s rollicking action-filled narrative at an unflagging pace. His performance is classic, and now more than ever, Stendhal’s sanity and good humor are a welcome antidote to the modern world’s harsher political realities.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (unabridged) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Poetry unabridged Single NA0137 0137 9781843797418 9781843797425 Lord Byron
Jamie Parker
4 76 04:55:17 POE005020 Deleted Available World

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage is a fascinating portrait of 19th-century Europe, disillusioned and ravaged by the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. The protagonist, whose breathtaking journey echoes Byron’s own life story, plunges into the exciting unknown: the nature of humanity and the transformative effects of travel burst through the pages in four powerful cantos of Spenserian stanzas. Here is the poem that set Byron on his meteoric rise to fame in London society.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jul15

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Jamie Parker wisely avoids poetic affectation or awkward emphasis on rhyme or rhythm in reading Byron’s long poem on his European travels, which introduced the world-weary ‘Byronic hero’. Parker emphasises sense, letting it direct his reading, but the rhyme and rhythm come through as a kind of lyrical, mellifluous prose, bathing the listener in a lush flow of words. His reading is admirably clear, expressive, and emotional. Listeners who try reading the poem themselves may find that Parker’s narration is actually easier to understand. Nonetheless, the density of allusions – references to earlier history and literature as well as to Byron’s own time – will make this a challenge for most listeners. It’s still worthwhile, and in Parker’s rendition an absorbing and beautiful piece.

W.M., AudioFile

“I woke up one morning and found myself famous,” Byron recalled after the publication in 1812 of the first two cantos of his versified travelogue, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, fruit of a two-year grand tour. Until then he had been despised as a dissolute show-off; suddenly he was the toast of literary society. Byron’s remarkable portrait of Spain, Albania and Greece as they were during the Napoleonic wars is laced with tips on seduction (“Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare”), political satire and rapture about literature, landscape, architecture and dashing national attire. The poem was completed in 1818, extended with reflections on Waterloo and a melancholic elegy on Italy’s decline. Written to be listened to in Regency drawing rooms to the flutter of fans and cocked lorgnettes, there is no better way of experiencing it than Jamie Parker’s beautifully judged performance.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Childhood, Boyhood and Youth (unabridged) Childhood, Boyhood and Youth Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0550 0550 9781781984147 Leo Tolstoy
Roger May
15:43:30 FIC004000 FC World

Blending fact and fiction, this trilogy by a very young Tolstoy centres on the inner life of Nikolai as he navigates the universal challenge of growing up. In relating his thoughts and feelings, his self-awareness and embarrassing mistakes, the work is timeless: regardless of era, location and environment, we are given an unvarnished portrait of one boy – both self-important and self-deprecating – as he tries to find his place in the world. The sense of nostalgia, with its strange blend of sadness and solace, is tangible as the years pass and the child becomes a young man. In his old age Tolstoy dismissed this first substantial work of fiction from his early twenties, yet it continues to absorb and touch its readers, who find that his deep understanding of the human condition was already in evidence here.

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Oct22 Louise and Aylmer Maude (updated) Neil Rosser Timothy Brown
Children of the New Forest, The (abridged) The Children of the New Forest Junior Classics abridged Single NA388212 388212 9789626348826 9789629547554 Frederick Marryat
Glen McCready
3 53 03:43:21 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The Children of the New Forest is Captain Marryat’s classic children’s adventure story. The four Beverley children find themselves orphaned when their father is killed by Cromwell’s army at the outset of the English Civil War. The book follows their experiences as they are forced to abandon their aristocratic title and go into hiding in the New Forest. Read superbly by Glen McCready, this new abridgement is aimed at 7–12 year olds.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jun08

Set in seventeenth-century England during King Charles’s deposition, this story features four orphaned children who are adopted by a forester. He has rescued them from the “Roundhead” troops who killed their Royalist father (loyal to King Charles). As the forester’s adopted “grandchildren,” the four Beverly children must adapt to rustic life, learning to cook, hunt, and sew. Narrator Glen McCready’s details these activities with a quiet pleasure that is contagious. McCready’s dignified British voice is well suited to this old-fashioned adventure story filled with the classic themes of resourcefulness, self-reliance, and courage. As McCready’s narration skillfully illuminates the children’s growing maturity and wisdom, the story becomes all the more satisfying.

J.C.G., AudioFile

Children’s Favourites (selections) Children’s Favourites Junior Classics selections Single NA241312 241312 9789626344132 9789629544447 2 32 02:15:51 JUV038000 Deleted Deleted World

An enchanting collection of favourite songs from the past. Included are I’m A Lonely Little Petunia, Sparky’s Music Mix-up, I know an old lady, Popo the Puppet, The Kings’s New Clothes, and many more, sung by such unique entertainers as Danny Kaye and Groucho Marx.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jul06
Chilling Ghost Stories (compilation) Chilling Ghost Stories Classic Fiction compilation Single NA291112 291112 9789626349113 9789629547707 M.R. James
Edgar Allan Poe
Oscar Wilde
Ambrose Bierce
Charles Dickens
Anthony Donovan
2 36 02:27:36 FIC012000 Deleted Available World

A chilling collection of ghost stories containing Rats by M. R. James, The Raven and Berenice by Edgar Allan Poe, The Birthday of the Infanta by Oscar Wilde, A Tough Tussle by Ambrose Bierce and The Signalman by Charles Dickens. In Rats, Mr Thompson comes to regret his decision to investigate a locked room in a country inn, and in The Signalman, the subject of the story is haunted by ghostly appearances that always precede tragic events.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Oct08
Chopin, Frédéric (unabridged) Life & Works – Frédéric Chopin Life & Works Music unabridged Single NA558001 558001 9781843790921 9781843793687 Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann
4 139 04:57:28 164-page booklet BIO004000 Deleted Available World

Frédéric Chopin is the pianist-composer par excellence. Regarded as one of the most mesmerising performers of his day, he lives on in his music – his waltzes, mazurkas, études, preludes, nocturnes, three piano sonatas, two piano concertos and much more. Here, his life, from his birth in Poland, his famous affair with the French writer George Sand, to his death at the age of thirty-nine in Paris, is told with his music featuring prominently. We think of Chopin as a ‘frail, sheltered genius’ but this forthright portrait demonstrates he was far more boisterous than that. Cheerful as a youth, it was only later that the glare of publicity, the change from local to national celebrity, made Chopin guard his privacy more carefully. This is clearly presented in Jeremy Siepmann’s sympathetic account of the life of one of the key figures in Romantic music, and emphasised in the very personal portrayal by the English classical actor Anton Lesser. The accompanying booklet is packed with extra information about Chopin’s life and background.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jun01
Christmas Carol, A (unabridged) A Christmas Carol Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA332912 332912 9789626343296 9789629545000 Charles Dickens
Anton Lesser
3 47 03:13:09 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A Christmas Carol is the best-known and best-loved of Dickens’ ‘Christmas Books’, and the story of the miser Scrooge’s redemption has become as much part of the Christmas tradition as plum pudding and carols themselves. Will Tiny Tim live to see another Christmas? Can Scrooge recover his humanity and learn to love the fellow men he seems to despise? Dickens will make you laugh and make you cry as you follow Scrooge’s supernatural adventures on Christmas Eve…

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep06
Christmas Collection, The (unabridged) The Christmas Collection Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA214912 214912 9789626341490 9789629545017 Christina Hardyment
Peter Jeffrey
John Moffatt
David Timson
Susan Engel
Simon Harris
Liza Ross
Benjamin Soames
2 37 02:31:08 FIC058000 Deleted Available World

Christmas brings out the best and the worst in us, as can be seen in this evocative anthology. Among what Thomas Love Peacock calls the ‘many poetical charms in the heraldings of Christmas’ there are eulogies by saints and diatribes from curmudgeons. Here, Christmas is expounded by divines, sung by rustics, deplored by philosophers and made mystical in stories. This collection includes complete versions of old favourites and new discoveries: a sermon by Lancelot Andrewes, an account of Christmas under the Puritans, a first, poverty-stricken Christmas in turn-of-the-century New York and a Mummers’ play. Adding the final touch is the music: from traditional Christmas carols and Corelli to Benjamin Britten. On this recording, Christmas past brings alive Christmas present.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct10

There is a sure way to get into the Christmas spirit. Listen to readings about Christmas, from a recipe dating back to 1394 to stories about 20th century Christmas in wartime and all those years in-between. The Christmas Collection is read in fine readings by seven actors, known to us from the stage and film as well as from behind the microphone. There are two CDs in this collection. They offer us an insight into the past, yet confirm that the Christmas season has not really changed. By dividing the readings into Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Curmudgeonly Christmases, Partying, and offerings of Food for Thought, we can hear echoes from the past reverberating in our own time. The Partying segment on CD 2 consists of a Christmas Mummers’ Play as celebrated in Leicestershire in 1863. This is not unlike mummers plays performed in Newfoundland to this day. The origin in the New World dates back to the 1600s when they were brought there by immigrants from England and later Ireland. The spirit of Christmas is positively emphasized through musical interludes that not only introduce each section, but are also brought in just before several readings within the six sections. They are charmingly complementary to the readings and are from Naxos recordings that feature carols, and music by Corelli, Britten, Bach and others. There are two items that were not read in quite the manner one expects. Track 13 on CD 1, A Visit from St. Nicholas, which we know here as The Night Before Christmas, does not sound right with an English accent. This is not the fault of David Timson, who otherwise does some wonderful readings in this collection. It’s just that we are used to a North American accent. The other item that failed to totally capture my imagination is Track 1 on this CD, A Recipe for Christmas Pastry: Anon. 1394. The recipe is great and offers a look at a distant Christmas past. Susan Engel, however, is not totally convincing in her Middle English pronunciation. During the Middle English period the ’e’ at the end of a world was not pronounced as we tend to do now, as a double-e (deep), but more like an ’e’ in let. She also pronounces ’ye’ as ’eye’, rather than ’the’, for what looked like the letter ’y’ in Middle English was actually the letter representing the ’th’ sound. We somehow have forgotten this. So, if you see a shop called ’Ye Old Shoppe’, do not say ’Yee old shoppee’, but ’The old shoppe’ (remember ’e’ as in let). But enough of my curmudgeonly ways. This is a great collection to put on as an entertainment at Christmas for oneself as well as guests, especially the young ones. It will keep them occupied while one is busy preparing the Christmas feast. This audio CD is far more entertaining and revealing of what Christmas is and was about than some television program. One cannot list all the personalities who are represented in this Christmas anthology. Here a just a few: William Shakespeare, Robert Herrick, Nicholas Breton, John Betjeman, Thomas Hardy, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Anderson and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Alidë Kohlhaas, Lancette Arts Journal

Christmas Stories (unabridged) Christmas Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0237 0237 9781843799849 9781843799856 Charles Dickens
David Timson
11 218 14:11:36 FIC058000 Deleted Available World

Charles Dickens was a major contributor to the Victorian romantic revival of Christmas traditions. With their heart, humour and good morals, Dickens’s Christmas stories have made the author’s name synonymous with the season. Here we present four charming novellas to complete his series that began with A Christmas Carol, with echoes of sleigh bells throughout. The stories include The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man.

£38.50 $67.98 Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Nov16
  • The Chimes
  • The Cricket on the Hearth
  • The Battle of Life
  • The Haunted Man
Anthony Anderson Thomas Goose

A delightful collection, and the perfect companion to whichever performance of A Christmas Carol you prefer. Two of the stories here – The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth – are readily available elsewhere; but the other two, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man, are harder to come by. And David Timson is the Dickens narrator nonpareil, and even if you have other versions of the stories, his interpretations are always a treat.

Customer Review, Audible

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Dickens’s four Christmas-themed novellas display the author’s strengths and weaknesses; David Timson enhances the strengths and strengthens the weaknesses, such as sentimentality and overplayed emotions. When Dickens is excessive, Timson is, too, but he manages to carry it off. He alone is an entire cast, with only female characters occasionally not fully convincing. He not only provides varied and excellent voices, but he also matches voice to character with intelligence and discernment, always seeming to provide the perfect voice for any particular character. His narration is consistently genial and smart but varies sensitively with the text – sober, amused, merry. These minor works won’t please everyone, but those who appreciate them may find listening to Timson more entertaining than reading.

W.M., AudioFile

City of God (unabridged) City of God Religion unabridged Single NA0463 0463 9781781983232 Augustine
Mark Meadows
46:23:02 HIS002000 REL002000 HBLA1 HRCC7 World

Written after the capture of Rome in 410 by Alaric, King of the Visigoths, St Augustine’s City of God was intended as a response to pagan critics who blamed Christianity for this brutal defeat. Augustine attacks ancient pagan beliefs and relates the corruption and immorality that led to Rome’s downfall, which began before Christ, before reaching his main argument: that the City of Man is perishing and only the Heavenly City of God will endure. Members of the City of Man, misled by vanities and futile laws, will suffer the same fate as the Romans, while those of the City of God, who act in harmony with God’s will, will reach salvation and paradise. Monumental in its scope, City of God is a theological and philosophical treasure trove that offers fascinating insights into the perennial problems of Christian philosophy, such as free will and the problem of evil, as well as the long-standing conflict between church and state.

N/A N/A Band AL £74.00 €77.00 $100.00 Sep20 Rev. Marcus Dods Chatterbox Audio Chatterbox Audio

Actor and beloved BBC Radio broadcaster Mark Meadows takes on the mighty task of narrating one of the lengthiest and densest explorations of the Christian faith. This epic work of Saint Augustine discusses the false worship of idols and the influence of demons and angels, and waxes poetic about the nature of God and how humans will all experience the same fate, Roman or otherwise. Meadows has the unenviable task of making the lengthy discourse an engaging experience for the casual listener, and he succeeds expertly. His performance makes the language accessible, thanks to his clear delivery and inflection. Listeners will be with this audiobook for some time, and Meadows ensures that the time is well spent.

V.B., AudioFile

Clare, John (unabridged) The Great Poets – John Clare The Great Poets – Poetry unabridged Single NA0094 0094 9781843796022 9781843796039 John Clare
David Shaw-Parker
1 15 01:01:12 POE000000 Deleted Available World

John Clare was the forgotten Romantic poet, until the late twentieth century. Known by his contemporaries as the ‘Peasant Poet’ he recorded in his poems the natural landscape of rural England before the Industrial Revolution. His poems rival Wordsworth’s for their sensitivity to nature and pantheism: ‘I feel a beautiful providence ever about me,’ Clare wrote. But his life was a long struggle against poverty and mental collapse. Some of his finest poems were written in the local asylum.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Aug13
  • To John Clare
  • Morning
  • The Robin’s Nest
  • The Cuckoo
  • Summer
  • Insects
  • The Skylark
  • In Hilly-Wood
  • The Nightingale’s Nest
  • First Love
  • Song’s Eternity
  • Remembrances
  • Summer Evening
  • Badger
  • To a Fallen Elm
  • Love and Solitude
  • Autumn Birds
  • November
  • The Flood
  • Farewell
  • What Is Life?
  • I Am
  • Christmas
  • The Peasant Poet

Even many people who know poetry aren’t familiar with John Clare. Why listen to this reading of some of his work, then? ‘The Peasant Poet’, as he was known, fit in with his contemporaries, the Romantics, but, unlike them, his knowledge of nature was from working in it, not strolling in it. Narrator David Shaw-Parker takes advantage of the poetry’s strong structural elements and uses emphasis to aid interpretation. He also varies his voice to match the tone of each poem – from the pure rustic to the elevated, almost erudite, tone Clare sometimes achieved despite his almost total lack of formal education. This is a fine introduction to Clare’s work.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 1 (unabridged) Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 1 Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0299 0299 9781781981122 9781781981139 Samuel Richardson
Lucy Scott
Roger May
Katie Scarfe
Nigel Pilkington
Hayward B. Morse
Anna Bentinck
Paul Panting
Teresa Gallagher
John Foley
Samuel West
28 732 33:38:08 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A milestone in the history of the novel, Samuel Richardson’s epistolary and elaborate Clarissa follows the life of a chaste young woman desperate to protect her virtue. When beautiful Clarissa Harlowe is forced to marry the rich but repulsive Mr Solmes, she refuses, much to her family’s chagrin. She escapes their persecution with the help of Mr Lovelace, a dashing and seductive rake, but soon finds herself in a far worse dilemma. Terrifying and enlightening, Clarissa weaves a tapestry of narrative experimentation into a gripping morality tale of good versus evil. The recording is divided into three volumes.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AA £52.00 €61.00 $71.00 Jun18 Story Circle Garrick Hagon and Liza Ross Wolfgang Dienst

The cast of this audio production must be commended for undertaking one of the longest novels in English literature. They are successful in capturing Richardson’s many epistolary voices. Lucy Scott gives an admirable performance as Clarissa Harlowe; her clear, soft voice captures the earnestness and innocence of the chief character. While Clarissa most often speaks sincerely to her trusted friend, Scott adapts her tone to suit each letter’s recipient. Roger May conveys the devilish Lovelace with a scornful and arrogant tone. The novel has many speakers, and, thankfully, actors Anna Bentinck and Paul Panting flawlessly play several roles. This wonderful combination of talents makes Volume 1 a tantalising beginning to the rest of Samuel Richardson’s lengthy novel.

D.M.W., Booklist

Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 2 (unabridged) Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 2 Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0317 0317 9781781981504 9781781981511 Samuel Richardson
Lucy Scott
Roger May
Katie Scarfe
Nigel Pilkington
Hayward B. Morse
Anna Bentinck
Paul Panting
Teresa Gallagher
John Foley
Samuel West
29 776 34:31:41 FIC004000 Available Available World

A milestone in the history of the novel, Samuel Richardson’s epistolary and elaborate Clarissa follows the life of a chaste young woman desperate to protect her virtue. When beautiful Clarissa Harlowe is forced to marry the rich but repulsive Mr Solmes, she refuses, much to her family’s chagrin. She escapes their persecution with the help of Mr Lovelace, a dashing and seductive rake, but soon finds herself in a far worse dilemma. Terrifying and enlightening, Clarissa weaves a tapestry of narrative experimentation into a gripping morality tale of good versus evil. The recording is divided into three volumes.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AB £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Aug18 Story Circle Garrick Hagon and Liza Ross Timothy Brown
Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 3 (unabridged) Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, Volume 3 Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0332 0332 9781781981801 9781781981818 Samuel Richardson
Lucy Scott
Roger May
Katie Scarfe
Nigel Pilkington
Hayward B. Morse
Anna Bentinck
Paul Panting
Teresa Gallagher
John Foley
Samuel West
29 754 34:17:41 FIC004000 Available Available World

A milestone in the history of the novel, Samuel Richardson’s epistolary and elaborate Clarissa follows the life of a chaste young woman desperate to protect her virtue. When beautiful Clarissa Harlowe is forced to marry the rich but repulsive Mr Solmes, she refuses, much to her family’s chagrin. She escapes their persecution with the help of Mr Lovelace, a dashing and seductive rake, but soon finds herself in a far worse dilemma. Terrifying and enlightening, Clarissa weaves a tapestry of narrative experimentation into a gripping morality tale of good versus evil. The recording is divided into three volumes.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AB £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Oct18 Story Circle Garrick Hagon and Liza Ross Timothy Brown
Classic American Poetry (compilation) Classic American Poetry Poetry unabridged Single NA219812 219812 9789626341988 9789629546366 Emily Dickinson
Robert Frost
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Walt Whitman
Garrick Hagon
Liza Ross
William Hootkins
Kate Harper
James Goode
Alibe Parsons
2 37 02:31:41 POE000000 Deleted Available World

The United States themselves are, essentially, the greatest poem’ said Walt Whitman. Here are the much-loved examples of the free spirit of America in all its glory.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep04
Anne Bradstreet
The Author to her Book
Edward Taylor
Upon a Spider Catching a Fly
Navajo Mountain Song
Philip Freneau
The Indian Student
Philip Freneau
The Wild Honeysuckle
Francis Scott Key
The Star Spangled Banner
William Cullen Bryant
The Prairies
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Snow-Storm
John Greenleaf Whittier
Telling the Bees
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Song of Hiawatha from the Wooing: At the doorway of his wigwam
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My Lost Youth
Edgar Allan Poe
A Dream within a Dream
Edgar Allan Poe
Annabel Lee
Edgar Allan Poe
To Helen
Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Old Ironsides
Jones Very
The Indian’s Retort
Henry David Thoreau
Sic Vita
Henry David Thoreau
Pray to what earth does this sweet cold belong
Julia Ward Howe
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
Herman Melville
The Martyr
Walt Whitman
Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
James Russell Lowell
Science and Poetry
Frankie and Johnny
Frederick Goddard Tuckerman
An upper chamber in a darkened house
Emily Dickinson
A narrow fellow in the grass
Emily Dickinson
My life closed twice before its close
Emily Dickinson
I taste a liquor never brewed
Emily Dickinson
Because I could not stop for death
Emily Dickinson
I like to see it lap the miles
Emily Dickinson
The wind begun to rock the grass
Frances E W Harper
Bury Me in a Free Land
Sydney Lanier
The Stirrup-Cup
Emma Lazarus
The New Colossus
I sometimes think I’d rather crow
Stephen Crane
A newspaper is a collection of half-injustices
Stephen Crane
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
A Lesson in a Picture
Edward Arlington Robinson
Miniver Cheevy
Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
The Death of the Hired Man
Amy Lowell
Meeting-House Hill
Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg
They all Want to Play Hamlet
Vachel Lindsay
The Flower-fed Buffaloes
Wallace Stevens
The Emperor of Ice-Cream
Wallace Stevens
Peter Quince at the Clavier
Elinor Wylie
Wild Peaches
Elinor Wylie
Pretty Words
Robinson Jeffers
Hurt Hawks
Alan Seeger
Edna St Vincent Millay
What my lips have kissed, and where, and why
Dorothy Parker
De Profundis
Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker
General Review of the Sex Situation
E E Cummings
anyone lived in a pretty how town
E E Cummings
somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond
Stephen Vincent Benet
American Names
Langston Hughes
Theme for English B
Langston Hughes
Trumpet Player: 52nd Street
Ogden Nash
You Bet Travel is Broadening
Howard Nemerov
September, the First Day of School
Alice Walker
How Poems Are Made/A Discredited View
Garrick Hagon and Nicolas Soames Beth Hammond Garrick Hagon
Classic American Short Stories (unabridged) Classic American Short Stories An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge | The Veteran | The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County | The Last Leaf | After Twenty Years | While the Auto Waits | A Retrieved Reformation | Brown Wolf Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA221212 221212 9789626342121 9789629544737 O. Henry
Jack London
Ambrose Bierce
Mark Twain
Stephen Crane
William Roberts
2 38 02:35:30 LCO002000 Deleted Available World

Five great American short story writers, dating from the turn of the nineteenth/twentieth centuries are represented here. Different in atmosphere and writing style, they nevertheless caught the mood and concerns of the day in a way that was distinctly American. Bierce’s ‘An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge’ leaves echoes in the imagination; the stories by Crane and London recall the themes of the Civil War and the Klondike for which they are well known. Twain’s humour is to the fore in ‘The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County’ and O. Henry’s sharp observation makes his neat tales a joy to listen to. An attractive and accessible collection.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Nov00
  • An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
  • The Veteran
  • The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
  • Brown Wolf
  • After Twenty Years
  • A Retrieved Information
  • While the Auto Waits
  • The Last Leaf
  • Makes the Whole World Kin
Classic American Short Stories, More (unabridged) More Classic American Short Stories A Horseman in the Sky | Regret | Eclipse | The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky | The Cop and the Anthem | The Princess and the Puma | The Whirligig of Life Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA244112 244112 9789626344415 9789629544744 Ambrose Bierce
Kate Chopin
James Fenimore Cooper
Stephen Crane
O. Henry
Garrick Hagon
Liza Ross
2 37 02:33:55 LCO002000 Deleted Available World

Here are seven stories from master American writers of the nineteenth century. They vary from sinister tales by Ambrose Bierce – why is that window boarded up? – and a reflective moment in the life of a woman without children, forced to look after children, to classic short stories by O. Henry and Stephen Crane. There is even an elegiac description of an eclipse by James Fenimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans. Read with sensitivity and skill by Garrick Hagon and Liza Ross.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr07
  • A Horseman in the Sky
  • Regret
  • Eclipse
  • The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky
  • The Cop and the Anthem
  • The Princess and the Puma
  • The Whirligig of Life
Classic Comic Verse (Selections) Classic Comic Verse Poetry selections Single NA218012 218012 9781843798255 John Moffatt
David Timson
Cathy Sara
Roger May
02:08:18 POE001000 DCQ World

Comedy is totally subjective. What makes one person roar with laughter can fail to elicit even the faintest of smiles from another. But the classics of comic verse have stood the test of time.

Here are the favorites from Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Jonathan Swift, Thomas Hood, Hillaire Belloc, W.S. Gilbert, William Shakespeare, Lord Byron, John Keats, C.S. Calverley – all the way through to the masterly pen of our age, John Betjeman. And that is not to forget perhaps the greatest of them all: Anon.

They wrote in couplets, triplets, in quatrains and trochaic dimeters. There are ballads, sonnets, proverbs, and nonsense verse. Poems to inform, divert, satirize, castigate and praise. And then there is the delightfully abused form, the limerick. A collection to make all listeners smile, laugh, remember and discover.

N/A N/A Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan99 Nicolas Soames Christine Hardwick and Beth Hammond
Classic Erotic Verse (selections) Classic Erotic Verse Poetry selections Single NA293812 293812 9789626349380 9789629548315 Edward de Souza
Matthew Marsh
Stella Gonet
David Timson
Benjamin Soames
2 38 02:38:25 POE023020 Deleted Deleted World

A witty, bawdy, erotic but classic collection of poetry designed to celebrate the most sensual of human pleasures. Over the ages many poets have put pen to paper in celebration of that most raw and yet most beautiful of human instincts – erotic love. This anthology includes verse by Herrick, Marlowe, Jonson, Byron, Verlaine, Whitman, Yeats, Cummings and, from our own time, John Betjeman. All aspects of erotic love are to be found in these poems – from the bawdy to the sensuous and tender.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jan09
Green rushes with red shoots
If the forest of her hair
Christopher Marlowe
Either she was foul
Lord Byron
Don Juan
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Ancient person of my heart
John Keats
The Eve of St Agnes (excerpt)
She lay all naked
Liu Yung
Before lowering the perfumed curtain
D H Lawrence
New Year’s Eve
John Donne
The Flea
Robert Herrick
I abhor the slimie kisse
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The Geranium
Aphra Behn
The Willing Mistress
Ode 44
Sir Thomas Wyatt
My lut awake
Sir Francis Kyanston
On Cynthia’s Embrace
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Naked she lay
When his mouth faced my mouth
Robert Herrick
The Vine
Thomas Nash
The Choice of Valentines
Robert Graves
Down, Wanton, Down
The Four and Twentieth Day of May
Robert Herrick
Upon the Nipple’s of Julia’s Breast
Style of the new moon
Thomas Randolph
The Milkmaid’s Epithalamium
Aphra Behn
To the Fair Clorinda
Twin Hills
Charles Baudelaire
Imagine the magic
Ode 173
Three Poems
John Betjeman
A Subaltan’s Love Son
John Donne
To His Mistress Going to Bed
William Wordsworth
The Glow Worm
E E Cummings
May I feel said he
Robert Herrick
A sweet disorder in the dress
William Cartwright
Tell me no more
Liu Hsalo-Wei
For my wife
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Now sleeps the crimson petal
Thomas Carew
On the Marriage of TK and CC
D H Lawrence
Algernon Charles Swinburne
In the Orchard
Robert Herrick
To Julia’s Petticoat
Robert Browning
Walt Whitman
From pent-up aching rivers
John Dryden
The Posture
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Algenon Charles Swinburne
Before Parting
Ts’ao Chih
A beautiful woman
William Blake
The Sick Rose
W B Yeats
A Last Confession
Ben Jonson
Doing, a filthy pleasure is
Sharon Olds
The Connoisseuse of Slugs
Sir Thomas Wyatt
They flee from me
John Betjeman
Late-Flowering Lust
Walt Whitman
A Glimpse
Paul Verlaine
Thousands and Three
Walt Whitman
The Beautiful Swimmer
Arthur Rimbaud
My mouth is often joined against his mouth
Marie Madeleine
Foiled Sleep
Christina Rossetti
Laura and Lizzie Asleep
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Christabel and Geraldine
Emily Dickinson
Wild Nights, Wild Nights
Pierre de Louys
Penumbra from Chansons de Bilitis
Christopher Marlowe
Hero and Leander
Sir Charles Sedley
On the Happy Corydon and Phyllis
Francis Beaumont
Salmacis and Hermaphroditus (excerpt)
W B Yeats
Leda and the Swan
W B Yeats
Leda and the Swan

Rummaging through my poetry collection for something vaguely Valentine-related – Burns, Sonnets from the Portuguese, even Classic FM’S 100 Favourite Love Poems – I came across this. Be warned: soppy hearts and pretty flowers it most definitely isn’t, even if some of your favourite garden-centre poets are here – Wordsworth, for instance, and Herrick, who elsewhere lamented, “Fair daffodils, we weep to see / You haste away so soon”. He’s less preoccupied with horticultural matters here, viz: “I abhor the slimy kiss / Which to me most loathsome is. / Those lips please me which are placed / Close, but not too strictly laced; / Yielding I would have them, yet / Not a wimbling tongue admit. / What should poking-sticks make there, / When the ruff is set elsewhere?” The title poem is by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, infamous 17th-century bisexual libertine whose X-certificate verses leave little if anything to the imagination. The same goes for Stella Gonet’s passionate – no, let’s not mince words, pornographic – reading of Swinburne’s “In the Orchard”. And prurient to boot, because the lovers writhing in the moonlight are clearly male. “Nay, slay me now; nay, for I will be slain; / Pluck thy red pleasure from the teeth of pain . . . Slay me ere day can slay desire again; / Ah God, ah God, that day should be so soon.” Erotic doesn’t have to be hot and sweaty. Heaven forbid that anyone should mention sweat and Emily Dickinson, belle of Amherst, in the same breath, but something surely must have loosened just a little, a hairpin, a button, as she wrote “Wild nights! Wild nights! / Were I with thee, / Wild nights should be / Our luxury! // Futile the winds / To a heart in a port, / Done with the compass, / Done with the chart. // Rowing in Eden! / Ah! the sea! / Might I but moor / Tonight in thee.” With contributions from Hafez, Baudelaire, Tsao Chih, Whitman etc, you get a feel for what turns lovers from other cultures on. Long hair does it for Persians, knitting for Chinese. My favourite is “The Connoisseuse of Slugs” by Sharon Olds, which disgusted me first time round – I hate creepy crawlies – but now makes me laugh out loud. She’s right – erotic doesn’t have to mean serious, either. Sex can be hilarious, especially when you’re comparing naked men becoming aroused to the little knobs popping out at the top of a slug’s antennae: “The slow / elegant being coming out of hiding and / gleaming in the dark air, eager and so / trusting you could weep.” Bravo, Ms Olds.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Classic Fairy Stories (compilation) Classic Fairy Stories Three Little Pigs | Dick Whittington | Beauty and the Beast | Goldilocks and the Three Bears | Puss in Boots | Jack and the Beanstalk | Ali Baba Junior Classics compilation Single NA222212 222212 9789626342220 9789629544416 Bernard Cribbins
2 38 02:36:51 JUV012000 Deleted Deleted World

A delightful collection of famous fairy stories. How does The Brave Little Tailor become a king? How can the defenceless little pig keep the hungry fox at bay? And what happens when Jack climbs his beanstalk and encounters a giant singing Fee Fi Fo Fum? These stories, and the more gentle tale of Beauty and the Beast,have enchanted generations of children, and retain their magic even in the computer age.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Mar01
  • The Brave Little Tailor
  • The History of Dick Whittingdon
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears
  • The Princess on the Glass Hill
  • The Story of the Three Little Pigs
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Jack and the Beanstalk
  • Puss in Boots
Classic Ghost Stories (selections) Classic Ghost Stories The Signal Man, Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, The Mezzotint, To Be Taken With a Grain of Salt, Rats Classic Fiction selections Single NA245912 245912 9789626344590 9789629544881 Charles Dickens
M.R. James
Stephen Critchlow
2 37 02:30:51 FIC012000 Deleted Available World

These stories are designed to engender a chill in the listener which is not just due to the season. Stephen Critchlow, a characterful actor, is a collector of ghost stories and relishes putting across those slightly odd moments when things don’t just seem to follow the normal process. Charles Dickens was chilling enough in his novels – one only has to remember the entry of Magwitch in Great Expectations! – but as a writer set deeply in the Victorian era and unashamedly a lover of the melodramatic, it comes as no surprise that one of the greatest classics of the genre was The Signalman. As a medieval scholar of a later period (1862–1936) M. R. James had a very different temperament but produced a string of classic ghost stories, of which The Mezzotint is one of the best known.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep07
  • The Signal Man
  • Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come To You, My Lad
  • The Mezzotint
  • To Be Taken With A Grain Of Salt
  • Rats

The narrators in this brief anthology of spooky tales by Charles Dickens and M. R. James are men of learning and reason – sceptical if not scornful of paranormal phenomena. Which makes their accounts of inexplicable, terrifying goings-on all the more haunting, especially as both writers are masters of the telling detail and the build-up of suspense. Dickens contributes two stories: a spectral harbinger of railway disaster and the ghostly presence of the victim at a murder trial. The offerings from James, the doyen of the English spinechiller, involve a haunted engraving, a very nasty piece on rats, and ‘Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’, in which an academic has a hair-raising visitation on the East Anglian coast. With its suitably unsettling music – the viola is ideal for creating a spooky atmosphere – they succeed in James’s aim of “causing readers to feel pleasantly uncomfortable”.

Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

Classic Poems for Boys (unabridged) Classic Poems for Boys Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0102 0102 9781843796183 9781843796190 Various
Benjamin Soames
Roy McMillan
Rachel Bavidge
Jasper Britton
Robert Glenister
Anton Lesser
Benjamin Zephaniah
1 16 01:05:08 JUV070000 Deleted Available World

Classic Poems for Boys comprises a delightfully varied set of poems for 5-10-year olds. From rousing favourites like Felicia Dorothea Hemans’s Casabianca and John Keats’s A Song About Myself, to dreamy, thoughtful poems by Rudyard Kipling and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this is a collection to be treasured.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Jul12
Felicia Dorothea Hemans
Rudyard Kipling
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Arrow and the Song
William Makepeace Thackeray
At the Zoo
Hilaire Belloc
The Vulture
Lewis Carroll
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Lewis Carroll
How Doth the Little Crocodile
Benjamin Zephaniah
Talking Turkeys
G.K. Chesterton
The Donkey
William Wordsworth
The Village Blacksmith
Edward Lear
There Was an Old Man with a Beard
Lewis Carroll
You are Old Father William
Rudyard Kipling
A Smuggler’s Song
William Blake
The Tyger
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Lord Byron
The Destruction of Sennacherib
Sir Walter Scott
Rudyard Kipling
Gunga Din
Robert Browning
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Charge of the Light Brigade
Rudyard Kipling
The Ballad of East and West
W.S. Gilbert
A Nightmare
John Keats
A Song About Myself
Sarah Butcher

All the narrators in this production excel, but Michael Caine’s rendering of Kipling’s If and Benjamin Zephaniah’s delivery of his own Talking Turkeys are standouts. A century or more ago, this was the home entertainment system: young people would memorise popular poems and recite them after dinner. Some of the poetry here is light entertainment (W.S. Gilbert’s and Lewis Carroll’s, for example), and some, like If, is moral exhortation. There are also tales of adventure (Casabianca and The Tale of East and West are fine examples) that carry moral lessons. Some of the morals may be dated, but the poems deserve to be experienced as they were intended – read aloud by expert readers.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Classic Poems for Girls (unabridged) Classic Poems for Girls Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0103 0103 9781843796206 9781843796213 Various
Roy McMillan
Laura Paton
Anne-Marie Piazza
Benjamin Soames
1 16 01:04:45 JUV070000 Deleted Available World

Classic Poems for Girls is a collection of over 25 funny, whimsical and moving poems for 5–10-year olds, designed to fuel the imagination. From the adventures of the Jumblies, who sail away in a sieve, to the sticky end of a girl named Matilda, to the courtship of a maiden who lived long ago in a kingdom by the sea, there’s a poem to suit any feeling or mood. Seasoned Naxos AudioBooks readers Roy McMillan, Laura Paton, Anne-Marie Piazza, and Benjamin Soames work their magic on the works of Edward Lear, Louisa May Alcott, Christina Rossetti and many more.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Jul12
Lewis Carroll
The Lobster Quadrille
Lewis Carroll
To the Looking-Glass World it was Alice that Said
Lewis Carroll
How doth the Little Crocodile
Lewis Carroll
The Owl and the Pussycat
Edward Lear
The Nutcrackers and the Sugar Tongs
Edward Lear
The Quangle Wangle’s Hat
Edward Lear
The Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo
Edward Lear
The Jumblies
Sarah Catherine Martin
The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and her Dog
Hilaire Belloc
A Guinea Pig Song
Two Little Kittens
Laura Richards
Robert Louis Stevenson
A Good Play
Louisa May Alcott
The Rock and the Bubble
Robert Louis Stevenson
Bed in Summer
Jane Taylor
The Star
Thomas Hardy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There was a Little Girl
Mary Howitt
The Spider and the Fly
Oliver Herford
A Tragedy in Rhyme
Christina Rossetti
A Rose has Thorns as well as Honey
Christina Rossetti
A Birthday
Christina Rossetti
William Wordsworth
John Keats
To Mrs Reynold’s Cat
John Keats
Old Meg
Emily Dickinson
A Light Exists in Spring
William Blake
The Tyger
Edgar Allan Poe
Annabel Lee
Christopher Marlowe
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Lady of Shalott
Robert Burns
A Red Red Rose
Sarah Butcher

From the nonsense poems of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, through to the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Christina Rossetti, and more, familiar and classic poems are ably performed by Roy McMillan, Laura Paton, Anne-Marie Piazza, and Benjamin Soames. There are poems about guinea pigs, kittens, and tigers, and others about lost love and of tragedy. Classical musical interludes, which are identified and credited in the CD insert, separate poems every few performances, often segueing into poems of a different type; otherwise the magic is all in the reading and the cadence of these rhyming tales. Especially entertaining is Anne-Marie Piazza’s performance of The Rock and the Bubble. All readers perform the poetry dramatically and expressively; occasional British and Scottish accents make the works more elegant. While some of the poems may be familiar as nursery rhymes (Old Mother Hubbard, The Owl and the Pussycat), others are certainly more mature (Birthday by Christina Rossetti, Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love by Christopher Marlowe). The accompanying booklet lists the poems and authors and introduces some of the classic pieces and the performers. Why these particular poems were selected for girls is not explained. Listeners will want to replay this CD again and again.

MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, New York

As an introduction to classic poetry, this audiobook is simply delightful. It starts off with memorable children’s rhymes, including works by Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, and Louisa May Alcott. As the listener moves through the collection, the poetry grows in sophistication with poems by John Keats, Christina Rossetti, and William Wordsworth. Short clips of classical music provide pleasant transitions between segments. The cast members take turns reading the various poems, and all of them deliver the works with close attention to cadence and elocution. They read with enthusiasm, often bringing in vocal characterisations when appropriate. An excellent choice for children, this production provides a tasteful selection of poetry classics.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Classic Romance (compilation) Classic Romance Great romantic moments from literature including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Romeo and Juliet, Around the World in Eighty Days Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA443012 443012 9789626344309 9789629544751 Helen Davies
Alex Jennings
4 70 04:49:37 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

This is a diverting delight, a window on romance in literature. There are high lovers and low lovers, tragic lovers, comic lovers, and lovers who shouldn’t be doing what they are doing at all and certainly not then and there. There is even Fanny Hill trying not to discover what physical love is about when set upon by an old roué who has paid for the privilege. Though of special interest for lovers and their special lover’s day of St Valentine, it is an amusing and sometimes surprising collection.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep06

Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa for not bringing this gem to your attention sooner. A little of the blame must rest with the nice young man who helped me to sort out my audio library last summer and put this between Classic FM’s Top 100 All-Time Favourites and Cradle Songs from the Caucasus. It does have music, but only to introduce some of the most famous declarations of love ever made. They’re all here: Shakespeare’s Henry V wooing Princess Katharine in pigeon franglais; Jane Eyre still managing to sound straitlaced sitting on Mr Rochester’s lap; Molly Bloom’s voluptuous recollections in tranquility of an amorous tryst on Howth Head; the Owl on guitar (small) serenading his beautiful Pussycat. Alas, love being both a many-splendoured thing and merely a madness, not all these legendary lovers live happily ever after. Spare a sobering thought for Adam and Eve (yes, of course they’re here, starting the whole show rolling), Guinevere and Lancelot (that other loitering knight who fell foul of La Belle Dame Sans Merci), Heathcliff and Cathy, Vronsky and Anna, Frankie and Johnny. Why is it that the potency of passion is directly commensurate with the level of restraint employed to describe it? Barbara Cartland’s testosteroned Romeos and swooning, décolletée heroines had nothing on Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, buttoned up to the neck and probably wearing gloves, exchanging mutual assurances of undying devotion. ‘Elizabeth… immediately, though not very fluently, gave him to understand that her sentiments had undergone so material a change… as to make her receive with gratitude and pleasure his present assurances. The happiness which this reply produced was such as he had probably never felt before, and he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.’ Jane Austen on true love is the lick.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Classic Women’s Short Stories (unabridged) Classic Women’s Short Stories The Garden Party | Daughters of the Late Colonel | Lilacs | Ma’ame Pelagie | A Mark on the Wall Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA223812 223812 9789626342381 9789629544768 Katherine Mansfield
Kate Chopin
Virginia Woolf
Carole Boyd
Liza Ross
Teresa Gallagher
2 39 02:41:17 LCO019000 Deleted Available World

Five stories from influential women writers of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth century. New Zealand-born Katherine Mansfield settled in England where she wrote a series of short stories that are widely recognised as among the finest of the twentieth century for their economy, clarity, sensitivity and effect. ‘The Garden Party’ is one of her most famous, while ‘Daughters of the Late Colonel’ shows a wonderful sense of wit. Kate Chopin, writing in the last years of the nineteenth century, broke new ground with her daring view of women as individuals with human needs. ‘Lilacs’ and ‘Ma’ame Pelagie’ are sympathetic portraits of women with differing dilemmas. Woolf’s ‘A Mark on the Wall’ shows, in short story form, the turmoil within the stillness which became such a mark of her later novels.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Aug01
  • The Garden Party
  • The Daughters of the Late Colonel
  • Lilacs
  • Ma’ame Pelagie
  • The Mark on the Wall
Classical Love Poetry (selections) Classical Love Poetry Poetry unabridged Single NA215312 215312 9781843798248 Edward de Souza
Paul Jesson
Simon Harris
Karen Archer
Laura Paton
02:17:30 POE001000 DCQ World

Many of us are familiar with the epic stories and legends of the classical world. This anthology, the only one of its kind on audiobook, gives an insight into a more lyrical and tender aspect of Greek and Roman literature. From Homer’s lofty lines on the loves of the gods to the earthier verse of Catullus to his mistress Lesbia, this recording encompasses the major love poetry written between the 8th century B.C. and the 2nd century A.D. Translations are by British poets including Dryden, Pope, Johnson, Marlowe, and Byron.

N/A N/A Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan98 Nicolas Soames Jon Smith
Clea (abridged) Clea Modern Classics abridged Single NA306612 306612 9789626340660 9789629545888 Lawrence Durrell
Nigel Anthony
3 57 03:54:50 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

‘I knew that Clea would share everything with me, withholding nothing – not even the look of complicity which women reserve only for their mirrors.’ In Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to Alexandria now caught by war-fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle – on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal – a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves towards its cadence.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Aug00
Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

The four linked novels that comprise English author Lawrence Durrell’s masterpiece, The Alexandria Quartet, are set in Alexandria, Egypt, around the time of WWII. The four novels explore the city’s polyglot society, full of intrigue, mystery and sensuality, telling essentially the same story from different points of view. Justine focuses on the beautiful Jewish wife of a wealthy Copt. Her story is told by Darley, her English lover. In Balthazar, Darley reconsiders and retells the story he told in Justine, using information from a mysterious new character, Balthazar. In Mountolive, as war begins to loom, British Ambassador David Mountolive enters the intrigues of the interwoven community of characters. In Clea, Darley returns to a war-fevered Alexandria as the stories of the many characters move toward conclusion. Narrator Nigel Anthony provides a brilliant reading, keeping the variety of voices – English, French, Egyptian – distinct throughout. He offers a one-man play, conveying the passions, disappointments and triumphs of the complex cast. The classical music interludes that delineate sections of this beautifully produced and packaged set help transport the listener to back-streets of Alexandria.

R.E.K., AudioFile

Clea (unabridged) Clea The Alexandria Quartet Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0525 0525 9781781983898 Lawrence Durrell
Nicholas Boulton
10:07:04 FIC004000 FC World

‘I knew that Clea would share everything with me, withholding nothing – not even the look of complicity which women reserve only for their mirrors.’ In Clea, the concluding part of The Alexandria Quartet, Darley returns to Alexandria now caught by war-fever. The conflagration has its effect on his circle – on Nessim and Justine, Balthazar and Clea, Mountolive and Pombal – and a clarity of purpose emerges as the story moves towards its cadence.

N/A N/A Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Aug21 John Foley Andrew Riches

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

With this audiobook, narrator Nicholas Boulton completes Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. His thrilling new performance isn’t merely respectful of this classic work; these characters come to life, as does the environment of WWII-era Alexandria, ‘the capital of memory’. Darley, a key figure throughout the series, ruminates on time, sex and literature as he and Clea continue their relationship. While the first three titles focus on several perspectives of the same characters, this audiobook focuses on the passage of time. Characters ruminate on the loss of youthful beauty, age and mortality. Listeners may find themselves adrift if they start here. Regardless, Boulton finds the humour, pathos and tragedy in these characters in a performance that feels effortless.

S.P.C., AudioFile

Clumsy Ghost and Other Spooky Tales, The (unabridged) The Clumsy Ghost and Other Spooky Tales Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0054 0054 9781843795049 9781843795056 Alastair Jessiman
Anna Britten
David Blake
Roy McMillan
Edward Ferrie
Margaret Ferrie
David Angus
Sean Barrett
Harry Somerville
Anne-Marie Piazza
Roy McMillan
Thomas Eyre
2 37 02:32:06 JUV069000 Deleted Available World

In this entertaining anthology of seven new ghost stories, written especially for Naxos AudioBooks, we meet all kinds of phantoms in different situations: a kind-hearted but accident-prone spectre unwittingly upsetting a family home, as well as ghosts in ancient Egypt, on board a pirate ship, and in a Newcastle swimming pool. Engaging and slightly sinister, The Clumsy Ghost and Other Spooky Tales is a delightful shiver for all the family.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct11
  • The Clumsy Ghost by Alastair Jessiman, read by Sean Barrett
  • By the Hot Green Water by Anna Britten, read by Harry Somerville
  • Unable to Connect by David Blake, read by Anne-Marie Piazza
  • The Stillness written and read by Roy McMillan
  • The Piper Boy by Edward Ferrie, read by Thomas
  • The Weeping Tree by Margaret Ferrie, read by Anne-Marie Piazza
  • The Book of Imhotep by David Angus, read by Sean Barrett

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

These seven ghost stories were written specially for Naxos AudioBooks, and the production is first-class. Excellent writing and perfect narration are a common thread among the tales of historical ghosts, an accident-prone ghost, and spirits from ancient Egypt. Sean Barrett offers a perfectly tuned narration of The Clumsy Ghost. Gorgeous classical music adds to the atmosphere and presentation. In Unable to Connect, Anne-Marie Piazza portrays a girl whose dying mother tries to reach her on a phone with a ringtone from SWAN LAKE. The music adds to the heartbreak. Each casting is sublime, all dialogue is smooth and clear, and the narrators are memorable. The stories, which also touch on bravery and lost opportunity, are ideal for family listening.

S.G.B., AudioFile

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (selections) The Great Poets – Samuel Taylor Coleridge The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA135212 135212 9781843793526 9789629549596 Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Michael Sheen
John Moffatt
Sarah Woodward
Anton Lesser
David Timson
Benjamin Soames
1 19 01:19:28 POE005020 Deleted Available World

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in collaboration with his friend William Wordsworth, revolutionised English poetry; in 1798 they produced their Lyrical Ballads, poems of imagination and reflection using ‘the language of men’. They pointed the way forward for a generation of Romantic poets. Coleridge’s addiction to opium affected his poetic output, and yet the handful of poems he did produce were innovative. These ranged from the quietly conversational to the wildly imagined, and include two of the greatest in English literature: Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 May10
  • Kubla Khan
  • The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  • Love
  • Frost at Midnight
  • This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison
  • Christabel
Colonel Chabert (unabridged) Colonel Chabert Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0512 0512 9781781983768 Honoré de Balzac
Bill Homewood
02:55:14 FIC004000 FC World

In the brutal Prussian winter of 1807, Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée suffered massive losses to the Russians in the Battle of Eylau. Many thousands died. Young Colonel Chabert falls heroically, his actions having turned the tide of the battle, but he is buried anonymously on the battlefield in a mass grave. Incredibly he is alive but severely injured, and digs himself out. On his eventual return to Paris, he finds his wife, the beautiful and ambitious Rosine, now remarried, his fortune gone. Chabert’s relentless, passionate pursuit of justice, supported by the determined young lawyer Derville, is gripping to the last page. This exquisitely written story has it all: love, hatred, treachery, hope and courage.

N/A N/A Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Aug21 Ellen Marriage and Clara Bell (updated) Nikki Ruck

Part of Balzac’s Comédie humaine, this novella comes to an ending that either is or is not a happy one, depending on how you think about it. Narrator Bill Homewood’s deep, resonant voice – suitably lightened for female characters – carries us along as Chabert, a Napoleonic hero mistakenly listed as having been killed in battle, returns to Paris and tries to reclaim his life. Balzac did not much admire the upper classes, but Homewood only occasionally uses voices and accents to caricature them. The text makes them seem awful enough without his help. The author drew on a wide range of emotions, and this narrator brings them all out evocatively but without unnecessary exaggeration.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Communist Manifesto, The (unabridged) The Communist Manifesto Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0032 0032 9781843794615 9781843794622 Karl Marx
Friedrich Engels
Charles Armstrong
2 28 01:53:40 PHI019000 Deleted Available World

Without question one of the most significant books in modern history, The Communist Manifesto is a brief, populist pamphlet that distils the core ideas of Communism into accessible prose. Published just months before violent uprisings threatened to destabilise much of the European establishment, it outlines a view of history as a constant battle between the classes that will inevitably result in revolution. An angry call for a stateless world where the workers are no longer exploited, its depiction of the remorseless nature of the remorseless nature of modern capitalism is as alarming and striking now as it was in 1848.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Feb11
Compleat Angler, The (unabridged) The Compleat Angler Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0259 0259 9781781980323 9781781980330 Izaak Walton
Charles Cotton
Sean Barrett
Carly Bawden
Steven Blakeley
Jonathan Keeble
Leighton Pugh
Georgina Sutton
David Timson
8 211 09:15:27 SPO014000 Available Available World

‘As no man is born an artist, so no man is born an angler.’ Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler, long considered the bible of fishing, is a joyful celebration of the English countryside and the relaxed and reflective lifestyle of the devoted fisherman. Through dialogue between teacher and student, the book sheds a unique light on fishing, baiting and cooking, including an original recipe for trout. Its music, rhymes, poetry, and humour are all brought to life by a full cast. As winding as a quiet brook and as bountiful as a bursting riverbank, The Compleat Angler is essential listening for any outdoors enthusiast.

£29.99 $54.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Jun17 John Foley Malcolm Blackmoor

Escape an uncertain world by listening to David Timson and a talented cast brilliantly recreate the fishing classic The Compleat Angler, published in 1653. Never mind if you don’t fish: it’s a vivid window into 17th-century life, stuffed with natural history (kingfishers’ nests of woven fishbones, frogs blinding pikes with their front toes) and recipes for such delicacies as minnow tansies (‘fried with yolk of eggs, the flowers of cowslips and of primroses, and a little tansy’). There are also fishy poems by George Herbert and John Donne, as well as folk songs sung to the lute with a flourish. Izaak Walton wrote the book as a performance. It takes the form of a walk from Tottenham (in what is now north London) up the Lea Valley. He makes friends on the way and stops off to listen to milkmaids caroling and refreshing themselves with much cheer at the Thatched House at Hoddesdon. This has to be one of the best audiobooks so far.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Complete Essays, The (unabridged) The Complete Essays Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0491 0491 9781781983539 Michel de Montaigne
Peter Wickham
53:11:56 LCO010000 DNF World

In 1572, Montaigne – nobleman, humanist, and thoroughly Renaissance man – retired to the seclusion of his estate in the Dordogne and started to write. From his pen poured a stream of ‘essays’ – attempts to capture the observations that came to him on an idiosyncratic range of subjects, from ancient customs, cannibals and books to thumbs, war-horses and the wearing of clothes. He made the study of himself the starting point for investigations into how to live, and wrote with a startlingly modern candour about love, grief, friendship, sex and death. His voice, by turns lively, curious, digressive, ironic and moving, is utterly captivating. The Essays feel less like a work of literature and more like an ongoing conversation with a very well-informed friend.

N/A N/A Band AQ £82.00 €85.00 $110.00 Oct21 Translated by Charles Cotton; edited by William Carew Hazlitt; updated by Sophia Wickham Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio
Complete Letters of Pliny the Younger, The (unabridged) The Complete Letters of Pliny the Younger Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0551 0551 9781781984154 Pliny
Russell Bentley
14:24:58 HIS002020 HBJD HBLA1 World

The extant letters of Pliny, written between AD 97 and 112, give us a unique insight into Imperial Rome under the early Antonine emperors. Organised into 10 books, the letters reflect a wide range of topics, mirroring Pliny’s own public and private interests. Among many other subjects, the letters also include an eye-witness account of the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79, with the final book containing the exchange of letters between the writer (whose career culminated as Governor of Bithynia) and the emperor Trajan.

A fascinating document of the career and interests of a politician and imperial official.

N/A N/A Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Sep22 J.B. Firth (updated) Chris Barstow for Tall Story Audiobooks at The Perfumery

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 voice and British accent are likable and his pacing good. His tone becomes notably deferential in the last section, when Pliny corresponds with his emperor, Trajan. Ben Onwukwe’s deep, incisive-sounding voice is suitably authoritative in Trajan’s responses, and his narration is illuminatingly sensitive to the text. The two adept actors give an intelligent, expressive rendering of these historically important and, to the patient listener, fascinating documents.

W.M., AudioFile

Complete Mapp and Lucia, Volume 1, The (unabridged) The Complete Mapp and Lucia, Volume 1 Queen Lucia, Miss Mapp and Lucia in London Mapp and Lucia Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0496 0496 9781781983591 E.F. Benson
Georgina Sutton
26:42:37 FIC004000 FC World

Sharply observant and wickedly funny, E.F. Benson’s six ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels satirise the upper-middle-class social climbers in 1920s and ’30s rural England. Games of bridge and cups of tea fuel hilarious gossip and vindictive plots a-plenty. It is a masterfully sustained spotlight on the minutiae of village life – a clever and ultimately heart-warming series that seems tailor-made for audio.

Volume 1 contains the first three books.

Queen Lucia: Imposing herself as social arbiter of Riseholme, a small village in the Cotswolds, Mrs Lucas insists on the Italianate title of ‘Queen Lucia’ even though her Italian is non-existent. As queen bee – flawlessly snobbish and overbearing – she rules over her unfortunate neighbours. Could her position be threatened by the arrival of Olga the opera singer?

Miss Mapp: With a face ‘corrugated by chronic rage and curiosity’, Miss Mapp rules the village of Tilling as Lucia rules Riseholme. At the centre of the social jostling, she is kept alert and alive by anger and suspicion of every other resident, among whom are Diva Plaistow, Captain Puffin and Mrs Poppet.

Lucia in London: Can Lucia be queen of town and country? When Emmeline and Philip (Lucia and Peppino) inherit a house in London, Lucia moves into a new gear as she climbs the city’s social ladder. It’s time for Riseholme residents, feeling slighted by her desertion, to prove they can manage without her.

N/A N/A Band V £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 Mar21 Neil Rosser Sarah Butcher
Complete Mapp and Lucia, Volume 2, The (unabridged) The Complete Mapp and Lucia, Volume 2 Mapp and Lucia, Lucia's Progress and Trouble for Lucia Mapp and Lucia Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0497 0497 9781781983607 E.F. Benson
Georgina Sutton
27:55:42 FIC004000 FC World

Sharply observant and wickedly funny, E.F. Benson’s six ‘Mapp and Lucia’ novels satirise the upper-middle-class social climbers in 1920s and ’30s rural England. Games of bridge and cups of tea fuel hilarious gossip and vindictive plots a-plenty. It is a masterfully sustained spotlight on the minutiae of village life – a clever and ultimately heart-warming series that seems tailor-made for audio.

Volume 2 contains the second three books.

Mapp and Lucia: When Lucia goes to stay in Tilling, Miss Mapp’s social pedestal starts to wobble. Far from falling into line as Miss Mapp expects, Lucia soon manoeuvres herself – via dinners, luncheons and games of bridge – into a position of control. Behind a façade of exaggerated manners, the gloves are off!

Lucia’s Progress: Lucia’s 50th birthday is approaching and she is determined to give her life more meaning. From rumours of pregnancy and Roman remains to Tilling’s Town Council elections, renewed rivalry between Lucia and Elizabeth Mapp-Flint (who has married Major Benjy) ripples irresistibly through the novel with many a laugh-out-loud moment.

Trouble for Lucia: Lucia is now rich, happily married, and Mayor of Tilling – but the village gossip is in full swing and Lucia’s arch-rival Elizabeth is out for revenge. Will Lucia fall at the final hurdle? Delightfully witty and shamelessly entertaining, this is a fitting finale to the series – E.F. Benson’s ‘au reservoir’!

N/A N/A Band W £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 May21 Neil Rosser
Complete Short Stories, The (unabridged) The Complete Short Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0502 0502 9781781983652 Saki
Rupert Degas
22:04:51 FIC004000 FC World

H.H. Munro (Saki) is one of the undisputed masters of the short story. In this complete compendium, the full gamut of his subjects and themes is experienced. His stories are imbued with humorous satire, biting irony and often the macabre, all of which have one target: the stupidities and hypocrisies of Edwardian upper-class society.

N/A N/A Band R £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Jun21 Sarah Butcher

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

English-Australian narrator Rupert Degas has a grand time giving voice to Saki’s (Hector Hugh Munro, 1870–1916) many tales of blustering, tyrannical aunts; mischievous children; and that most important of all English inventions – the twit. Saki was a master of light journalism and short fiction and was known for his barbed descriptions of upper-crust English life and his ingenious plot twists. Degas is especially deft at accentuating the darker and more cynical tones in some of Saki’s best-known works, such as ‘The Jesting of Arlington Stringham’, ‘The Unrest-Cure’, ‘Tobermory’, and the witty examination of reincarnation in ‘Laura’. Satirical, sly and sophisticated – listen closely, and you’ll hear why everyone from P.G. Wodehouse to Monty Python owes a huge debt of gratitude to this Edwardian comic genius.

B.P., AudioFile

Composers’ Letters (selections) Composers’ Letters Music selections Single NA203012 203012 9781843795735 9781843795735 Jan Fielden
Jeremy Nicholas
Daniel Philpott
Edward de Souza
Anton Lesser
Benjamin Soames
Hugo Godwin
2 36 02:28:07 MUS020000 Deleted Available World

In Composers’ Letters, the voices of the great figures of classical music come alive through their correspondence. Set against the music we know and love, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and many more talk openly about their music, their hopes and fears, their love, their sadness and their struggles in realising their artistic hopes in a commercial world. Poignant, funny, revealing, informative and so often direct and honest, these letters offer a fascinating insight into the personalities that created our Western musical tradition.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan00

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

In a perfect and perfectly delightful use of the audio format, this offering pairs accomplished and well-cast actors with letters written by famous composers. The letters are given chronologically, from J.S. Bach’s writing about career and money difficulties in the seventeenth century through the letters of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and others up to Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky in the twentieth. A brief and helpful historical note precedes each composer’s section and, best of all, the music he’s writing about accompanies and illuminates the words. Age-appropriate actors voice composers writing in old age while lighter, boyish voices bring us young Mozart, or Chopin as a determined and very broke youth writing home from Paris. This reviewer’s only possible complaint would be that the book isn’t twice as long.

B.G., AudioFile

Concise History of France, A (unabridged) A Concise History of France History unabridged Single NA0377 0377 9781781982730 Roger Price
Mark Meadows
391 19:25:33 HIS013000 HBJD Deleted Deleted World

Ranging from the early Middle Ages to the present, this is one of the broadest and most up-to-date studies of French history available in English. Amongst its central themes are the relationships between state and society, the impact of war, competition for power, and the ways in which power has been used. Whilst taking full account of major figures such as Philip Augustus, Henri IV, Louis XIV, Napoleon and de Gaulle, it sets their activities within the broader context of changing economic and social structures and beliefs, and offers rich insights into the lives of ordinary men and women. The recording also includes a chapter on contemporary France – its society and political system as a result of globalisation, rising unemployment, a failing educational system, growing social and racial tensions, corruption, the rise of the extreme right, and a widespread loss of confidence in political leaders.

N/A N/A Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Feb19 Chatterbox Audio Chatterbox Audio
Concise History of Germany, A (unabridged) A Concise History of Germany A Concise History of History unabridged Single NA0378 0378 9781781982754 Mary Fulbrook
Nick McArdle
259 11:15:09 HIS014000 HBJD Deleted Deleted World

This audiobook provides a clear and informative guide to the twists and turns of German history from the early Middle Ages to the present day. The multi-faceted, problematic history of the German lands has furnished a wide range of debates and differences of interpretation. Mary Fulbrook provides a crisp synthesis of a vast array of historical material, and explores the interrelationships between social, political and cultural factors in the light of scholarly controversies. First published in 1990, A Concise History of Germany is the only single-volume history of Germany in English that offers a broad, general coverage. It has become standard reading for English-speaking students of German, European studies and history, and is a useful guide to general readers, members of the business community and travellers to Germany.

N/A N/A Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 May19 Red Apple Creative, London Red Apple Creative, London
Concise History of Italy, A (unabridged) A Concise History of Italy History unabridged Single NA0376 0376 9781781982716 Christopher Duggan
Jonathan Keeble
270 11:54:00 HIS020000 HBJD Deleted Deleted World

Since its formation in 1861, Italy has struggled to develop an effective political system and a secure sense of national identity. Christopher Duggan’s acclaimed introduction charts the country’s history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West to the present day, and surveys the difficulties Italy has faced during the last two centuries in creating a unified country. Duggan successfully weaves together political, economic, social and cultural history, and stresses the alternation between materialist and idealist programmes for forging a nation state. The audiobook includes coverage of 19th- and 20th-century Italy, as well as a section devoted to Italy in the 21st century. This is the ideal resource for those seeking an authoritative and comprehensive introduction to Italian history.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jun19 John Foley Andrew Riches

Narrator Jonathan Keeble brings a fine British accent and a pleasingly gruff voice to this account of Italy’s (mostly political and economic) history. [F]or the most part, his narration is thoughtful, showing attention to each sentence, yet still energetic, and he is very able at shaping phrases and conveying meaning. When there’s an opportunity to act (as in quotations) or add a bit of excitement (at the end of WWII, for example), he does. This is, overall, an intelligent and capable delivery of an informative overview of Italian history.

W.M., AudioFile

Concise History of Modern India, A (unabridged) A Concise History of Modern India A Concise History of History unabridged Single NA0380 0380 9781781982792 Barbara D. Metcalf
Thomas R. Metcalf
Raj Ghatak
254 11:04:41 HIS017000 HBJF Deleted Deleted World

A Concise History of Modern India by Barbara D. Metcalf and Thomas R. Metcalf has become a classic in the field since it was first published in 2001. As a fresh interpretation of Indian history from the Mughals to the present, it has informed students across the world. The narrative focuses on the imaginative and institutional structures that have successfully sustained and transformed India, first under British colonial rule and then, after 1947, as an independent country. Woven into the larger political narrative is an account of India’s social and economic development and its rich cultural life. The final chapter charts the dramatic developments of the last 20 years, from 1990 through to the Congress electoral victory of 2009, and the rise of the Indian high-tech industry in a country still troubled by poverty and political unrest.

N/A N/A Band I £21.50 €24.00 $29.00 Apr19 John Foley Andrew Riches
Concise History of Spain, A (unabridged) A Concise History of Spain History unabridged Single NA0381 0381 9781781982815 William D. Phillips, Jr.
Carla Rahn Phillips, Jr.
Luis Soto
280 12:13:20 HIS045000 HBJD Deleted Deleted World

This audiobook traces Spain’s development from prehistoric times to the present, focusing particularly on culture, society, politics and personalities. It introduces listeners to key themes that have shaped Spain’s history and culture, including its varied landscapes and climates; the impact of waves of diverse human migrations; the importance of its location as a bridge between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and Europe and Africa; and religion, particularly militant Catholic Christianity and its centuries of conflict with Islam and Protestantism, as well as debates over the place of the Church in modern Spain.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Jan19 Red Apple Creative
Concise History of the United States of America, A (unabridged) A Concise History of the United States of America History unabridged Single NA0379 0379 9781781982778 Susan-Mary Grant
Robert G. Slade
420 18:19:08 HIS036000 HBJD Deleted Deleted World

Born out of violence and the aspirations of its early settlers, the United States of America has become one of the world’s most powerful nations. This audiobook begins in colonial America as the first Europeans arrived, lured by the promise of financial profit, driven by religious piety, and accompanied by diseases that would ravage the native populations. It explores the tensions inherent in a country built on slave labour in the name of liberty, one forced to assert its unity and reassess its ideals in the face of secession and civil war, and one that struggled to establish moral supremacy, military security and economic stability during the financial crisis and global conflicts of the 20th century. Woven through this richly crafted study of America’s shifting social and political landscapes are the multiple perspectives of the nation’s history: slaves and slave owners, revolutionaries and reformers, soldiers and statesmen, immigrants and refugees. Each of these help define the United States at the dawn of a new century.

N/A N/A Band O £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Mar19 Red Apple Creative, London Red Apple Creative, London
Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (unabridged) Confessions of an English Opium-Eater Biographies unabridged Single NA0212 0212 9781843799177 9781843799184 Thomas de Quincey
Gunnar Cauthery
3 54 03:41:25 BIO000000 Deleted Available World

Thomas De Quincey’s highly charged and hauntingly accurate account of laudanum addiction is considered the root of all drug novels. From Poe to Burroughs, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater influenced a variety of literary writers. After being prescribed the drug as pain relief for a chronic condition, De Quincey soon found himself compelled by the opium experience. His dreams are recounted here in every hallucinatory detail: threatening Roman armies, sunken cities, and German mountaintops… De Quincey’s vivid memories will evoke wonder and curiosity in the listener.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct15
Confessions of Arsène Lupin, The (unabridged) The Confessions of Arsène Lupin Arsène Lupin Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0569 0569 9781781984345 Maurice Leblanc
David Timson
7:44:42 FIC004000 FC World

Comprising 10 short stories, The Confessions of Arsène Lupin first appeared in 1913. Each story features the eponymous gentleman-burglar, who deploys his remarkable wit and skill to plot a path through aristocratic society, outwitting both police and criminals along the way. This collection contains tales of romance and mystery, with Lupin himself never above performing the occasional good deed, while pocketing his own rewards, in the course of his adventures.

The collection contains The Wedding Ring, A Tragedy in the Forest of Morgues and The Invisible Prisoner.

N/A N/A Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Feb23 Alexander Texeira de Mattos Andrew Riches
Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The (unabridged) The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau Biographies unabridged Single NA0468 0468 9781781983287 Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jonathan Keeble
28:56:28 BIO007000 BIO009000 BGLA World

Published four years after Rousseau’s death, Confessions is a remarkably frank self-portrait, described by Rousseau as ‘the history of my soul’. From his idyllic youth in the Swiss mountains, to his career as a composer in Paris and his abandonment of his children, Rousseau lays bare his entire life with preternatural honesty. He relates his scandals, follies, jealousies, sexual exploits and unrequited loves, as well as the torrential events surrounding his controversial works Discourses, Émile and The Social Contract, which led to his persecution and wanderings in exile. Confessions provides an invaluable window into the making of the man, the society he lived in, and the development of ideas that would have a profound influence on philosophers and political theorists to come.

N/A N/A Band X £49.00 €55.00 $67.00 Oct20 Neil Rosser Sarah Butcher

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 of 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 exaggerate to the point of parody his irritation with humanity’s inability to live up to his standards. Keeble, however, simply takes the man as he was, and as he attempts to present himself in this work. There is some question as to the absolute truth of what Rousseau wrote, but not of the truth of this performance.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Confessions of St Augustine, The (unabridged) The Confessions of St Augustine Biographies unabridged Single NA0261 0261 9781781980361 9781781980378 Augustine
Mark Meadows
13 310 14:50:24 BIO018000 Deleted Deleted World

A story of spiritual awakening, St Augustine’s Confessions is a fascinating look at the life of an eminent Christian thinker. Widely seen as one of the first Western autobiographies ever written, it chronicles the life and religious struggles of Augustine of Hippo, from his days as a self-confessed sinner to his acceptance of Christianity as an older adult. Along the way, he unveils his theological questioning of human existence and of the essence and nature of God, while providing influential philosophical arguments on creation and time. Augustine’s sincere and inquisitive attitude will inspire any listener, regardless of faith.

£45.50 $81.98 Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Apr17 R.S. Pine-Coffin Katherine Fenton Dan Murguialday

How do you bring an early Christian literary classic to life for a new generation? You have Mark Meadows narrate it. Listeners will hear Augustine’s angst and concern as he confesses sin after sin. They also will feel the questions welling up from deep within as Augustine wrestles with God while looking for salvation from his many sins. The prospect of forgiveness and knowledge of God will leave listeners exhilarated, while the sadness of continuing in sin will leave them exhausted from guilt and self-judgment. Meadows adds an artistic flair to this bestselling classic that makes this particular audiobook edition a must-listen.

T.D., AudioFile

In Naxos’s new audio recording of The Confessions of St Augustine, British actor Mark Meadows offers a compelling, earnest interpretation of one of the most influential works in Christian theology and Western literature.

Meadows’s delivery is measured and impassioned, and forwards an engrossing sense of urgency. St Augustine’s Confessions was written to be read aloud, and this recording makes it clear how involving and immersive it is to listen to Augustine’s timeless words.

Born in Hippo in North Africa in 354 CE, Augustine lived during a critical juncture in the history of Christianity. With a brilliant mind and access to the leading thinkers of the day, Augustine wrestled with several conflicting worldviews in the early years of his life.

His narration recalls how he was raised a Christian before becoming attracted to Manichaeism in his teens; he also explored the neo-Platonic philosophies of Plotinus before returning to Christianity in his thirties. He wrote Confessions a decade later; in it, he reflects on the sinful and lustful choices he made during the early decades of his life. He also details his internal struggles with key tenets of Christian thought, from the natures of evil, beauty, and time to the experience of original sin, grace, and redemption.

Drawing from R. S. Pine-Coffin’s respected 1961 translation, Meadows animates the Confessions with an accessible and contemporary cadence. Augustine’s words sound as relevant and involving today as they were nearly 1700 years ago. The nearly fifteen hours of recording are logically divided into ten-minute segments that are clearly titled and easy to navigate.

In an era when we are deluged with information and often too eager to rush to judgement, Augustine’s Confessions offers a refreshing, engrossing contemplation of the deeper questions around human nature. Meadows’s clear, conversational exploration includes careful pauses that allow for reflection, providing an opportunity to internalise and wrestle with the sincere and brilliant questions raised in this classic work.

Kristen Rabe, Foreword

‘God grant me chastity and continence, but not yet’ is the most famous line from these Confessions. St Augustine of Hippo (354–430) came from a Berber family, was educated in Carthage and became a teacher of rhetoric in Milan. He had a 15-year-long relationship with, and a son by, a highly intelligent woman before deciding to become celibate rather than marry the heiress his mother chose for him. Soon after that he converted to Christianity. His Confessions was written to be read aloud, and owes its lasting fame to the frankness with which Augustine describes his erring ways (‘in private we were cocksure, in public superstitious’) and his conversion. Augustine comes across as immensely human. The translation is simply phrased (‘I have learnt to love you late, Beauty at once so ancient and so new’), and Mark Meadows’s honest, modern delivery makes this ancient text as alive as if it had been written today.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Confucius – In a Nutshell (unabridged) Confucius – In a Nutshell Biographies unabridged Single NA0019 0019 9781843794356 9781843794363 Neil Wenborn
Nigel Carrington
1 19 01:18:41 BIO009000 Deleted Available World

Confucius stands alone among the world’s great thinkers. Perhaps no other teacher has exerted so powerful a hold over so many people for so long. For two and a half millennia his sayings, preserved and developed by generations of his followers, have shaped the cultural and political life of the world’s most populous nation, and they continue to offer fresh insights for today’s globalised society. This audiobook sets Confucius’s life and teachings in the context of the long history of China, and examines the origins, meanings and influence of one of history’s most enduring philosophical traditions.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep10

In China, apart from a period in the twentieth century, the influence of the moral philosophy of Kong Fuzi (Confucius) has lasted for 25 centuries. This is one of the excellent and expanding Naxos ’In a Nutshell’ series which comes with an erudite booklet placing Confucius in context. The slim volume which distils the branches of his philosophy, Analects, is explored showing how many tenets (’Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire’) are subsumed into world religions.

Rachel Redford, The Oldie

When I began to listen to this CD, I knew absolutely nothing about Confucius and Confucianism. Now I know that there was a historical Confucius (a latinizing of his Chinese name). He was born in mid-6th Century B.C.E. and wrote the Analects which is a collection of brief aphoristic precepts on personal, social and governmental morality. Other books have accreted to the Analects, including one by an ancient interpreter, and they form the written philosophy. The central aphorism of Confucianism is very similar to the Golden Rule in the Judeo-Christian moral systems. Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Other important aspects are self-control and thinking on a larger social scale as opposed to the usual small scale of self-involvement. He taught by comparing behavior. Confucius believed in destiny. To attain governmental appointments in the Chinese bureaucracy, candidates were quizzed on the precepts of Confucianism from the middle ages until 1905. Confucianism is having a resurgence both in China and the West. The audio book is nicely divided into historical, philosophical and social facets of Confucianism. Narrator Nigel Carrington, television and voice-over actor, speaks clearly with a soft British accent and conveys the meaning of the written words consistently. This is an excellent introduction to the precepts of Confucianism and its role in history. I look forward to reviewing others in this series.

Laura Zelasnic,

Connecticut Yankee, A (abridged) A Connecticut Yankee Junior Classics abridged Single NA221812 221812 9789626342183 9789629544386 Mark Twain
Kenneth Jay
2 36 02:25:44 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

The author of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer enjoys an unexpected fantasy as a nineteenth-century Yankee finds himself whisked back in time to an age of chivalry and knighthood – with some unusual consequences.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan01
Consolation of Philosophy, The (unabridged) The Consolation of Philosophy Philosophy unabridged Single NA0347 0347 9781781982167 Boethius
Peter Wickham
112 04:50:55 PHI002000 HPCA HPCB Deleted Deleted World

Charged with treason under Theodoric the Great in sixth-century Rome, Boethius served one year’s imprisonment, awaiting trial and eventual execution. During this time, he wrote The Consolation of Philosophy, which would go on to be one of the most popular philosophical works of all time, contributing much to medieval thought and influencing the likes of Dante and Chaucer, as well as Renaissance writers such as Milton and Shakespeare. Grieving over the injustice of his imprisonment, Boethius meditates on the nature of God, the fickleness of Fortune, the idea of free will, why bad things happen to good people, and the nature of happiness. His arguments take the form of a rich and exquisite dialogue between himself and Lady Philosophy, and make many allusions to classical Greek and Roman literature in an attempt to create a coherent philosophy that supports his world view. It has been declared a ‘golden volume not unworthy of the leisure of Plato or Tully’ (Edward Gibbon).

N/A N/A Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr19 Peter Walsh Andrew Young
Coral Island, The (abridged) The Coral Island Junior Classics abridged Single NA394012 394012 9789626349403 9789629548339 R.M. Ballantyne
Wayne Forester
3 54 03:43:03 JUV007000 Deleted Available World

An enduringly popular classic of children’s fiction, The Coral Island tells the story of three boys stranded on a seemingly idyllic desert island. Thoughtful Ralph, clever, brave Jack and mischievous Peterkin soon find, however, that their new home has more than a few surprises in store! Wayne Forester’s energetic reading brings this classic adventure vividly to life. The Coral Island inspired a whole genre of adventure literature, influencing Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep09

And if Lord of the Flies is one of their A-level texts, they may just be interested to know that this 1857 Boys’ Own adventure story about pirates, cannibals and how to survive on a Pacific island with a broken telescope and a rusty penknife was what inspired William Golding’s novel. He even pinched Ballantyne’s names, Ralph and Jack, for his leading characters – though there the resemblance ends. Here the boys are shining stiff-upper-lip products of empire who risk all to help each other and their friend Peterkin, who may or may not be the piggy in the middle. He sounds as if he went to a better school. This is Peterkin telling his chums what he thinks of being shipwrecked on a desert island: ‘I have made up my mind that it’s capital, first-rate, the best thing that ever happened to us. We’ve got an island all to ourselves. We’ll take possession in the name of the King, then we’ll build a charming villa and plant a lovely garden round it, stuck all full of the most splendiferous tropical flowers, and we’ll farm the land . . . and be merry.’ That’s how small boys wearing round black straw hats, worsted socks and pocket handkerchiefs with 16 portraits of Lord Nelson printed on them and a union flag in the middle used to talk in the mid 19th century.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Così fan tutte (unabridged) Opera Explained – Così fan tutte Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558069 558069 9781843790877 9781843793151 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 37 01:18:40 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Così fan tutte contains some of Mozart’s most sublime music. On one level, the opera is purely a social anecdote about young people falling in and out of love; but Mozart was a supreme sensualist and a great humanist, and invested the tale with all his understanding of humanity and young love. In this title, David Timson refutes the charge that Mozart squandered his genius on a work full of trivial nonsense and proves this ‘miraculous yet problematic’ opera to be a great work of theatre. To listen to this thought-provoking examination of the characters and the music is both thoroughly enriching and great fun.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Dec02
Cossacks, The (unabridged) The Cossacks Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA613112 613112 9789626341315 9789629549350 Leo Tolstoy
Jonathan Oliver
6 103 07:02:58 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dissolute, disenchanted Dmitri Olénin decides to join the Army as a cadet and is despatched to the Caucasus. There, he is transformed by seeing how the indigenous people live in harmony with nature, how their lives have more meaning than those of the superficial social elite in Moscow, and he finds a new sense of self and purpose. But nothing is ever quite that simple. Love and loyalty are tested to the very limits in this semi-autobiographical novella, which is one of Tolstoy’s best-loved works.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Feb10 Aylmer and Louise Maude

… And now for something completely different. When you think of Tolstoy, you most likely think of his epic novels, like Anna Karenina or War and Peace. You probably don’t think of his shorter pieces like The Cossacks, a shorter novella that is considered to be the author’s autobiography. The book centers around an unhappy Muscovite nobleman named Dmitri Olénin who joins the army in search of adventure and purpose in his life. He winds up in the Caucasus and is intrigued by the geography and the simple people who live there. Along the way, he discovers himself and falls in love for the first time, and in turn discovers the pain love can bring. We meet a cast of characters that includes the manly Cossack soldier Lukashka, the beautiful Cossack girl Maryanka, and the larger-than-life grandfather figure, Uncle Yeroshka, each of who play an important role in the life education of Olénin. Since this has always been one of my favorite books, I was curious to see how it translated into the audiobook format. The voice work is done by Jonathan Oliver, an English actor who has over a decade of experience reading audiobooks for the blind. At first, I was a little thrown by his English accent, as I know many Russians personally, and I always lent a Russian accent to The Cossacks characters in my mind. But as the story progressed, I got used to Oliver’s accent and it became very natural sounding, as he took on the life of the characters. He also did a wonderful job of changing out his vocal style as each different character spoke, making it easy to tell who was speaking as the conversations took place. I especially liked his portrayal of Uncle Yeroshka, the colorful old man of the Cossack village who takes Olénin under his wing. Oliver’s voice bellows and rings out with intensity, bringing the character to life in incredible fashion. Oliver is obviously very familiar with the story as well as Tolstoy in general, and he adds touches here and there to make the story even more special. For example, he reads the descriptive sections with the same enthusiasm as the speaking roles, painting a perfect picture of the Cossack village and the activities of its inhabitants as they go about daily life. He also sings their songs with a convincing air, staying in character the whole time. As far as classic literature goes, this one is an easy listen. It is not too long, and the story moves quickly, filled with adventure and a touch of innocent romance. Plus, it is a great introduction to Tolstoy without getting lost in the epic length of some of his other works. Highly recommended.

Mish Mash,

Tolstoy’s novella tells how a young, aristocratic Russian, doing military service among the Cossacks in the Caucasus, learns about life, love, and himself, upsetting his previous notions. Jonathan Oliver performs, rather than reads, varying the voices adeptly from person to person and among men and women, matching speech to how it’s described, providing the proper expression and emotions. His voice is strong; he’s best at Cossack men, especially the rambunctious Daddy Eroshka. The use of strong British accents to represent Russian accents, while reasonable for a British production, may strike American listeners as odd – but it’s the best way to go, and the distraction passes. This is an able reading of a fine, subtle work.

W.M., AudioFile

Council of Justice, The (unabridged) The Council of Justice Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0030 0030 9781843794578 9781843794585 Edgar Wallace
Bill Homewood
4 76 05:16:26 FIC004000 Available Available World

The Four Just Men, in this second of Wallace’s ingenious series of thrillers, pit themselves against The Red Hundred, an organisation dedicated to international anarchy, led by the charismatic, mysterious and beautiful assassin, the Woman of Gratz. As always, the avengers’ methods are meticulously planned and ruthlessly executed.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Aug11

Just occasionally you get a narrator who is so perfectly matched to his material that you can’t help but smile. The orotund sonority of Bill Homewood’s voice gives a stately and cinematic intensity to Edgar Wallace’s The Council of Justice. Bombs and bombast, passion and punch-ups, and a mind-boggling escape from execution keep the listener agog.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Wallace’s classic crime novel – which marks the second appearance of his ’Four Just Men’ and was first published in 1908 – is given a distinguished reading by narrator Bill Homewood. The Council (as the Four Just Men are also known) is a group of wealthy, like-minded gentlemen who band together to deal out their own harsh and deadly judgements to criminals outside the reach of the law. This time around, the Council turns its attention to a dangerous group of anarchists called the Red Hundred, and its most captivating member, the mysterious Woman of Gratz. Homewood’s rich, eloquent narration fits perfectly with Wallace’s tale of post-Victorian intrigue. His dignified delivery of the book’s descriptive passages perfectly captures the era’s drawing rooms and gentleman’s clubs where stories are shared over brandy and cigars. At the same time, Homewood manages to embody a wide range of characters, giving each its own distinctive voice. Although the story can be melodramatic and over the top, Homewood does such an entertaining job that the listener can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the fun.

Publishers Weekly

The Council of Justice is a critically acclaimed novel by English writer Edgar Wallace, the co-creator of King Kong, who died in 1932. In an understated yet effective performance, Bill Homewood brings Wallace’s work to life. The second novel in the Four Just Men series focuses on four anarchists who believe they are above the law as they protect society. They kill for a greater cause – that of justice. The story is more complex and more intellectual than many contemporary novels, yet Homewood’s methodical style and measured tone help make the dialogue accessible. His narration allows listeners to focus on why four men believe their perspective is more accurate than everyone else’s. The Council of Justice is an excellent introduction to this master writer.

D.J.S., AudioFile

Count of Monte Cristo, The (abridged) The Count of Monte Cristo Classic Fiction abridged Single NA203912 203912 9789626340394 9789629545222 Alexandre Dumas
Bill Homewood
2 38 02:38:12 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The Count of Monte Cristo is a tale of revenge and retribution. Edmond Dantès, a young, energetic sailor, is falsely accused of treason on his wedding day and incarcerated in the forbidding Château d’If. His escape and ultimate revenge on those who wronged him makes this one of the most thrilling stories in French literature, as compelling now as when it was first published in 1846.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jun04
Count of Monte Cristo, The (unabridged) The Count of Monte Cristo Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX13412 13412 9789626341346 9789629549381 Alexandre Dumas
Bill Homewood
41 769 52:40:40 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

On the eve of his marriage to the beautiful Mercedes, having that very day been made Captain of his ship, the young sailor Edmond Dantès is arrested on a charge of treason, trumped up by jealous rivals. Incarcerated for many lonely years in the isolated and terrifying Chateau d’If near Marseille, he meticulously plans his brilliant escape and extraordinary revenge. Of all the ‘Masked Avengers’ and ‘Caped Crusaders’ in literature, the Count of Monte Cristo is at once the most daring and the most vulnerable. Alexandre Dumas (père), master storyteller, takes us on a journey of adventure, romance, intrigue, and, ultimately, redemption.

£120.00 $219.98 Band AQ £82.00 €85.00 $110.00 Jul10

If you are already dismayed by the length and price of this famous story of revenge set in France against a backdrop of turbulent Bonapartist politics, you could cop out and buy the two-CD abridgement for £10.99. It would be about as satisfying as booking a table at Le Gavroche and ordering scrambled eggs, but 52 hours, I agree, is a long haul. Dumas père is chiefly remembered for this, for The Three Musketeers, and for fathering Alexander Dumas fils, author of La Dame aux Camélias. It’s a terrific story. Edmond Dantès, a charismatic young seaman, just promoted to captain, is framed by jealous rivals, falsely accused of being a pro-Bonaparte spy and arrested minutes before his marriage to the beautiful Mercedes. He is sentenced to life imprisonment at the notorious Château d’If, where, 14 years later, a fellow inmate, a priest on his deathbed, reveals the whereabouts of a massive treasure on the tiny island of Monte Cristo. Dantès escapes, finds the treasure, buys a peerage and sets about his revenge. Take it on your gap year.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

The Count of Monte Cristo is an extraordinary, long, complex work with a very simple story idea: a young man is horribly wronged, emerges from prison with a new life and a vast fortune, and uses that plus his very good mind to wreak vengeance on the people who ruined his life. It’s fantastic, in every meaning of the word; it’s different from what I expected and from nearly everything I’ve read before; it’s a great adventure yarn with a lovely little romance thrown in (almost entirely counterbalanced by wrecked relationships, but still lovely)… In fact…

‘Has it got any sports in it?’

‘Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…’

The giants and monsters are figurative in The Count, but they’re in there – they are in there. There’s actually very little fencing or fighting, and the torture is almost all mental, but… yeah. It’s all there.

The story is, at its heart, very simple. A strong and handsome and capable young man is well on his way to having a golden life, complete with the girl he loves, until jealousy in those around him has him sent to prison on false charges. There he sits for seventeen years as the world spins on without him, his only relief from the dark solitude a fellow prisoner who takes him on a mad journey to escape, teaching him everything he could ever need to know about everything while they work at it. When he finally does escape, he embarks on a mad quest of his own, to have a subtle, vicious revenge on everyone who harmed him.

I listened to the Audible audiobook read by Bill Homewood, and had a wonderful time – he made 52 hours and 45 minutes seem like only four days.

No, I kid – he gave a magnificent performance. The audiobook I chose for a Goodreads Buddy Read of The Count of Monte Cristo – narrated by Bill Homewood – is in 6 parts, totalling 52 hours & 45 minutes. In other words, two days, four hours, and forty-five minutes. Funnily enough, other versions were of wildly varying lengths – unabridged editions run between 45 hours and the one I picked, 52 hours and 45 minutes. There were also several abridged editions – from a dramatic presentation lasting an hour (how??) to a 17 hour abridgement – but despite its being the longest out there I liked the sample of this, and I think it was a good choice: Mr Homewood is an excellent companion. I can only assume some translations were more succinct than others, or that where Mr Homewood uses a different (extremely well done) voice for each character (resulting in different cadences), and gives each line its full dramatic weight, someone reading in one level tone might get through the material more quickly. For me a big part of the enjoyment was listening to the performance – he went all out on it, conveying real emotion and suspense and humour and dread in a magnificent one-man show. He deserves an award. Most actors’ performances are one character in some fraction of a film or play or TV episode between one and three hours; this was 100% of nearly 53 hours, and fantastic. (I spent no little time marvelling at how he kept the voices straight. I would be doing constant re-takes after reading Danglars’s lines in Villefort’s voice or some such.) (Not to mention the occasional cut to edit out my frustrated exclamations of ‘Wait, who the *&$! is THIS, now??’)


Cousin Bette (unabridged) Cousin Bette Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0458 0458 9781781983188 Honoré de Balzac
Lucy Scott
16:05:11 FIC004000 FC World

Lisbeth Fischer has lived in the shadow of her beautiful cousin Adeline for much of her life. Pampered while Lisbeth works in the fields, Adeline makes an enviable leap in status when Baron Hulot offers her his hand in marriage. Out of kindness, they bring Lisbeth to Paris, where she falls in love with the artist Wenceslas, her protégé. However, when she is jilted for Adeline’s daughter Hortense, her jealousy and rage exponentially intensify, and she resolves to bring the Hulot family to ruin, employing the cold seductress Valérie Marneffe as her vehicle for revenge. A classic tale of obsession, self-destruction and unabated desire, Cousin Bette is a blazing portrayal of libertine France, and the fatal excesses which drive the novel to its dark end.

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Jul20 Neil Rosser Ross Burman

While it was written in 1846, this novel gets a modern vibe with Lucy Scott’s narration. Yet she remains true to the original text, and something in this combination lends this audiobook a timeless air. The titular cousin is ageing and unmarried – an unthinkable status in Post-Napoleonic France – and her simmering resentment fuels the intrigue that permeates the story. Scott’s pacing and accents are reliable and listener friendly. There is an initial adjustment period, as there is with many audiobooks of classics like this, but Scott’s patient interpretation secures the listener’s engagement. Her distinct character voices enliven the dialogue, and subtle vocal twists capture the snippets of irony and social commentary.

L.B.F., AudioFile

Cousin Phillis (unabridged) Cousin Phillis Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA435412 435412 9781843793540 9789629549619 Elizabeth Gaskell
Joe Marsh
3 58 03:57:22 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Cousin Phillis – a miniature masterpiece – is set in the 1840s, when the coming of the railway was changing the face of England, and quiet rural communities, coming into contact with the outside world, were changed for ever. The story focuses on the effect these changes have on a naïve country girl, Phillis, as she encounters love, with all its pains and pleasures, for the first time.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May10

Set in the 1840s, this is a moving story of rural innocence, the pain of lost love and the testing of fierce religious faith. Phillis is her Minister father’s intellectual equal; she studies Latin as she peels the potatoes and her father labours with the men on the family farm. When her cousin’s friend recuperates at the farm and helps Phillis with her Italian, the inevitable happens.

Rachel Redford, The Oldie

Cranford (unabridged) Cranford Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA685012 685012 9789626348505 9789629545321 Elizabeth Gaskell
Clare Wille
6 103 07:02:35 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In the village of Cranford, decorum is maintained at all times. Despite their poverty, the ladies are never vulgar about money (or their lack of it), and always follow the rules of propriety. But this discretion and gentility does not keep away tragedy; and when the worst happens, the Amazons of Cranford show the true strength of their honest affections. A masterpiece of social comedy, Cranford is as moving as it is funny, and as sharp as it is tender.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Oct07

Welcome to the quiet backwater of Cranford. The women are in charge, because the men mostly have business elsewhere. So the desperate gentlewomen keep busy sublimating more basic urges into a passion for Victorian social niceties. Clare Wille is delightfully warm and compassionate as the young narrator Mary Smith, fondly recounting the “elegant economies” of her Cranford circle of spinsters and widows. Yet neither Mary’s narrow field of focus nor the delicacy of her humour preclude sharp observations about the frailties of human nature or warnings of the disruption that events in the wider world are about to visit on her unsuspecting friends. The plotlines – a mésalliance between a titled lady and one of the town’s few virile men, a financial scandal, a beturbanned magician, a prodigal’s return – were probably pretty sensational when the novel was first published, but are most important as the frame on which Gaskell constructs a beguiling picture of a dying society. The BBC 1 costume-drama version shouldn’t put Wille’s telling of the original in the shade.

Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

Done that, been there, seen the TV serial, got the T-shirt (Miss Matty is the lick), but have you read the book? The problem with screen adaptations of period pieces is that they inevitably fall into the same trap. Put a theatrical dame into a bonnet and willy-nilly, no matter how many Baftas she’s bagged, she becomes a pantomime dame. Cranford wasn’t inhabited exclusively by daft old biddies wearing bonnets, shawls and frozen expressions of scandalised incredulity; Mrs Gaskell wrote about real people – some, admittedly, with eccentric ways, but nonetheless genuine. What makes her best-known book, a quintessentially English take on the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie, so beguiling is the gently ironic tone of the young narrator, Mary Smith. This is the fourth Cranford I’ve heard – Prunella Scales did the last – and for once, in Clare Wille, they’ve got the right-aged reader. Mary (unlike Prunella) doesn’t judge. She observes. Her cool, clear gaze misses nothing in this mid-Victorian provincial backwater. You can hear her smiling at its preoccupations with thrift, etiquette, class, crochet, ribbons, gossip and the growing coolness between Miss Jenkins, doyenne of the tea table, and Captain Brown, who finds Boz more entertaining than Samuel Johnson. ‘It was the only difference of opinion they had ever had, but that difference was enough. Miss Jenkins could not refrain from talking at Captain Brown, and though he did not reply, he drummed with his fingers, which action she felt and resented as very disparaging to Dr Johnson.’ Oh, if only life were still as simple.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Clare Wille’s performance of this gently satirical look at a genteel English village in the first half of the nineteenth century may be the wittiest I’ve ever heard. Like a kinder version of E. F. Benson’s Mapp v. Lucia novels, Gaskell’s ladies of Cranford have their jealousies and their vanities. They also have moments of quiet tragedy (a lost brother, a suitor rejected to please the family but never forgotten) and of high drama. Wille made me laugh aloud at the pompous trumpeting of the late Reverend Jenkins. When Miss Poe comes in out of breath, you could swear Wille was running up stairs while delivering her lines. Her performance is always fully engaged, at one with the story, which is itself a small gem.

B. B., AudioFile

To prime myself for Return to Cranford, the new Masterpiece Classic sequel to last year’s award-winning mini-series Cranford on PBS, I wanted to read Mrs Gaskell’s original novel that it was adapted from. Since I am always short of reading time, I chose instead to listen to an audio recording, my favorite pastime during my commute to work. After a bit of research on Cranford audio book recordings, I settled on the Naxos AudioBooks edition. From my experience with their recording of Jane Austen’s novels I knew the quality would be superior. I was not disappointed.

A witty and poignant portrait of small town life in an early Victorian-era English village, Cranford was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words edited by Charles Dickens. Inspired by author Elizabeth Gaskell’s (1810–1865) early life in Knutsford in Cheshire where she was raised by an aunt after her mother’s death and father’s subsequent re-marriage, the novel revolves around the narrator Miss Mary Smith and the Amazons of the community: the authoritative Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her kindhearted but timid younger sister Matty, the always well informed Miss Pole and the self-important aristocratic Mrs Jamieson. This gentle satire of village life does not supply much of a plot – but amazingly it does not matter. Gaskell has the incredible talent of making everyday occurrences and life events totally engrossing. Miss Matty’s conservative friends, the middle-aged spinsters and widows of Cranford, do not want their quaint life and traditions altered one bit. They like Cranford just as it has always been, therefore when the industrial revolution that swept through England in the 1840’s encroaches upon their Shangri-La, they lament and bustle about attempting to do everything in there power to stop the evil railroad’s arrival. Gaskell is a deft tactician at dry humor, not unlike her predecessor Jane Austen, and the comedy in Cranford balanced with a bit of tragedy is its most endearing quality.

This unabridged audio book recording is aptly read by Clare Wille whose sensitive and lyrical interpretation of Gaskell’s narrative enhanced my enjoyment of the story by two fold. Her rendering of the different characters with change of timbre and intonation was charmingly effective. My favorite character was of course the kindhearted Miss Matty. Even though she is of a certain age she has a child-like naïveté refreshingly seeing her friends and her world in simple terms. In opposition to our present day lives of cell-phones, blackberries and information overload, a trip to Cranford was a welcome respite. I recommend it highly.

2010 marks the 200th anniversary of author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell nee Stevenson’s birth on 29 September 1810 in Chelsea, which was then on the outskirts of London. In celebration of her bi-centenary, Naxos Audiobooks will be releasing three additional recordings of her novels: North and South in February again read by Clare Wille, Wives and Daughters in March read by Patience Tomlinson and Cousin Phillis in May read by Joe Marsh. Happily, I will be enjoying many hours of great Gaskell listening this year.

Laurel Ann,

Crime and Punishment (abridged) Crime and Punishment Classic Fiction abridged Single NA300912 300912 9789626340097 9789629545024 Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Michael Sheen
3 54 03:43:29 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

A century after it first appeared, Crime and Punishment remains one of the most gripping psychological thrillers. A poverty-stricken young man, seeing his family making sacrifices for him, is faced with an opportunity to solve his financial problems with one simple but horrifying act: the murder of a pawnbroker. She is, he feels, just a parasite on society. But does the end justify the means? Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov makes his decision and then has to live with it. Dostoyevsky, in masterly fashion, contrasts the comedy and tragedy of life in St Petersburg with the anguish and turmoil of Raskolnikov’s inner life.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul00
Crime and Punishment (unabridged) Crime and Punishment Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0140 0140 9781843797494 9781843797500 Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Constantine Gregory
17 338 22:02:41 FIC004000 Available Available World

A century after it first appeared, Crime and Punishment remains one of the most gripping psychological thrillers. A poverty-striken young man, seeing his family making sacrifices for him, is faced with an opportunity to solve his financial problems with one simple but horrifying act: the murder of a pawnbroker. She is, he feels, just a parasite on society. But does the end justify the means? Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov makes his decision and then has to live with it. Dostoyevsky, in masterly fashion, contrasts the comedy and tragedy of life in St Petersburg with the anguish and turmoil of Raskolnikov’s inner life.

£55.00 $98.98 Band R £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Sep13

Almost a century and a half after it first appeared, this classic psychological crime novel is still widely read and studied. Set in St. Petersburg, the main character, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov decides to murder a pawnbroker to whom he is indebted. He justifies his action because he sees her as just a parasite on society and tests his belief that murder is permissible in pursuit of a higher purpose. However, for him the result is months of turmoil and anguish. Narrator Constantine Gregory’s experience as an actor, dialogue coach, and ‘voice’ serves him well here. He has more than 20 years’ experience in all these capacities on international projects with many major film directors and stars from Danny Boyle to Terry Gilliam and with actors such as Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, George Clooney and many others. Constantine is excellent when voicing laughter and drunkenness and conveys the suffering of the characters poignantly. His interpretation is dramatic and very accessible in this dark and depressing novel. I found his voicing of Raskolnikov not distinctive enough. Still, this is an excellent reading for listeners new to this classic and for listeners familiar with the book, Gregory’s reading provides a unique experience.

Sue Rosensweig, Sound Commentary

Critique of Pure Reason (unabridged) Critique of Pure Reason Philosophy unabridged Single NA0528 0528 9781781983928 Immanuel Kant
Peter Wickham
25:09:26 PHI046000 PHI013000 HPCD1 World

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is a core text of modern philosophy. Presenting an examination of the nature of human reason, its central argument is that the way in which man perceives his environment is a direct consequence of the mind’s ability to act on this environment and convert it into something meaningful. The work brings together two opposing schools of philosophy – rationalism and empiricism – and proposes a third way, which came to be known as transcendental idealism.

Critique of Pure Reason proved to be hugely influential, not least on Marx, Heidegger and Nietzsche. In this engaging recording, the ideas and arguments in the Critique are put forward with great clarity.

N/A N/A Band U £42.00 €48.00 $58.00 May22 John Meiklejohn (updated) Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio

Narrator Peter Wickham approaches eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant’s text on metaphysics with a pace apparently arising from his clear understanding of where each argument is headed. This awareness guides listeners through its lengthy phrases. Hearing the text is, in fact, the way many who study Kant approach his works, albeit with unskilled oral reading to themselves. Wickham’s narration is a boon to students and scholars of the German thinker. While it will not make this classic author accessible to general readers, it conveys the work meaningfully. Those who are versed in the basic principles of Kant’s considerations will view Wickham’s approach as supportive of their efforts to gain deeper understanding of Kant’s thought and theory.

F.M.R.G., AudioFile

Crock of Gold, The (unabridged) The Crock of Gold Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0572 0572 9781781984376 James Stephens
Gerry O'Brien
5:46:10 FIC004000 FC World

One of the great novels in the Irish comic tradition, The Crock of Gold (1912) consists of six parts. Bringing together pagan gods, policemen, prisoners, leprechauns and animals, the narrative concerns a philosopher and his quest to find the most beautiful woman in the world, Cáitilin Ni Murrachu, who has been abducted by the god Pan. His journey takes him from dark forests to the spectacular heights of pagan gods, as he experiences encounters that will change him forever.

With its unique combination of philosophy and Irish folklore, The Crock of Gold is full of humour, its central themes including the battle of the sexes and the difference between men and women.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Mar23 Neil Rosser Timothy Brown

Audiobook of the Week

In these days of over-hyped and over-performed audiobook disappointments, hurrah for Naxos, the company that resurrects the great books of the past and takes pains to choose appropriate narrators, get pronunciations right and remove multiple takes of the same line that lazy producers sometimes miss.

I had never heard of The Crock of Gold (1912) or of James Stephens (1880–1950); I now know that The Crock of Gold is a fey miracle of satiric humour that frolics along thanks to Gerry O’Brien’s lilting, gusto-filled narration, and that Stephens was a friend of James Joyce, who in 1909 called him ‘the latest Irish genius’ and asked him to finish Finnegans Wake if he couldn’t.

Born in the Dublin slums and committed for begging to the Meath Reform School, Stephens made good – drinking up Irish culture and producing a succession of acclaimed novels and stories. The Crock of Gold is the tale of two wise philosophers, their two wiser wives who hail from the fairy Shee, and their two children, to say nothing of a coven of angry leprechauns in search of their stolen crock of gold and, dancing over all, the great gods Pan and Aengus Og. There are plenty of funny lines and much memorable wisdom. I hope Naxos will record Stephens’s Irish Fairy Tales next.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Custom of the Country, The (unabridged) The Custom of the Country Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0539 0539 9781781984031 Edith Wharton
Laurel Lefkow
15:58:17 FIC004000 FC World

Single-minded and spoilt, Undine Spragg arrives in New York determined to procure for herself a social status to match her family’s wealth. Ambition, greed and an arresting beauty soon secure her path to marriage… and also to divorce. The Custom of the Country (1913) is a sophisticated commentary on both – touching on the implications for a woman of ending a marriage at a time when the author herself was navigating that very situation. As the splendidly mismatched Undine and Ralph travel to Europe, Wharton contrasts the pecuniary motivation of the nouveau riche in America with European ideals of tradition, and through her array of characters and subtle insights into society, she delivers a novel every bit as immersive and entertaining as The Age of Innocence.

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 May22 Neil Rosser Andrew Riches

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Laurel Lefkow gives a stellar performance as she introduces Edith Wharton’s 1913 characters to a 21st-century audience. The story features one of literature’s least likable heroines, Undine Spragg. Lefkow gives her a simpering, cloying, sometimes whiny voice, which is perfectly suited to this shallow, spoiled, and self-absorbed young woman. Undine has four marriages as she ascends the social ladder, and each union is masterfully portrayed. Undine’s richest husband is the crude financial tycoon Elmer Moffat. He is given a husky, folksy voice. The story is slow paced and filled with richly detailed locales. Lefkow’s warm, articulate voice makes for a highly enjoyable listening experience.

D.L.G., AudioFile

Daisy Miller (unabridged) Daisy Miller Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0325 0325 9781781981665 9781781981672 Henry James
Penelope Rawlins
2 57 02:29:33 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Daisy Miller is a young American girl travelling Europe with her mother and younger brother. While in Vevey, Switzerland, she becomes acquainted with Frederick Winterbourne, an idle expatriate, of well-to-do Americans. Winterbourne, who observes and critiques young Daisy through their brief acquaintanceship, is infatuated with her irreverent behaviour. Daisy flaunts society’s rules and uncompromising standards; she is charming, spontaneous and unpretentious, and her audacity shocks the Europeans, who consider her an uncultivated flirt. The sophisticated Winterbourne remains smitten with Daisy, but his classical values stand in his way…

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Oct18 John Foley Thomas Goose

James’s novella is brought beautifully to life by narrator Penelope Rawlins, whose chameleon voice spans continents with ease. While the narrative is performed in an appealing British accent, Rawlins easily moves into American tones when voicing the title character and her suitor, Mr Winterbourne. As the vivacious Daisy flirts her way across Europe, Winterbourne struggles to reconcile his feelings for her with his loyalty to social expectations and appearances. The voice of Randolph, Daisy’s little brother, can be too exaggerated at times, but the story as a whole is delivered with grace and power. This audiobook is a fine introduction to this classic – its length is manageable, and Rawlins brings a respectful contemporary voice to an earlier time.

L.B.F., AudioFile

Dangerous Liaisons (unabridged) Dangerous Liaisons Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0591 0591 9781781984741 Choderlos de Laclos
Nicholas Boulton
Georgina Sutton
Lucy Scott
Gunnar Cauthery
Clare Wille
Richenda Carey
Penelope Rawlins
Jonathan Keeble
David Timson
John Foley
16:08:05 FIC004000 World

First appearing in 1782, Dangerous Liaisons is one of the most scandalous and controversial novels in European literature. The plot unfolds through a series of letters as the two main protagonists, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, attempt to bring about the seduction of a young woman.

The epistolary nature of the novel gives a multi-faceted perspective of the action, which places the book firmly in the tradition of libertine literature. The notoriety that the novel achieved on its initial publication has ensured its continued popularity, with its wit and style appealing to readers up to the present day.

N/A N/A Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Oct23 Douglas Parmée John Foley Andrew Riches
Daniel Deronda (unabridged) Daniel Deronda Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0160 0160 9781843797937 9781843797944 George Eliot
Juliet Stevenson
28 543 36:06:33 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Following a chance meeting at a gambling hall in Europe, the separate lives of Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Harleth are immediately intertwined. Daniel, an Englishman of uncertain parentage, becomes Gwendolen’s redeemer as she, trapped in a loveless marriage, finds herself drawn to his spiritual and altruistic nature. But Daniel’s path is set when he rescues a young Jewish woman from suicide… Daniel Deronda, George Eliot’s final novel, is a remarkable work, encompassing themes of religion, imperialism and gender within its broad scope.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AC £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Oct15

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

It’s difficult to overstate the quality of this work. The precision with which narrator Juliet Stevenson brings each character to life is impressive. Each of them – the long-suffering Gwendolyn, the singular Mirah, even the altruistic Daniel himself – lives as a distinct personality in the telling of the story. Listening to Stevenson, one notes that the effectiveness of her presentation is due in large part to her understanding of George Eliot’s work. Far from being a story of star-crossed lovers, the novel explores the trappings of desire, consequences, and Victorian England’s reception of those of the Jewish faith. Stevenson’s thoughtful treatment of the audiobook’s emotion and commentary merits the 36 hours it spans, even for those already familiar with Eliot.

N.J.B, AudioFile

Dark Night of the Soul, The (unabridged) The Dark Night of the Soul Religion unabridged Single NA0480 0480 9781781983423 John of the Cross
Peter Wickham
05:28:46 REL070000 REL047000 HRC HRCS1 World

At the centre of The Dark Night of the Soul (La noche oscura del alma) is a poem written by the 16th-century Spanish poet and mystic St John of the Cross. Consisting of eight stanzas, each of five lines, the poem outlines the journey in pursuit of divine union, within which the only source of light comes from the soul. This recording in English includes the poem itself and St John’s two accompanying treatises (1584–5), essentially commentaries, which offer line-by-line explanations of the poem. Many modern readers have found guidance and consolation in this work.

N/A N/A Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Jan21 Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio
Darling Buds of May, The (unabridged) The Darling Buds of May Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0246 0246 9781843799986 9781843799993 H.E. Bates
Philip Franks
4 65 04:21:42 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

When Cedric Charlton, an unsuspecting tax inspector, arrives at the door of the Pop Larkin farm, he soon forgets the purpose of his visit: the fun-loving Ma and Pop Larkin distract him at every turn with strawberries, cream, alcohol, and their attractive young daughter, Mariette. Well known through the popular TV series starring David Jason and Catherine Zeta-Jones, The Darling Buds of May is the quintessential feel-good country romp. It will have you falling wholeheartedly in love with the Larkin family and their carefree ways of living. So grab a bowl of ice cream, pull out a deck chair, and share in the ‘perficktion’ of country life.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jan16

Still smarting from coughing up tax due? Solace yourself by listening to Philip Franks’s nicely paced narration of H.E. Bates’s The Darling Buds of May. Pop Larkin has a sunny view of the world and an unabashedly eyes-tight-shut approach to taxation. Since his luscious daughter Mariette has a bun in her oven that Ma Larkin didn’t bake, when the naïve and sentimental Cedric Charlton arrives from the Inland Revenue to ask about profits, Pop quickly identifies him as an ideal husband. H.E. Bates was inspired to invent the Larkin family while on holiday in Kent, when a beaming man holding a wad of bank notes came into the village shop and purchased ice-creams and strawberries galore for his enormous family. Altogether ‘perfick’ escapist listening – and there are four sequels.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Cedric Charlton arrives on the Larkin doorstep, determined to get Pop to complete his tax form. But the crafty junk dealer has other ideas. Distracting him with food, alcohol, and his beautiful daughter, Mariette, Pop tries to keep him from his mission.

Charlton wants to keep his focus, but finds he enjoys Mariette’s company too much to consider leaving any time soon. And the joys of the country become dearer and dearer to his heart. As his visit is extended, he experiences his first strawberry season, as well as a horse riding competition, and learns how to eat country-style. Will he choose to go back to his tax office, or will he stay with the Larkins for a while and see what country living has to offer him?

The Darling Buds of May is read by Philip Franks, who does a wonderful job with these voices. While listening, one can easily picture each of the unique characters, as well as the scenery around them. The story is told from multiple perspectives, and it reads more like a play than a novel, with only the props missing. This light-hearted and humorous story is best enjoyed while relaxing on a summer day. I really enjoyed this recording and hope Naxos AudioBooks plans to do more in this series.

Alice Berger, Bergers Book Reviews

Darwin – In a Nutshell (unabridged) Darwin – In a Nutshell Biographies unabridged Single NA194412 194412 9789626349441 9789629548360 Peter Whitfield
Peter Whitfield
1 18 01:13:41 BIO007000 Deleted Available World

Naxos AudioBooks launches a new 1 CD introductory series In a Nutshell with Darwin, marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the English naturalist. Peter Whitfield explains how Darwin came to his revolutionary views following his voyage on the Beagle – and his initial reluctance to publish his findings.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Feb09

Peter Whitfield’s In a Nutshell: Darwin is exactly what it claims to be. In a little over an hour, Whitfield presents a biography of Charles Darwin and an overview of his life’s work. The “nutshell” part of the title may suggest that the production rushes through the facts, but that’s not the case. Whitfield has a pleasant voice, and the prose is smooth and interesting. The audio is a leisurely experience that can be likened to taking a walk while discussing Darwin and his theory of evolution. This is an hour well spent; listeners will learn much, after which they can decide whether or not to delve into the subject in more detail. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

S.D.D., AudioFile

A useful instant bicentenary guide, which gives you exactly what it says on the tin: family history, biography, succinct synopsis of what natural selection really means and what effect it had on the Victorian establishment. At the 1860 Oxford debate, Bishop Wilberforce asked Thomas Huxley, “Darwin”s bulldog”, if he was descended from apes on his father’s or his mother’s side. Vicious stuff, and it’s still raging.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

I never knew that for 20 years Darwin suffered from a mysterious and debilitating condition that caused heart palpitations, nausea and stomach cramps. Was it chagas disease, picked up from South American beetles during his five-year Beagle voyage? Or purely psychosomatic, due to stress and dread of the negative reception his book would receive? Even his wife Emma was giving him stick about it. So he kept his head down and confined his theories to finches, turtles and moles, leaving humans out of the picture until his next bestseller, The Descent of Man, in 1871.

Author, poet, and historian Whitfield (Landmarks in Western Science) celebrates the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth with this marvelous “nutshell” summary of the English naturalist’s life and his important contributions to science, reminding listeners of Darwin’s continued impact. The author himself narrates, his distinctly British reading conveying Darwin’s own British culture and his well-paced delivery helping to sustain interest. This title, one of many future “nutshell” works from this publisher to cover various other fields of study in a similarly cogent, succinct manner, serves as a useful introduction to Darwin’s life and work and nicely bookends the more comprehensive approach to audio learning offered by The Teaching Company and Recorded Books’ “Modern Scholar” series. Highly recommended.

Dale Farris, Groves

In a nutshell, this ‘nutshell’ audio production is great. Everyone can benefit from a Cliff Notes style review of what they studied in school. Whitfield provides a clear, straight-forward account of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. He concentrates on Darwin as a personality. Raised in an academic, upper-class, family, Darwin had many advantages as a young man and he didn’t squander them. Sober and reflective, he was also sensitive to the effect his ideas would have on the conventionally faithful, including his wife. Uninterested in being a firebrand, after his famous Galapagos Island trip, he happily returned to a quiet life at his country home where he refined his thoughts and theories. Still, they did rock the world and continue to be a source of controversy. They are also largely immutable. Whitfield narrates with warmth and precision.

Nancy Chaplin,

David Copperfield (abridged) David Copperfield Classic Fiction abridged Single NA415112 415112 9789626341513 9789629544898 Charles Dickens
Anton Lesser
4 77 05:16:32 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

This much-loved novel was, by Dickens’s own admission, his ‘favourite child’. It is easy to see why, with its colourful characters ranging from the repulsive Uriah Heep to the endlessly improvident Micawbers, and dominated throughout by the moving story of David’s search for a family and a home…

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Feb00
David Copperfield (unabridged) David Copperfield Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0078 0078 9781843795698 9781843795704 Charles Dickens
Nicholas Boulton
28 603 36:10:55 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Recognised as one of the greatest works of English fiction, David Copperfield tells the story of a young man, from his painful childhood, through chance, tragedy and adventure, to self-knowledge and happiness. It includes some of Dickens’s most vividly memorable characters. The cruelly saturnine Mr Murdstone; the redoubtable Betsey Trotwood; the charismatic Steerforth; the ever-so-’umble Uriah Heep; the magnificently spendthrift Mr Wilkins Micawber; the spiteful Miss Dartle; the faithful Traddles; and scores more – all are part of a story that is by turns enchanting, enthralling, comic and moving.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AC £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Feb12

When Dickens’s last unfinished book, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, comes out in May, Naxos will have recorded all of his novels unabridged, totalling 440½ hours of incomparable entertainment by the world’s greatest storyteller. Without the tributes and mass coverage of his bicentenary, I might have forgotten just how great a writer he is, hence my 2012 mission to become reacquainted with Dombey, Rudge, Nickleby, Chuzzlewit, Pickwick – the whole gang. David Copperfield was my introduction to Dickens and, in a way, to audio. Sister Agnes de Sales reading it aloud after supper in the convent as we darned our socks may not have been as affecting as Nicholas Bolton’s Mr Peggotty a-searching through the whole wide world for to bring back Little Em’ly, his darling niece, but it regularly reduced us to tears. Thus encouraged we moved on to Great Expectations, Hard Times et al. for ourselves, but that was a long time ago. If you’ve lost the Dickens habit, be patient. It takes a little while to adjust to his unhurried pace, the leviathan sentences, the digressions, the repetitions. ‘Oh my lungs and liver no! Oh my eyes and whiskers, no! Oh my legs and…’ etc, roars the terrifying second-hand clothes dealer in Chatham when 10-year-old Davey (penniless, hungry and running away from a wretched life in London to look for his only living relative in Dover) tentatively suggests that 18 pence is a fair price for his jacket. Don’t give it to him, for God’s sake, you want to scream, don’t trust him, he’s a rogue – but of course he does and sits outside on the doorstep all day until he gets the money. Well, some of it. Bullied, beaten, cheated, put upon – will our poor, trusting, irritatingly innocent hero never be free of the Steerforths, the Heeps, the waiters who snaffle his dinner, the carriers who run off with his goods? Of course he will, because there are as many decent, heartwarming Mr Dicks and Dr Strongs, especially in David Copperfield, as there are crooks. Naxos does cheaper abridged versions of all 17 books, but they’re just snacks. You need a proper dinner.

Sue Arnold, the Guardian

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Probably any well-trained actor can make a good thing of Uriah Heep. Still, Nicholas Boulton’s Heep is miraculously visual. You’ll remember that in addition to being poisonously “’umble,” Heep writhes a good deal. Boulton somehow makes his voice sinuously whiney, such that you actually see Heep coiling one horrible leg around the other while he smarms somebody. Still, it was Boulton’s Betsy Trotwood that completely undid me. At her first cry of strangled outrage,”Janet! Donkeys!” I laughed out loud in the garden and startled the dog. If you haven’t read Copperfield since school, you’ll be surprised. The sentimentality seems worse than ever, but Dickens’s eccentrics are even more shrewdly conceived than you remember. Pair that with this glorious performance, and you’ve got audio heaven.

B.G., AudioFile

De Profundis (unabridged) De Profundis Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0210 0210 9781843799139 9781843799146 Oscar Wilde
Simon Russell Beale
5 75 04:54:56 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Written during his time in Reading Gaol, De Profundis is Oscar Wilde’s moving letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, whose relationship with Wilde led to the poet’s imprisonment. Here Wilde repudiates Lord Alfred and reflects on his ordeal, acknowledging how the depths of his sorrow have helped liberate him towards a fuller, freer wisdom. Brimming with beautiful passages, De Profundis is a profound and inspiring treatise on the meaning of suffering. With an Introduction Written and Read by Merlin Holland.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct15

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

De Profundis (From the Depths) is perhaps the least read of Wilde’s major works, and the most heartbreakingly sincere. Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, delivers his own moving introduction, and Simon Beale narrates the book-length letter as though he were talking about his own life. The tone is sometimes bitter but always striving toward love as Wilde tries to explain his situation: He wrote the work from Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas, the lover who bore so much responsibility for the writer’s imprisonment for homosexuality. Beale manages the difficult emotional transitions as Wilde moves from castigating Douglas to discussing suffering as the path to Christian love to expressing his hope of meeting Douglas again after his release. Beale never lets the leaps seem strained or unnatural. This is a reading that the work deserves.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Dead Secret, The (unabridged) The Dead Secret Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0495 0495 9781781983577 Wilkie Collins
Nicholas Boulton
13:20:40 FIC004000 FC World

A masterful blend of Gothic drama and romance, Wilkie Collins’s mystery novel is an exploration of illegitimacy and inheritance. Set in Cornwall, the plot foreshadows The Woman in White with its themes of doubtful identity and deception, and involves a broad array of characters. The ‘secret’ of the book’s title is the true parentage of the book’s heroine, Rosamond Treverton, which has been written down and kept in an unused room at Porthgenna Tower. This is where, 20 years later, much of the novel’s action is set.

N/A N/A Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 Jan21 John Foley Nikki Ruck

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Nicholas Boulton’s narration of this wonderfully entertaining audiobook is simply astonishing. He keeps listeners on track though its shifts in time period and plot. As a work of ‘sensation fiction’, this story of Rosamond Treverton Franklin’s discovery of her late mother’s secret was intended to excite and amuse its 19th-century audience, although the suspense is tame by contemporary standards. The magic lies in Boulton’s flawless rendering of the richly nuanced characters of all ages, genders, nationalities, and social classes; the splendid English country settings; and the touches of humour throughout. Boulton subtly varies his pace to complement the narrative moment. A thoroughly enjoyable listening experience.

M.J., AudioFile

Dead Souls (abridged) Dead Souls Classic Fiction abridged Single NA428412 428412 9789626342848 9789629545345 Nikolai Gogol
Gordon Griffin
4 73 05:01:42 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Gogol’s great Russian classic is the Pickwick Papers of Russian Literature. It takes a sharp but humorous look at life in all its strata, but especially the devious complexities in the country with its landowners and serfs. We are introduced to Chichikov, a businessman who, in order to trick the tax authorities, buys up dead ‘souls’ or serfs whose names still appear on the government census. Despite being a dealer in phantom crimes and paper ghosts, he is the most beguiling of Gogol’s characters. Gogol’s obsession with attempting to display ‘the untold riches of the Russian soul’ eventually led him to madness, religious mania and death. Dismissed by him as merely ‘a pale introduction to the great epic poem which is taking shape in my mind’, Dead Souls is the culmination of Gogol’s genius.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Mar03
Dead Souls (unabridged) Dead Souls Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0269 0269 9781781980521 9781781980538 Nikolai Gogol
Nicholas Boulton
13 341 14:55:09 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Gogol’s great Russian classic is the Pickwick Papers of Russian Literature. It takes a sharp but humorous look at life in all its strata, but especially the devious complexities in Russia with its landowners and serfs. We are introduced to Tchitchikov, a businessman who, in order to trick the tax authorities, buys up dead ‘souls’ or serfs whose names still appear on the government census. Despite being a dealer in phantom crimes and paper ghosts, he is the most beguiling of Gogol’s characters. Gogol’s obsession with attempting to display ‘the untold riches of the Russian soul’ eventually led him to madness, religious mania and death. Dismissed by him as merely ‘a pale introduction to the great epic poem which is taking shape in my mind’, Dead Souls is the culmination of Gogol’s genius.

£45.50 $81.98 Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Jul17 Constance Garnett John Foley Sarah Butcher

Justly regarded as a seminal masterpiece of Russian literature, Gogol’s 1842 novel of an opportunistic schemer who tours the provinces drawing in his gullible countrymen by means of their own prejudices and pretensions has lost none of its trenchant force. Reader Boulton deftly navigates the playful digressions of a stylist who raised the run-on sentence to an art form, voicing Gogol’s omniscient, bemused, and often-perplexed narrator in a smooth, urbane baritone well suited to the elegant reserve of Constance Garnett’s 1922 translation. The episodic swindles of antihero Chichikov unveil a rogue’s gallery of folly, hubris and venality, and Boulton ably and with relish inhabits a varied cast of serfs, landowners, bureaucrats, generals, nobles, and even a horse. Listeners new to Dead Souls may be surprised by the fragmentary state of its second half, but more than enough satiric brilliance remains to make this unabridged recording a highly recommended purchase for most libraries.

David Wright, Booklist

Death of a Salesman (abridged) Death of a Salesman Drama abridged Single NA199712 199712 9789626349977 9789629548933 Arthur Miller
Thomas Mitchell
Arthur Kennedy
Elia Kazan
2 21 01:26:18 DRA001000 Deleted Available World excl. USA and Canada

Arthur Miller’s most famous play, Death of a Salesman, has become a key text in Western literature. This unusually powerful recording, made for radio in 1953, was directed by Elia Kazan who premiered the play. It features Thomas Mitchell and Arthur Kennedy as father and son. Willy, a travelling salesman, based in New York, relentlessly chases material success. As the disappointing nature of his reality crowds in upon him, Willy and his family suffer the tragic cost of his delusions of greatness. A domestic tragedy, a cynical indictment of materialism and the American Dream, and a profoundly moving story of one man’s struggle to maintain his dignity in the face of continual adversity – Miller’s play is essential listening.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Dec09 Elia Kazan

The 1953 radio production of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, with Thomas Mitchell and Arthur Kennedy, gets the Broadway treatment by Elia Kazan (who premiered the play). It was a sensation to audiences in 1949 and continues to move with its mix of cynical satire, realism and pathos.

Robert Giddings, Tribune Magazine

Death of Arthur (Le Morte d’Arthur), The (abridged) The Death of Arthur (Le Morte d’Arthur) Classic Fiction abridged Single NA300112 300112 9789626340011 9789629545536 Sir Thomas Malory
Philip Madoc
3 58 03:57:55 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The glorious but tragic story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is one of the great legends of Western civilisation. Storytellers and poets down the centuries have turned repeatedly to the universal themes of the Quest of the Holy Grail and the love between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere. Yet the first printed account, written by the fifteenth-century knight Sir Thomas Malory, remains unmatched. In words which speak directly to us today as they did to his own period, he brings to life a rich tale of heroism and ideals undermined by the poignance of human emotions.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jul00
Death of Ivan Ilyich, The (unabridged) The Death of Ivan Ilyich Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA385112 385112 9789626348512 9789629545703 Leo Tolstoy
Oliver Ford Davies
3 42 02:51:12 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Drawing on the experience of his own struggle to find enlightenment and a deeper spiritual understanding of life, Tolstoy in The Death of Ivan Ilyich takes us on the final journey towards death with Ivan Ilyich, who, falling victim to an incurable illness, ponders on his own life – its shallowness and lack of compassion, wondering what is the meaning of it all. At times sombre, at times satirical, Tolstoy’s novel raises questions about the way we live and how we should strive even at the end to seek final redemption. It is a powerful masterpiece of psychological exploration, and has influenced writers as diverse as Hemingway and Nabokov.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Nov07 Aylmer and Louise Maude

Tolstoy wrote his short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich after a dark night of the soul that led him to question his entire life, and eventually to find comfort in Christianity and peasant simplicities. The book is a coded version of his suffering and makes tough, but ultimately deeply rewarding listening. Oliver Ford Davies, the philosopher and actor fresh from a memorably gruff rendering of Diogenes Laertius for the Naxos audiobook Ancient Greek Philosophy, makes the dying Ilyich touchingly human.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Painfully and slowly, Judge Ivan Ilyich is dying and, as he does so, he comes to recognise the truth about his impeccable life. For all his propriety and success, it has been meaningless and empty. Ilyich loathes his wife and realises his ‘concerned’ colleagues are merely waiting to step into his shoes. And he recognises the selfless devotion with which he is cared for by the peasant boy Gerasim as the only real truth in the whole of his own shallow life. Only at the end, when Ilyich breaks through the ‘black sack’ of death, is he absolved. Ford Davies’s leisurely narration and the passages of Russian music complement Tolstoy’s serious theme and his presentation of Ilyich’s anguished emotions is masterly.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Enough of these homegrown comedies of manners. There aren’t many jokes in this relentless novella about a cold, calculating, materialistic minor member of the St Petersburg judiciary, whose only ambition is to keep up with the Ivanovs. Until, that is, he falls ill with a mysterious terminal disease that opens his eyes to the shallowness of his friends, his family and, most of all, himself. Tolstoy’s prose is majestic, his pace measured, his characters unflinchingly true to life, his message bleak. If you’ve never read any Tolstoy, best not start with this one – you might top yourself before you get round to Anna Karenina.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian, 16 February 2008

In the lovely, low tones of a fine storyteller, Oliver Fox Davies guides us through the stages of Tolstoy’s mini masterpiece. Davies’s skill with inflection, even within words, heightens the social satire of the early section and shifts with Ilyich’s slide into ever increasing pain and irritability. With the terror and anguish of approaching death, his voice grows convincingly hoarse. Until his illness, Ivan Ilyich had never reflected on his life. But he slowly comes to see his life as ‘a terrible, huge deception which had hidden life and death.’ As he lays dying, his lifelong friends think of the promotions that may come their way, and his wife ‘began to wish he would die, but she didn’t want him to die because then his salary would cease.’ He has always avoided human connection, but through the tender ministrations of a peasant he comes to recognize the ‘mesh of falsity’ in which he’s lived. Written more than a century ago, Tolstoy’s work still retains the power of a contemporary novel.

Publisher’s Weekly, January 2008

Tolstoy’s novella offers a penetrating examination of the Christian faith and the nature of life and death. Listeners will also be sure to delight in Tolstoy’s sharp and sometimes satirical eye for the very modern-sounding details of the life of a nineteenth-century Russian bureaucrat. With masterful ease, a warm tone, and conversational pacing, British actor Oliver Davies captures Ivan Ilyich’s preoccupation with interior decorating and debt and his avoidance of family weddings and home remedies. Then the shadow of death wipes away all trivialities and pretence. This work’s prose and performance are so vivid, so human, and so listenable that there’s no doubt why Tolstoy stands as one of the giants of world literature.

B. P., AudioFile Magazine

Decameron, Selections from The (abridged) Selections from The Decameron Classic Fiction abridged Single NA438012 438012 9789626343807 9789629544614 Boccaccio
Stephen Thorne
Nickie Rainsford
Alison Pettitt
Teresa Gallagher
Polly Hayes
Siri O’Neal
Jonathan Keeble
Daniel Philpott
James Goode
4 68 04:41:13 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Here are sixteen tales from one of the great works of the Middle Ages. Ten young people have fled for a while the terrible effects of the Black Death in Florence and, in an idyllic setting, tell a series of brilliant stories, by turns humorous, bawdy, tragic and provocative. This celebration of physical and sexual vitality is Boccaccio’s answer to the sublime other-worldliness of Dante’s Divine Comedy

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr06 Nicolas Soames Sarah Butcher Perry Keenlyside
Decameron, The (unabridged) The Decameron Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0278 0278 9781781980705 9781781980712 Boccaccio
Simon Russell Beale
Daisy Badger
Carly Bawden
Lucy Briggs-Owen
Gunnar Cauthery
Alison Pettitt
Nigel Pilkington
Katie Scarfe
Natalie Simpson
Flora Spencer-Longhurst
David Sturzaker
24 843 28:05:36 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The Decameron is one of the greatest literary works of the Middle Ages. Ten young people have fled the terrible effects of the Black Death in Florence and, in an idyllic setting, tell a series of brilliant stories, by turns humorous, bawdy, tragic and provocative. This celebration of physical and sexual vitality is Boccaccio’s answer to the sublime other-worldliness of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

£75.00 $137.98 Band W £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 Nov17 Guido Waldman John Foley Andrew Riches

Boccaccio’s medieval collection of short stories finds new life in Naxos’s outstanding full-cast performance. A gifted cast of eleven gives this production energy that never tires. Simon Russell Beale narrates Boccaccio’s role, opening the audiobook with the author’s own introduction. From there, the other actors take turns telling stories just as the speakers do, creating a unique voice for each speaker as well as a variety of other vocal characterisations in each story. Nigel Pilkington’s Dioneo is especially feisty and entertaining. Another lovely detail in this production is the use of actors’ singing talents to incorporate Boccaccio’s verses. The listening experience feels as if one is sitting in the circle with the speakers as the stories offer a rumpus ride through fourteenth-century wit.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire – Part 1, The (abridged) The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire – Part 1 History abridged Single NA607112 607112 9789626340714 9789629547141 Edward Gibbon
Philip Madoc
6 115 07:54:30 HIS002020 Deleted Available World

Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is one of the greatest texts in the English language. In magisterial prose, Gibbon charts the gradual collapse of the Roman rule from Augustus (23 B.C. – A.D. 14) to the first of the Barbarian kings, Odoacer (A.D. 476 – A.D. 490). It is a remarkable account, with the extravagant corruption and depravity of emperors such as Commodus, Caracalla and Elagabalus contrasted by the towering work of Constantine, Julian and other remarkable men. It remains the standard work of scholarship on the subject two hundred years after it was written; yet equally important, in its sheer accessibility, it is an unforgettable story.

£24.99 $41.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Sep00

No need to ask what I did this summer: Edward Gibbon is not an author to be taken lightly or hastily, which is probably why Naxos got Philip Madoc to read it. His voice has that orotund, authoritative quality (I dare say Moses had it too) that makes you stop whatever you are doing to listen.

It took Gibbon twenty years to complete his famous history; the three volumes were published between 1776 and 1788. This abridgement splits the epic neatly in half, the western empire ruled from Rome and Milan in Part I and the eastern empire, from Constantinople, in Part II. Gibbon’s style, as you would expect of a product of the Enlightenment, is cool, lucid, classical and rhythmic. I urge you to savour the sweeping magnanimity of his opening sentence – ‘In the second century of the Christian era the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth and the most civilised portion of mankind’ – because from here on it’s pretty much downhill all the way to May 29 1453, when the Ottomans finally sacked Constantinople.

Ask most people what they know of the Roman empire and chances are they’ll tell you about gladiators, roads, baths, Russell Crowe and a handful of colourful emperors all pre-290 AD whom they have seen fleshed out by the RSC or BBC drama department. Gibbon deals with the post-Augustan empire, those twelve turbulent centuries when its future was constantly under threat from invading Huns, Goths, Persians, Parthians, Mongols and Turks. As fierce as the enemy without was the enemy within. ‘It is almost superfluous to enumerate the unworthy successors of Augustus. Their unparalleled vices and the splendid theatre on which they were acted have saved them from oblivion. The dark, unrelenting Tiberius, the furious Caligula, the feeble Claudius, the profligate and cruel Nero, the beastly Vitellius and the timid, inhuman Domitian are condemned to everlasting infamy.’

Other factors besides barbarians and loose living conspired against the purple: the rise of Christianity and Islam; the increasing power of the Praetorian Guard, who dispensed with emperors as carelessly as swatting flies; the insidious seepage of foreigners into the legions, diluting their fighting spirit. There are awesome descriptions of cities being sacked, palaces plundered, matrons and virgins ‘subjected to injuries more terrible than death’. Virgins had a rough ride in ancient Rome. There are also delicate vignettes of women like Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra, who had a dark complexion and eyes that sparkled with an uncommon fire. ‘When speaking of a lady these trifles become important,’ says Gibbon, whose jokes are strictly limited to maybe one every 300 years. Still, you have to admire a man who can guide you with such elegant dexterity through a millennium fraught with seismic power shifts, where the sheer weight of numbers leaves you reeling: 300,000 Christians hiking through Europe to Jerusalem on the first crusade, 700,000 Mongol horsemen galloping across Asia behind Genghis Khan. Even abridged, Gibbon is no picnic, but he is definitely a meal worth sitting down to. The intermittent extracts from Schumann’s sonorous ‘Julius Caesar’ overture aren’t exactly citron frappé but they help to refresh your palate between courses.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

With sweeping grandeur, Gibbon’s masterpiece is enhanced by Naxos’s production, which includes dramatic, classical music and two British narrators whose voices ooze with intellectual authority. The music – often somber – soars into majestic crescendos as the fate of the great Empire is sealed. Between straight readings of the text, one of the narrators announces a summary of the next chapter or two, an abridging technique particularly effective here. Little, if any, of the effect of Gibbon’s accessible and profound prose is lost, even when detail must perforce vanish. A gripping history, this is superbly presented by Naxos.

D.W., AudioFile

Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire – Part 2, The (abridged) The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire – Part 2 History abridged Single NA612212 612212 9789626341223 9789629547158 Edward Gibbon
Philip Madoc
6 104 07:10:30 HIS002020 Deleted Available World

Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire occupies an immortal place in the pantheon of historical masterpieces. This six-disc recording covers the final three volumes of Gibbon’s work, tracing ten centuries in the life of the eastern half of the empire, whose capital city was Constantinople. Among the many figures who stride across Gibbon’s stage here are the emperor Justinian I, a noble statesman and successful warrior, brought low by his lascivious wife, the former prostitute Theodora; the murdering Basil I, a peasant who nonetheless proved himself a worthy figure upon which to drape the purple; and the final emperor of all, Constantine XI, who died on the battlements of Constantinople in 1453, valiantly fighting a losing battle to prevent the Turks from gaining a city they had craved for centuries. It is still the work that sets the standard for all histories of the period.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Apr00
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume I History unabridged Single NA0125 0125 9781843797159 9781843797210 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
18 347 22:40:30 HIS002020 Deleted Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume I (chapters IXV), Gibbon opens by setting the scene with the Empire as it stood in the time of Augustus (d. AD 14) before praising the time of the Antonines (AD 98–180). The death of Marcus Aurelius and the accession of Commodus and his successors ushers in turbulent and dangerous times which were only occasionally marked by a wise and temperate ruler. The volume ends in AD 324, with Constantine the Great becoming undisputed Roman emperor, uniting both the East and Western Empires.

£60.00 $107.98 Band S £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Jan14

This first instalment in Naxos’s ambitious audio edition of Gibbon’s classic history of the Roman Empire boasts a standout performance from veteran narrator Timson. Beginning in 14 C.E. during the time of Augustus, this volume covers everything up to 324 C.E. when Constantine the Great becomes emperor of Rome. While reading a history of this size and scope would likely prove an immense challenge to any narrator, Timson handles his duties with great aplomb. His narration is crisp, clear, and commanding. His tone is both intellectual and full of authority, and he modifies his pacing and annunciation to highlight points of particular importance or interest. When reading footnotes to the text, Timson slightly alters his tone to signal to readers the transition to and from these ancillary sections. This masterful performance of a classic work is a must listen for anyone who loves history.

Publishers Weekly

Gibbon’s monumental history of the later Roman Empire and its fall is given a spirited treatment by David Timson, who narrates with expressiveness, brisk pacing, and intonation and modulation sensitive to the sense of the text. He fully uses the rare opportunities for voice characterisation or acting – in the reading of letters, for instance – but without overdoing, keeping the expression appropriate for a serious history. His very British accent helps provide a clarity much needed in the coils of Gibbon’s sometimes complex syntax. At times, however, he’s a shade too quick for dense prose laden with archaic usages, ancient place names, and many obscure personages, and the listener can get lost. But overall, he provides a fine reading of this massive and difficult work.

W. M., AudioFile

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume II, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume II History unabridged Single NA0126 0126 9781843797166 9781843797227 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
18 345 22:32:20 HIS002020 Available Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume II (Chapters XVI–XXVI), Gibbon continues his powerful history of the Empire, shining the spotlight on some of the best-known figures and their impact on the growing influence of Christianity, including Nero and, three centuries later, Constantine, whose establishment of Constantinople resulted in the division of the Empire into East and West. Gibbon also presents a sympathetic portrait of Julian, whose wisdom, courage and clarity bore the hallmarks of the great emperor that Rome needed.

£60.00 $107.98 Band S £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Mar14

This version includes Gibbon’s lengthy (and often essential) footnotes, inserted into the body of the text (with the words ‘footnote’ and ‘end footnote’ before and after). I believe the result is the best audiobook version of this classic. The reader is excellent: always energetic, while bringing the required weight, wit, and occasional sarcasm into his delivery.

Customer review, Audible

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume III History unabridged Single NA0127 0127 9781843797173 9781843797234 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
16 322 21:04:44 HIS002020 Available Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume III (chapters XXVII–XXXVI), Gibbon charts the fall of the Western Empire. Starting with the reign of Emperor Gratian (d. AD 383), his survey moves to political and religious issues in the East and West before covering the increasing military power of the Barbarians. Occasionally a great Roman general emerges to stem the tide, but internecine power struggles see the Western Empire weakened, until Gaul, Britain, Spain and other territories find themselves, as the 5th century advances, unable to rely on Rome for defence.

£55.00 $98.98 Band Q £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 May14
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IV, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume IV History unabridged Single NA0128 0128 9781843797180 9781843797241 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
19 374 24:49:00 HIS002020 Available Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume IV (Chapters XXXVII–XLVI), Gibbon explores the state of the Roman provinces after the dissolution of the Western Empire, and examines the reasons for its fall − not excluding its ‘immoderate greatness’. He then moves to the Empire in the East and its rule under Justinian (527−565), whose formidable leadership saw the re-fortification of Constantinople and the frontiers of the Eastern Empire. However, dangerous times remain ahead as the Persians make attempts to siege Constantinople. Gibbon ends with the state of the Eastern Empire in the sixth century and its weaknesses after a long war.

£60.00 $107.98 Band T £42.00 €48.00 $58.00 Jul14
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume V, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume V History unabridged Single NA0129 0129 9781843797197 9781843797258 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
21 379 27:21:12 HIS002020 Available Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume V (Chapters XLVII−LVI), Gibbon further explores the influence of Christianity on the fall of the Roman Empire. He looks at the growth of the worship of Christian images and the resulting persecution by Leo III, emperor of the East. The conflict is intensified as a split develops between the Eastern and Western churches, a weakness that encourages attacks from Lombardy. Gibbon then moves to the foundation of the Moslem religion and the attempts of the Arabs to besiege Constantinople.

£65.00 $115.98 Band V £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 Sep14
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume VI, The (unabridged) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume VI History unabridged Single NA0130 0130 9781843797203 9781843797265 Edward Gibbon
David Timson
22 435 28:29:00 HIS002020 Available Deleted World

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire has always maintained its initial appeal to both the general public and scholars alike. Its sheer scale is daunting, encompassing over a millennium of history, covering not merely the Western Empire from the days of the early emperors to its extinction in AD 476, but also the Eastern Empire, which lasted for another thousand years until the Turks vanquished it in 1453. But Gibbon’s style, part historical fact and part literature, is enticing, and the sheer honesty of the man, who endeavours to be scrupulously impartial in his presentation, endears him to the reader. In this recording, David Timson incorporates the most salient of Gibbon’s footnotes. In Volume VI (Chapters LVII−LXXI), Gibbon ends his masterful history by charting the rise of the Turkish nation and the birth of the Ottoman Empire, which becomes an unstoppable force as it eventually captures the remains of the Eastern Empire. Weakened under the continuing schism of the Greek and Latin Christians, the strategically important site of Constantinople becomes an easy target for Sultan Mohammed II − much to the consternation and apathy of the West.

£70.00 $128.98 Band W £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 Oct14
Democracy in America (unabridged) Democracy in America Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0472 0472 9781781983324 Alexis de Tocqueville
Peter Wickham
33:17:32 POL003000 POL007000 JPA JPHV World

Sent by the French government to examine the American prison system, Alexis de Tocqueville spent nine months touring the United States between 1831 and 1832. However, fascinated by the success of America’s democratic system, de Tocqueville took advantage of his stay to examine the country’s foundations and glean ideas that might rescue his homeland from the manacles of social inequality. He leaves no stone unturned, exploring each branch of government, the constitution, economics, religion, race, the judiciary, laws, principles, education, culture, and views on wealth and poverty. Many of his observations have been praised for their prescience and foresight, and many are still relevant, offering fresh and piercing insights into American life today.

N/A N/A Band AA £52.00 €61.00 $71.00 Aug20 Henry Reeve Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio
Descartes – An Introduction (selections) Descartes – An Introduction Philosophy selections Single NA489812 489812 9789626348987 9789629548186 Ross Burman
Jonathan Oliver
4 72 05:13:03 PHI000000 Deleted Available World

René Descartes is one of the formative figures in Western philosophy, logic and mathematics. His famous statement: ‘I think, therefore I am’, has become perhaps the most famous phrase in all of philosophy. Descartes’s ground-breaking writings attempted to establish unshakeable foundations of knowledge, and set a trend for subsequent Western philosophy, which has endlessly critiqued and expanded upon his ideas.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Dec09

Cogito ergo sum notwithstanding, what else do you know about the 17th-century Frenchman regarded as the father of modern philosophy? The good thing about Naxos’s series of introductions to philosophers, which includes Plato, Aristotle and Nietzsche, is the way it gently guides you through what could be some pretty daunting theories of belief or, in Descartes’ case, doubt. Every excerpt from the original text is preceded by a brief explanation. Here, for example, is the intro to his Principles of Philosophy published in Latin in 1644: ‘Principles is divided into four parts covering metaphysics, physics, cosmology and geology, each with a number of titled paragraphs. In the preface Descartes describes his view of human knowledge using a tree as a metaphor. The branches are the applied sciences such as medicine, psychology, mechanics and even ethics. The trunk of physics supports these, and all are nourished by metaphysics or philosophy at the root.’ René Descartes (1596-1650) was Renaissance man epitomised – a brilliant polymath interested in so many different disciplines (the cartesian coordinates system is still used in maths) that, to give himself time and space to think, he abandoned Paris and spent nine years travelling, occasionally as a mercenary, throughout Europe. His lifelong habit of rising late began as a child, when he was sent away to a Jesuit school and managed to convince his teachers that his poor health required him to stay in bed for most of the morning. 50 years on he accepted a position at the Swedish court to teach philosophy to Queen Christina whose only free time, it turned out, was at 5am. Unused to chilly dawns, Descartes caught pneumonia and died, aged 53.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Descent of Man, The (unabridged) The Descent of Man Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0489 0489 9781781983515 Charles Darwin
Peter Wickham
27:23:07 SCI000000 PSAJ World

First published in 1871, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex sees Darwin apply his evolutionary theory to the human race, controversially placing apes in our family tree. The book covers a range of adjacent themes, including differences between different peoples, the dominance of women in mate choice, and the relevance of evolutionary theory to general society. After the criticism of his On the Origin of Species, Darwin was apprehensive about the possible public reception of The Descent of Man. However, there was an immediate interest in the book and it had to be reprinted within three weeks of publication, leading a relieved Darwin to remark that ‘Everybody is talking about it without being shocked’.

N/A N/A Band V £46.00 €51.55 $63.00 Jan21 Andrew Young, Viva Voce Audio
Desperate Remedies (unabridged) Desperate Remedies Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0298 0298 9781781981108 9781781981115 Thomas Hardy
Anna Bentinck
14 395.7 17:41:48 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Thomas Hardy’s first published novel, Desperate Remedies is a thrilling blend of Gothic mystery and love-triangle romance. After the untimely death of their parents, Cytheria and Owen Graye must go out into the world and fend for themselves. Cytheria’s journey leads her to the dark and mysterious household of Miss Aldclyffe, a capricious and eccentric woman, who steers Cytheria into a love affair with her charismatic steward Aeneous Manston. All is not what it seems, and Cytheria finds herself entangled in a violent web of lust, murder, deception and blackmail. With its beautiful and evocative scenes, along with themes of fate and class, the novel contains many traces of Hardy’s signature style, and is a unique take on the Victorian ‘sensation’ novel.

£50.00 $89.98 Band O £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Jan18 Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire

Hardy’s first novel, published in 1871, suggests the promise of his future acclaim in the polished prose, elegantly described scenes, and themes involving fate and class. However, with its decidedly dark tone, this novel fits firmly with the popular gothic romances of its day, and its sensationalist elements raised eyebrows on its publication. The winding plot follows the plight of orphaned young Cytherea. She finds employment in an eccentric woman’s household, where all is not as it seems, and is led into a disastrous love affair. Driven by a suspenseful mystery and a love triangle, the story will have listeners on the edge of their seats. In her precise diction and smooth English accent, Bentinck creates the feel of a full-cast reading. Characters are uniquely depicted, with accents underlining class distinctions and tone revealing a wealth of emotions. A classic for those who enjoy works by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins or the Brontës.

Sara Thomas, Booklist

The debut novel of author Thomas Hardy, originally published in 1871, Desperate Remedies is a classic Victorian novel now available in a ‘Naxos Complete Classics’ unabridged audiobook rendition, superbly performed by BBC Radio professional Anna Bentinck. Set in the Victorian era, the story follows the impoverished young woman Cytheria Graye, who by necessity takes a job for the wealthy and eccentric Miss Aldclyffe. Aldclyffe deliberately grooms and pressures Cytheria into a love affair and potential engagement with her charismatic steward Aeneous Manston, but malicious secrets lurk beneath the surface. Did Aeneous’ previous wife truly perish in an accidental fire? A tangled tale of love, lust, crime and blackmail, Desperate Remedies is as captivating today as it was nearly 150 years ago. Highly recommended, especially for public library audiobook collections.

Midwest Book Review

Anna Bentinck valiantly works to keep Thomas Hardy’s early story of love and deception consistently compelling. An unconventional narrator, Bentinck takes pauses in unusual places, injecting a note of spontaneity into Hardy’s occasionally hard-going descriptive passages. Hardy’s story is highly character driven, and while Bentinck’s style doesn’t quite make the most of the variation in character, her dignified portrayal of each of the cast proves empathetic and humanising, thereby grounding the drama in realistic emotion. Though she occasionally resorts to slightly hammy accents, her sensitivity to the mental state of the characters is charming and engaging, and drives the listener through the stodgier sections of Hardy’s prose. This proves all the more rewarding once the plot picks up and the book itself becomes irresistibly interesting.

Z.S., AudioFile

Devil’s Dictionary, The (unabridged) The Devil's Dictionary Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0583 0583 9781781984666 Ambrose Bierce
Robert G. Slade
8:48:41 HUM007000 HUM019000 WHP CBD World

CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.

Written over three decades as a series of instalments for magazines and newspapers, The Devil’s Dictionary is a charmingly eccentric satirical dictionary that tackles all aspects of life with caustic humour and cutting observation. Few are safe as Bierce targets everything from politics (‘A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage’), marriage (‘A household consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two’) and religion (‘A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable’) to lawyers (‘One skilled in circumvention of the law’). This audiobook edition contains over 1,000 entries, combining the complete first edition published in 1911 with definitions attributed to Bierce’s earlier ‘Demon’s Dictionary’ column.

N/A N/A Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Jul23 Neil Rosser Thomas Goose
Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel (unabridged) Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0612 0612 9781781985007 John Donne
Jonathan Booth
6:28:35 POE005020 World

Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions is a prose work published in 1624. It consists of a series of meditations, prayers and reflections that Donne wrote while he was recovering from a serious illness. It is divided into 23 sections, each representing a different meditation on various aspects of life, death and spirituality. Donne explores themes such as the fragility and uncertainty of life, the interconnectedness of humanity, and the presence of God in times of suffering.

Devotions is considered significant in both religious and literary spheres. It showcases Donne’s unique blend of intellectual inquiry, spiritual introspection and poetic expression. It continues to be studied and appreciated for its insights into human existence and its exploration of the human condition.

Death’s Duel, published after Donne’s death in 1631, is one of his most profound works. It considers the various ways in which death confronts and challenges humanity, drawing on personal experiences, historical events and biblical references to illustrate the universal nature of death and its ultimate victory over all individuals.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 May24 Timothy Brown
Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion (unabridged) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion Philosophy unabridged Single NA0479 0479 9781781983416 David Hume
Hugh Ross
6:52:35 PHI009000 PHI022000 HPCD1 HRAB World

Entertaining and insightful, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion and The Natural History of Religion are considered to be among the most important philosophical works on the topic of religion. Each investigates the formation and consequences of religious belief: taking the form of a Platonic dialogue between three speakers (a sceptic, an empiricist and a theologian/mystic), the first work scrutinises the various arguments for the existence of God; while the second, which follows the rise of polytheism and its transformation to deism, provides a history on the development of religious thought. Written nearly a hundred years before Darwin tackled the argument of design, both works are notable for their radical thinking and together form one of the most devastating attacks on the phenomenon of religion.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Mar21 Neil Rosser Andrew Riches
Diary of a Madman and Other Stories, The (unabridged) The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0318 0318 9781781981528 9781781981535 Nikolai Gogol
Nicholas Boulton
15 389 17:02:00 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The Diary of a Madman and Other Stories is a bizarre and colourful collection containing the finest short stories by the iconic Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. From the witty and Kafkaesque The Nose, where a civil servant wakes up one day to find his nose missing, to the moving and evocative The Overcoat, about a reclusive man whose only ambition is to replace his old, threadbare coat, Gogol gives us a unique take on the absurd. Gogol’s tales of inconsequential civil servants, mixing the everyday with the surreal, foreshadow the work of his later acolytes, Bulgakov and Kafka. None is more cutting than the main story, The Diary of a Madman, where a government clerk descends to insanity, claiming that he can communicate with dogs and that he is next in line to the throne of Spain.

£50.00 $89.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Aug18 Constance Garnett John Foley Nikki Ruck

Boulton’s smooth British accent may seem off for these odd Slavic folktales at first, but with a story about a nose that grows to the size of a man and climbs the ladder of Russian bureaucracy, who’s to say what’s odd? What counts is that Boulton’s pacing is terrific, his pronunciation of Russian names is comfortingly accurate and his sense that the world is one big absurdity is palpable.

Alexis Gunderson, Paste Magazine

Nicholas Boulton can narrate an extended dialogue and make it seem indisputably between two people. He does so in this collection of Gogol stories, for which he produces a wide array of voices and characters. He takes full advantage of opportunities to inhabit the characters. In typical British fashion, he uses a skilful range of accents to indicate class differences. In many of the stories, whether realistic, absurdist or fantastic, Gogol maintains a wry, winking tone (no matter the events of the story) that Boulton conveys by imbuing the reading with a sense of amusement or good cheer. His performance enlivens these stories, familiar (The Overcoat) or obscure, and keeps them entertaining.

W.M., AudioFile

Diary of a Nobody, The (unabridged) The Diary of a Nobody Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA440312 440312 9789626344033 9789629545369 George and Weedon Grossmith
Martin Jarvis
4 71 04:52:35 HUM000000 Deleted Available World

This delightful Victorian comic diary is a classic of English Humour which has never been out of print since its first publication in 1892. City clerk Charles Pooter asks: ‘Why should I not publish my diary… because I do not happen to be a “somebody”?’ He proceeds to catalogue all the social clangers he makes unwittingly as he bumbles his way through life, yet a sympathy develops for Pooter in the face of it all. The Diary of a Nobody is an ideal text for the talents of Martin Jarvis.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Mar06

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Martin Jarvis simply owns this comic novel about hapless London city clerk Charles Pooter, an endearing stuffed shirt whose life is a series of misunderstandings. Written in 1892 by two actor brothers, one of whom starred in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas, this fictitious diary gives voice to the grandiose hopes, simple pleasures, near misses and outright disasters that comprise most people’s lives. Jarvis’s Pooter speaks with orotund vowels and a bemused tone. As this is a diary, Pooter necessarily tells the story, but Jarvis gives such life to Pooter’s comments about his companions that we imagine their voices clearly. The diary is interspersed with snippets of period classical music, which add to the all-around pleasure.

A.C.S., AudioFile

Diary of Samuel Pepys, Selections from The (abridged) Selections from The Diary of Samuel Pepys Biographies abridged Single NA428812 428812 9789626342886 9789629547318 Samuel Pepys
Michael Maloney
4 57 03:55:35 HIS015000 Deleted Available World

The Diary of Samuel Pepys is perhaps the most well known collection of reminiscences. He maintained it, in secrecy, from 1660, the year of the Restoration, until 1669 when fear of blindness prevented his daily labours. Though it covers less than a decade, it offers a lively and detailed insight into a period and a personality – for he noted events in both public and private life. Famous passages include descriptions of The Plague and the Great Fire of London. In this presentation, key sections are set in historical context.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep05
Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume I: 1660-1663, The (unabridged) The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume I: 1660-1663 Biographies unabridged Single NA0174 0174 9781843798392 9781843798408 Samuel Pepys
Leighton Pugh
34 654 42:44:23 HIS015000 Available Available World

The Diary of Samuel Pepys is one of the most entertaining documents in English history. Written between 1660 and 1669, as Pepys was establishing himself as a key administrator in the Navy Office, it is an intimate portrait of life in 17th-century England, covering his professional and personal activities, including, famously, his love of music, theatre, food, wine and his peccadilloes. This Naxos AudioBooks production is the world premiere recording of the diary in its entirety. It has been divided into three volumes. Volume I covers the opening years of the Restoration and introduces us to many of the key characters − family, government and royalty. Pepys was there when Charles II returned to England, and he lived through those opening years of the Stuart monarchy, with its revenge on the regicides. He also recorded the reopening of theatres, and how England relaxed from years of the Puritan way of life.

£100.00 $162.98 Band AI £66.00 €71.50 $90.00 Jan15

Naxos AudioBooks has been ‘more of a cause than a business’ says its imaginative and discerning co-creator Nicolas Soames, who is now handing over the helm after 20 years, having published 800 classical titles amounting to more than 5,000 hours of listening. His swansong is a complete and unexpurgated recording in 100 CDs of the diary of Samuel Pepys.

The first instalment is published this month. In it, the 27-year-old Pepys witnesses the collapse of the post-Cromwell republic, and the restoration of Charles II; he also gives us an enthralling and addictive kaleidoscope of insights into everyday life in the 1660s. Pepys lards politics with trivia, hopping from his work as a naval administrator to family events, his manoeuvring to gain patronage, his drinking, flirting and rumpy-pumpy, his lessons on the flageolet and his comments on the weekly sermon. David Timson explains the context in prefaces, and Leighton Pugh is a splendid Pepys, reading at a steady jog trot, and unperturbed even by the recurring scatology. How best to listen to it? As it was written, I suggest, in regular daily instalments as you commute, work out in the gym, or walk the dog.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Not many listeners are so thrilled by the minutiae of seventeenth-century English life that they will want to devote more than 115 hours to listening to this classic journal – but those who stick it out will be well rewarded. Narrator Leighton Pugh’s portrayal of Pepys is sometimes confiding, sometimes whiny, sometimes meditative about religion and politics, but always human. For 10 years, while Pepys was on the margins of the great actions of his time, he recorded every day’s events. From the discovery of a new public toilet to the restoration of King Charles II and the Great Fire of London, Pepys wrote down what he saw, and Pugh keeps it all lively. David Timson ably reads the historical introductions to each year.

D.M.W., AudioFile

The joy of an unexpurgated Pepys – without the bother of reading it oneself

We all know about Samuel Pepys witnessing the Great Fire in his Diaries, but how many have read the definitive Latham and Matthews nine-volume edition, published between 1970 and 1983, complete with Pepys’s coded sections and his inconsistent and archaic spellings? Certainly the only person in the world to have read it aloud in its unexpurgated entirety is Leighton Pugh, on this three-volume 116-hour Naxos recording released between January and May this year. Produced by Nicolas Soames and with prefaces to each volume written and read by David Timson, it is a superb feat.

Pugh had recorded 30 full-length audiobooks in the two years before this gargantuan challenge, an experience which helped him cope with the 40 gruelling recording days with their 10am–5pm routine. He had a mere fortnight to prepare Pepys’s 1.25 million words before the studio work started, but so thoroughly immersed in Pepys did he become that he must have had some difficulty in getting back into his own skin once it was all over.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life

The Diaries open in 1660 when Pepys is 27, five years after his marriage to Elizabeth de St Michel (who had been 14 years old at the time) and two years since ‘it pleased God’ he was ‘cut of the stone’, the successful operation (without anaesthetic) to remove his gallstone. It was the year in which his Navy career began, when he became Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board at a salary of £350 a year, a position acquired through the patronage of Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, the husband of his great aunt.

One of the Diaries’ greatest delights is Pepys’s detailed charting of his rise in status. It has a strikingly contemporary ring to it: the important thing is ‘to see and be seen’, so he gives Elizabeth an £80 necklace for display at the theatre, and spends £50 on having his dining room ‘new done’. Nine years later in 1669, when fears for his eyesight bring the Diaries to an end, this son of a London tailor takes inordinate pride in his reputation and his £6,000 fortune. Keeping it in an iron chest, he is afraid of thieves, rising one night with a firebrand, only to find birds in the chimney. He entertains in rooms decked with portraits and mirrors, the spines of his books in his extensive library specially gilded and ‘very handsome to the eye’. And he has acquired the ultimate status symbol: a coach and two black horses with his boy sporting green and red livery. No wonder Elizabeth is ‘out of herself with joy’.

The historical events – including the Second Dutch War and Charles II’s Restoration – are well known from extracts, and give a cameo of the age; but it is the details of the unexpurgated, unabridged version which provide the unique insights. The pleasure Pepys felt at a victory over the Dutch in 1665 is as great as his pleasure in the new coloured suit he bought ‘for joy of the good news’. Two years after the Great Fire, Pepys’s cousin Anthony Joyce, maddened by his losses, threw himself into a deep pond, and Pepys used his influence with the King to ensure that Joyce’s estate would not be forfeited.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life, from theatre and the pleasures of ‘discourse’, to the ‘muchness of business’ at the Navy Board, or hearing nightingales at 5am on his way to the Rope Yard. This delightful energy is conveyed through Pugh’s variation of tempo and tone and his skilful manipulation of Pepys’s complex dangling sentences, essential when the 1.25 million words are in the voice of Pepys alone, unrelieved by dialogue or other characters. He drops his voice in wonderment as Pepys’s ever-inquiring mind absorbs a new navigational aid, spies Jupiter through a 12-inch glass, or watches blood drained from one dog to another in a scientific experiment. Pugh’s tempo increases for Pepys’s tumbling words for that which ‘did wrap up’ his soul: singing remained for Pepys ‘the merriest enjoyment I must look for in the world’ and music ‘transported’ him. Playing his flageolet and singing with his wife and friends was one of his purest joys.

And then there are the glorious catalogues of foods relished: venison pasties, lobster, pullets, sturgeon, turkeys, oysters, goose pie and veal – and the calves fed with chalk to whiten their flesh. This lust for life was matched by his fully indulged priapic appetite, related in detail in a mix of languages expunged from previous editions, here presented conspiratorially by Pugh. Pepys was, as Elizabeth said of her music master, ‘as very a rogue for women as any in the world’. With women of all classes and ages, he enjoyed regular bouts of ‘tumbling and tossing’, mutual caressing, and doing as he says, ‘ce que je voudrais’. Having taken one woman ‘both devant and backward’ to his ‘grand plaisir’, he returned to Elizabeth, having bought Montaigne’s essays on the way. The crisis comes after eight years when his wife discovers him with Deb, her 18-year-old companion, his hand ‘in her cunny’. Elizabeth’s ensuing wild rages and Pepys’ genuine shame force him to keep his breeches tied – for a while, at least.

Rachel Redford, The Spectator

Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume II: 1664-1666, The (unabridged) The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume II: 1664-1666 Biographies unabridged Single NA0175 0175 9781843798415 9781843798422 Samuel Pepys
Leighton Pugh
29 574 37:29:14 HIS015000 Deleted Available World

The Diary of Samuel Pepys is one of the most entertaining documents in English history. Written between 1660 and 1669, as Pepys was establishing himself as a key administrator in the Navy Office, it is an intimate portrait of life in 17th-century England, covering his professional and personal activities, including, famously, his love of music, theatre, food and wine, and his numerous peccadilloes. This Naxos AudioBooks production is the world-premiere recording of the diary in its entirety. It has been divided into three volumes. Volume II covers some of the most famous passages in the diary. Pepys was there, in London, during the terrible Plague of 1665. And he was there during the Great Fire of London the following year, playing an active role in the actual event and its aftermath.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AD £59.00 €66.00 $80.00 Mar15

Naxos AudioBooks has been ‘more of a cause than a business’ says its imaginative and discerning co-creator Nicolas Soames, who is now handing over the helm after 20 years, having published 800 classical titles amounting to more than 5,000 hours of listening. His swansong is a complete and unexpurgated recording in 100 CDs of the diary of Samuel Pepys.

The first instalment is published this month. In it, the 27-year-old Pepys witnesses the collapse of the post-Cromwell republic, and the restoration of Charles II; he also gives us an enthralling and addictive kaleidoscope of insights into everyday life in the 1660s. Pepys lards politics with trivia, hopping from his work as a naval administrator to family events, his manoeuvring to gain patronage, his drinking, flirting and rumpy-pumpy, his lessons on the flageolet and his comments on the weekly sermon. David Timson explains the context in prefaces, and Leighton Pugh is a splendid Pepys, reading at a steady jog trot, and unperturbed even by the recurring scatology. How best to listen to it? As it was written, I suggest, in regular daily instalments as you commute, work out in the gym, or walk the dog.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Not many listeners are so thrilled by the minutiae of seventeenth-century English life that they will want to devote more than 115 hours to listening to this classic journal – but those who stick it out will be well rewarded. Narrator Leighton Pugh’s portrayal of Pepys is sometimes confiding, sometimes whiny, sometimes meditative about religion and politics, but always human. For 10 years, while Pepys was on the margins of the great actions of his time, he recorded every day’s events. From the discovery of a new public toilet to the restoration of King Charles II and the Great Fire of London, Pepys wrote down what he saw, and Pugh keeps it all lively. David Timson ably reads the historical introductions to each year.

D.M.W., AudioFile

The joy of an unexpurgated Pepys – without the bother of reading it oneself

We all know about Samuel Pepys witnessing the Great Fire in his Diaries, but how many have read the definitive Latham and Matthews nine-volume edition, published between 1970 and 1983, complete with Pepys’s coded sections and his inconsistent and archaic spellings? Certainly the only person in the world to have read it aloud in its unexpurgated entirety is Leighton Pugh, on this three-volume 116-hour Naxos recording released between January and May this year. Produced by Nicolas Soames and with prefaces to each volume written and read by David Timson, it is a superb feat.

Pugh had recorded 30 full-length audiobooks in the two years before this gargantuan challenge, an experience which helped him cope with the 40 gruelling recording days with their 10am–5pm routine. He had a mere fortnight to prepare Pepys’s 1.25 million words before the studio work started, but so thoroughly immersed in Pepys did he become that he must have had some difficulty in getting back into his own skin once it was all over.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life

The Diaries open in 1660 when Pepys is 27, five years after his marriage to Elizabeth de St Michel (who had been 14 years old at the time) and two years since ‘it pleased God’ he was ‘cut of the stone’, the successful operation (without anaesthetic) to remove his gallstone. It was the year in which his Navy career began, when he became Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board at a salary of £350 a year, a position acquired through the patronage of Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, the husband of his great aunt.

One of the Diaries’ greatest delights is Pepys’s detailed charting of his rise in status. It has a strikingly contemporary ring to it: the important thing is ‘to see and be seen’, so he gives Elizabeth an £80 necklace for display at the theatre, and spends £50 on having his dining room ‘new done’. Nine years later in 1669, when fears for his eyesight bring the Diaries to an end, this son of a London tailor takes inordinate pride in his reputation and his £6,000 fortune. Keeping it in an iron chest, he is afraid of thieves, rising one night with a firebrand, only to find birds in the chimney. He entertains in rooms decked with portraits and mirrors, the spines of his books in his extensive library specially gilded and ‘very handsome to the eye’. And he has acquired the ultimate status symbol: a coach and two black horses with his boy sporting green and red livery. No wonder Elizabeth is ‘out of herself with joy’.

The historical events – including the Second Dutch War and Charles II’s Restoration – are well known from extracts, and give a cameo of the age; but it is the details of the unexpurgated, unabridged version which provide the unique insights. The pleasure Pepys felt at a victory over the Dutch in 1665 is as great as his pleasure in the new coloured suit he bought ‘for joy of the good news’. Two years after the Great Fire, Pepys’s cousin Anthony Joyce, maddened by his losses, threw himself into a deep pond, and Pepys used his influence with the King to ensure that Joyce’s estate would not be forfeited.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life, from theatre and the pleasures of ‘discourse’, to the ‘muchness of business’ at the Navy Board, or hearing nightingales at 5am on his way to the Rope Yard. This delightful energy is conveyed through Pugh’s variation of tempo and tone and his skilful manipulation of Pepys’s complex dangling sentences, essential when the 1.25 million words are in the voice of Pepys alone, unrelieved by dialogue or other characters. He drops his voice in wonderment as Pepys’s ever-inquiring mind absorbs a new navigational aid, spies Jupiter through a 12-inch glass, or watches blood drained from one dog to another in a scientific experiment. Pugh’s tempo increases for Pepys’s tumbling words for that which ‘did wrap up’ his soul: singing remained for Pepys ‘the merriest enjoyment I must look for in the world’ and music ‘transported’ him. Playing his flageolet and singing with his wife and friends was one of his purest joys.

And then there are the glorious catalogues of foods relished: venison pasties, lobster, pullets, sturgeon, turkeys, oysters, goose pie and veal – and the calves fed with chalk to whiten their flesh. This lust for life was matched by his fully indulged priapic appetite, related in detail in a mix of languages expunged from previous editions, here presented conspiratorially by Pugh. Pepys was, as Elizabeth said of her music master, ‘as very a rogue for women as any in the world’. With women of all classes and ages, he enjoyed regular bouts of ‘tumbling and tossing’, mutual caressing, and doing as he says, ‘ce que je voudrais’. Having taken one woman ‘both devant and backward’ to his ‘grand plaisir’, he returned to Elizabeth, having bought Montaigne’s essays on the way. The crisis comes after eight years when his wife discovers him with Deb, her 18-year-old companion, his hand ‘in her cunny’. Elizabeth’s ensuing wild rages and Pepys’ genuine shame force him to keep his breeches tied – for a while, at least.

Rachel RedfordThe Spectator

Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume III: 1667-1669, The (unabridged) The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Volume III: 1667-1669 Biographies unabridged Single NA0176 0176 9781843798439 9781843798446 Samuel Pepys
Leighton Pugh
29 551 36:03:05 HIS015000 Available Available World

The Diary of Samuel Pepys is one of the most entertaining documents in English history. Written between 1660 and 1669, as Pepys was establishing himself as a key administrator in the Navy Office, it is an intimate portrait of life in 17th-century England, covering his professional and personal activities, including, famously, his love of music, theatre, food, wine and his peccadilloes. This Naxos AudioBooks production is the world-premiere recording of the diary in its entirety. It has been divided into three volumes. Volume III presents the last three years of Pepys’s diary. By now he is in his mid-thirties and confident in his ability to deal with differing political factions within the Navy Office. His affection for his wife Elizabeth grows ever stronger despite his wandering eyes, and he finds he is worth £6,000 and more – a considerable sum for the son of a tailor who started with nothing. He becomes increasingly concerned about his sight, and it is with some regret that he stops writing his diary at the end of May 1669.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AC £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 May15

Naxos AudioBooks has been ‘more of a cause than a business’ says its imaginative and discerning co-creator Nicolas Soames, who is now handing over the helm after 20 years, having published 800 classical titles amounting to more than 5,000 hours of listening. His swansong is a complete and unexpurgated recording in 100 CDs of the diary of Samuel Pepys.

The first instalment is published this month. In it, the 27-year-old Pepys witnesses the collapse of the post-Cromwell republic, and the restoration of Charles II; he also gives us an enthralling and addictive kaleidoscope of insights into everyday life in the 1660s. Pepys lards politics with trivia, hopping from his work as a naval administrator to family events, his manoeuvring to gain patronage, his drinking, flirting and rumpy-pumpy, his lessons on the flageolet and his comments on the weekly sermon. David Timson explains the context in prefaces, and Leighton Pugh is a splendid Pepys, reading at a steady jog trot, and unperturbed even by the recurring scatology. How best to listen to it? As it was written, I suggest, in regular daily instalments as you commute, work out in the gym, or walk the dog.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Not many listeners are so thrilled by the minutiae of seventeenth-century English life that they will want to devote more than 115 hours to listening to this classic journal – but those who stick it out will be well rewarded. Narrator Leighton Pugh’s portrayal of Pepys is sometimes confiding, sometimes whiny, sometimes meditative about religion and politics, but always human. For 10 years, while Pepys was on the margins of the great actions of his time, he recorded every day’s events. From the discovery of a new public toilet to the restoration of King Charles II and the Great Fire of London, Pepys wrote down what he saw, and Pugh keeps it all lively. David Timson ably reads the historical introductions to each year.

D.M.W., AudioFile

The joy of an unexpurgated Pepys – without the bother of reading it oneself

We all know about Samuel Pepys witnessing the Great Fire in his Diaries, but how many have read the definitive Latham and Matthews nine-volume edition, published between 1970 and 1983, complete with Pepys’s coded sections and his inconsistent and archaic spellings? Certainly the only person in the world to have read it aloud in its unexpurgated entirety is Leighton Pugh, on this three-volume 116-hour Naxos recording released between January and May this year. Produced by Nicolas Soames and with prefaces to each volume written and read by David Timson, it is a superb feat.

Pugh had recorded 30 full-length audiobooks in the two years before this gargantuan challenge, an experience which helped him cope with the 40 gruelling recording days with their 10am–5pm routine. He had a mere fortnight to prepare Pepys’s 1.25 million words before the studio work started, but so thoroughly immersed in Pepys did he become that he must have had some difficulty in getting back into his own skin once it was all over.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life

The Diaries open in 1660 when Pepys is 27, five years after his marriage to Elizabeth de St Michel (who had been 14 years old at the time) and two years since ‘it pleased God’ he was ‘cut of the stone’, the successful operation (without anaesthetic) to remove his gallstone. It was the year in which his Navy career began, when he became Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board at a salary of £350 a year, a position acquired through the patronage of Edward Montagu, Earl of Sandwich, the husband of his great aunt.

One of the Diaries’ greatest delights is Pepys’s detailed charting of his rise in status. It has a strikingly contemporary ring to it: the important thing is ‘to see and be seen’, so he gives Elizabeth an £80 necklace for display at the theatre, and spends £50 on having his dining room ‘new done’. Nine years later in 1669, when fears for his eyesight bring the Diaries to an end, this son of a London tailor takes inordinate pride in his reputation and his £6,000 fortune. Keeping it in an iron chest, he is afraid of thieves, rising one night with a firebrand, only to find birds in the chimney. He entertains in rooms decked with portraits and mirrors, the spines of his books in his extensive library specially gilded and ‘very handsome to the eye’. And he has acquired the ultimate status symbol: a coach and two black horses with his boy sporting green and red livery. No wonder Elizabeth is ‘out of herself with joy’.

The historical events – including the Second Dutch War and Charles II’s Restoration – are well known from extracts, and give a cameo of the age; but it is the details of the unexpurgated, unabridged version which provide the unique insights. The pleasure Pepys felt at a victory over the Dutch in 1665 is as great as his pleasure in the new coloured suit he bought ‘for joy of the good news’. Two years after the Great Fire, Pepys’s cousin Anthony Joyce, maddened by his losses, threw himself into a deep pond, and Pepys used his influence with the King to ensure that Joyce’s estate would not be forfeited.

Above all, he exudes joyful exuberance in his life, from theatre and the pleasures of ‘discourse’, to the ‘muchness of business’ at the Navy Board, or hearing nightingales at 5am on his way to the Rope Yard. This delightful energy is conveyed through Pugh’s variation of tempo and tone and his skilful manipulation of Pepys’s complex dangling sentences, essential when the 1.25 million words are in the voice of Pepys alone, unrelieved by dialogue or other characters. He drops his voice in wonderment as Pepys’s ever-inquiring mind absorbs a new navigational aid, spies Jupiter through a 12-inch glass, or watches blood drained from one dog to another in a scientific experiment. Pugh’s tempo increases for Pepys’s tumbling words for that which ‘did wrap up’ his soul: singing remained for Pepys ‘the merriest enjoyment I must look for in the world’ and music ‘transported’ him. Playing his flageolet and singing with his wife and friends was one of his purest joys.

And then there are the glorious catalogues of foods relished: venison pasties, lobster, pullets, sturgeon, turkeys, oysters, goose pie and veal – and the calves fed with chalk to whiten their flesh. This lust for life was matched by his fully indulged priapic appetite, related in detail in a mix of languages expunged from previous editions, here presented conspiratorially by Pugh. Pepys was, as Elizabeth said of her music master, ‘as very a rogue for women as any in the world’. With women of all classes and ages, he enjoyed regular bouts of ‘tumbling and tossing’, mutual caressing, and doing as he says, ‘ce que je voudrais’. Having taken one woman ‘both devant and backward’ to his ‘grand plaisir’, he returned to Elizabeth, having bought Montaigne’s essays on the way. The crisis comes after eight years when his wife discovers him with Deb, her 18-year-old companion, his hand ‘in her cunny’. Elizabeth’s ensuing wild rages and Pepys’ genuine shame force him to keep his breeches tied – for a while, at least.

Rachel RedfordThe Spectator

Dickinson, Emily (selections) The Great Poets – Emily Dickinson The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA0146 0146 9781843797654 Emily Dickinson
Teresa Gallagher
1 20 01:16:46 POE005010 Deleted Available World

Born in Massachusetts in 1830, Emily Dickinson composed over 1770 poems; but apart from her closest friends, no-one knew she was writing at all. Only after her death was her astonishing output discovered and published. A reclusive figure for much of her life, few could have imagined the range of her subjects, the intensity of her imagination or the powerful delicacy of her writing. Emily Dickinson is one of America’s greatest writers. This selection includes 147 of her best known poems, and is a perfect introduction to her unique voice.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50
  • A drop fell on the apple tree
  • A narrow Fellow in the Grass
  • A poor torn heart, a tattered heart
  • A something in a summer’s day
  • A still – Volcano – Life –
  • A toad can die of light!
  • A wounded deer leaps highest
  • After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
  • All the letters I can write
  • Ample make this bed
  • As imperceptibly as Grief
  • Because I could not stop for Death
  • Come slowly, Eden!
  • Dear March, come in!
  • Death is a dialogue between
  • Drowning is not so pitiful
  • Eden is that old fashioned House
  • Fame is a fickle food
  • Forbidden fruit a flavor has
  • Glee! The great storm is over –
  • He ate and drank the precious words
  • He touched me, so I live to know
  • Heart not so heavy as mine
  • Heart! We will forget him!
  • Her final summer was it
  • Hope is the thing with feathers
  • How the old Mountains drip with Sunset
  • I asked no other thing
  • I can wade grief
  • I cannot live with you
  • I died for beauty, but was scarce
  • I dreaded that first Robin, so
  • I dwell in Possibility –
  • I envy seas whereon he rides
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
  • I gave myself to him
  • I had no cause to be awake
  • I had no time to hate, because
  • I have no life but this
  • I hide myself within my flower
  • I know some lonely houses off the road
  • I many times thought peace had come
  • I meant to have but modest needs
  • I never saw a moor
  • I should not dare to leave my friend
  • I stepped from plank to plank
  • I taste a liquor never brewed
  • I think the hemlock likes to stand
  • I took my power in my hand
  • If I can stop one heart from breaking
  • If recollecting were forgetting
  • I’ll tell you how the Sun rose
  • I’m Nobody! Who are you?
  • It might be easier
  • It tossed and tossed
  • It was not Death, for I stood up
  • It’s such a little thing to weep
  • Love is anterior to life
  • Mine by the right of the white election!
  • Much madness is divinest sense
  • My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun
  • Nature rarer uses yellow
  • Not with a Club, the Heart is broken
  • On this wondrous sea
  • One blessing had I, than the rest
  • One need not be a chamber – to be Haunted
  • Pain has an element of blank;
  • Safe in their Alabaster Chambers
  • Some keep the Sabbath going to church
  • Surgeons must be very careful
  • That after Horror – that ’twas us –
  • That I did always love
  • The brain within its groove
  • The Dying need but little, Dear
  • The grass so little has to do,
  • The grave my little cottage is
  • The leaves, like women, interchange
  • The one that could repeat the summer day
  • The rat is the concisest tenant.
  • The Soul has Bandaged moments
  • The soul should always stand ajar,
  • The waters chased him as he fled
  • The way I read a letter’s this:
  • The wind begun to rock the grass
  • There came a Wind like a Bugle –
  • There’s a certain slant of light,
  • There’s been a death in the opposite house
  • They might not need me – yet they might –
  • This is my letter to the world,
  • This World is not Conclusion.
  • ’Tis little I could care for pearls
  • ’Tis not that Dying hurts us so –
  • ’Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch,
  • Unable are the Loved to die
  • We never know we go, – when we are going
  • What inn is this
  • While I was fearing it, it came,
  • Will there really be a morning?
  • You left me, sweet, two legacies

Teresa Gallagher gives Emily Dickinson a New England voice that succeeds in conveying the poet’s distinctive duality: her gentle, mystical other-worldliness underscored by a resolute strength. In these 99 poems, recurring words – sea, Heaven, sun – chime mantra-like, along with the lyrical assonance and rhyme. Dickinson is acutely sensitive to the beauty of light and nature – ‘the colour on the cruising cloud’ – while her metaphors and personification intrigue. Does the ‘door ajar’ shut her out or invite her in? Is the ‘realm of you’ Heaven or some paradise of earthly love? Even though recurrent themes are death and self-denial, the mood is airy and buoyant, like the angel’s wings Dickinson imagines she wears.

Rachel Redford, The Observer, 17 February 2008

Emily Dickinson is remembered as a nineteenth-century New England recluse, but she is reaching a wider audience than she could ever have expected via this Great Poets audio series. A wide range of the poet’s work is here and, as read by the charismatic Teresa Gallagher, the problem of how to turn dashes into pauses is managed with aplomb. To quote the great lady, ‘Beauty be not caused – it is’; and this is beautiful.

Waterstone’s Quarterly, Spring 2008

Teresa Gallagher has an agile voice and the delicate articulation necessary for interpreting the finely crafted poems of Emily Dickinson. Gallagher performs the poems with a simplicity and clarity that allow their beauty to flourish. However, Dickinson did not title her poems, so Gallagher does not have that convention as a way to mark the beginning of each work. Too often, there is not a long enough pause between poems, and without attention to the liner notes the poems can blur into each other. Nonetheless, the 99 poems selected from Dickinson’s canon of over one thousand are a choice presentation highlighted by Gallagher’s skillful performance. This production is a pleasurable retreat into Dickinson’s imaginary world.

R. F., AudioFile Magazine

Die Fledermaus (unabridged) Opera Explained – Die Fledermaus Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558070 558070 9781843790860 9781843793168 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 37 01:19:34 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Die Fledermaus is one of the few operatic works to which the phrase ‘never a dull moment’ can be truthfully applied. From the explosive opening of the famous overture – reminiscent of a volley of champagne corks – through the surging energy of the ‘Fledermaus Waltz’ and the many comic numbers, of which the accelerando trio is the finest, up to such huge concerted numbers as the ‘Duidu’ finale to Act II, this is an operetta which almost incarnates nostalgia. Thomson Smillie and David Timson infuse their exploration of Die Fledermaus with as much life as the operetta itself. The most rewarding and memorable extracts are included, and the whole piece is tantalisingly introduced – a trip to see it has to be the next step! Timson begins, “‘Nostalgia’, as the saying goes, ‘may not be what it used to be,’ but thank goodness we still have Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus!”

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Feb02
Dinosaurs (unabridged) Dinosaurs Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0151 0151 9781843797753 9781843797760 Jen Green
Benjamin Soames
2 40 02:34:14 JNF003050 Deleted Available World

Journey back in time to the age of the dinosaurs, the biggest, scariest creatures the world has ever known. Which dinosaurs hunted in packs like wolves? What was the deadliest dinosaur of them all? Which were the very largest species? Not all dinosaurs were bloodthirsty meat-eaters, but all were armed and dangerous. You are advised to keep well clear as we tour the world of the dinosaurs, taking a detailed look at all the most amazing species.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Mar14

With at least half the children in the country besotted by all things Jurassic, here is a surefire hit for a car journey to and from a Dorset beach holiday. Green uses metaphors attuned to young listeners to tell the story of the awesome creatures that can be the size of chickens or ‘longer than two tennis courts and weighing more than 1,000 people’, and whose fossilised bones inspired legends of dragons and giants. Among much else that I didn’t know is that the famous fossil-hunter Mary Anning was 12 when she discovered her first Lyme Regis fossil, or that a Victorian banquet was held inside the concrete model of a giant iguanodon that you can still see at Crystal Palace Park, in South London.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Benjamin Soames’s welcoming narration combines the tones of a teacher and a kindly storytelling uncle. The amount of information on dinosaurs is vast, covering their types, history, locations and much more. Short musical interludes conjuring images of the large beasts separate segments, preventing the plethora of information from being overwhelming. Periodically, the audio provides suggestions to help young listeners grasp the concepts being presented – such as describing how they might measure the distance between their own footsteps on a beach to grasp how scientists use fossilised footprints to capture dinosaurs’ speed. This engaging audio may send families searching for the book on which it is based, which includes 3D materials.

S.W., AudioFile

Dinosaurs is packed with vivid descriptions of dinosaurs, their habitats, and the periods during which they lived: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous. Green does an exemplary job explaining the science, comparing the length of dinosaurs to school buses and their weight to elephants. After a brief overview, the chapters are divided by time period and delve into specifics: what dinosaurs ate, if they hunted in packs, and if they roamed in herds. Green points out that early discoveries of dinosaur bones were often misleading until more information came to light. Many fossil hunters are introduced to listeners, including Edward Cope and Othniel Marsh; they revolutionised paleontology, and their relentless rivalry was known as the Bone Wars. Benjamin Soames’s narration is sprightly with a pleasant English accent and clear pronunciation of scientific terms. Much of the etymology for dinosaur names, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, is explained throughout. An excellent resource for anyone interested in dinosaurs, this title is full of encouragement to look for fossils and to keep an open mind.

C.A. Fehmel, School Library Journal

Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Men (unabridged) Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Men Philosophy unabridged Single NA0205 0205 9781843799047 9781843799054 Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Neville Jason
5 91 05:52:33 PHI000000 Deleted Available World

Rousseau’s Discourse sets out to explore the origin of inequality among people, a journey that sees him trace the evolution of humans from the savage man to the foundations of civil society. With verve and passion, the philosopher argues that the birth of private property was the ‘beginning of evil’. Throughout the book we are led to consider the progress of language, reason, self-preservation, benevolence, pity and law – all through the lens of perhaps the most original thinker of the eighteenth century.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Sep15

Rousseau’s early essay on the origins of man and society – using biology, anthropology and linguistics – is now mostly of historical interest, but Neville Jason’s skilled reading helps keep it enjoyable. His pleasant voice, distinguished-sounding accent, and somewhat rolling style – at the same time precise and conversational, intellectual but easygoing – matches Rousseau’s essayistic manner. Jason avoids becoming ponderous, moving the text fluidly but at a measured pace, which is helpful for the listener who is grappling with the ideas. He clearly understands what he’s reading and is able to give phrases and sentences their proper intonation and emphasis, which also aids the listener’s understanding. Audio may not seem the obvious choice for philosophy, but Jason’s narration makes it work.

W.M., AudioFile

Discover Music of the Baroque Era (unabridged) Discover Music of the Baroque Era Music unabridged Single NA495912 495912 9789626349595 9789629548506 Clive Unger-Hamilton
Sebastian Comberti
4 126 04:32:52 MUS020000 Deleted Available World

Bach, Vivaldi and Handel are the three great composers of the Baroque era, though there are many other well-known figures, including Albinoni, Pachelbel and Scarlatti. This engaging introduction, interspersed liberally music, shows how the music of these composers graced the courts and churches of Europe from 1600-1750. It is a fascinating story.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May09

The annus mirabilis of baroque music is 1685, the year in which its three greatest composers and performers – J.S. Bach, George Frederick Handel and Domenico Scarlatti – were all born. This comprehensive guide is packed with historical facts and riveting anecdotes (but for the silver button on his coat which deflected his opponent’s sword, Handel might have been killed in a duel aged 19). Reader Sebastian Comberti is a professional cellist and clearly knows what he’s talking about. Best of all, the text is punctuated with glorious bursts of famous and less well-known sonatas, cantatas, partitas, fugues, concertos and oratorios. Why have I never heard the wonderful aria “Leave Me to Weep” from Handel’s opera Rinaldo before? A must for every serious music lover, baroque or otherwise.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

With 40 tracks illustrating the glory of baroque music, and a narration as lively as Vivaldi’s Spring, this is a delight. As well as providing details of the composers’ lives, this 2-CD set brings home what it must have been like to hear the music when it was first performed.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

The perusal of an improving book being one of Jeeves’s customary leisure pursuits, the dignified manservant would probably have enjoyed Clive Unger-Hamilton’s Discover Music of the Baroque Era which combines 40 glorious music tracks with a lively and informative explanation of why the period (roughly 1600 to 1750, the year J.S. Bach died) can stake an unbeatable claim to be music’s golden age. The first operas were written and performed, and the concerto, sonata and cantata were developed with vitality and brilliance. It is a cultural geography lesson, too, as the Italian peninsula’s musical dominance (with Monteverdi at the pinnacle) is overtaken by superstars from the German states, with the prolific genius of Bach dominating. Enjoy the words, which mix musicology with insights into the musicians’ private lives, then sit back and revel in the music.

Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

Sound Commentary Best of 2010

This wonderful audiobook will delight music lovers and will serve as an excellent introduction to the Baroque era for those with no background at all. The bulk of the recording is made up of performances of either entire musical works or entire movements from concertos and symphonies. The amount of text is just right to explain and introduce each piece of music. Unger-Hamilton has the musical background to produce this work and in Comberti, born in London of Italian/German parents and himself a professional musician, the listener will find a the perfect narrator. His pronunciations of the several languages required (French, Italian, German) are impeccable and his knowledge and love for music are apparent. Comberti is a cellist and performs in recitals and with chamber music groups. He founded the Cello Classics recording label which has won international acclaim for its innovative programming. A booklet provides a listing of all the pieces played as well as performers.

Sue Rosenzweig, Sound Commentary

Discover Music of the Romantic Era (unabridged) Discover Music of the Romantic Era Music unabridged Single NA495212 495212 9789626349526 9789629548445 David McCleery
Jeremy Siepmann
4 143 05:08:01 MUS020000 Deleted Available World

Amid a background of wars and revolution, the 19th century produced many of the world’s best-loved composers including Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Tchaikovsky. Discover Music of the Romantic Era charts the course of music through these turbulent but exhilarating times with more than 20 music excerpts. Lighthearted but authoritative, it tells the fascinating, often scandalous life stories of the nineteenth century’s greatest composers and describes how they created musical history.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Mar09

This account of the great Romantics – Beethoven, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt et al – is glorious. It traces how their music evolved from the Classical era, and how their varied backgrounds and often tragic lives produced an explosion of invention and emotion. Illustrated with more than 20 music tracks.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Naxos began in the music business and has an excellent catalogue of recordings to draw on, making this series on the lives and works of composers a natural for them. There’s no need to settle for description when you can hear Joseph Haydn’s actual music. With Audie-winning (for his work on Chopin) author and narrator Jeremy Siepmann and a fine supporting cast, this audiobook introduces us to the life and works—and the relation between the two—of one of the greatest of all composers. The inventor of the modern symphony and the string quartet, Haydn is one of the pillars of concert music, and this original audiobook leads us to a deeper understanding of man and music.

D.M.H., AudioFile Magazine

Dog’s Heart, A (unabridged) A Dog’s Heart Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0002 0002 9781843794028 9781843794035 Mikhail Bulgakov
Roy McMillan
3 55 03:45:41 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

When a respected surgeon decides to transplant human body parts into a stray dog, he creates a monster – drunken, profligate, aggressive and selfish. It seems the worst aspects of the donor have been transplanted as well. As his previously well-regulated home descends into riotous chaos, the doctor realises he will have to try to reverse the operation; but the dog isn’t so keen… Wild, uproarious and deliriously comic, Bulgakov’s short novel is at once a comment on the problems of 1920s Russia and a lasting satire on human nature.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Nov10

Written in 1925 but not published in Russia for another 62 years, Bulgakov’s tale is a biting satire of the claim that communism will create a Better Man. Surgeon Preobrazhensky implants the pituitary gland and testicles of a drunken Bolshevik into a good-hearted stray dog he calls Sharik. The result, the savage “Sharikov”, is a monstrous travesty of every communist ideal who becomes a rapist and a cat-strangler. The narrator’s creation of the cast of characters, including the dog, is brilliant and brings out the blackness of Bulgakov’s comedy.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

A Dog’s Heart, Bulgakov’s 1925 satire on Stalinist Russia’s vision of transforming mankind, is ideal for reading aloud. Roy McMillan throws heart and soul into the opening howls of the tatty mongrel from whose point of view the story is at first told, and then in narrating the rest of the wacky tale of a surgeon’s efforts to make the dog human.

The problem is that he is as louche and outrageous a man as he was a dog. But that doesn’t disqualify him from denouncing the Professor to the secret police. The story ends with as much aplomb as it starts: grins throughout guaranteed.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

[…] I greatly enjoyed Roy McMillan’s perfect reading of Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel, A Dog’s Heart. This is perfect satire commenting not just on human nature but on 1920s Russia, when communism produced some strange paradoxes. In this tale we meet a respected surgeon who transplants human glands into a stray dog with dire results. The dog takes on all of the worst traits of the human donor.

Sadly, Bulgakov never lived to see this short novel – or any of his plays – published. Stalin banned all of his work although he spared the writer from the dire fate of some of the other intellectuals of his era. This unabridged audiobook offers many chuckles as well as food for thought.

Alide Kohlhaas, Seniors Review

Dombey and Son (abridged) Dombey and Son Classic Fiction abridged Single NA899012 899012 9789626349908 9789629548889 Charles Dickens
David Timson
8 165 11:18:31 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dombey and Son is vintage Dickens and explores the classic themes of betrayal, cruelty and deceit. The novel follows the fortunes of Dombey, a businessman par excellence, who craves a son to inherit his enterprises. His family, and especially his daughter, the sweet and good-natured Florence, bear the brunt of his frustrations.

£29.99 $54.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Sep09
Dombey and Son (unabridged) Dombey and Son Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX98912 98912 9789626349892 9789629548872 Charles Dickens
David Timson
31 569 39:08:18 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dombey and Son is vintage Dickens and explores the classic themes of betrayal, cruelty and deceit. Dombey’s dysfunctional relationships are painted against a backdrop of social unrest in industrialised London, which is populated by a host of fascinating and memorable secondary characters. The complete and unabridged 1867 text is brought spectacularly to life by veteran reader David Timson.

£95.00 $133.98 Band AF £62.00 €69.00 $85.00 Oct09

‘Why didn’t money save me my Mama?’ asks frail little Paul of his father, made cruel by money and power. Eventually, through the saintly love of his neglected daughter, Dombey realises his faults. Dickens’s descriptions of the dark face of Progress are matched by the brilliant narration.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

The Washington Post Best Audiobooks of 2009

Dickens’s minor characters are often the stars of his novels, and British actor David Timson gives each his or her idiosyncratic due in this wonderful, richly peopled production. Among them is a model Captain Cuttle, salty, bluff, ever constant to young ‘Wal’r’; a kindly, befuddled Mr. Toots; and Toots’s belligerent associate, the Game Chicken. The work is expensive, but Timson’s storytelling charisma assures that it will be returned to again and again.

Katherine A. Powers, The Washington Post

Don Giovanni (unabridged) Opera Explained – Don Giovanni Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558115 558115 9781843790785 9781843793212 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 37 01:18:59 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Don Giovanni has long been regarded as Mozart’s supreme theatrical achievement. The subject seems unpromising – the last day in the life of the notorious womaniser Don Juan – but the skill of the librettist allied to the genius of Mozart at the very peak of his powers has created a work which is not only highly entertaining but reflects an incredible understanding of the human condition.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Nov03
Don Juan (unabridged) Don Juan Poetry unabridged Single NA0223 0223 9781843799429 9781843799436 Lord Byron
Jonathan Keeble
12 236 15:19:39 POE005020 Available Available World

Lord Byron’s satirical take on the legend of Don Juan is a moving and witty poem that sees the young hero in a reversal of roles. Juan sheds his image as a womaniser and instead becomes the victim of circumstance as he is relentlessly pursued by every woman he meets. Comprising seventeen cantos of rhyming iambic pentameter, the poem is a crisp and accessible meditation on the madness of the world.

£42.00 $73.98 Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 May16

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Byron never managed to finish this epic, but Jonathan Keeble narrates right up to the end of what did get done. This may be the only classic poem that rhymes ‘Euxine’ (a classical name for the Black Sea) with ‘pukes in’, but Keeble keeps up with the shifting moods and tones, which range from expressions of pure romantic love to snarky commentary on British politics (and poetic politics) of the 1820s. Keeble doesn’t overstress the rhyme or meter of Byron’s eight-line stanzas and goes over the top with emotions only when the text calls for it. This is, after all, mostly a comedic story, and although the jokes are almost two centuries old, Keeble keeps them fresh.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Over this last week I listened to all seventeen cantos here in this version from Naxos, narrated by Jonathan Keeble. Believe me when I tell I couldn’t get enough of it. I suspect that you might have the same reaction. Not only did I hear it out, all twelve discs – I turned around and went back and started listening all over again. That’s how it stole up on me.

The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Don Quixote (abridged) Don Quixote Classic Fiction abridged Single NA302212 302212 9789626340226 9789629544690 Miguel de Cervantes
Edward de Souza
3 48 03:17:24 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The first European novel, and one of the greatest, is a marvellously comic study of delusion and its consequences: Don Quixote, the old gentleman of La Mancha, takes to the road in search of adventure and remains undaunted in the face of repeated disaster.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr05
Don Quixote (unabridged) Don Quixote Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0006 0006 9781843794097 9781843794103 Miguel de Cervantes
Roy McMillan
29 528 36:08:08 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

An old man, enchanted by tales of knightly courage, puts on his rusty armour and sets out on a quest of his own. For him, the world is filled with giants, knights and a peerless mistress. Others, such as his earthy squire Sancho Panza, see windmills, sheep and vulgar serving girls. But such prosaic interpretations do not satisfy the greatest figure in Western literature: Don Quixote. Quixote’s story – moving, funny and thrilling – embodies the glory and absurdity, vanity and idealism, sorrow and delight of humanity. Cervantes created a hero for all time and for all mankind.

£85.00 $152.98 Band AC £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Jun11
Door, The (unabridged) The Door Contemporary Fiction unabridged Single NA0284 0284 9781781980798 9781781980804 Magda Szabó
Siân Thomas
8 211 09:12:41 FIC019000 Available Available World

Intense, brilliant and moving, The Door is a compelling story about the relationship between two women of opposing backgrounds and personalities: one, an intellectual and writer; the other, her housekeeper, a mysterious, elderly woman who sets her own rules and abjures religion, education, pretence and any kind of authority. Beneath this hardened exterior of Emerence lies a painful story that must be concealed. One of Hungary’s best-known writers, Magda Szabó here explores themes of love, loyalty, pride and privacy, and the barriers and secrets that govern them.

£29.99 $54.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Feb17 Len Rix Heavy Entertainment, Genevieve Helsby Heavy Entertainment

The Hungarian author Magda Szabó, who died in 2007 aged 91, was a legend in Europe, but little known in English until Len Rix’s award-winning 2015 translation of her 1987 novel, The Door. Now we know what we’ve been missing, and Naxos has added it to its list of modern classics. Its theme is the relationship of the narrator, a writer similar to Szabó, with her cleaner, Emerence, a mysterious and self-possessed old woman who decides for herself whether she will take a job, rules the apartment block with a rod of iron, and never allows anyone past the steel door of her own flat. A fraught love-hate relationship grows between them, at the heart of which are the politically significant mysteries behind that intricately locked door, and the puzzle of a male dog called Viola. I found myself obsessed, listening avidly as I performed far more in-depth household cleaning than normal.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Siân Thomas narrates this audiobook with a zest and a reverence that suit the content beautifully. The story explores the relationship between two opposites – Magda, an intellectual who seeks human bonds as part of her outgoing personality, and Emerence, an illiterate caretaker who works for Magda and whose distant, aloof nature makes Magda uneasy. Thomas is a precise narrator, and the crisp edges of her consonants add an exotic twist to the listening. Her pacing is spot-on, although the story itself does have slow moments. That said, many listeners will be intrigued as the characters share more of themselves with each chapter.

L.B.F., AudioFile

Dr Thorne (unabridged) Dr Thorne Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0158 0158 9781843797890 9781843797906 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
18 350 22:47:22 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Dr Thorne, the third novel in Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire, sees the author steer away from the church politics of the first two novels and move towards the scandals and prejudice of the upper tiers of Victorian era aristocracies. It tells the tale of Frank Gresham and Mary Thorne, a couple intent on marriage despite their conflicting social backgrounds. Frank is engaged in a fierce battle with his family as his mother vehemently opposes the marriage and pushes him to marry a wealthy heiress; however, Frank shuns her attempts as he is determined to accept Mary on her own terms. Trollope’s classic, trademark prose shines in Dr Thorne: always solicitous, gentle and kind to his readers, the author peppers his narrative with wonderfully witty observations that will leave you smiling.

£60.00 $107.98 Band S £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 Aug14
Dracula (abridged) Dracula Classic Fiction abridged Single NA311512 311512 9789626341155 9789629545659 Bram Stoker
Brian Cox
Heathcote Williams
Dermot Kerrigan
Siri O’Neal
Michael Gould
Polly Hayes
Daniel Philpott
Matthew Warburton
Elaine Claxton
Peter Yapp
Benjamin Soames
Anna Britten
Laura Paton
Neville Jason
3 57 03:56:40 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

For a century Bram Stoker’s Dracula has reigned supreme as the undisputed masterpiece of horror writing. We have all grown up under the shadow of the elegant Count, at once an attractive, brutal and erotic creature of the night. In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a story expressing the most persistent nightmare of the human condition. Take this opportunity to dream again…

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May00 Nicolas Soames Heather Godwin
Dracula (unabridged) Dracula Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0190 0190 9781843798736 9781843798743 Bram Stoker
David Horovitch
Jamie Parker
Joseph Kloska
Alison Pettitt
Clare Corbett
John Foley
David Thorpe
14 260 16:59:25 FIC004000 Available Available World

For a century Bram Stoker’s Dracula has reigned supreme as the undisputed masterpiece of horror writing. We have all grown up beneath the shadow of the elegant Count, at once an attractive, brutal and erotic creature of the night. In 1897 Bram Stoker wrote a story expressing the most persistent nightmare of the human condition. Take this opportunity to dream again…

£50.00 $89.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Mar15

Narrators David Horovitch, Jamie Parker, Joseph Kloska, Alison Pettitt and cast adopt the identities of the well-known characters of Bram Stoker’s classic: Jonathan Harker, Mina, Lucy, the Count and others. As the story is told in a series of diary entries and letters, Dracula himself comes off as both charming and caring – until his true form is revealed. Highlights of this production include a childlike portrait of Mina and a bone-chilling portrayal of Harker and Van Helsing as the tension of the twisted plot rises and Dracula’s sinister powers and needs are revealed. Fans of the genre will be reminded just how psychically unsettling this horror story is.

R.O., AudioFile

Read by a full cast of British stage and screen actors, this mesmerising production brings new life to this familiar and timeless horror classic, which follows a mysterious Transylvanian count’s attempt to establish a foothold in England and the terror and death that ensue. The novel, told through letters, diary entries, and news reports, documents Count Dracula’s activities and chronicles the efforts of a small group to destroy him. The power of the story stems from the ability of the actors to generate the increasingly ominous tone, and the fine cast excels in capturing each character and establishing this growing dread. From the first excerpts from lawyer Jonathan Harker’s journal, Jamie Parker reflects the growing unease in his voice as he travels to Transylvania to meet Dracula and to facilitate his move. Soon the terror is palpable as he shakily recounts the vision of Dracula climbing up and down the castle walls. Back in England, Harker’s fiancée, Mina, and vampire-hunter van Helsing battle for the body and soul of Lucy, Mina’s friend and Dracula’s victim. A breathless urgency builds as the cadre tracks Dracula down to destroy him. With occasional diverting interludes involving colourful locals to balance the somber mood, this audio makes a splendid choice for fans and for those new to the novel.

Pam Spencer Holley, Booklist

Dracula’s Guest and Other Stories (unabridged) Dracula’s Guest and Other Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0075 0075 9781843795636 9781843795643 Bram Stoker
Rupert Degas
5 82 05:41:36 FIC004000 Deleted Deleted World

Best known for his masterpiece of horror, Dracula, Bram Stoker wrote a number of other novels and many short stories, all on supernatural themes or filled with a physical terror reminiscent of Poe. Dracula’s Guest was originally part of the great novel, but was excised and published separately. Some of these stories, such as The Squaw, The Judge’s House and The Burial of the Rats, rank very high among classic tales of the macabre. These stories deserve to be better known for the light they shed on the enigmatic author of one of the world’s supreme literary adventures into the realm of nightmare.

£19.99 $34.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Oct12

Having demonstrated a wry touch in his reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard stories, narrator Rupert Degas shifts gears smoothly with his narration of nine lesser-known works of terror from the author of Dracula. The title story – a section of the famous novel cut prior to publication – is a splendid introduction to both Stoker and Degas. Within a few short passages, the experiences of English solicitor Jonathan Harker, on business in Europe, change dramatically – particularly when he hears warnings against travelling on Walpurgis Night. Without added sound effects, Degas makes the reader hear the threatening cries and quiet isolation Harker experiences after his driver abandons him as night falls. A versatile array of accents enables Degas to ably portray all the stories’ many characters. Burial of the Rats, in which a tourist to France must flee for his life, is another highpoint.

Publishers Weekly

Rupert Degas demonstrates that he was the perfect choice of narrator for Bram Stoker’s collection of macabre short stories. Degas’s graceful use of pauses adds a deliciously suspenseful edge to each work. With impressive versatility, he fluidly transitions from harshly accented peasant to appropriately haughty nobleman. With a dramatic flair, he expertly delivers both hushed tones and frenzied exclamations. Degas is guaranteed to make listeners’ hearts race even when they already know what’s coming. His performance of these superb classics will enhance its appeal for any fan of nightmare adventure.

S.M., AudioFile

Dragon Tales (unabridged) Dragon Tales Junior Classics unabridged Single NA294912 294912 9789626349496 9789629548414 Kenneth Grahame
Edith Nesbit
Bertie Carvel
Emma Gregory
2 33 02:17:07 JUV038000 Available Available World

Here is a collection of four delightful dragon stories by two master writers for children: The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame and The Island of the Nine Whirlpools, The Fiery Dragon and The Last Dragon by Edith Nesbit. Presented with lively music and even the occasional amusing sound effect.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Feb09
  • The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame
  • The Island of the Nine Whirlpools by Edith Nesbit
  • The Fiery Dragon by Edith Nesbit
  • The Last of the Dragons by Edith Nesbit

Dragon Tales is an audiobook for young adults consisting of four classic tales about dragons with a difference. These dragons aren’t the usual fairytale monsters that incinerate kingdoms and capture princesses; they are far more distinctive – from a dragon who just wants to write poetry in his cave, to a dragon who is flummoxed by the strong will of a princess! A delightful ideal for car trips with young ones, Dragon Tales will appeal to parents too, and is highly recommended for gift-giving, as well as for public library children’s audiobook collections. The featured stories are The Reluctant Dragon, The Island of the Nine Whirlpools, The Fiery Dragon, and The Last of the Dragons.

Library Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

Dreaming of Jupiter (unabridged) Dreaming of Jupiter Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0335 0335 9781781981863 9781781981870 Ted Simon
Rupert Degas
14 375 16:30:20 TRV010000 Available Available World

When Ted Simon rode 64,000 miles round the world on his 500c Triumph Tiger, he inspired thousands of motorcyclists to begin their own adventures, including Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who chronicled their travels in Long Way Round. Nearly 30 years later, Ted Simon took to the road again to retrace the epic journey he made in his 40s. He meets up with old friends and acquaintances, revisits old landmarks and locations, and rediscovers himself, as well as the world, along the way. Dreaming of Jupiter is a remarkable achievement and a fitting sequel to Jupiter’s Travels, the groundbreaking classic of motorcycle adventure.

£50.00 $89.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Aug18 Ken Barton

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator Rupert Degas is a fine mimic and voice actor. His inflection and tone remind the listener of the great English thespians. He performs accents expertly – from South American to Italian to Kiwi – and gives Simon’s sprawling audiobook texture and a sense of place. In 1974, the author took a motorbike trip around the world and wrote about it. He became famous for this epic ride; his return trip three decades later, when he was in his early 70s, is a tribute to his pluck and tenacity. Adventures abound. Both bike and man suffer injuries and indignities; he breaks his leg and collarbone. The motorbike has to be rehabilitated at various points along the way. Both man and machine persevere and prevail.

A.D.M., AudioFile

Dubliners (unabridged) Dubliners Modern Classics unabridged Box Set NAX31312 31312 9789626343135 9789629545949 James Joyce
Jim Norton
6 100 06:51:50 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Dubliners is a collection of short stories about the lives of the people of Dublin around the turn of the century. Each story describes a small but significant moment of crisis or revelation in the life of a particular Dubliner, sympathetically but always with stark honesty. Many of the characters are desperate to escape the confines of their humdrum lives, though those that have the opportunity to do so seem unable to take it. These stories introduce us to the city, which fed Joyce’s entire creative output, and to many of the characters who made it such a well of literary inspiration. Rich in humour and musical allusion, they contain some of Joyce’s most powerful and moving prose.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Mar04
Dubliners – Part I (unabridged) Dubliners – Part I Modern Classics unabridged Single NA317312 317312 9789626341735 9789629545925 James Joyce
Jim Norton
3 47 03:12:20 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

This volume contains the first ten stories from Dubliners, read in their original, unabridged form by Jim Norton who has established a special reputation for his recordings of Joyce for Naxos Audiobooks. The ten stories are: The Sisters, An Encounter, Araby, Eveline, After the Race, Two Gallants, The Boarding House, A Little Cloud, Counterparts, and Clay.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Mar00
  • The Sisters
  • An Encounter
  • Araby
  • Eveline
  • After the Race
  • Two Gallants
  • The Boarding House
  • A Little Cloud
  • Counterparts
  • Clay
Dubliners – Part II (unabridged) Dubliners – Part II Modern Classics unabridged Single NA318312 318312 9789626341834 9789629545932 James Joyce
Jim Norton
3 53 03:39:30 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

This volume continues the masterly unabridged reading of the short stories. It contains the last six stories from the collection: Clay, A Painful Case, Ivy Day in the Committee Room, A Mother, Grace, and perhaps the most well-known of all the stories (and the longest), The Dead. Jim Norton has established a special reputation for his recordings of Joyce for Naxos AudioBooks.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jan00
  • A Painful Case
  • Ivy Day in the Committee Room
  • A Mother
  • Grace
  • The Dead
Duke’s Children, The (unabridged) The Duke’s Children The Only Complete Edition Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0363 0363 9781781982457 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
772 33:53:01 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Bereft of his beloved wife Glencora and his role as Prime Minister, Plantagenet Palliser enters the realm of family politics as he struggles to guide and connect with his three wayward children. Lord Silverbridge, the Duke’s first born and natural inheritor, expelled from Oxford, a gambler at the racetrack and an elected Conservative, further troubles his father when he becomes engaged to Isabel Boncassen, a vibrant and witty American heiress of low social status. Lady Mary, his daughter, falls in love with a penniless young gentleman named Frank Tregear, while his second son, Gerald, displays similar behaviour to his brother. The beleaguered Duke must set aside his pride and accept their desires in order to restore happiness and harmony in the Palliser home. The Duke’s Children brings Trollope’s Palliser saga to a satisfying conclusion, and is here presented in its entirety, with over 65,000 words restored from the original manuscript by Steven Amarnick, assisted by Robert Wiseman, with Susan Humphreys.

N/A N/A Band AB £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Sep19 Neil Rosser Timothy Brown

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Those who have been following narrator David Shaw-Parker’s journey through the Palliser novels have come to expect excellence, and they will not be disappointed with this concluding instalment. The Duke of Omnium is now a widower, so we miss Lady Glencora’s fine Scottish voice, but there is a new assortment of interesting characters for Shaw-Parker to bring to life. And he does so marvellously. Our old friend the Duke is now concerned with the marital plans of his two oldest children, his duty toward them and to his own heritage, and his duty to the country. This is Trollope, so we can pretty much count on a happy ending of some sort, but the trip is great fun, with a few tears along the way.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Dvořák, Antonín (unabridged) Life & Works – Antonín Dvořák Life & Works Music unabridged Single NA558101 558101 9781843790709 9781843793762 Jeremy Siepmann
Jeremy Siepmann
Sean Barrett
Jonathan Keeble
Garrick Hagon
Caroline Friend
Daniel Philpott
Michael Tudor Barnes
4 128 04:35:07 CD-ROM + 136-page booklet BIO004000 Deleted Available World

One of the best loved composers of all time, Dvořák rose from rural origins to become not only a great but an influential composer. The first composer to put his native Bohemia on the musical map of the world, he was invited to do the same for America. One result was the famous ‘New World’ Symphony, which made him a household name across the globe. Writing music of irresistible colour, lilt and peasant vitality, he was also a melodist-in-a-million. This portrait-in-sound follows a lovable and in many ways a very simple man from haycart to imperial palace, from tragic loss to heart-warming joy, to pigeon-raising and world celebrity.

£19.99 $34.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Feb04
Dylan Thomas (compilation) The Essential Dylan Thomas Poems and stories The Essential Modern Classics unabridged Single NA434312 434312 9789626343432 9789629546137 Dylan Thomas
Richard Burton
Philip Madoc
Richard Bebb
Jason Hughes
4 133 04:52:56 POE000000 Deleted Available World

This varied, well-chosen selection brings onto one CD set the best of Dylan Thomas. Here is the legendary recording of Under Milk Wood, with Richard Burton and Richard Bebb as narrators; but here also are two radio productions he wrote before that great classic, and though interesting in their own right, they show how Under Milk Wood grew gradually in his imagination. Thomas was a charismatic if idiosyncratic performer of his own poetry and stories and here is a representative selection. Performances of Dylan Thomas have since moved on and the greatness of the writer as a poet and storyteller are perhaps best heard in new recordings by actors of our own time. Here Bebb, Madoc, and Hughes share some of Thomas’s finest, most challenging and endearing works.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Dec04
  • Under Milk Wood
  • Return Journey To Swansea
  • Quite Early One Morning
  • Memories of Christmas
  • The Peaches
  • A Visit To Grandpa’s
  • The Followers
  • The Outing – A Story

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

In the mid-20th century, Dylan Thomas (1914–1953) was at once excoriated for his wild booze-drenched antics and admired for his distinctive poems, essays, stories and lectures. Saturated in the musical speech of Wales, they dazzle with lush imagery, cascading sonorities, heady earthiness and bold flourishes. This aural collection exemplifies the traits that continue to gain him rapturous fans, particularly for his poetry. The radio play Under Milk Wood, his most famous work, is represented here by the legendary 1954 BBC production starring Richard Burton with an all-Welsh cast. Burton took the role that Thomas himself would have played had he not died just two months before the broadcast. In overripe stentorian tones that seem the perfect match to his writing, Thomas frequently recited his own works on radio and in personal appearances. This anthology includes vintage recordings of the author reading various pieces in his inimitable style, including ‘Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night’, which no one can deliver as movingly as he. Four seasoned Anglo-Welsh actors divide the remaining selections among themselves. Students and others coming to Thomas for the first time are well advised to start with this volume; those familiar with his works do not need to be told of the rewards awaiting them here.

Y.R., AudioFile

Eagle of the Ninth, The (abridged) The Eagle of the Ninth Junior Classics abridged Single NA442312 442312 9789626344231 9789629544317 Rosemary Sutcliff
Charlie Simpson
4 65 04:32:19 JUV016020 Deleted Available World

Roman Britain: Marcus Flavius Aquila, a young centurion is forced into retirement after a wound in his first major engagement against a rebel British tribe. It allows him the freedom to embark upon a dangerous mission to find out what happened to the Ninth Legion which, years before, disappeared in the savage lands of the Picts. Will he find out what happened to the men, led by his father, who never returned? And will he recover the Eagle, the symbol of Roman dominance and power? This junior classic has never been out of print since it was first published over fifty years ago. It is now presented in a fresh abridgement read in exciting manner by Charlie Simpson.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep06

Rosemary Sutcliffe’s gripping The Eagle of the Ninth, is about a young centurion’s search for a missing legion over Hadrian’s Wall. Read by Charlie Simpson against a background of thrilling music, and sparkling with detail about the Romans in Britain, it is perfect for boys of eight and over.

Amanda Craig, Independent on Sunday

In his chapter ‘Pax Romana’, Lacey touches on the lasting legacy of the Romans in Britain which, along with Hadrian’s wall and underfloor heating, included cabbages, apples, roses and the domestic cat. Sometime around AD117, the Ninth Legion, stationed in Eboracum, now York, marched north to put down a Caledonian rising and was never heard of again. Eighteen hundred years later archaeologists at Silchester dug up a wingless Roman eagle, the military emblem carried by the standard-bearer of every Roman legion. While it remained aloft the legion’s honour lived. Sutcliff’s novel is classed as a junior classic, but it’s no less adult than and every bit as entertaining as Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series. It follows the fate of the son of the Ninth Legion’s commander as he attempts to solve the mystery of the missing soldiers. Life beyond Hadrian’s wall and the protection of the red-crested legionaries is a dangerous place. Sutcliff evokes a dark, threatening landscape full of lonely lochs and mist-shrouded mountains, where the mystic arts are more powerful than shield walls. Charlie Simpson reads it as if he believed every word.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Charlie Simpson gives an excellent reading of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s The Eagle of the Ninth. Forcibly retired from the Roman army because of a wound, young centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila goes in search of the Ninth Legion, led by his father, which disappeared many years before. Exciting and informative – and recently released as the movie The Eagle.

Kati Nicholl, Daily Expresss

East Lynne (unabridged) East Lynne Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0504 0504 9781781983676 Ellen Wood
Rachel Atkins
23:33:29 FIC004000 FC World

Ellen Wood’s sensation novel of 1861 found immediate popularity on its first publication. Its themes of infidelity and double identity attracted a wide range of readers, from the Prince of Wales to Joseph Conrad. Lady Isabel Carlyle leaves her husband and children for the aristocratic Francis Levison who, as it turns out, has no intention of marrying her. Having been disfigured in a train accident, the unrecognisable Isabel then takes up the position of governess to her own children in the Carlyle household, with tragic consequences.

N/A N/A Band S £39.00 €44.00 $54.00 May21 John Foley Timothy Brown

Audiobook of the Week

Under her married name of Mrs Henry Wood, Ellen Wood (1814–87) was a popular Victorian writer who numbered Leo Tolstoy among her fans. Her most famous novel, East Lynne (1861), is crammed with sensational turns of fortune; even now it is a tear-jerking drama. Written to be read aloud in weekly instalments, it springs to life as an audiobook.

Wood deftly interweaves plot and subplots, and paints the contrasting societies of the little town of West Lynne and the great house of East Lynne in fascinating detail. Outspoken on corrupt aristocrats, forthright on faithfulness in marriage, hilarious on pretentiousness and caustic on affectation, the story offers a loveable doomed heroine in Lady Isabel Vane and a noble, if on occasion infuriatingly obtuse, hero in the lawyer Archibald Carlyle, the man she marries from necessity but grows to love beyond measure. Jealousy is the plot’s main driver: Isabel misunderstands the covert meetings of her husband and local beauty Barbara Hare, and falls for the blandishments and lies of the devilish Sir Francis Levison, with whom she long ago fancied herself in love.

Rachel Atkins perfectly projects the central characters and the entertaining lesser mortals: Archibald’s bullying sister Miss Corny, stony-hearted Justice Hare, irrepressible flirt Afy, loyal maid Joyce and gullible greengrocer Joe Jiffin.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Those who take on this 24-hour-long audiobook will appreciate having Rachel Atkins as their narrator. She’s every good reason to pick up one’s earbuds and listen to Ellen Wood’s 1861 melodrama. Atkins handles characters, plots and subplots with aplomb. Lady Isabel Carlyle leaves her husband and children for a cad. After being abandoned by her lover, disfigured in a train accident, and presumed dead, she returns in deep disguise to her now remarried husband’s estate as governess of her own children. In addition to a subplot concerning an old, unsolved murder, Atkins juggles love affairs, secrets, false identities, family relationships and more, and she does it wonderfully. While this story is a bit dusty, Atkins keeps it fun.

S.J.H., AudioFile

Edgar Allan Poe (selections) The Essential Edgar Allan Poe With a biography by Roy McMillan The Essential Poetry selections Single NA692112 692112 9789626349212 9789629547738 Edgar Allan Poe
Kerry Shale
John Chancer
William Roberts
6 109 07:33:29 POE005010 Deleted Available World

Released to coincide with the two-hundredth anniversary of the author’s birth in January 1809, this selection of well-loved chilling tales from the master of the supernatural is a perfect Christmas gift. The short stories include The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Fall of the House of Usher. This release also features additional poetry by Poe and a new biography especially written for Naxos AudioBooks by Roy McMillan.

£19.99 $34.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Nov08
  • Tamerlane
  • Dreams
  • Spirits of the Dead
  • A Dream
  • The Lake
  • The bowers whereat, in dreams I see
  • Fairy-Land
  • To Helen
  • Israfel
  • Lenore
  • Sonnet: To Zante
  • The Haunted Palace
  • Sonnet: Silence
  • The Conqueror Worm
  • Dream-Land
  • Eulalie
  • The Raven
  • (Not long ago, the writer of these lines …)
  • Ulalume: A Ballad
  • The Bells
  • A Dream Within a Dream
  • For Annie
  • To My Mother
  • Annabel Lee

This collection of 8 short stories, 23 poems, and a short biography of Poe is narrated by three readers: John Chancer, William Roberts, and Kerry Shale. Shale begins with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” He employs a high-pitched French accent to represent Dupin and affects a surprised, somewhat immature tone for the narrator. Some of Poe’s endless descriptions bog down the pacing. Listeners may want to head right to “The Pit and the Pendulum,” read by Roberts, who is a master of the verbal adrenaline rush. His tones lower as the pendulum descends and speed up to match the petrified shrieks. Shale recites the poetry selections; cue up to “Lenore” and zip over to “The Raven” to experience a perfect audible pairing of love lost and unmitigated grief. Chancer provides a simple yet engaging reading of Poe’s biography. Suitably macabre mood music marks transitions between the selections. The celebration of Poe’s 200th birthday brings renewed interest in the author’s works.

Kaite Mediatore Stover, Booklist

Effi Briest (unabridged) Effi Briest Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0412 0412 9781781982686 Theodor Fontane
Lucy Scott
225 09:55:23 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Often compared to Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest tells the poignant story of a passionate and spontaneous young woman who becomes trapped in a dull and restrictive upper-class existence. Married at the tender age of 17 to Geert von Innstetten, an ambitious nobleman and civil servant nearly 20 years her senior, unworldly Effi is whisked away to the quiet town of Kessin, on the Baltic coast of Prussia, where she is left to raise a daughter alone while her husband travels for work. Effi’s loneliness drives her into the arms of Major Crampas, a cunning womaniser who tempts her into adultery and lets her live out her passions. The affair is soon ended, and almost forgotten, until fate and negligence resurrect it, with devastating results.

N/A N/A Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Apr20 Mike Mitchell John Foley Genevieve Helsby Andrew Riches
Elidor (unabridged) Elidor Junior Classics unabridged Single NA396912 396912 9789626349694 9789629548599 Alan Garner
Jonathan Keeble
3 58 03:57:18 JUV037000 Deleted Available World

Part folklore, part adventure and part fantasy, Alan Garner’s Elidor is a modern children’s classic. When Roland opens a door in a derelict church, he unleashes the wonders of Elidor and the grave challenges that this troubled world presents. Drawing on Welsh, Irish and English mythology, the book chronicles the trials and hardships of a group of young teenagers as they attempt to fulfill a prophecy from another world, and fight a terrible evil.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep09
Elizabeth and Her German Garden Elizabeth and Her German Garden Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0587 0587 9781781984703 Elizabeth von Arnim
Lucy Scott
3:49:03 FIC004000 FC World

Elizabeth von Arnim, who is best known for her later novel The Enchanted April, married a Prussian aristocrat and, with their five children, lived in Nassenheide, Pomerania. Elizabeth and Her German Garden is a semi-autobiographical novel about the joy that the protagonist finds in the delights of her Pomeranian garden, which provides relief from the stifling environment of her household. The novel was originally published anonymously because von Arnim feared that her husband, whom she satirised in the book, would disapprove.

Each season of the year is wittily recorded, bringing new events and visitors, conveyed through von Arnim’s idiosyncratic perspective, while the ‘kingdom of heaven’ of the garden provides a calm place where the author finds solace.

N/A N/A Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jul23 John Foley Thomas Goose
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti (selections) The Great Poets – Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA192012 192012 9789626349205 9789629548223 Rachel Bavidge
Georgina Sutton
1 19 01:17:47 POE001000 Deleted Deleted World

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861) and Christina Rossetti (1830–1894) were both regarded as the female poet laureates of their time, and between them their writings spanned almost the entire Victorian age, from the end of Romanticism to the beginnings of Modernism. This selection of their shorter works contains all the major themes that animated them – social justice, faith, love and mortality – and some of the best-loved poetry in English, including In The Deep Midwinter and How Do I Love Thee? These poems reflect the changing world in which they were composed, but they also reflect the complex passions of two extraordinary women.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan09
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Hiram Powers’s Greek Slave
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Lady’s Yes
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Sleep
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A Woman’s Shortcomings
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
A Man’s Requirements
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Cry of the Children
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 1
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 6
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 7
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 14
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 22
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 26
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 28
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 32
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 38
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 39
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 42
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Sonnets from the Portuguese 43
Christina Rossetti
After Death
Christina Rossetti
Song: When I am dead, my dearest
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Another Spring
Christina Rossetti
A Birthday
Christina Rossetti
Good Friday
Christina Rossetti
The Heart Knoweth its own Bitterness
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Amor Mundi
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Silent Noon
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Song: Oh, roses for the flush of youth
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
The First Day
Christina Rossetti
Christina Rossetti
Maude Clare
Christina Rossetti
The Thread of Life
Christina Rossetti
Last Night
Christina Rossetti
Soeur Louise de la Misericorde (1674)
Christina Rossetti
There is a Budding Morrow in Midnight
Christina Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas
Christina Rossetti
Hope is Like a Harebell
Elmer Gantry (unabridged) Elmer Gantry Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0593 0593 9781781984765 Sinclair Lewis
Adam Sims
17:13:30 FIC004000 FC World

A blistering rebuke of religious hypocrisy, Elmer Gantry is the story of a charismatic and manipulative social climber who rises to power within his church, despite his insincerity. Though he preaches against immorality and temptation, Reverend Dr Elmer Gantry can’t seem to give up his own vices, and he leaves a trail of broken people behind him in his pursuit of pleasure and power, betraying anybody and doing anything to get ahead. Published in 1927, the novel created a furore upon its publication, resulting in threats of violence against the author, who was called ‘Satan’s cohort’. However, the book was a commercial success, and it is considered a landmark in American literature. It is recognised today for its prescient depiction of power and fanaticism.

N/A N/A Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Nov23 Neil Rosser Ross Burman
Eminent Victorians (unabridged) Eminent Victorians Biographies unabridged Single NA0474 0474 9781781983348 Lytton Strachey
Jonathan Keeble
11:15:23 BIO006000 BIO008000 BGH BGT World

Eminent Victorians, Lytton Strachey’s wonderfully witty and Wildean quartet of biographies, stands out as one of the most radical and groundbreaking works of its genre. With relentless precision, Strachey explores the lives of four exemplars of the Victorian age: Cardinal Manning, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Arnold and General Gordon, irreverently bringing to light the flaws, strengths, ambitions and hypocrisies of these treasured legends. The combination of thrilling and imaginative narratives with Strachey’s ironic reckoning shocked many contemporary readers of the time, and even altered the course of biography, making a powerful case for its elevation to high art.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Dec20 Neil Rosser Thomas Goose

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Strachey’s relatively brief lives of four prominent Victorian personalities set a new tone and standard for biography: witty, honest, and not always full of praise. Jonathan Keeble’s narration captures the wit, irreverence and drama, as well as the poetry and stylishness of Strachey’s prose. Even though Cardinal Manning and Dr Arnold are mostly forgotten now (the other two subjects are Florence Nightingale and General Gordon), their lives reveal much about the Victorian era, and this audiobook brings all four subjects to life with considerable élan. Keeble never fails to bring emotion to the text when it is called for. All in all, an admirable rendition of a fascinating book.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Emma (abridged) Emma Classic Fiction abridged Single NA309512 309512 9789626340950 9789629544478 Jane Austen
Juliet Stevenson
3 55 03:45:45 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Arrogant, self-willed and egotistical, Emma is Jane Austen’s most unusual heroine. Her interfering ways and inveterate matchmaking are at once shocking and comic. She is ‘handsome, clever and rich’ and has ‘a disposition to think too well of herself’. When she decides to introduce the humble Harriet Smith to the delights of genteel society and to find her a suitable husband, she precipitates herself and her immediate circle into a web of misunderstanding and intrigue, from which no-one emerges unchanged.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Dec99 Nicolas Soames Simon Weir, The Classical Recording Company Heather Godwin
Emma (unabridged) Emma Classic Fiction unabridged Single NAX39412 39412 9789626343944 9789629544485 Jane Austen
Juliet Stevenson
13 243 16:40:06 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Arrogant, self-willed and egotistical, Emma is Jane Austen’s most unusual heroine. Her interfering ways and inveterate matchmaking are at once shocking and comic. She is ‘handsome, clever and rich’ and has ‘a disposition to think too well of herself’. When she decides to introduce the humble Harriet Smith to the delights of genteel society and to find her a suitable husband, she precipitates herself and her immediate circle into a web of misunderstanding and intrigue, from which no-one emerges unchanged. Juliet Stevenson, an incomparable reader, is for many the voice of Jane Austen.

£45.50 $81.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Jun06

Juliet Stevenson’s Naxos recordings of Jane Austen’s most famous novels are one of the most authentic ways of enjoying them. You should listen to Stevenson’s narration of Emma before seeing the new film.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

I have already praised Juliet Stevenson’s understanding of subtle human comedy, but feel impelled to add that in her latest performance, Emma, the peerlessly snobbish, judgmental, self-regarding, manipulative heroine and her circle make perfect audio companions for a long drive, a marathon ironing session or, indeed, a nice cup of tea.

Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

Empty House and Other Stories, The (unabridged) The Empty House and Other Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0244 0244 9781843799948 9781843799955 Algernon Blackwood
Hugh Ross
6 103 06:38:49 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

An abandoned house whose horrific past is re-enacted for those who dare visit; a terrifying trip down the Danube river; a malevolent half-beast creature who abducts a member of a hunting party; and a tale of paranoia, mental deterioration and all-consuming feelings of doom: here are four feverish, spine-tingling tales that will chill the blood and make the flesh creep.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Jul16
  • The Empty House
  • The Willows
  • The Listener
  • The Wendigo
John Foley, Anthony Anderson Andrew Riches
Enchanted April, The (unabridged) The Enchanted April Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0568 0568 9781781984338 Elizabeth von Arnim
Lucy Scott
8:17:37 FIC004000 FC World

Two unhappily married women, Rose Arbuthnot and Lotty Wilkins, respond to an advertisement offering a month’s rental of a small medieval Italian castle. In order to defray the not inconsiderable cost of such a venture, two other ladies, Lady Caroline Dester and the formidable Miss Fisher, are invited to join them, and thus the four embark on their adventure. The ill-matched companions get off to a rocky start, but the delightful and spell-binding environment of the Italian Riviera unexpectedly brings them together.

Written in a rented castle in Portofino and published in 1922, The Enchanted April met with immediate critical and popular success, and has given rise to two films and a play. At the time of publication, The Nation and Athenaeum wrote: ‘The beauty of San Salvatore is kept constantly before us with the greatest skill, and the humour of the author has never been more delightful.’ Bursting with wit, this audiobook is sure to enchant modern listeners as they gradually learn more about each of its protagonists.

N/A N/A Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Feb23 John Foley Thomas Goose
Enchanted Castle, The (abridged) The Enchanted Castle Junior Classics abridged Single NA285812 285812 9789626348581 9789629544201 Edith Nesbit
Joanna Page
2 38 02:36:49 JUV037000 Deleted Available World

Three children – Jerry (bossy), Jimmy (hungry) and Kathleen (sensible) – find themselves standing in front of a bejewelled princess in the garden of an enchanted castle. It is the first day of their summer holidays. Is she really a princess? And if she isn’t, what about her ring which makes the wearer invisible? This ring, combined with the children’s appetite for exploring, sparks a tale full of vivid adventures and extraordinary characters. With ‘ugly-wugglies’ on the loose, statues alive in the moonlight and crimes needing to be solved, there is never a dull moment. Imagination is powerful; magic is possible.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Mar08

Magical tale of invisibility and a bejewelled princess still enchants.

Rachel Redford, The Guardian, 23 March 2008

Edith Nesbit crafts an adventure in which three children on summer vacation encounter an enchanted castle and a magic ring. While the story may be a hundred years old, Joanna Page brings freshness and urgency to the tale. Her children live up to their descriptors – officious Jerry, nonchalant Jimmy, and practical Kathleen – and they’re brought to life with just the right amount of a British accent. Page moves the narration briskly, letting the layers and intricacies of the story shine – from the children’s first realization of the ring’s power to the coming to life of the Ugly Wugglies. Try this over school vacation.

A. R., AudioFile Magazine

Encheiridion and Discourses, The (unabridged) The Encheiridion and Discourses Philosophy unabridged Single NA0500 0500 9781781983638 Epictetus
Jonathan Booth
12:10:39 PHI000000 HPCA World

Born into slavery in the first century AD, Epictetus was a leading Greek philosopher of the Stoic school. He spent most of his life in Rome before the emperor Domitian banished all philosophers from the city in AD 93; his exile then took him to Nicopolis in Greece. His teachings were recorded by his pupil Arrian, who published both the Encheiridion and Discourses. The Discourses, which Arrian claimed to have taken down during lectures he attended, comprised eight books of which we have only four. The Encheiridion (‘Handbook’) is a distillation of the main ideas found in the Discourses. Throughout these works is the strong sense of Stoic philosophy, with its emphasis on self-examination and self-knowledge, being presented as a practical way of living rather than a theoretical code.

N/A N/A Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Feb21 William Abbott Oldfather (updated) Thomas Goose
Essays (unabridged) Essays Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0538 0538 9781781984024 Francis Bacon
David Timson
06:19:06 LCO010000 DNF World

Sir Francis Bacon, sometimes known as the father of empiricism, was one of the major political figures of his day, his career culminating as Lord Chancellor under King James I in 1617. Bacon wrote widely, but it is the Essays (published in its third edition in 1625, the year before his death) for which he is best known. Deftly written and often displaying a cutting wit, they cover a wide range of subjects including death, love, marriage, ambition and atheism.

Bacon described the Essays as ‘recreations of my other studies’, and clearly drew on the ideas of earlier thinkers and writers, particularly Aristotle and Michel de Montaigne. The work had much influence on later generations and on the development of the English essay.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Feb22 Timothy Brown

Audiobook of the Week

‘“What is Truth?” said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.’ So begin the Essays of the scientist and politician Sir Francis Bacon. Never out of print since they were published in 1625, they are witty, candid and often provocative (this is a man who is quoted as saying: ‘I usually accept bribes from both sides so that tainted money can never influence my decision’).

My favourites include Of Studies (‘Some books are to be tasted, others swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’), Of Gardens (‘the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man’) and Of Friendship (‘a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal where there is no love’).

The actor and director David Timson, whose other audiobook triumphs include the complete Sherlock Holmes stories and Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, romps energetically through this timely tribute.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Essential Remembrance of Things Past, The (abridged) The Essential Remembrance of Things Past The Essential Modern Classics abridged Single NA898812 898812 9789626349885 9789629548865 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
8 142 09:47:56 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past is one of the world’s most celebrated books. And yet many people are daunted by its formidable size: it is more than 3,000 pages long. In this audio version Proust’s masterpiece is presented in easily accessible form, the author’s major themes and unique style are retained, and the key scenes are linked by a specially written narration. The Essential Remembrance of Things Past is an ideal introduction to one of the landmarks of modern European literature.

£29.99 $54.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Jan10

The art of abridgment and the art of narration are both fully tested in this compression of Proust’s gargantuan masterpiece into 10 smooth hours of listening. Neville Jason wonderfully captures Proust’s distinctive narrative voice: its unwavering detachment and the underlying affection with which this most meticulous of authors dissects each element of memory and feeling. Jason’s rendering of male voices is excellent, in particular his matchless portrayal of the Baron de Charlus, but in depicting females and underlings he can be a bit stagy. The abridgment itself is excellent, matching in outline Proust’s own strategy of broad sweeps and lingering exactitudes. The bridge-synopses are clear, to the point, and distinctive from the text, and the individual passages are well chosen. The effect is exactly what is desired: a self-sufficient abridgment that captures the spirit, character, and a good part of the content of the original.

D.A.W., AudioFile

Literally translated In Search of Lost Time, Proust’s monumental work is over 3,000 pages long; this abridged audio production is a valuable tool for those who want a less daunting exploration into this great work. Consisting of seven volumes, Remembrance of Things Past is a novel that is less about plot than memory itself. Written between1909 and 1922, the narrator (Proust himself) is a sensitive young man who grows up in an upper-crust ménage of artists, elites, effetes, society-driven royalty-crazed snobs and decadents. The listener is drawn into the dazzling world of the rich with sensual descriptions of gardens, food, fashion, décor. It is a feast for the senses, which are often rudely jarred by the pomposity of the characters. Yet, that is where narrator Neville Jason’s virtuosity as an actor shines so brilliantly. Jason’s spirited acting, accompanied by Roy McMillan, lifts this production to new heights. Each narrator handles a huge cast of outrageous eccentrics with force and distinction. Breaks in the major scenes of the novel have an especially written narration to alert the listener. The breaks also include classical music of the period which adds to the delight of an exceptional production.

Nancy Chaplin, SoundCommentary

Ethan Frome (unabridged) Ethan Frome Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0421 0421 9781781982037 Edith Wharton
Adam Sims
03:31:30 FIC004000 FC World

Set deep in the remote countryside of Massachusetts, New England, in a world of small-town prejudice, pettiness and rural poverty, the story of Ethan Frome explores the crippling marriage of a young man to an older woman and his love for her vibrant young cousin, Mattie, who lives as a dependent in the Frome household. His feelings lead to a day of explosive emotions with tragic consequences. Published in 1911, two years before Wharton divorced her husband, the novel integrates the raw experiences of the author’s own life to create a powerful tale of the tragic destruction of innocent love, in a stark, compressed and unified form. Over time, the book has gained the reputation of being Edith Wharton’s best work.

N/A N/A Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul20 John Foley Thomas Goose

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

This slim Wharton novel is often overlooked – likely because it lacks the author’s celebrated Old New York setting and intrigue – but this performance of the classic may earn it a second visit. Adam Sims delivers an excellent narration, capturing Frome’s distinct New England demeanor and secondary characters’ voices with equal attention to detail. The story of doomed lovers transcends despair to capture the imagination, thanks to Sims’s energetic and appealing deep voice. What might be dismissed on the printed page as dreary comes to life. Listeners will empathize with Frome’s plight and vividly picture themselves enduring the cold Massachusetts winter. If your English class of years gone by formed your opinion of this novel, try it again with this audiobook.

L.B.F., AudioFile

Europeans, The (unabridged) The Europeans Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0296 0296 9781781981061 9781781981078 Henry James
Adam Sims
6 140 06:06:45 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

After the collapse of her marriage to an illustrious German prince, Baroness Eugenia Münster arrives in America with her brother, in search of wealthy New England relatives. The duo have an immediate impact on their American cousins, the Wentworths. The Baroness captures the eye of young Clifford Wentworth, and his girlfriend’s older brother Robert; meanwhile, Felix falls for his American cousin Gertrude. The Wentworths are overawed by their European cousins and their frivolous lifestyle. What unfolds is a delightful comedy of manners that contrasts the apparently sophisticated and light-hearted Europeans with the serious and puritanical Americans. At times reminiscent of Jane Austen, The Europeans contains beautiful and vivid descriptions of mid-19th century upper-class New England life.

£24.99 $41.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 Feb18 Red Apple Creative Red Apple Creative

Narrator Adam Sims expertly guides the listener through the complex relationships Henry James sets up when European cousins Eugenia and Felix come to America to meet their relations. Sims’s soft cadence couples well with James’s prose, and his vocal characterisations distinguish the characters clearly. He captures the European brother and sister especially well. Felix’s delightful French accent and enthusiastic tone emphasise his apparent lightheartedness – he always sounds as if he is smiling. Eugenia’s slight accent and offhand way of speaking make her sound not only false but also somewhat sinister. Sims creates a contrast between the Europeans and the earnest American characters. He navigates prose and dialogue with apparent ease, and his narration makes for a well-paced experience of the novel.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Eustace Diamonds, The (unabridged) The Eustace Diamonds Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0300 0300 9781781981146 9781781981153 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
26 673 29:32:21 FIC004000 Available Available World

Before Sir Florian Eustace dies, he gives his beloved wife Lizzie a beautiful and expensive diamond necklace valued over £10,000. Dispute soon rages between the Eustace family and the manipulative and conniving Lizzie: it’s claimed that the diamonds are a precious family heirloom, but Lizzie argues they were a gift. Is she lying? As the family’s lawyer determines to reunite them with the jewels, Lizzie resorts to increasingly desperate measures, until one day the jewels are stolen. Who is responsible? The third novel in Trollope’s Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds is a wonderfully absorbing blend of dark cynicism and humour.

£80.00 $142.98 Band X £49.00 €55.00 $67.00 Mar18 John Foley Andrew Riches

In a field overrun with virtuous, sappy females, Lizzie Eustace stands out in Victorian literature for her sterling bad qualities: avarice, mendacity and seductive witchery. Only Becky Sharp can match her for simple, unadorned deviousness. Lizzie is the dark star of The Eustace Diamonds, glittering rival to the meek, faithful Lucy Morris. Though the novel is part of the Palliser series, it stands alone, and the familiar Palliser characters play only bit parts. The stage belongs to Lizzie and her doomed efforts to hang on to the £10,000 diamond necklace that was not exactly given to her by her late husband. She is also intent on marrying dreary Lord Fawn or, maybe, as the mood suits her, the fly-by-night Lord George de Bruce Carruthers or Frank Greystock, who is engaged to Lucy. There are already three decent unabridged recordings of this novel, but David Shaw-Parker’s rendition is a true masterpiece of narration. His unhurried delivery, impeccable pacing and rendition of the decorous rhythm of Victorian speech result in a recording that is more than three hours longer than the others. Beyond that, he unobtrusively conveys the personality of the various characters, including the manipulative Lizzie, irresolute Frank, ponderous Fawn, patient Lucy and, most gloriously, a fractious Scot, speaker of high-Caledonian argot.

Katherine Powers, The Washington Post

In this third entry in his Palliser series, the tale of a manipulative woman and the fate of a diamond necklace, Trollope eschews politics for the most part in favour of delightful humour and sharp social commentary. Social climbing, avaricious, beautiful Lizzie Eustace has an aversion to the truth and a tendency to offer ‘an incorrect version of the facts’. When her new but elderly husband dies, she claims the fabulous family diamonds (valued at £10,000 – more than £1,000,000 today) are hers, gifted by her husband. Thus begins the battle with lawyers from the estate demanding the return of the necklace. In exquisitely plummy tones, Shaw-Parker regales listeners, and his extravagantly dramatic voice perfectly suits the melodrama. He makes the most of Trollope’s asides on the ways of the upper class and the gossipy reports from the large cast of secondary characters, who comment on action and players. Characters are not so much distinguished by pitch as by tone. Lizzie wheedles and fabricates; her suitor, the weak Lord Fawn, demonstrates his indecision in every speech; and the lawyer for the Eustace estate, Mr Camperdown, argues his case dramatically as he energetically fights for the diamonds. It’s a marvellous performance, and Shaw-Parker’s companionable reading and delightful characterisations make this story seem as plausible today as in the 1870s.

Joyce Saricks, Booklist

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Narrator David Shaw-Parker continues his marvellous tour of Trollope with this audiobook from the Palliser novels. Although the Pallisers are minor characters in this volume, we do get Shaw-Parker’s memorable portrayal of the Duke of Omnium, as well as Lady Eustace’s almost-but-not-quite-incomprehensible rural Scottish steward, Andy Gowran. Without doing full impersonations, this narrator uses intonation and accents – and his accents are masterly – to distinguish and portray the characters. Trollope was a man of his time, so there is an unfortunate anti-Semitic undertone to the audiobook, but the main story is about women in Victorian England and how they deal with the limitations of their social roles. There are also some interesting resonances with Thackeray’s Vanity Fair.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Evgenii Onegin (unabridged) Evgenii Onegin Poetry unabridged Single NA0077 0077 9781843795674 9781843795681 Alexander Pushkin
Neville Jason
4 63 04:27:39 POE016000 Deleted Available World

Evgenii Onegin is best known in the West through Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin. But the original narrative poem is one of the landmarks of Russian literature. In the poem, the eponymous hero repudiates love, only to later experience the pain of rejection himself. Pushkin’s unique style proves timeless in its exploration of love, life, passion, jealousy and the consequences of social convention. This is the first time the work has appeared on audiobook and is part of the Naxos AudioBooks intention to make the major European literary works available on audiobook.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May12

Because this is a novel in verse, its audio rendition requires especially focused listening. The text’s impact comes as much from plot and character as from the all-important persona Pushkin creates to tell the tale. Neville Jason recounts the unfortunate Onegin’s story in the voice of an overly tolerant uncle – often amused but sometimes saddened or surprised by the unpredictable behaviour of a favourite nephew. In addition, this translation uses a fair amount of rhyme, which, coupled with Jason’s avuncular persona, suggests a nineteenth-century Russian Dr. Seuss. However, given Pushkin’s likely goal of mocking social mores of the time and exposing shallow behaviour, that matter-of-fact avuncular voice sounds just right – self-possessed, didactic, and a little distant.

L.X., AudioFile

Exploits of Brigadier Gerard, The (unabridged) The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA738512 738512 9781843793854 9781843793885 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Rupert Degas
6 106 07:13:11 FIC002000 Deleted Available World

With a horse between his thighs and a weapon in his grip, the dashing Brigadier Etienne Gerard, Colonel of the Hussars of Conflans, gallops through the Napoleonic campaigns on secret missions for his beloved Emperor and his country. He encounters danger and hair-breadth escapes but never loses his bravado, his eye for a pretty girl, his boastfulness or his enormous vanity. Gerard is Conan Doyle’s most lovable character. At times hilarious, at times touching, these stories are amongst Conan Doyle’s most popular.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Jul10
Faerie Queene, Selections from The (abridged) Selections from The Faerie Queene Poetry abridged Single NA337712 337712 9789626343777 9789629546731 Edmund Spenser
John Moffatt
3 58 03:58:55 POE005020 Deleted Available World

This remarkable poem, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, was Spenser’s finest achievement: the first epic poem in modern English, The Faerie Queene combines dramatic narratives of chivalrous adventure with exquisite and picturesque episodes of pageantry. At the same time, Spenser is expounding a deeply-felt allegory of the eternal struggle between Truth and Error…

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr06
Faerie Queene, The (unabridged) The Faerie Queene Poetry unabridged Single NA0161 0161 9781843797951 9781843797968 Edmund Spenser
David Timson
26 487 33:12:37 POE005020 Deleted Available World

This remarkable poem, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I, was Spenser’s finest achievement. The first epic poem in modern English, The Faerie Queene combines dramatic narratives of chivalrous adventure with exquisite and picturesque episodes of pageantry. At the same time, Spenser is expounding a deeply felt allegory of the eternal struggle between Truth and Error…

£80.00 $142.98 Band AA £52.00 €61.00 $71.00 Nov15

In most Arthurian romances, the noblest monarch in the world is King Arthur, and the greatest knight is Lancelot, who tragically falls in love with Arthur’s queen. In the romances surrounding Amadis of Gaul, on the other hand, the noblest monarch is King Lisuarte, and the greatest knight is Amadis, who has the good fortune to fall in love not with Lisuarte’s queen, but with his unmarried daughter, the Princess Oriana. Spenser takes this trend a bold step further: in his vast poetic fantasy, the noblest monarch is the Queen of Faerie, and the greatest knight is the young Prince Arthur, not yet a king in his own right, who falls in love with that same unmarried Queen, the tantalizing Gloriana. In fact, it is Gloriana who takes the initiative by making herself known to Arthur and declaring her love for him, but then vanishes, leaving him to seek her out in a world of pathless forests.

In The Faerie Queene, then, Spenser is creating an epic-scale, alternate-history prequel to the Arthurian romances we already know: nearly a quarter of a million words of loosely intertwined adventures featuring (for the most part) an altogether new cast of amorous knights and ladies, new champions who must quest for true love and virtue while combating miscreants, monsters, wizards, and witches in a land drenched with symbolism and enchantment. (The fact that everything is symbolic is part of the enchantment.) In all this, he aims to do for England and Britain what Homer and Virgil and Ovid had done for Greece and Rome: his poem aspires to be a great epic in its own right, and if its characters are not quite as apt to recall Odysseus or Aeneas as Lancelot or Gawain, they are at least no more likely to encounter a guardian angel than an Olympian goddess.

In such unabashed intermingling of ordinarily disparate fantasy realms and genres, The Faerie Queene was a major influence on C. S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia; and, long before that, its trailblazing splendor of ancient, medieval, and modern learning, penetrating moral insight, vividly sensuous imagination, unexampled metrical fluency, and rapturous prosodic mastery had served as both incitement and inspiration to nearly every other poet of the English Renaissance, including Shakespeare, and to many others in the centuries that followed.

The challenge posed to any would-be narrator by both the nature and the stature of such a work is formidable, but luckily the supremely accomplished David Timson was willing to take up the gauntlet. True, Timson is not able to inhabit the author and his characters as fully as in his readings of Sherlock Holmes stories or Dickens novels. There is simply not much spoken dialogue in The Faerie Queene for a gifted character actor to latch onto, and not much that lends itself to a novelistic approach to oral narration. Spenser’s is an older manner of romance: remote, exotic, stylized. A brisk willingness to wax rhapsodic even at the risk of sounding hokey may be the best way to engage such high-flown material; Timson has done that brilliantly in the Naxos Poems of the Orient collection, and so of course proves more than capable of warming up to what Spenser is doing here as well. His performance never falls short of eloquence, and, when the wheels of his spoken narration mesh fully with the thematic and emotive gears and springs driving Spenser’s narrative from within, they achieve a remarkable forward impetus. At such moments, Timson fully captures the gripping incantatory pulse of Spenser’s lines and stanzas as they weave their stirring, brooding, or exhilarating spell of power.

At other times, unfortunately, he seems to treat The Faerie Queene as if it were no more than a juvenile fantasy novel. But don’t get me wrong: even in non-epic modes, Timson manages some astonishing feats. In fact, given that Spenser is a pre-Enlightenment poet and romancer rather than a pioneering novelist, it is amazing how much novelistic immediacy Timson is able to wring for us from his ringing cantos. When the poet tells us how the haughty Queen Lucifera lords it over her subjects and distinguished visitors, we now, thanks to Timson’s performance, hear this as the projected narration she is listening to in her own head, as if she were imagining a newscaster’s voiceover proclaiming her magnificence. And Timson is not freelancing here, not going rogue; he is foregrounding something that we can now see was always there. Forget what I said before: the supposedly remote, exotic, stylized Spenser, like one of the great classic novelists who follow him, is letting what seemed to be impersonal omniscient narration shade into direct, intimate, vivid expression of a character’s mind.

Still, novelistic and dramatic methods are generally not the most salient means by which Spenser seeks to galvanize our insight and enjoyment, and in singling out the merits of this recording it would be wrong to overemphasize them. For one thing, Timson’s repertoire of vocal characterizations, so expertly deployed to render the denizens of Doyle’s or Dickens’ London, often seems less suited to the knights and ladies of Spenser’s Faerie Land, with the result that what is by rights an epoch-making masterpiece occasionally seems no more than an idiosyncratic minor classic. That’s too bad; but Timson’s exuberantly vigorous narration, strictly as such, is for the most part so dazzling as to make the unabridged Naxos Faerie Queene beyond question a five-star listening experience. For the most part, Timson, like Spenser, is simply amazing.


Spenser’s long but incomplete epic, allegorically instructive and linguistically archaic, is also a fantasy romp among knights, monsters, witches, and beautiful damsels. David Timson both conveys the fun and actually makes the poem easier to understand (though perhaps still daunting for newcomers) by interpreting it through his narration. He uses his voice richly and well to convey both the emotion and thought of the text with clarity and intelligence. He skilfully distinguishes and characterises, especially, the male personae, sometimes using class and regional accents. His females are less convincing, and his voice for the heroine, Britomart, is oddly unpleasant. But Timson’s fine reading rescues the poem from academic dryness and renders it as the pleasurable entertainment it was, at least in part, meant to be.

W.M., AudioFile

Fairy Tales (unabridged) Fairy Tales Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0548 0548 9781781984123 George MacDonald
Georgina Sutton
David Timson
14:06:32 FIC004000 FC World

George MacDonald, described by W.H. Auden as ‘one of the most remarkable writers of the 19th century’, was valued in his own time as an original thinker and spiritual guide. Of all his writing it is the fairy tales that have retained their fascination, and this collection includes all 11 stories, including The Light Princess, The Golden Key and The Wise Woman.

The fairy tales feature the stock characters of traditional tales – fairies both good and bad, and children undertaking precarious journeys. Often adopting paradox and nonsense as Lewis Carroll did, the stories invite adults to deploy the same open-mindedness as children. In MacDonald’s own words, ‘I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or 50, or 75.’

N/A N/A Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Oct22 Stories read by Georgina Sutton produced by John Foley Sarah Butcher
Fall of the House of Usher and other tales of mystery and imagination, The (unabridged) The Fall of the House of Usher and other tales of mystery and imagination The Fall of the House of Usher | The Pit and the Pendulum | Ligeia | The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar | The Tell-Tale Heart | The Black Cat | The Masque of the Red Death | The Cask of Amontillado | The Premature Burial Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA428312 428312 9789626342831 9789629545604 Edgar Allan Poe
William Roberts
4 71 04:52:00 FIC029000 Deleted Available World

The horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, with its dungeon of death, and the overhanging gloom on the House of Usher demonstrate unforgettably the unique imagination of Edgar Allan Poe. Unerringly, he touches upon some of our greatest nightmares – premature burial, ghostly transformation and words from beyond the grave. Written in the 1840s, they have retained their power to shock and frighten even now.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Sep05
  • The Pit and the Pendulum
  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Ligeia
  • The Raven
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • The Black Cat
  • The Premature Burial
  • The Facts in the Case of M Valdemar
Falstaff (unabridged) Opera Explained – Falstaff Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558158 558158 9781843790983 9781843793274 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 36 01:18:54 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Verdi’s Falstaff repays careful study with real pleasure. It is opera’s happiest irony that the great Italian master should cap a career – distinguished for its blood-and-thunder tragic masterpieces – with the greatest comic opera in the Italian repertory. The genius of Shakespeare is harnessed (in a miracle of compression) by master-librettist Boito to give the eighty-year-old Verdi a superb libretto, on which he lavished more wonderful tunes than most composers manage in a lifetime. Falstaff is the last great Italian comic opera and a worthy end to the tradition.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Nov04
Family Christmas, A (compilation) A Family Christmas A Child’s Christmas in Wales | The Nutcracker | The Little Match Girl | The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle | ’Twas The Night Before Christmas | The Three Kings | King Frost | A Kidnapped Santa Claus | The Thieves Who Couldn’t Stop Sneezing | Talking Turkeys Junior Classics unabridged Single NA247112 247112 9789626344712 9789629544461 Philip Madoc
Jenny Agutter
Benjamin Zephaniah
John Chancer
Teresa Gallagher
David Timson
Benjamin Soames
2 38 02:34:44 FIC058000 Deleted Available World

The tree, the fireside, the candles, the presents and the festive food may be the main features of the traditional Christmas, but so were the stories, the poems, and the traditional tales. Here, is a delightful confection of Christmas texts: the story of The Nutcracker told with Tchaikovsky’s immortal music, Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as nineteenth and twentieth century poems and the always affecting tale of The Little Match Girl. An enchanting collection for those family Christmas evenings.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Sep07
Famous Americans in History (unabridged) Famous Americans in History Junior Classics unabridged Single NA225812 225812 9781843798262 Barnaby Chesterman
Lorelei King
Kerry Shale
02:25:55 JNF025060 YNH World

Here are the life stories of eight remarkable people who were born and grew up in America and who made their mark upon American history. They represent the remarkable individuality and sense of enterprise and courage that has marked the American hero. Their personalities were very different, from the frontier spirit of Davy Crockett and inventive, entrepreneurial qualities of Henry Ford, to the quieter, but no less impressive courage of Clara Barton and Helen Keller. And then there was the unique story of Martin Luther King.

N/A N/A Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Dec04 Nicolas Soames and Sandi Gilbert Dan King
Famous Composers (unabridged) Famous Composers Vivaldi | Bach | Mozart | Beethoven | Dvořák | Shostakovich Junior Classics unabridged Single NA234712 234712 9789626343470 9789629544058 Darren Henley
Aled Jones
2 33 02:16:21 CD-ROM BIO004000 Deleted Available World excl. USA and Canada

Following on the success of The Story of Classical Music, Darren Henley and Aled Jones combine forces again to tell, in more detail, the lives of six key composers Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák and Shostakovich. Their colourful lives and their love of music is told against the backdrop of some of their finest works – an ideal combination.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep05
  • Bach
  • Vivaldi
  • Mozart
  • Beethoven
  • Dvořák
  • Shostakovich
Famous Composers (unabridged) Famous Composers Junior Classics unabridged Single NA236812 236812 9789626343685 9789629549749 Darren Henley
Marin Alsop
2 33 02:17:26 BIO004000 Available Available USA/Canada only

Following on the success of The Story of Classical Music, Darren Henley and Marin Alsop combine forces again to tell, in more detail, the lives of six key composers Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák and Shostakovich. Their colourful lives and their love of music is told against the backdrop of some of their finest works – an ideal combination.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep05
Famous Heroes of the American West (unabridged) Famous Heroes of the American West Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0067 0067 9781843795469 9781843795476 William Roberts
Adam Sims
2 35 02:23:52 BIO000000 Deleted Available World

Famous Heroes of the American West is a lively account of the ‘Wild West’ and its renowned figures, narrated with vigour by Adam Sims. The lives of Davy Crockett, Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson, Calamity Jane and Sitting Bull, amongst others, are explored in detail. Their exploits, adventures and alliances make for fascinating listening.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jun12

Although this production is intended for a younger audience, adults will also warm to Adam Sims’s tenor voice as he ably narrates the stories of Daniel Boone, Kit Carson, Davy Crockett, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Buffalo Bill Cody, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Wyatt Earp. Sims gives a seemingly effortless performance as he narrates these accounts with ease and confidence. His voice captures one’s attention and never lets go as he takes listeners on this nearly two-century journey of the westward expansion from the French and Indian War to the death of Earp in 1929. Musical excerpts used to segue between sections add to the listening experience.

M.T.F., AudioFile

Famous People in History – Volume 1 (unabridged) Famous People in History – Volume 1 Christopher Columbus | Elizabeth I William Shakespeare | Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Lord Nelson | Charles Darwin | Florence Nightingale | Abraham Lincoln | Anne Frank Junior Classics unabridged Single NA217212 217212 9789626341728 9789629544263 Nicolas Soames
Trevor Nichols
Katinka Wolf
2 37 02:31:20 BIO000000 Available Available World

Here are the stories of nine people whose energy, imagination, courage and determination changed the world. From Christopher Columbus, who set off into unknown seas in a small ship in the fifteenth century, to a young girl, Anne Frank, caught in the turmoil of the twentieth, who wrote a remarkable diary while in hiding in Amsterdam during the Second World War. Their personalities and their achievements make them heroes and heroines for our time also.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb00
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Elizabeth I
  • William Shakespeare
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Lord Nelson
  • Charles Darwin
  • Florence Nightingale
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Anne Frank
Famous People in History – Volume 2 (unabridged) Famous People in History – Volume 2 Alexander the Great | Joan of Arc | Leonardo da Vinci | Isaac Newton | George Washington | Ludwig van Beethoven | Louis Pasteur | Marie Curie | Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi Junior Classics unabridged Single NA219712 219712 9789626341971 9789629544270 Nicolas Soames
Daniel Philpott
Laura Brattan
Garrick Hagon
2 38 02:37:46 BIO000000 Deleted Available World

There is a need for accessible short biographies of key people for younger listeners. Following the success of Famous People, Volume I, Nicolas Soames presents another varied group of men and women who have changed the course of history. This is the second volume of popular histories of famous people.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb00
  • Alexander the Great
  • George Washington
  • Joan of Arc
  • Isaac Newton
  • Louis Pasteur
  • Marie Curie
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Fanny Hill (abridged) Fanny Hill Classic Fiction abridged Single NA316012 316012 9789626341605 9789629544775 John Cleland
Emma Fielding
3 55 03:44:15 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Fanny Hill, one of the most popular novels of the 18th century, traces the rise of its heroine from prostitution to middle-class respectability. Condemned in its own time on grounds of indecency, the book was the subject of several law suits until as recently as the 1960s. For today’s reader, the work holds as much fascination as when it was first published, not only as the foremost example of English erotic fiction, but as a literary classic in its own right.

£13.99 $22.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul05
Fanny Hill (unabridged) Fanny Hill Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0274 0274 9781781980620 9781781980637 John Cleland
Clare Corbett
8 205 09:13:41 FIC004000 Available Available World

Fanny Hill, one of the most popular novels of the 18th century, traces the rise of its heroine from prostitution to middle-class respectability. Condemned in its own time on grounds of indecency, the book was the subject of several lawsuits until as recently as the 1960s. For today’s reader, the work holds as much fascination as when it was first published, not only as the foremost example of English erotic fiction, but as a literary classic in its own right.

£29.99 $54.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Sep17 Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire Chatterbox Audio, Wiltshire
Far From the Madding Crowd (abridged) Young Adult Classics – Far From the Madding Crowd Young Adult Classics – Young Adult Classics abridged Single NA397012 397012 9789626349700 9789629548698 Thomas Hardy
Neville Jason
3 57 03:55:30 CD-ROM YAF009000 Deleted Available World

Far from the Madding Crowd was Hardy’s fourth novel, gaining significant popularity and critical attention. It tells of Gabriel, an up-and-coming shepherd, who falls in love with a proud and vain young beauty Bathsheba, who refuses his offer of marriage as she values her independence too much. The novel can be described as an early piece of feminist literature and is regularly studied in schools. This is part of the ‘Young Adult Classics’ series launched by Naxos AudioBooks in 2009: each title contains a CD-ROM with extensive ‘teacher notes’ and the full text of the audiobook.

£10.99 $17.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jun09
Far From the Madding Crowd (abridged) Far From the Madding Crowd Classic Fiction abridged Single NA313612 313612 9789626341360 9789629545376 Thomas Hardy
Neville Jason
3 58 03:58:12 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In a remote corner of early Victorian England, where traditional practices remain untouched by time, Bathsheba Everdene stands out as a beacon of feminine independence and self-reliance. However, when confronted with three suitors, among them the dashing Sergeant Troy, she shows a reckless capriciousness which threatens the stability of the whole community. Published in 1874, and an immediate best-seller, Far From the Madding Crowd established Thomas Hardy as one of Britain’s foremost novelists.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Jul00

A vivid classic set in a remote rural corner of early Victorian England features conflicting values, class dichotomy, opposing principles, and romantic drama. Never ceasing to be relevant, Hardy’s classic endures as Bathsheba Everdene waivers between wielding her feminine wiles to secure love and marriage and maintaining her stoic independence and self-reliance. Neville Jason narrates with an upper-crust accent, then deftly shifts to the characters’ distinctive singsong Cornish speech and earthy expressions. He adapts well to the tones of women and the elderly. The audiobook’s musical interludes, while striking the moods reflected in scenes, are slightly too strident – but are not a distraction from the novel’s fatalistic turmoil and picturesque descriptions.

A.W., AudioFile

A vivid classic set in a remote rural corner of early Victorian England features conflicting values, class dichotomy, opposing principles, and romantic drama. Never ceasing to be relevant, Hardy’s classic endures as Bathsheba Everdene waivers between wielding her feminine wiles to secure love and marriage and maintaining her stoic independence and self-reliance. Neville Jason narrates with an upper-crust accent, then deftly shifts to the characters’ distinctive singsong Cornish speech and earthy expressions. He adapts well to the tones of women and the elderly. The audiobook’s musical interludes, while striking the moods reflected in scenes, are slightly too strident – but are not a distraction from the novel’s fatalistic turmoil and picturesque descriptions.

A.W., AudioFile

Far From the Madding Crowd (unabridged) Far From the Madding Crowd Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0154 0154 9781843798453 9781843798460 Thomas Hardy
Jamie Parker
12 222 14:52:33 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In a remote corner of early Victorian England, where traditional practices remain untouched by time, Bathsheba Everdene stands out as a beacon of feminine independence and self-reliance. However, when confronted with three suitors, among them the dashing Sergeant Troy, she shows a reckless capriciousness which threatens the stability of the whole community. Published in 1874, and an immediate best-seller, Far From the Madding Crowd established Thomas Hardy as one of Britain’s foremost novelists.

£42.00 $73.98 Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Jun14

A dark-haired muse, Bathsheba Everdene, entices and repulses the men of Hardy’s rural Weatherbury. When she’s finally won in marriage, she’s consumed by despair. British actor Jamie Parker’s sonorous voice complements Hardy’s deliberate style. While Parker assumes an unhurried tone throughout the narrative, he provides energetic feeling in the dialogue. His vocal characterisations are well executed, particularly in the discussions of the townspeople in which he portrays the local dialects convincingly. He also effectively contrasts the methodical Gabriel Oak and the haughty Bathsheba in their heated discussions. Parker skilfully navigates the listener through the novel, and his attention to the nuances of Hardy’s prose makes his narration especially compelling.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Farewell the Trumpets (abridged) Farewell the Trumpets History abridged Single NA0039 0039 9781843794752 9781843794769 Jan Morris
Roy McMillan
6 105 07:30:49 HIS015000 Deleted Available World

The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s masterly telling of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. It is a towering achievement: informative, accessible, entertaining and written with all her usual bravura. This final volume charts the decline and dissolution of what was once the largest empire the world had known. From the first signs of decay in the imperial ambition in the Boer Wars, through the global shifts in power evident in the two World Wars, it offers a perspective that is honest, evocative and occasionally elegiac.

£24.99 $41.98 Band G £18.00 €20.50 $25.00 Mar12
Farewell the Trumpets (unabridged) Farewell the Trumpets History unabridged Single NA0038 0038 9781843794738 9781843794745 Jan Morris
Roy McMillan
16 294 20:56:07 HIS015000 Deleted Available World

The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s masterly telling of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. It is a towering achievement: informative, accessible, entertaining and written with all her usual bravura. This final volume charts the decline and dissolution of what was once the largest empire the world had known. From the first signs of decay in the imperial ambition in the Boer Wars, through the global shifts in power evident in the two World Wars, it offers a perspective that is honest, evocative and occasionally elegiac.

£55.00 $98.98 Band Q £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Mar12
Father Goriot (unabridged) Father Goriot Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0326 0326 9781781981689 9781781981696 Honoré de Balzac
Bill Homewood
10 275 12:01:08 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Impoverished young aristocrat Eugène de Rastignac is determined to climb the social ladder and impress himself on Parisian high society. While staying at the Maison Vauquer, a boarding house in Paris’s rue Neuve-Sainte-Geneviève, he encounters Jean-Joachim Goriot, a retired vermicelli maker who has spent his entire fortune supporting his two daughters. The boarders strike up a friendship and Goriot learns of Rastignac’s feelings for his daughter Delphine. He begins to see Rastignac as the ideal son-in-law, and the perfect substitute for Delphine’s domineering husband. But Rastignac has other opportunities too, as the notorious criminal Vautrin, ‘The Death Dodger’, offers to murder the brother of a wealthy woman, giving the ambitious young lawyer a clear path to her fortune… Profound and realistic, Father Goriot is a startling glimpse into the vanity and selfishness of 19th-century Paris. It is considered one of the finest works of Balzac’s La Comédie Humaine.

£35.00 $62.98 Band J £23.00 €26.00 $31.00 Oct18 Ellen Marriage (updated) Sarah Butcher

Bill Homewood’s narration brings new life to the tragic story of Goriot, a father who lives in poverty so that his two daughters can be happy. Homewood’s deep voice and melodic cadence carry the listener through the prose. He pronounces the French names quite naturally, and his vocal characterisations faithfully render Balzac’s creations. Set in a Parisian boardinghouse, the story offers a range of characters from the young law student, who speaks quickly with youthful earnestness, to the hardened criminal, who speaks slowly with acute sarcasm. Homewood portrays Goriot sympathetically, giving him a voice that is somewhat strained and pitiful. However, he always sounds as if he is smiling when speaking of his daughters. Homewood’s profound characterisation of Goriot makes this audiobook particularly memorable.

D.M.W., AudioFile

Faust (abridged) Faust Drama abridged Single NA0068 0068 9781843795490 9781843795506 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Samuel West
Toby Jones
Anna Maxwell Martin
Stephen Critchlow
Derek Jacobi
Daniel Mair
4 114 03:59:13 DRA004020 Deleted Deleted World

Faust is one of the pillars of Western literature. This classic drama presents the story of the scholar Faust, tempted into a contract with the Devil in return for a life of sensuality and power. Enjoyment rules until Faust’s emotions are stirred by a meeting with Gretchen, and the tragic outcome brings Part 1 to an end. Part 2, written much later in Goethe’s life, places his eponymous hero in a variety of unexpected circumstances, causing him to reflect on humanity and its attitudes to life and death.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct11 John R. Williams Nicolas Soames David Timson Norman Goodman

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

If it’s been a while since you tackled Goethe’s Faust – like, forever – don’t wait a moment longer. John R. Williams’s sparkling English translation is delightful, full of wit and delicious rhymes, and would be reason enough to fling yourself at it, but this full-cast production more than doubles the pleasure. The actors play it as if we were all Faust and hell were going to be a lot worse than other people. The performances are marvellous, and the sound effects clever and often gorgeous (the choir!). After this rendering of ’Walpurgisnacht,’ you’ll never see Hallowe’en the same again. One might call this Harry Potter for grown-ups, except that the good guys – well, I wouldn’t want to give away the ending. What a great theatrical experience.

B.G., AudioFile

Goethe’s classic tragedy is here vividly enacted by a talented cast, including Samuel West (Faust), Toby Jones (Mephistopheles) and Derek Jacobi (The Lord). Frustrated with the limitations of mankind, Faust is given the ultimate offer by the Devil incarnate and must live with the consequences of accepting such a bargain. Despite the abridgement, the production is well contained, clear, and nicely executed.

Verdict: The performances all shine, with the only faltering owing to the sound mixing. At times, the music and limited sound effects interfere with one’s ability to hear the cast clearly, especially given the word patterns of the rhyming schemes. Recommended for fans of dramatisations, classics and plays.

Lance Eaton, Library Journal

Favourite Essays: An Anthology (selections) Favourite Essays: An Anthology Non-fiction selections Single NA493712 493712 9789626349373 9789629548629 Michel de Montaigne
Jonathan Swift
Thomas Carlyle
Joseph Addison
Samuel Johnson
Neville Jason
4 72 04:55:35 LCO010000 Deleted Available World

Here, in this unusual collection, are some of the greatest essays in Western literature. Witty, informative and imaginative; the topics vary from starvation in Ireland, fine China, the extension of railways in the Lake District and the tombs in Westminster Abbey. A little like after-dinner monologues, they are passing thoughts expressed as journalism. Neville Jason reads with urbane clarity.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May09

Michel de Montaigne (1553–1592) – ‘Of Idleness’, ‘Of Slow Speech’ and ‘That We Should Not Judge of Our Happiness until After Our Death’
Francis Bacon (1561–1626) – ‘Of Truth’, ‘Of Riches’ and ‘Of Wisdom’
Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) – ‘A Modest Proposal’
Joseph Addison (1672–1719) – ‘The Tombs in Westminster Abbey’
Richard Steele (1672–1729) – ‘A Day in London’
Samuel Johnson (1709–1784) – ‘Solitude not eligible’ and ‘Good Humour’
Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774) – ‘On National Prejudices’
David Hume (1711–1776) – ‘Of the Dignity or Meanness of Human Nature’
Charles Lamb (1775–1834) – ‘Dream Children – A Reverie’ and ‘Old China’
William Hazlitt (1778–1830) – ‘On Going a Journey’
Leigh Hunt (1784–1859) – ‘A ‘Now’’
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) – ‘On Life’
Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) – ‘Midas’
William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863) – ‘Ogres’
Charles Dickens (1812–1870) – ‘The First of May’
John Ruskin (1819–1900) – ‘The Extension of the Railways in the Lake District’
G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936) – ‘On Lying in Bed’

If you like long walks, slow cooking and staring out of the window at nothing in particular, this anthology is for you. The key to enjoying these essays by some of the finest exponents of the English language – Swift, Goldsmith, Johnson, Carlyle, Hazlitt, Lamb et al – on a variety of subjects – chasing loose women, building railways, eating children, lying in bed – is time: they cannot be rushed. Take them at the same leisurely, measured pace as Joseph Addison’s opening sentence: “When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable.” Whimsical, satirical, passionate, playful, savage – the style may vary, but the quality of the writing belongs to a golden age of literature that disappeared with the quill pen. I bet Neville Jason, whose Latin is as perfect as his English (the essays bristle with classical quotations), still writes with one.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

“He who lives everywhere lives nowhere,” wrote Montaigne 400 years ago. Another jewel in this fine collection is Richard Steele’s account of the “inexpressible pleasure” of an early-morning trip down the Thames, picking up gardeners of apricots and melons on their way to market. Neville Jason’s voice is irresistible.

Rachel Redford, The Guardian

The point of this book is to highlight the essay form as a relatively short, concise piece that tightly argues an idea. Many of the works included are funny, and some are downright shocking, but they’re

all fascinating. Neville Jason has selected his favorites and delivers them in what could be called the quintessential British reading voice. It’s deep, precise, mellifluous, authoritative, and distinctive.

His phrasing and diction are superb, and he pronounces every word with nary a swallowed consonant. Jason also knows how to present these classics so they ring true to the modern ear, which is not easy considering

that most people have not extensively read these authors. Perhaps after hearing Jason’s performance, they will.

R.I.G., AudioFile

Favourite Poems for Children (selections) Favourite Poems for Children Junior Classics selections Single NA0013 0013 9781843794233 9781843794240 Various
Anton Lesser
Roy McMillan
Rachel Bavidge
Katinka Wolf
Richard Wilson
David Timson
Anne Harvey
Simon Russell Beale
Timothy West
1 18 01:14:29 JUV070000 Deleted Available World

Dance with a lobster, telephone an elephant or knock on a moonlit door – this collection includes magical, macabre, dramatic, funny, bizarre, absurd, delightful, moving and charming poems by Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, Edward Lear, Hilaire Belloc, Kenneth Grahame and many others. Readers such as Anton Lesser, Simon Russell-Beale and Timothy West bring the lines beautifully to life and make this an ideal introduction to some of the best-loved children’s poetry.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Sep10
Lewis Carroll
The Lobster Quadrille
Lewis Carroll
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Lewis Carroll
You Are Old, Father William
Lewis Carroll
Humpty Dumpty’s Song
Lewis Carroll
John Clare
Little Trotty Wagtail
James Reeves
The Bogus-Boo
Oliver Herford
A Tragedy in Rhyme
A Guinea Pig Song
Edward Lear
The Jumblies
Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussycat
Kenneth Grahame
Duck’s Ditty
Edward Lear
There was an Old Man with a Beard
John Keats
Old Meg
Edward Lear
How Pleasant to Know Mr Lear
John Keats
There was a naughty boy
William Makepeace Thackeray
At the Zoo
Dahn the Plug’ole
Hilaire Belloc
Henry King
Hilaire Belloc
A.A. Milne
The King’s Breakfast
There was a little girl
William Cowper
The Snail
Framed in a First-Storey Winder
There was a man of double deed
Sarah Catherine Marine
The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and Her Dog
Charles Causley
Colonel Fazackerly
William Brighty Rands
Topsy-Turvey World
Walter de la Mare
The Listeners
William Blake
The Tyger
The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens
Robert Louis Stevenson
Bed in Summer
Robert Louis Stevenson
Time to Rise
Robert Louis Stevenson
My Shadow
Thomas Hardy
Wagtail and Baby
Two Little Kittens
Rudyard Kipling
Laura Richards
Robert Browning
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Robert Browning
Into the street the Piper stepped…
Robert Browning
The mayor was dumb, and the council stood…

Thirty-nine poems by English authors range in length from 15 seconds to about 16 minutes. Many will be familiar titles: Jabberwocky, The Jumblies, The Owl and the Pussycat, Old Mother Hubbard, The Tyger, The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, If, and The Pied Piper of Hamelin. The authors of the 39 poems include Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, John Keats, William Thackeray, Hilaire Belloc, A. A. Milne, Walter de la Mare, William Blake, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Browning, and the prolific Anonymous. The readers/presenters are British actors of note and include Anton Lesser, Roy McMillan, Rachel Bavidge, Katinka Wolf, Richard Wilson, David Timson, Anne Harvey, Simon Russell Beale, and Timothy West. Their presentations are excellent, bringing to life the bizarre, the mysterious, the humorous. The walrus and carpenter weep even as they devour the compliant oysters. Humpty Dumpty sings of little fishes. The Bogus-Boo comes out at night with his six ears and eight paws. The Jumblies go to sea in a sieve. Both the rats and the children of Hamelin are piped away. And a Cockney accent ’elps the baby go dahn the plug ’ole. This is a wonderful introduction to familiar British verse which will delight children on both sides of the pond.

Janet Julian,

Favourite Poems for Children introduces them to such delights as My Shadow, The Listeners, The Pied Piper of Hamelin and many more, and readers include Simon Russell Beale, Timothy West and Anton Lesser. Another bedtime must!

Kati Nicholl, Daily Express

The 39 poems here are classics of imagination and whimsy, alive with the great and mysterious power that language exercises over childhood. With a couple of exceptions, the poets are British, and their verses are suffused with the golden aura of childhood’s halcyon days. All but one of the nine readers here are professional actors. The poems range in mood from the the stirring potency of William Blake’s The Tyger, magnificently read by Timothy West, to the inspired high jinks of Lewis Carroll’s and Edward Lear’s nonsense poems, and the linguistic confusion of Laura Richard’s Eletelephony. There are adventuresome pieces, such as The Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens, read with intoxicating Scots brio by Anton Lesser, and many tales of busy doings. Interspersed throughout are passages of classical music. This is a recording for your permanent collection.

Katherine A. Powers, The Washington Post

Fear and Trembling (unabridged) Fear and Trembling Philosophy unabridged Single NA0327 0327 9781781981702 9781781981719 Søren Kierkegaard
Mark Meadows
4 105 04:40:43 REL067000 Deleted Deleted World

Written from the perspective of an unbeliever, Fear and Trembling explores the paradox of faith, the nature of Christianity and the complexity of human emotion. Kierkegaard examines the biblical story of Abraham, who was instructed to sacrifice his son Isaac, and forces us to consider Abraham’s state of mind. What drove Abraham, and what made him carry out such an absurd and extreme request from God? Kierkegaard argues that Abraham’s agreement to sacrifice Isaac, and his suspension of reason, elevated him to the highest level of faith. He explores more comprehensible alternatives, but in each one Abraham fails the test of faith, thus showing that true faith cannot be explained, understood, or made rational. His thesis is a compelling counterpoint to Hegel, who maintained that reason was the highest form of thought, and it proved a significant source of inspiration to later existentialist philosophers such as Camus and Sartre.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Dec18 Sylvia Walsh Chatterbox Audio Chatterbox Audio

Philosophy is often presented in a dry and dull manner, but that isn’t the case when it’s delivered by narrator Mark Meadows. In this version of Kierkegaard’s masterpiece, Meadows uses good pacing to give the listener an intricate treatment of the biblical story of Isaac’s near sacrifice by his father, Abraham, and what this story may mean in the realm of faith in a higher power. Meadows’s narration makes exploring Kierkegaard’s philosophy a joy to experience, especially if one has had a difficult time getting into reading from the text directly. Meadows’s British accent in this delightful production will make listeners feel as if they are reading philosophy at Oxford or Cambridge.

V.B., AudioFile

Female Quixote, The (unabridged) The Female Quixote Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0406 0406 9781781982563 Charlotte Lennox
Juliet Stevenson
394 17:24:36 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Young, wealthy Arabella is obsessed with French romances: brought up by a reclusive widowed father in an isolated castle, she has educated herself through their pages, and been led to believe that their dramas and absurdities are reality. She blindly adheres to their example and interprets her everyday life through their lens, thinking that life consists of uncontrollable passions and murderous violence, and that any man would die for her. Thus she embarks on a series of hilarious misadventures, insistent on the reality of her imaginary world, like Don Quixote before her.

N/A N/A Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Mar20 John Foley Genevieve Helsby Sarah Butcher

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Don Quixote has been adapted or parodied many times over the centuries, and this 1752 version by Charlotte Lennox holds up pretty well as read by Juliet Stevenson. (It was also one of the inspirations for Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.) Lady Arabella has read too many romances, and, having grown up in isolation in the country, she interprets them as history. Stevenson takes us through the novel’s episodes with a series of characters who must cope with Arabella’s delusions. All the characters come vividly to life, particularly the increasingly exasperated Charles Glanville, Arabella’s would-be fiancé, who tries to spare her from the consequences of her nutty actions. Stevenson’s reading heightens the humour and the pathos, and may help popularise this novel among today’s listeners.

D.M.H., AudioFile

Henry Fielding and Samuel Johnson raved its praises, and it helped inspire Jane Austen to write her first novel. Written when its author was in her early twenties, Lennox’s 1752 comedy of manners is a spirited sendup of Cervantes, in which Arabella, a young noblewoman too long closeted with antique French romances comes out into a society entirely out of step with her fanciful expectations. Portrayed with wide-eyed wonder and inexhaustible incredulity by the masterful Juliet Stevenson, the naive Arabella is ridiculous but not unsympathetic, and we join with her long-suffering suitor Glanville in being both exasperated and charmed by her staggering pretensions as he doggedly attempts to guide her gently back to good sense, even as his devious rival Bellmour coddles her fancies. Stevenson performs an invaluable service for the listener by clearly distinguishing Lennox’s routinely elevated prose from her heroine’s still more lofty flights of fancy, elucidating thereby many comic situations that might otherwise be lost on the contemporary reader. Stevenson’s mellifluous tone and expert phrasings capture all the musicality and wit of Lennox’s elaborate, prolix style.

David Wright, Booklist

Fidelio (unabridged) Opera Explained – Fidelio Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558077 558077 9781843790853 9781843793175 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 37 01:19:33 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

Fidelio is a work like no other. Beethoven’s only opera is about the joy of married love – by a man who never knew that pleasure. It is about heroism by a man who was often mean and petty in his human relations; it is about freedom by a man who was a prisoner of his own deafness; and ultimately it is about joy by a man who experienced precious little of it. Maybe there is a divine logic to that: feelings the artist could not experience but could express find their noblest manifestation in music of overwhelming power and majesty. The most popular operas from the early 19th century are Italian – Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi. We know that Fidelio is important because it was Beethoven’s only opera, but it is not, on the face of it, as much fun as The Barber of Seville, or Don Pasquale. This is why Thomson Smillie’s introduction is so useful. He places the plot and the music against the background of Beethoven’s own turbulent life and suddenly we realise the importance and the uplifting nature of the themes he deals with – starting with fidelity, the name of the opera itself. This is a riveting preparation for seeing or hearing the whole opera.

£5.99 $11.99 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Apr03
Final Count, The (unabridged) The Final Count Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0086 0086 9781843795858 9781843795865 Sapper
Roy McMillan
6 110 07:29:27 FIC002000 Deleted Available World

In The Final Count, the fourth in Sapper’s Bulldog Drummond series, Hugh Drummond returns after the climax of The Third Round saw him embroiled in an electrifying boat chase with his long-term enemy and master of disguise, Carl Peterson. Now, Drummond must attempt to prove the innocence of an inventor of chemical warfare whose weapon mysteriously goes missing. Drummond is utterly resolute: only one man can be capable of such a sinister plot.

£24.99 $41.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Dec12
Finest Nonsense of Edward Lear, The (selections) The Finest Nonsense of Edward Lear Junior Classics selections Single NA0219 0219 9781843799658 9781843799665 Edward Lear
Derek Jacobi
1 20 01:16:59 JUV070000 Deleted Available World

Nearly 150 years since his poetry was first published, Lear’s nonsense rhymes are still popular today. In this lively and colourful audiobook recording, Derek Jacobi reads Lear’s most famous poems and most fantastic creations, including The Owl and the Pussy-Cat, The Daddy Long-Legs and the Fly, The Jumblies, The Dong with the Luminous Nose and a collection of assorted limericks.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Jan16
Finnegans Wake (abridged) Finnegans Wake Modern Classics abridged Single NA596012 596012 9789626349601 9789629548513 James Joyce
Jim Norton
4 76 05:09:56 full text FIC004000 Deleted Available World excl. USA and Canada

Finnegans Wake, the greatest avant-garde novel of all time, was first published seventy years ago – and people are still trying to work out what it is about. There is Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker – aka HCE (Here Comes Everyone) – and Anna Livia Plurabelle, but also Finnegan the hod carrier (or was he a giant?), whose wake is the subject of the book. This masterly reading of the abridged version, with copious notes aiding comprehension, is republished with a new cover.

£16.99 $28.98 Band E £13.00 €14.50 $17.50 May09

Joyceans worldwide will celebrate Bloomsday on Tuesday with readings from Ulysses in honour of Leopold Bloom’s day-long odyssey through the streets of Dublin to the arms of his wife, Molly. This year, there will be a rival attraction: the launch of a Naxos recording of Finnegans Wake, the novel Joyce worked on for 17 years after Ulysses. It’s estimated that a complete recording of this eccentric masterpiece would run to about 20 CDs, but Naxos has made an attractive abridgement in four, recorded with wit and clarity by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan. I’ve never met anyone who has actually managed to read every page of this extraordinary book, from its famous opening: “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay …” and there can be little doubt that Joyce intended his work to be listened to as much as read. This brilliant recording is the perfect short cut for slackers, poseurs and insomniacs.

Robert McCrum, The Observer

Essays were the chatty columns of their times, personal, opinionated, intended to amuse as well as to instruct. Neville Jason’s selection of Favourite Essays: An Anthology is full of contrasts, with subjects as disparate as Thackeray on ogres, Hazlitt on the joys of tramping cross-country alone and Ruskin campaigning against a Lakeland railway. It begins with Michel de Montaigne (the inventor of the form) and Francis Bacon (for me the finest of all essayists), and ends with Charles Dickens on May Day and G.K. Chesterton on lying in bed. Some are well known – Swift’s satirical A Modest Proposal, Charles Lamb’s haunting Dream Children – others, such as Richard Steele’s jaunt through London in the early eighteenth century, wonderful discoveries.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Time magazine includes Finnegans Wake among its 100 Greatest Books of the 20th century. Stanislaus, Joyce’s brother, called it “the witless wandering of literature before its final extinction”, but that might just be sibling rivalry. Whatever your take (assuming, of course, that you’ve read it – most people haven’t) on the novel that took Joyce 17 years to write, some of it in Bognor, no one would deny that it is an incredibly difficult, if not totally impossible, book to read. Here’s a taste: “in their bed of trial, on the bolster of hardship, by the glimmer of memory, under coverlets of cowardice, Albatrus Nyanzer with Victa Nyanza, his mace of might mortified, her beautifell hung up on a nail, he, Mr of our fathers, she, our moddereen ru arue rue, they, ay, by the hodypoker and blazier, they are, as sure as dinny drops into the dyke . . . A cry off. Where are we at all? And whenabouts in the name of space? I don’t understand.”

And chances are you don’t either, but don’t fret. Just listen as you would to Rachmaninov or reggae or rap, whatever turns you on, for if ever a book cried out to be listened to, this is it and Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan have such wonderful voices. A while ago they did Joyce’s Ulysses unabridged, which is also considered hard-going, but is Polyanna compared to this. There’s not a lot of point in telling you what it’s all about even if I could. It hinges vaguely on the Earwicker family, Humphrey Chimpden, his wife Anna Livia Plurabelle and their three children Shem, Shaun and Isobel, but it’s also a history of Ireland, Irish mythology, Greek mythology, French folk tales, opera, philosophy – anything you like, it’s there. It’s exuberant, outrageous, funny, extraordinary, full of blarney and charm and heart-rending music – just like Ireland. I loved it.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Finnegans Wake (unabridged) Finnegans Wake Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0503 0503 9781781983669 James Joyce
Barry McGovern
29:18:16 FIC004000 FC World

‘Riverrun past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs…’ So starts Finnegans Wake, the greatest challenge in 20th-century literature. Who is Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker? And what did he get up to in Phoenix Park? And what did Anna Livia Plurabelle have to say about it? In the rich nighttime and the language of dreams, here are history, anecdote, myth, folk tale and, above all, a wondrous sense of humour, coloured by a clear sense of humanity. In this exceptional reading by the Irish actor Barry McGovern, with Marcella Riordan, the world of the Wake is more accessible than ever before.

N/A N/A Band X £49.00 €55.00 $67.00 Jun21 Roger Marsh Sarah Butcher

Audiobook of the Week

I loved James Joyce’s Ulysses for its lilting humour, its density of literary reference and glorious puns. But I was baffled by Finnegans Wake, especially on flicking to the end to find that its last words were the missing first half of the sentence that begins the book. It is a literary Everest that Joyce took 17 years to write, only for it to remain largely unvisited 82 years on.

It has taken digital audiobooks to make it not only conquerable but hugely enjoyable in its entirety. I recommend getting an ebook version (Kindle’s is only 49p), then watching the words as you listen for half an hour a day; the audio’s PDF and chapter heads sketch the plot. That way you can revel in the ocean of neologisms, portmanteau words, puns and double entendres that Joyce frolics among like a dolphin on speed. You can use an annotated text such as, but I found it too hiccuppy to be glancing down at the footnotes.

Just go with the flow, enjoying Barry McGovern’s boisterous but doomed hod-carrier Finnegan and his friends warbling Irish ballads and Marcella Riordan voicing Anna Livia Plurabelle as wonderfully as she did Molly Bloom on Naxos’s Ulysses. All praise to the producer Roger Marsh for bringing out the comedy and the literary depths of this legendary book.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

‘The Wake’ is one of the most incomprehensible of classic novels, so not even a bravura performance like this one can clarify the language and story. The very useful companion booklet by Naxos provides some orientation, but the listener really needs a working knowledge of French, Italian, German, Latin, various pidgins, Irish history, the geography of Dublin, and Roman Catholicism, for a start, to follow along easily. Having a copy of the book open while listening would help. But Barry McGovern, who narrates most of the audiobook, and Marcella Riordan deploy a marvellous repertoire of voices and accents, including some singing, so that the experience of listening does not require any (or very much) understanding. You can think of it as an opera in a language with which you are not familiar. Moments of clarity come and go, but, in general, you are merely submerged in a world of great accomplishment and beauty.

D.M.H., AudioFile

The first ever unabridged recording of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is a monumental achievement by Naxos AudioBooks. Before its publication in 1939, Joyce had spent 17 years on this notoriously impenetrable work. Since then it has sparked dedicated study – and derision. Many serious readers have abandoned attempts to understand it – referred to within the Wake itself as a worthless ‘pinch of scribble’. But here, Barry McGovern, an experienced performer of Joyce, and Marcella Riordan (Molly Bloom in the Naxos recording of Ulysses) are so spectacularly brilliant with the sounds and rhythms of the language that words seemingly incomprehensible on the page magically communicate enough for the listener to enter the whole work.

It was perhaps his decade-long problems with failing eyesight that lie behind the astonishing musicality of Joyce’s writing, which is brought out delightfully by the narrators with their Irish intonation, and is further enhanced by the direction of the composer Roger Marsh, who has chosen musical extracts as nuanced as the text, including one of his own composition.

So what are these 29 hours about? Mr and Mrs Porter live above a pub near Dublin (drinking is in the fabric of the Wake). They have twin boys (various twins will recur) and a daughter, Issy. Asleep in their dream world, the family morphs into various incarnations which spawn and spread: Issy into the Tristan and Isolde legend; Mr Porter into both the hod-carrier Finnegan, who fell to his death when the ‘difflun’s kiddy’ (devil’s child) removed a plank from the scaffolding, and also into Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker; and Mrs Porter into Anna Livia Plurabelle, who finally dissolves into the ‘rivering waters’ of the Liffey.

The digressive whole has a structure following the 18th-century philosophy of Giambattista Vico, who saw history as cyclical, with each cycle ending in a thunderclap before beginning anew. Thus the final unfinished sentence of the Wake: ‘A way a lone a last a loved a long the’ is the beginning of the first unbegun opening sentence: ‘riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay’. Joyce marks the cycles with 100-letter ‘thunderclap’ words such as Lukkedoerendunandurraskewdylooshoofermoyportertooryzooysphalnabortansporthaokansakroidverjkapakkapuk – which McGovern reads seamlessly.

What Joyce calls this ‘commodious vicus of recirculation’ ties in with other themes, including Fall and Resurrection in all its forms in myth and history. So, for example, Finnegan rises from his wake, crying: ‘Did ye drink me doornail?’ (‘did you think me dead as a doornail?’) while Earwicker’s fall from grace for the unresolved indiscretion he committed in Phoenix Park runs throughout, entwined with myriad puns on Humpty Dumpty, Lewis Carroll being Joyce’s soulmate.

Even if many of the themes are elusive on first listening, the language explodes. Joyce’s wry humour beams out from portmanteau words – what sexual shenanigans are in ‘grandgoosegreasing’? He revels in rhyming, chiming, alliterating, kenning and coining, as in his ‘gossipaceous’ washerwomen, or ‘reekierags or sundy-choses’ (everyday or Sunday clothes). Complex multi-layered puns proliferate throughout, as in ‘The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly’, which, remembering the French for earwig is perce-oreille, tells the tale of Earwicker. Words are freighted with a rich hinterland of associations, rhythm and internal rhymes: what sounds and imagery there are in the gulls ‘overhoved, shrillgleescreaming’, witnessing Tristan and Isolde at sea. ‘All the birds of the sea they trolled out rightbold when they smacked the big kuss of Tristan and Usolde’.

Anna Plurabelle’s epilogue could have been addressed to Joyce himself: ‘Every letter is hard but yours sure is the hardest crux ever.’ But this recording makes it worth the struggle.

Rachel Redford, The Spectator

Booklist Starred Review

Seventeen years in the writing, Joyce’s monumental 1939 work Finnegans Wake contains multitudes, including what could be taken as a tacit argument for the audiobook: ‘Let us leave theories there and return to here’s here. Now hear.’ In navigating Joyce’s enigmatic tongue-twisters and scant punctuation while breathing sense and sensuality into every word and coinage of his prismatic polyglot text, veteran actors (and native Dubliners) Barry McGovern and Marcella Riordan achieve the seemingly impossible. Whether listeners read along, riddling out the allusions and deciphering the underlying story of the Earwickers: Humphrey Chimpden, Anna Livia Plurabelle, Shem, Shaun and Isobel, or simply surrender themselves to the irresistible flow of Joyce’s language as it pulses, swirls and eddies its meandering course, this recording provides unprecedented access to an incomparable yet forbidding masterpiece. Both narrators’ rich voices, varied and specific characterisations, and innate lyricism pair well with Roger Marsh’s musical direction. The resulting production conveys the mystery, the awe, and above all the humour and sheer expressive joy that, simply put, make Finnegans Wake so much fun. Set your alarm to it in the morning, fall asleep to it at night, and just see what happens to your dreams.

David Wright, Booklist

First Men in the Moon, The (unabridged) The First Men in the Moon Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0565 0565 9781781984307 H.G. Wells
Jonathan Keeble
7:05:07 FIC004000 FC World

Published in 1901, The First Men in the Moon is one of the earliest science-fiction novels in the English language. An impecunious businessman, Bedford, retreats to the Kent coast where he meets the archetypal absent-minded scientist, Dr Cavor, who is on the point of producing a gravity-defying material. His experiments prove successful, making possible one of man’s oldest dreams: a journey to the moon. The two men embark on this fantastic voyage – Bedford motivated by the prospect of wealth, and Cavor by the thirst for knowledge. However, when they arrive, they find a world of freezing nights and sweltering days, and signs of a threatening alien presence, from which they may never escape.

The novel invites obvious comparisons with its predecessor, Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, though Wells’s approach markedly differs from that of his French counterpart, with Wells being more concerned by the adventure on the moon, even at the expense of scientific plausibility.

N/A N/A Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Jan23 Andrew Riches
Five Children and It (abridged) Five Children and It Junior Classics abridged Single NA230512 230512 9789626343050 9789629544171 Edith Nesbit
Anna Bentinck
2 38 02:34:21 JUV001000 Deleted Available World

Filled with wit and humour, Nesbit’s 1902 fantasy tells the adventure of five siblings sent to spend the summer with their uncle. One day, when the children wander from the strange house by the sea to play in old gravel pits, they uncover ‘It’ – a prehistoric Sand-fairy. Psammead (pronounced Sammyadd) was an odd-looking creature with eyes on long horns which, like those of a snail, moved in and out like telescopes; ears like that of a bat; its tubby body shaped like a spider’s, covered with thick soft fur; and at the base of its furry arms and legs were hands and feet resembling a monkey’s. The unusual Sand-fairy grants the children one wish a day, each lasting until sunset. Though wishes can come true, they are not always as pleasant as they might seem, which the children soon discover.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb04
Flanagan’s Run (abridged) Flanagan’s Run Contemporary Fiction abridged Single NA436712 436712 9781843793670 9781843793830 Tom McNab
Rupert Degas
4 69 04:42:51 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

During the Depression the ebullient American entrepreneur Charles Flanagan assembles 2,000 runners from all corners of the earth, to run from Los Angeles to New York for prize-money of $150,000. Flanagan’s Trans-America runners face 3,000 miles, across the Mojave desert and the frozen Rockies, running a daily average of 50 miles for three months. The American sports establishment, however, is desperate to crush what it sees as a professional challenge to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Every day is therefore a struggle for survival, for Flanagan himself as well as the runners. Flanagan’s Run is an epic tale, and a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Feb10

At the height of the Depression, in 1931, entrepreneur Charles Flanagan organises the Trans-America race, in which 2,000 runners from across the globe compete for a $150,000 top prize. But the sports establishment tries to scupper what they see as a threat to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. No less impressive than the fictional runners’ gruelling three-month journey (50 miles a day through desert and mountains) is the pathos of the individuals’ experiences which McNab creates – and Degas’s treasure trove of accents bring to life.

Rachel Redford, The Observer 

read by the versatile and compelling Rupert Degas “

Today’s audiobooks are ideal for Easter fun-runners and long-distance harriers alike. Tom McNab lived and breathed athletics as competitor, coach and sports writer for 40 years before writing his marathon of a novel, Flanagan’s Run, which was an instant bestseller on its publication in 1982. Set in 1931, in the depths of the Depression, it characterises the leading runners in a race from Los Angeles to New York. The prizes are vast but weather, Chicago chicanery and envious 1932 Olympics organisers seem set on destroying the adventure. Sprinters can opt for the abridged version, but I recommend the long-haul version. Both are read by the versatile and compelling Rupert Degas.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Flanagan’s Run (unabridged) Flanagan’s Run Contemporary Fiction unabridged Single NAX36412 36412 9781843793649 9781843793847 Tom McNab
Rupert Degas
13 235 16:13:37 FIC000000 Deleted Available World

During the Depression the ebullient American entrepreneur Charles Flanagan assembles 2,000 runners from all corners of the earth, to run from Los Angeles to New York for prize-money of $150,000. Flanagan’s Trans-America runners face 3,000 miles, across the Mojave desert and the frozen Rockies, running a daily average of 50 miles for three months. The American sports establishment, however, is desperate to crush what it sees as a professional challenge to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Every day is therefore a struggle for survival, for Flanagan himself as well as the runners. Flanagan’s Run is an epic tale, and a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.

£35.00 $62.98 Band M £29.00 €33.50 $39.00 Feb10

Today’s audiobooks are ideal for Easter fun-runners and long-distance harriers alike. Tom McNab lived and breathed athletics as competitor, coach and sports writer for 40 years before writing his marathon of a novel, Flanagan’s Run, which was an instant bestseller on its publication in 1982. Set in 1931, in the depths of the Depression, it characterises the leading runners in a race from Los Angeles to New York. The prizes are vast but weather, Chicago chicanery and envious 1932 Olympics organisers seem set on destroying the adventure. Sprinters can opt for the abridged version, but I recommend the long-haul version. Both are read by the versatile and compelling Rupert Degas.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

In March 1931 Charles Flanagan, a flamboyant American entrepreneur, staged the greatest long-distance race in history: 3,000 miles from LA to New York, with $150,000 for the winner. Two thousand competitors from 61 countries took part, including the Hitler Youth team, regularly monitored from Berlin by Dr Goebbels; Juan Martinez, a 19-year-old Mexican running to save his village from starvation; and Hugh McPhail, a Glaswegian miner. Of the 221 female entrants Kate Sheridan, a glamorous chorus girl from Chicago, proved to be the toughest. By the time the runners had crossed the Mojave Desert, battled through flash floods and struggled across the Rockies, half the competitors had dropped out. By the time they reached Chicago Flanagan’s financial backers were also pulling out. Enter the mob, the FBI and J Edgar Hoover.

No, of course it’s not true – it’s a novel, a wonderful novel based on fact. In 1929, at the height of the depression, CC Pyle (aka Cash and Carry Pyle) did indeed organise two transcontinental races, New York to LA and back. Along with professional athletes, the event attracted hundreds of the homeless, unemployed “buddy can you spare a dime?” brigade, less interested in winning than having the three meals a day and roof over their heads guaranteed to every competitor. When it was published in 1982, Flanagan’s Run topped the bestseller charts and was optioned by Hollywood. McNab wanted Jane Fonda to play Kate, probably because he’d just seen her in They Shoot Horses Don’t They?, another endurance marathon. McNab, sports writer, Olympic coach and consultant for Chariots of Fire, is still hopeful that, though Fonda is no longer in the running, the screen version might be. For once, audio isn’t an option, it’s the option. Flanagan’s Run inexplicably is no longer in print.

Sue Arnold, Guardian

In 1931, wheeler-dealer, gambler, and promoter Charles Flanagan offers an enormous jackpot to the winner of the first ever Trans-America race. Over 2,000 people sign on, including professional and amateur athletes; ordinary, out-of-shape folks hit hard by the Depression; a contingent of Hitler Youth; a burlesque dancer; and many others. Tom McNab’s 1982 novel chronicles far more than a cross-country footrace, and narrator Rupert Degas keeps the 3,000-mile journey exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting. Degas gives substance to McNab’s detailed character snapshots with impeccable accents and energetic personality shifts. His narration of the constantly changing American landscape – the Rockies, the Mojave, the Great Plains – provides a keen sense of place. Degas’s sensitive performance of this epic adventure makes the listener the clear winner. Liner notes that include bios and an essay by McNab accompany the CD edition.

S.J.H., AudioFile

The Times/Sunday Times Best Audiobooks of the Year

Sports fans will relish Flanagan’s Run (available abridged and unabridged). Set in 1931 in the depths of the Depression, it characterizes the leading runners in a foot race from Los Angeles to New York for which the glittering prizes are vast. But weather, Chicago chicanery and the perfidious 1932 Olympics organizers combine to imperil the great adventure. Sprinters can go for the abridged version, but I recommend the long haul for full development of characters and painful suspense. Both are read by the versatile and always compelling Rupert Degas.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

Flowers of Evil, The (unabridged) The Flowers of Evil Poetry unabridged Single NA0303 0303 9781781981207 9781781981214 Charles Baudelaire
Jonathan Keeble
4 97 04:14:59 POE017000 Available Available World

Sensual, macabre, joyous and liberating, The Flowers of Evil, or Les Fleurs du Mal, is a beautifully debauched reflection on dreams, sin, life and death. With subjects ranging from travel to drugs, sex to faith, sleep to contemplation, Baudelaire finds new beauty in the most sinister and corrupt of situations. His morbid and nightmarish Romanticism was completely unique: cynical and bleak, but also inspiring, lifted by magnificent imagery and melodious language. The book was highly controversial upon its release and Napoleon III’s government prosecuted Baudelaire for ‘an insult to public decency’; six of the poems were banned until as recently as 1949.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Apr18 James McGowan John Foley Thomas Goose

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Mid-nineteenth-century poet and translator Baudelaire is one of the great progenitors of modern poetry. Jonathan Keeble’s excellent narration reminds us just how radical this work was and why parts of it were banned in France as late as 1949. Keeble restrains some of the passionate excesses that are part of Baudelaire’s radicalism, preserving the contrasts that let the heights of passion stand out. Passion can be low-key as well, and Keeble shows he understands that in the way he delivers a body of work ranging in subject from Satan to cats.

D.M.H., AudioFile

A masterpiece of nineteenth-century French poetry, Baudelaire’s scandalous The Flowers of Evil marked a turning point between romanticism and a more discordant modernism that was to come. In Keeble’s vivid and resonant reading, the collection fully retains its capacity to shock, and to move. With keen specificity, Keeble nimbly realises sudden tonal shifts that startle the listener, as in ‘The Mask’, which veers from refined aesthetic reverie to outrage, pathos, wonder, and, at last, a bitter existential despair, all in a mere 36 lines. His delivery ravished and pining, caustic and confrontational, seething and sensual, Keeble fully invests Baudelaire’s conflicting passions without ever dropping the thread of sense. The effect is further heightened by the tension between the elegant phrasing of James McGowan’s rhymed translation and the poet’s sometimes raw imagery, in which blossoms and stars alternate with maggoty corpses and creeping ennui. An excellent and essential recording that delivers the full disconcerting impact of this decadent landmark.

David Wright, Booklist

Flying Dutchman, The (unabridged) Opera Explained – The Flying Dutchman Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558013 558013 9781843790761 9781843793106 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
1 32 01:07:13 MUS028000 Deleted Available World

The Flying Dutchman is the perfect opera with which to approach the operatic mountain that is Richard Wagner. It is short, has a great story (the legend of the Dutch captain doomed to sail forever unless redeemed through love), and the striking score has many pre-echoes of Wagner’s later great music dramas. It contains wonderful tunes in its arias, ensembles, and big choruses, and the orchestral writing – from the gale that blows out of the Overture to the final theme of ‘Redemption through Love’ – will… well… ‘blow you away’. These ‘wonderful tunes’ are enriched by a lively explanation of their context. From the opera’s dramatic opening, which reflects Wagner’s own nautical experiences as he fled from creditors and the law, we see how it contains many of the hall-marks, many of the foot-prints, of his later, greater works. And we find out why The Flying Dutchman was such a blazing triumph for this most controversial and Romantic of composers.

£5.99 $11.99 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Sep02
Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 1: The Forsyte Saga, The (unabridged) The Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 1: The Forsyte Saga The Forsyte Chronicles Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0482 0482 9781781983447 John Galsworthy
David Timson
38:07:32 FIC004000 FC World

John Galsworthy’s magnificent trilogy of power and passion chronicles the wealthy Forsyte family. As the disintegrating values of the Victorian era progress to World War I and the political uncertainty of the 1930s, the family’s material and emotional struggles are set within the dwindling status of the affluent middle-classes. Infused with warmth, compassion and engaging characters, the complete Chronicles are divided into three volumes, containing nine books and four interludes in total.

In Volume 1, The Forsyte Saga, Soames Forsyte – the ‘man of property’ – is desperate to uphold values and conventions that are becoming out of step with the time. His most prized possession is his strikingly beautiful wife Irene, but she is profoundly unhappy; the bitterness only builds, and the events that follow are set to ripple through the next generation of Forsytes.

The Forsyte Saga contains Book 1: The Man of Property, Interlude: Indian Summer of a Forsyte, Book 2: In Chancery, Interlude: Awakening and Book 3: To Let.

N/A N/A Band AE £59.00 €66.00 $80.00 Feb21 Timothy Brown

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 spritely paced interludes, The Forsyte Saga was written between 1906 and 1921. (Two sequels followed.) Listeners will meet three generations of Forsytes, including the addled Old Jolyon, the plotting Soames, and the star-crossed cousins, Jon and Fleur. A Nobel Prize winner in 1932, Galsworthy has since fallen out of literary favor. However, with Timson’s realistic, vibrant narration, it may be time to rediscover this entertaining masterwork.

B.P., AudioFile

Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 2: A Modern Comedy, The (unabridged) The Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 2: A Modern Comedy The Forsyte Chronicles Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0505 0505 9781781983683 John Galsworthy
David Timson
34:24:59 FIC004000 FC World

John Galsworthy’s magnificent trilogy of power and passion chronicles the wealthy Forsyte family. As the disintegrating values of the Victorian era progress to World War I and the political uncertainty of the 1930s, the family’s material and emotional struggles are set within the dwindling status of the affluent middle-classes. Infused with warmth, compassion and engaging characters, the complete Chronicles are divided into three volumes, containing nine books and four interludes in total.

Volume 2, A Modern Comedy, focuses on Soames’s vivacious daughter, Fleur. Soames tries constantly to protect her but is baffled by the carefree attitudes in post-war London. In their elegant, fashionable house, Fleur and her husband Michael Mont host society gatherings, but her previous affair with Jon Forsyte leaves embers of a passion that are ready to ignite – with dreadful consequences.

A Modern Comedy contains Book 1: The White Monkey, Interlude: A Silent Wooing, Book 2: The Silver Spoon, Interlude: Passers By and Book 3: Swan Song.

N/A N/A Band AB £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Apr21 Timothy Brown
Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 3: End of the Chapter, The (unabridged) The Forsyte Chronicles, Vol. 3: End of the Chapter The Forsyte Chronicles Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0506 0506 9781781983690 John Galsworthy
David Timson
30:55:21 FIC004000 FC World

John Galsworthy’s magnificent trilogy of power and passion chronicles the wealthy Forsyte family. As the disintegrating values of the Victorian era progress to World War I and the political uncertainty of the 1930s, the family’s material and emotional struggles are set within the dwindling status of the affluent middle-classes. Infused with warmth, compassion and engaging characters, the complete Chronicles are divided into three volumes, containing nine books and four interludes in total.

Volume 3 of this gripping family saga, End of the Chapter, shifts to the Cherrells – cousins of the Forsytes by marriage. Young Dinny Cherrell in particular cherishes their ancestral home, Condaford Grange, which represents stability in a rapidly changing world. Through his depiction of the lives and loves of this family, Galsworthy throws a brilliant spotlight on the social and political upheavals of the 1930s.

End of the Chapter contains Book 1: Maid in Waiting, Book 2: Flowering Wilderness and Book 3: Over the River.

N/A N/A Band Y £49.00 €55.00 $67.00 Jun21 Timothy Brown
Four Just Men, The (unabridged) The Four Just Men Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0029 0029 9781843794554 9781843794561 Edgar Wallace
Bill Homewood
4 66 04:31:56 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The mysterious Four Just Men are wealthy Europeans who move easily in high society but, capable of convincing disguise and brilliant acting, are as likely to be found on the street corners of London as at the dinner tables of Paris and Rome. They are the ultimate vigilantes. Their job is to exact justice where governments and police are hamstrung. They work outside the law – and set about their business with grim precision.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 May11

This fast-moving little story and its accomplished reader takes the theme of vigilante justice out of this current polished, slick, technology-dependent world and brings it back to a simpler, more black-and-white one.

Joanna Theiss,

SoundCommentary Starred Review

By now, it’s a familiar trope: the laws of mankind are not sufficient to right the biggest wrongs, or to prevent the gravest evils, and so a few righteous people are required to set the world right again, to get revenge for the helpless, and to do it all in style. We have seen this theme crop up in comic books (characters such as Batman go where the police cannot), in movies (the Irish brothers of The Boondock Saints kill the sinful with panache), and on television (the title character of the Showtime series Dexter, murders the guilty who managed to escape society’s punishments), but maybe because Edgar Wallace’s The Four Just Men was written more than a hundred years ago, it is so original – so elementary – that it feels new again.

Wallace’s vigilantes are four shadowy, vaguely criminal men who seek to correct the world’s ills, in this case by threatening to kill the British Foreign Secretary unless he blocks passage of an unjust law, one that would send foreign political criminals back to the corrupt lands from which they fled. The unfolding of the four’s scheme, the Minister of State’s reaction to their threats, and the work of the tireless police force to prevent the Minister’s death, all lead up to a suspenseful, almost comic-bookesque climax (and it will not come as a surprise that Wallace was a co-writer of the short story King Kong).

Given that Wallace wrote The Four Just Men in 1905, police procedure and investigation in this tale is far less advanced than the modern day – CSI, this isn’t – and the methods utilized by the vigilantes and the police in their respective quests may have seemed novel and inventive then, but are amusingly antiquated; for instance, this listener found herself mentally screaming, ’Dust for fingerprints!’ more than once. But this element just adds to the fun: rather than rely on decades of experience of police techniques, not to mention the discovery of DNA, Wallace’s police rely only on instinct.

Reader Bill Homewood seems to revel equally in reading in the Spanish accent of one of the nefarious vigilantes, the bumbling tones of one of the dastardly members of parliament, and the proud, proper voice of the beleaguered Foreign Secretary. Bill Homewood, a longtime television actor, seems to be having as much fun reading as we are listening. This fast-moving little story and its accomplished reader takes the theme of vigilante justice out of this current polished, slick, technology-dependent world and brings it back to a simpler, more black-and-white one.

Joanna Theiss, SoundCommentary

When it debuted as a newspaper serial in 1905, The Four Just Men was an immediate sensation in England due in large part to author Edgar Wallace’s clever promotion campaign. Unfortunately, he created an ill-considered concept as Wallace offered prize money to readers able to guess the solution to the mystery – but he didn’t limit the number of winners. So many figured out the answer that Wallace went into debt and left his publisher holding the bag. Still, the novel launched his career, led to a series of sequels, and ultimately the book was updated into a film in 1939 and a lavish TV series remake in 1959.

Now 106 years old, The Four Just Men still commands critical respect, admittedly  more for witty style and plot innovation than literary substance. It’s the story of three vigilantes with one reluctant collaborator publicly threatening to kill a British Minister if he doesn’t remove his support for an immigration bill they oppose. Scotland Yard is justly worried – the ’Four Just Men’ are suspected of 16 previous successful assassinations around the globe. While the characters and motives are thinly sketched, the suspense is what the story is all about – how can these men be caught if no clues exist and how can they carry out the most publicized murder of the century with Downing Street wall-to-wall with protective police protection?

 Another mystery for modern readers might be – why purchase an audiobook adaptation of this thriller when free electronic versions of The Four Just Men and its sequels are readily available on the net? The answer is reader Bill Homewood. An actor with considerable stage, screen, and voice-over experience, Homewood uses a number of dialects and accents for the wide cast of characters with both British and European flavor. The different personalities of the ’Four Just Men’ are perhaps more distinctive in this audio version than on the printed page as Wallace provided little in the way of character description or back-story. Homewood not only gives the main protagonists individual presences, but the detectives, government officials, and other supporting characters come alive with dimensions more fleshed out than in the original dialogue.

  At four hours and 31 minutes, the unabridged The Four Just Men is a quick read that should intrigue modern readers partly because of its resonance with current issues – the justifications of the vigilantes seem quite close to the claims of modern terrorists, blackmailing the British government if their aims are not met. Still, they are drawn as heroic figures able to outfox the best efforts of British law enforcement. The book is clever, intended as light-reading but with new overtones and contexts never intended in the first years of the twentieth century. This audiobook is likely to gain both Edgar Wallace and Bill Homewood new fans, with hopefully more to come from the latter. Now, that would be just…

Dr Wesley Britton, BookPleasures

Four men sit around a café table in Cadiz discussing business – the business of murder. Thus begins Wallace’s classic 1905 thriller about a quartet of ruthless, glamorous, rich international vigilantes who call themselves the Four Just Men. How it came to be published is as exciting as the plot, but let’s start with the story. Sir Philip Ramon, the British foreign secretary, ’a firm, square-jawed, big-mouthed man with that shade of blue in his eyes that one looks for in peculiarly heartless criminals and particularly famous generals’ (you can tell right away that Wallace cut his literary teeth in Fleet Street), receives a death threat. The letter politely explains that, unless he persuades the government to prevent the proposed Aliens Extradition Political Offences Bill from becoming law, he will be assassinated. It is signed simply ’Four Just Men’. Why Manfred, Gonsalez, Poiccart and Thery want the bill quashed isn’t that important – something to do with the Spanish succession. What keeps you listening to Homewood’s impressive range of European accents is the dazzling resourcefulness and audacity of the plotters. They leave bombs in the members’ bar of the Commons. Freshly licked envelopes arrive on editors’ desks with instructions to…  but enough; chill your own spines.

It was first serialised in the Daily Mail with the promise of a cash prize to whoever came up with the correct solution to the mystery. Wallace agreed to underwrite the prize money himself. He was a hugely popular writer; in 1920 it was reckoned that a quarter of the books read in Britain were his, but alas, that didn’t make him a businessman. He omitted to notice that the small print of the competition rules did not limit the number of winners. The book was a bestseller, but he died penniless while working on the script for his best known film, King Kong. I’d call that rough justice.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Edgar Wallace was one of the early thriller writers, known to us more from the movies than his books. In his Four Just Men series, the villains are four men who practise vigilante law. While their actions are outside the law, which one cannot approve of, there is a certain sympathy for their actions. Read with perfection by Bill Homewood, the first in the unabridged Naxos AudioBooks Classic Crime series of that title takes us to the London of 1905, where the police hunt four men determined to right wrong with violence.

Alide Kohlhaas, Seniors Review

Starred Review

Fans of classic mysteries and thrillers will rejoice in Homewood’s superb reading of Wallace’s brief but dramatic tale (published in 1905), which pits the eponymous men against those invoking political injustice. The four wealthy Europeans warn Britain’s foreign secretary that unless he removes support for an extradition bill (jeopardizing the safety of a Spanish activist who sought political asylum in England), he is their next target. The men have successfully assassinated important world figures before, so this is not an empty threat. All of England waits for the outcome as the police seek these vigilantes, who dare to take justice into their own hands. In contrast to many characters in contemporary mysteries, these men are enigmas, leaving Homewood to perform a clever locked-room mystery (with the ingenious murder of a man thought to be protected by the police) that relies more heavily on atmosphere than the characters’ backgrounds. Homewood assigns the men distinctive accents (English; Spanish, including a Castilian lisp; French) and cadences that reflect their civilized, cosmopolitan personalities. He also voices a cacophony of regional accents that represent Parliament members, police officers, and numerous Londoners involved in discussions as the clock ticks down to the deadline imposed by the men. Homewood darkens his deep voice to create a moody, menacing atmosphere that dominates this compelling story, and he modulates pace and intensity to dramatize ruthless justice. Those who enjoy smart, civilized mysteries will be pleased.

Joyce Saricks, Booklist

Four Short Stories (unabridged) Four Short Stories The Horror of the Heights | The Terror of Blue John Gap | Lot No. 249 | The Sealed Room Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA205012 205012 9789626340509 9789629549527 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Carl Rigg
2 38 02:34:29 FIC029000 Deleted Available World

In these stories, Conan Doyle draws the listener in to experience drama, suspense and, ultimately, the shock of surprise. Here is a unique combination of a famous analytical intellect telling spine-tingling tales against a background of turn-of-the-century England. Nothing is quite as it seems. What is the secret of Lot No. 249? What lies in wait for an aviator in the stratosphere? And what lies inside The Sealed Room? The master story teller builds up layers of tension…

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr00
  • The Horror of the Heights
  • The Terror of Blue John Gap
  • Lot No. 249
  • The Sealed Room
Framley Parsonage (unabridged) Framley Parsonage Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0178 0178 9781843798491 9781843798507 Anthony Trollope
David Shaw-Parker
17 243 21:04:10 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

In Framley Parsonage, the fourth novel of Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire, the author leaves the confines of Barchester and looks to the countryside, where he relates the moral difficulties of Mark Robarts, the young clergyman who has recently been appointed Vicar of Framley Parsonage. Desperate to keep up with the local aristocracy, the country parson is persuaded to underwrite the debts of Sowerby, a well-respected peer. However, when the debts are called in, Robarts finds himself in a serious predicament. Written with acute insight, together with a great deal of warmth and humour towards his characters’ attendant charms and foibles, Framley Parsonage is sure to delight.

£55.00 $98.98 Band Q £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Jan15
Francesco Petrarch (selections) The Great Poets – Francesco Petrarch The Great Poets – Poetry selections Single NA135812 135812 9781843793588 9789629549657 Francesco Petrarch
Anton Lesser
1 15 01:01:54 POE019000 Deleted Available World

This 14th-century Italian poet was a model for many who followed him. His passionate sonnets to Laura became the epitome for love poetry. Over some 40 years he wrote 366 sonnets to Laura, whom he probably never even spoke to, and they remain immediate and affecting even now. Called Rime Sparse (Scattered Rhymes), they influenced Chaucer and many others. This is an unusual addition to ‘The Great Poets’, but part of the intention of the series is to cover the major stepping stones of world poetry.

£8.99 $14.98 Band A £6.00 €6.50 $8.00 Jun10
  • The Dawn of Love
  • If this should not be love
  • The pangs of love
  • If Laura were to die
  • Alone, thought-sick, I pace
  • Blest be the day
  • Golden upon the wind
  • The poet turns from other works to write again of love
  • Tears turn to joy
  • He tries to escape, but passion pursues
  • He is like a moth entering a flame
  • Alas ! the seventeenth summer
  • The madness of desire
  • Laura confesses her sadness at their parting
  • I find no peace
  • In what bright realm
  • Love and I
  • It is the vigil
  • Through forests harsh
  • Trapped in the net of love
  • My vessel, cargoed with oblivion
  • The vision of the fawn – symbol of love liberated
  • Here stand we, Love
  • The soft wind (which is Laura’s name)
  • The quiet wind recalls love’s wound
  • From what source could Love
  • Memories of the birth of love
  • When in the sea sinks the sun’s golden light
  • No savage beast
  • Her brilliant eyes
  • If it be destined
  • Breeze that with laughter moving
  • The day I left her
  • Foreboding in the night
  • Hearing of Laura’s death
  • Remembering his last sight of Laura
  • Now that all hope is dead
  • Death pursues life
  • The soft winds of Vaucluse recall Laura
  • The last of my bright days
  • The apparition of Laura
  • Love guides him, but to no avail
  • Love calls, but you are gone
  • The impact of Laura’s death
  • Valley, familiar with my desperate song
  • The apotheosis of Laura
  • He anticipates reunion with Laura
  • She speaks to him from heaven
  • A vision of Laura in heaven
  • The spring returns
  • That nightingale who weeps so sweetly
  • O swifter than the fawn
  • The ardour and the odour and dark wonder
  • Not skies serene
  • Go, grief-bewildered rhymes
  • For our own sake I seemed so cruel
  • Death has put out the burning of the sun
  • Love kept me one and twenty years a slave
  • Sweet wandering bird
Joseph Auslander

Starred Review

Italian poet Petrarch’s 14th-century Laura sonnets dramatize the many faces of love and yearning in a way that is as relevant today as it was centuries ago. Selections compiled by Peter Whitfield (The History of English Poetry) and drawing from a 1931 English-language translation by American poet Joseph Auslande are here read by classical actor Anton Lesser, who conveys just the right tone of unrequited love and longing relieved by wit. An excellent addition to Naxos’s ‘Great Poets’ series, which to date collects the works of 18 classical poets, including Milton, Dickinson, and Keats; recommended for listeners interested in Renaissance poetry and timeless love sonnets.

Nancy R. Ives, Library Journal

Frankenstein (abridged) Young Adult Classics – Frankenstein Young Adult Classics – Young Adult Classics abridged Single NA296512 296512 9789626349656 9789629548551 Mary Shelley
Daniel Philpott
Jonathan Oliver
Chris Larkin
2 38 02:37:48 CD-ROM YAF009000 Deleted Available World

One of the greatest classic horror stories, Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel sees Dr Frankenstein manufacture life – The Monster – only to see it go beyond his control. The original novel is more sympathetic to the monster’s plight than is generally presented on film, making it an important book to be read. This abridged version with music is an ideal introduction to teenagers and forms part of the ‘Young Adult Classics’ series launched by Naxos AudioBooks in 2009: each title contains a CD-ROM with extensive ‘teacher notes’ and the full text of the audiobook.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Apr09

Mary Shelley’s original tale is not the horror story it has become. Both the inquisitive scientist, Frankenstein, and his terrifying creation are treated with great compassion. A gripping and chillingly gothic three-voice narration. Comes with CD-ROM study guide.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

Frankenstein (abridged) Frankenstein Classic Fiction abridged Single NA200312 200312 9789626340035 9789629545611 Mary Shelley
Daniel Philpott
Jonathan Oliver
Chris Larkin
2 38 02:37:48 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The gothic tale of Frankenstein and his construction of a human being who runs amok has, with the help of numerous films, become one of the most vivid of horror stories. But Mary Shelley’s original novel, written in 1816, dealt more sympathetically with ‘the daemon’, showing how an initially beneficent creature is hammered into a daemon by the way he is treated. Her ideas, and her dramatic but poignant story, is brought to life in this sound dramatisation.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Jul00

Friends on holiday abroad, holed up by bad weather, pass the time by telling spooky stories by the fireside. It’s a common scenario, but when three of them are Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, Shelley’s dauntingly clever fiancée, daughter of a famous feminist writer and an equally famous philosophical anarchist, they’ll probably come up with something a bit classier than the “dark and stormy night” variety. Byron’s started the vampire genre. Mary’s, published in 1818, became the world’s first sci-fi thriller. Remind your teenage children of this significant fact, or the often OTT language used in this gothic horror story of a murderous man-made monster running amok in the Arctic and sundry picturesque Swiss villages might make them lose heart.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Frankenstein (unabridged) Frankenstein Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0026 0026 9781843794493 9781843794509 Mary Shelley
Daniel Philpott
Roger May
Jonathan Oliver
7 133 09:08:00 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Mary Shelley’s poignant exploration of the true depths of human ambition has had a profound effect on readers since its conception in 1816. When scientist Victor Frankenstein forms a creature from the body parts of corpses, thus shattering the perceived limits of scientific understanding, the consequences are devastating. As Frankenstein becomes disgusted with his experiment, he thwarts the creature’s desire for a companion, and what ensues is singularly chilling.

£27.99 $47.98 Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Oct11

This audio version of Shelley’s classic hits all the book’s emotional highpoints thanks to a terrific tag team of readers – a choice that is amply justified by the book’s structure: explorer Robert Walton’s correspondence with his sister; Victor Frankenstein’s narration of his life and misguided efforts to play God; and the infamous monster’s first-person account of how he made his way in the world. All three narrators are adept at modulating their tone to suit a scene’s mood – Roger May reads Walton’s sections, Daniel Philpott narrates Frankenstein’s, and Jonathan Oliver handles the monster’s sections – but the heavy lifting falls to Philpott, who conveys his character’s passion, ambition, and ultimate horror at what his creation has done, which includes an accidental killing that strikes the scientist very close to home. For any listener familiar only with filmed treatments of this seminal tale of terror, this is a good way to experience the original.

Publishers Weekly

This classic tale of horror and obsession features an appropriately overwrought reading by three talented British actors. Dr Victor Frankenstein becomes enslaved to the idea of reanimating the dead, spending years in a manic frenzy of scientific study and creation. But once his monster lives, Frankenstein is so horrified by the ugliness of ‘the demoniacal corpse’ that he abandons it, never imagining that they will meet again in murderous circumstances. Daniel Philpott does most of the narration, employing a Germanic accent when he voices the good doctor’s dialog. Roger May does a superb job as Capt. Robert Walton. The best performance, though, is by Jonathan Oliver as the Daemon. He makes listeners feel pity and compassion for this creature who longs only for love and intellectual stimulation; instead, he cannot help but be the personification of evil in his own mania for vengeance.

VERDICT: The reading is well paced, and the narrators are not afraid to sound overwrought when appropriate.

Michael Rogers, Library Journal

French Revolution – In a Nutshell, The (unabridged) The French Revolution – In a Nutshell History unabridged Single NA198612 198612 9789626349861 9789629548841 Neil Wenborn
Roy McMillan
1 19 01:19:24 HIS013000 Deleted Available World

The fifth in the new Naxos AudioBooks series ‘In a Nutshell’, The French Revolution is a short and accessible introduction to one of the most important periods in European history. It brings vividly to life the implacable Robespierre, the frightened Marie Antoinette and the iconic image of the guillotine. But it also demonstrates the key role the Revolution played in the development of European politics.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Nov09

The bound captives drowned in holed boats in the Seine were just some of the thousands massacred during the years of the French Revolution. This detailed exposition shows how its ideals formed the basis of today’s liberal democracies and how its excesses were a forerunner of 20th-century repressions.

Rachel Redford, The Observer

I approached The French Revolution – In a Nutshell unwillingly: it was the last of a pile of promising but soon disappointing titles that I had put in my car for sampling; it smacked of the schoolroom. How wrong I was. At the off Roy McMillan accurately

predicted that all I knew about the French Revolution was derived from Baroness Orczy, A Tale of Two Cities and such famous images as Marat stabbed in his bath. His reading of Neil Wenborn’s canter through the financial and social causes, its violent progress and its significance for democracy is enthralling.

Christina Hardyment, The Times

A gripping narrative of quite another kind is to be found in Neil Wenborn’s The French Revolution – In a Nutshell. These cataclysmic events, beginning with the

revelations of France’s lavish national extravagance and iniquitous taxation system, the collapse of the monarchy and continuing through the eruption of political turmoil

into riots, tribunals, terror, military dictatorship and war, are really the foundation of modern Europe. (What price UKIP?) The questions raised seem blindingly

contemporary to us in the modern world – the relationship between citizen and state, liberty and law, idealism and the realms of the possible, political ends and means. Not

very festive, you may think, but this would be a present to treasure whose value will not decline even after years of use.

Robert Giddings, Tribune Magazine

Between 1789 and 1799, 10 years of violent turmoil in France grew out of Europe’s Enlightenment. After the pillars of power – the Catholic Church, the aristocracy, and the monarchy – fell, continued intramural conflicts stained the decade. In 1799, Napoleon assumed power in a coup and declared the revolution to be over. The author condenses this complex, controversial, and critical period into ‘a nutshell,’ or 75 minutes of audio. British narrator Roy McMillan aptly fits the performance bill with his impeccable French. He chooses a pace that is appropriate to delivering great quantities of abbreviated information while still allowing listeners time to absorb it. His performance succeeds in its succinct reporting of a consequential historical period, and one hopes it will whet the curiosity of those less familiar with these events, inspiring them to further exploration of these murderous times.

J.A.H., AudioFile

The former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, the story goes, was once asked to comment on the significance of the French revolution. ‘It is too early to say,’ he replied. Happily for us Neil Wenborn is prepared not just to produce a vivid potted history of the political and social events that led to the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the purges that followed in Robespierre’s murderous reign of terror but also, unlike Zhou, to assess its longterm influences worldwide. Succinct, entertaining, thought-provoking – everything the perfect history lesson should be.

Sue Arnold, The Guardian

Freud (abridged) Very Short Introductions – Freud Very Short Introductions – Non-fiction abridged Single NA329712 329712 9789626342978 9789629547097 Anthony Storr
Neville Jason
3 57 03:55:47 BIO021000 Deleted Available World

Sigmund Freud revolutionised the way in which we think about ourselves. From its beginnings as a theory of neurosis, Freud developed psychoanalysis into a general psychology which became widely accepted as the predominant mode of discussing personality and interpersonal relationships, Anthony Storr goes one step further and investigates the status of Freud’s legacy today and the disputes that surround it. The first of several releases from Oxford University Press’s highly successful Very Short Introduction series. A popular and direct introduction.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct03
From Shakespeare – with love (selections) From Shakespeare – with love Shakespeare selections Single NA195612 195612 9789626349564 9789629548476 William Shakespeare
David Tennant
Juliet Stevenson
Anton Lesser
Stella Gonet
Bertie Carvel
Gunnar Cauthery
Alex Jennings
Jonathan Keeble
Roy McMillan
Tom Mison
Maxine Peake
Anne-Marie Piazza
Hugh Ross
Benjamin Soames
David Timson
Trevor White
1 18 01:15:28 DRA010000 Deleted Available World

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, one of the most remarkable collections of poetry, was first published in 1609, 400 years ago, by Mr Thomas Thorpe. Naxos AudioBooks marks the occasion with a selection of 80 of the finest, read by leading actors. The selection includes famous ones such as ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day’ as well as lesser well-known sonnets though of equally fine stature.

£8.99 $14.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Apr09

David Tennant reads sonnets 2, 7, 9, 11, 14, 17, 18, 154
Juliet Stevenson reads sonnets 71, 104, 116
Maxine Peake reads sonnets 90, 97, 99, 106, 140, 147, 148
Stella Gonet reads sonnets 30, 31, 40, 53, 61
Anton Lesser reads sonnets 63, 65, 73, 80, 83, 86
Tom Mison reads sonnets 133, 134, 136, 137, 141, 144, 149
David Timson reads sonnets 25, 29, 32, 49, 87, 89
Alex Jennings reads sonnets 41, 42
Hugh Ross reads sonnets 20, 21, 22, 37, 38
Trevor White reads sonnets 109, 120, 121, 138
Jonathan Keeble reads sonnets 127, 129
Bertie Carvel reads sonnets 6, 8, 10, 12
Anne-Marie Piazza reads sonnets 19, 23, 26, 27
Gunnar Cauthery reads sonnets 33, 35, 128, 130
Roy McMillan reads sonnets 91, 92, 93, 94
Benjamin Soames reads sonnets 50, 55, 57, 69

David Timson Malcolm Blackmoor

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

Naxos AudioBooks and David Timson offer a collection of the best of Shakespeare’s love sonnets in celebration of the 400th anniversary of their first appearance in print. They’re perfect for audio. Director Timson lets the poems speak for themselves through the voices and interpretations of a group of diverse and talented actors. Listeners are treated to some of the Bard’s lesser-known sonnets as well as some of his most famous, including David Tenant’s reading of Sonnet 18: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’; Juliet Stevenson’s version of Sonnet 116: ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds…’ and David Timson’s rendering of Sonnet 29: ‘When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes…’ Each gem illustrates Shakespeare’s take on the multifaceted nature of love, from obsession and possession to longing and delight. A must for any collection.

S.J.H., AudioFile

From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon (unabridged) From the Earth to the Moon and Around the Moon Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0366 0366 9781781982518 Jules Verne
Bill Homewood
325 14:13:44 FIC004000 FC Deleted Deleted World

Bored with inactivity following the end of the Civil War, the fanatical members of the American Gun Club in Baltimore look for a project to fulfil their passion for firearms. Their distinguished President, Impey Barbicane, proposes an exciting new endeavour – one that will cement their names in history: they will build the largest projectile ever known to man and shoot it at the moon! The bullet will be hollowed to accommodate Barbicane and two bold companions, along with their dog, and they will claim the moon as America’s 37th state. From the Earth to the Moon describes the sometimes hilarious and always surprising events leading up to the launch of the projectile, while Around the Moon follows the three intrepid astronauts on their dangerous journey into outer space.

N/A N/A Band L £27.00 €31.00 $37.00 Jul19 T.H. Linklater Andrew Riches
Fugitive, The (abridged) The Fugitive Modern Classics abridged Single NA321112 321112 9789626342114 9789629546113 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
3 58 03:58:09 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Albertine has finally made her escape from Marcel’s Paris apartment, where his obsessive jealousy had turned her into a virtual prisoner. Not only is Marcel quite unprepared for the effect on him of her flight, but soon he is devastated by news of an even more irreversible loss. The penultimate volume of Remembrance of Things Past.

£13.99 $22.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Nov00

Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award

This is the 11th volume in Neville Jason’s reading of the massive Remembrance of Things Past. Jason does a superb job with extremely difficult material. Not only does the author present us with nearly five hundred characters and countless resonances, but he does so in a convoluted prose style. Adroitly unraveling these locutions, Jason’s characterisations and rendering of subtext are right on target. He delivers much of the original’s subtle flavor, erring only in being perhaps a bit too aristocratic. Though British and reciting in a British idiom, he manages to convey a suitably Gallic feel. He also reveals a sense of Swann’s elusive gestalt and its development. Moreover, he makes the whole thing interesting. In this volume at least, he knows who Swann is, how to play him, and how to involve us in Swann’s quest.

Y.R., AudioFile

Fugitive, The (unabridged) The Fugitive Modern Classics unabridged Single NA0100 0100 9781843796145 9781843796152 Marcel Proust
Neville Jason
11 390 13:22:07 FIC004000 Available Available World

Remembrance of Things Past is one of the monuments of 20th-century literature. Neville Jason’s unabridged recording of the work runs to 150 hours. The Fugitive is the sixth of seven volumes. The Narrator’s obsessive feelings of possession for Albertine have forced her to flee. It comes as a terrible shock and is followed by further destabilising news about other friends. Based on the translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff.

£38.50 $67.98 Band K £25.00 €28.50 $34.00 Oct12 C. K. Scott Moncrieff
Full Tilt (unabridged) Full Tilt Ireland to India with a Bicycle Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0370 0370 9781781982594 Dervla Murphy
Emma Lowe
218 09:32:22 TRV015000 WTLC Deleted Deleted World

Full Tilt is the inspiring true story of Dervla Murphy’s 1963 journey from Ireland to India on an Armstrong Cadet bicycle, and the trials, landscapes and cultures she encountered along the way. The route takes her through the valleys and snowy mountain passes of Europe and India to the scorching deserts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the metal of her bicycle, Rozinante (named after Don Quixote’s steed), becomes too hot to touch. She travels alone, without luxuries, sleeping on the floors of teahouses or on blankets outdoors, vulnerable to wild animals, insects and thieves. However, she is often met with generosity and kindness, and shares many meaningful encounters with the locals. Her portrayal here gives a fascinating insight into the unique communities of the Middle East in the early 1960s.

N/A N/A Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Sep19 Neil Rosser Sarah Butcher

In a comfortable Irish lilt, Dublin-born narrator Emma Lowe captures the author’s adventurous spirit, courage, and gritty determination to ride a bicycle more than 5,000 miles from London through the Italian Alps, across Eastern Europe and Turkey, through northern Iran and Afghanistan, over the Hindu Kush mountains to Pakistan, and on to New Delhi. There’s an amazing calmness to Lowe’s voice as she recounts taking on wolves, gun-toting bandits, and extreme temperatures, all while pedalling away. The year 1963 was an interesting year to be traveling through some of the most isolated edges of the Middle East, and Lowe presents the author’s tone of deep appreciation and admiration for the easy hospitality shown to her by diverse people who had gone untouched by outside influences for centuries.

B.P., AudioFile

In Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, Dervla Murphy describes the journey that brought her 3,000 miles from Dublin through France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally to India six months later. Setting off in January 1963, she traveled on her bicycle with some relief from other conveyances – even if one resulted in three broken ribs. Her few belongings included a .25 automatic pistol, useful in an encounter with Serbian wolves, an attempted rapist and bicycle thieves. Despite those and a few other unpleasant events, Murphy was met with hospitality and kindness. She writes of the landscape, the people and her experiences in lovely, direct prose spiced with gentle humour – though her fond descriptions of Afghanistan as it was before the Soviet Union, the Taliban and the United States performed their dirty work makes for melancholy listening. Emma Lowe, an Irish woman herself, narrates this enchanting travelogue in a calm, lissome voice, completely in tune with the author’s generous, unflappable disposition.

Katherine A. Powers, The Washington Post

Further Adventures of Zorro, The (unabridged) The Further Adventures of Zorro Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0253 0253 9781781980170 9781781980187 Johnston McCulley
Bill Homewood
5 101 06:30:17 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

The swashbuckling sequel to The Mark of Zorro (The Curse of Capistrano), The Further Adventures of Zorro sees the daring hero out for revenge once more. After Captain Ramon kidnaps the beautiful Lolita Pulido, Zorro takes to the seas and battles pirates in a bid to win her back. Swordfights, death traps and disastrously tight corners await him. But it is never much more than a challenge as the gallant caballero laughs in the face of danger – nothing can faze him. Villainous villains, heroic heroes and damsels in distress are all brought to life in full sonic splendour.

£19.99 $34.98 Band F £16.00 €18.50 $21.50 Sep16 Anthony Anderson Sarah Butcher

Don Diego Vega is expecting to settle down to the ‘peace and quiet’ of married life. On the eve of his wedding, though, the pirate Barbados and his crew raid Los Angeles – and kidnap Don Diego’s bride-to-be. Narrator Bill Homewood milks the melodrama as Zorro puts on the mask one more time to face the self-described pirate and the corrupt authority of Captain Ramon. Homewood’s fast pace keeps Zorro cheating death, and keeps the listener’s pulse racing. It’s no surprise that the dialogue, at times, is clichéd, with Barbados taunting Zorro and his caballero companions. Ramon gets an especially slimy voice as he covets Don Diego’s bride. Listeners will have heard it all before, but it’s read with zest.

J.A.S., AudioFile

Gallic War, The (unabridged) The Gallic War Non-Fiction unabridged Single NA0571 0571 9781781984369 Julius Caesar
David Timson
9:07:28 HIS002020 BIO008000 HBLA BGHA World

Julius Caesar is one of the most famous figures of the ancient Roman world. A skilful general and leading politician of the late Roman Republic, he secured a 10-year proconsular command in the province of Gaul, during which he accumulated both wealth and power. A core text in the teaching of Latin in schools, The Gallic War gives a unique insight into this remarkable man, as well as military strategy and practice of the day.

Seven of the work’s eight books were written by Caesar himself. They paint an unsurprisingly flattering self-portrait as he campaigns against both the Germans and the Gauls. This recording features Carolyn Hammond’s well-paced recent translation, published by Oxford University Press.

N/A N/A Band H £19.50 €22.00 $27.00 Aug23 Carolyn Hammond Andrew Riches
Gargantua and Pantagruel (unabridged) Gargantua and Pantagruel Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0256 0256 9781781980231 9781781980248 François Rabelais
Bill Homewood
31 532 34:50:00 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

‘Most noble and illustrious drinkers…’ Thus begins Gargantua and Pantagruel, a grotesque and carnivalesque collection of exuberant, fantastical stories that takes us from the ancient world through to the European Renaissance. At the heart of these tall tales are the giant Gargantua and his equally seismic son Pantagruel. Magical adventures, maniacal punning, slapstick humour, erudite allusions and just about any bodily function one can think of, here is quite possibly the zaniest, most risqué book ever written.

£90.00 $162.98 Band AB £55.00 €63.00 $75.00 Oct16 Thomas Urquhart and Peter Anthony Motteux Andrew Riches
General Prologue & The Physician’s Tale, The (unabridged) The General Prologue & The Physician’s Tale in Middle English and modern verse translations Poetry unabridged Single NA240012 240012 9789626344002 9789629546496 Geoffrey Chaucer
Richard Bebb
Philip Madoc
Stephen Tompkinson
2 34 02:18:29 POE022000 Deleted Available World

The Canterbury Tales are widely read and studied. The Middle English in which they were first written differs sufficiently from modern English, in vocabulary and usage, that most of us require a contemporary translation. On this recording the ‘General Prologue’ and ‘The Physician’s Tale’ are read in Middle English by Richard Bebb, under the direction of a leading Chaucerian scholar, Professor Derek Brewer. It is an authoritative performance that brilliantly evokes the fourteenth-century world, both for the general reader and the student alike. This is followed by a witty modern verse translation, and provides a fascinating contrast with the original.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Dec05 Frank Ernest Hill
Germinal (unabridged) Germinal Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0207 0207 9781843799078 9781843799085 Émile Zola
Leighton Pugh
16 308 19:56:51 FIC004000 Deleted Available World

Germinal is one of the most striking novels in the French tradition. Widely regarded as Zola’s masterpiece, the novel describes the working conditions of French coalminers in the 1860s in harsh and realistic terms – it is visceral, graphic and unrelenting. Its strong socialist principles and vivid accounts of the miners’ strikes meant that the novel became a key symbol in the workers’ fight against oppression, with chants of ‘Germinal! Germinal!’ resonating high above the author’s funeral.

£55.00 $98.98 Band P £36.00 €40.50 $49.00 Jul15 Havelock Ellis (updated by Leighton Pugh) John Foley Sarah Butcher

The ‘shuddering volcano’ are the coal mines of Northern France in 1860s, but the phrase applies to the whole of this blistering novel which was Zola’s masterpiece published in 1885. The coal mines digest the human poor – men, women, girls and boys – slaving deep in the bowels of the earth for a wage frequently docked unjustly and barely able to support life. Desperately poor, these people strive to support their families which are constantly expanding not only by unwanted babies, but also by sick, old or crippled family members, spat out by the pits and unable to work. Meanwhile the pit-owners hold lavish dinner parties, plan their daughters’ weddings and refuse to give to the destitute who beg at their doors.

When Étienne arrives in Montsou seeking work and lodges with the Maheu family, he shares the children’s bed along with Catherine, a 15 year-old pit-tram pusher, and their bond becomes the emotional focus of the story. The whole 19 hours’ listening is a savage cry against the oppression and misery of the poor with Étienne as Zola’s mouthpiece. It is his ferocity which drives the workers’ strike which has such devastating results. There are episodes once listened to here which can never be forgotten: Étienne and Catherine trapped in the swirling water of the collapsed mine; the wild, incensed mob brutally attacking the baker who had previously charged sexual favours from the daughters of desperate families in exchange for bread.

There is however hope. Germinal is the seventh month covering parts of March and April in the Revolutionary Calendar. It is the traditional time not just for social uprisings, but for the burgeoning of new shoots and germinating seeds which will bear fruit. These conditions will change, the volcano will erupt, new birth can follow.

Naxos is a guarantee of the very best unabridged recordings of classic literature, partly because of the all-essential choice of narrator. With Zola, translator and narrator have the problem of the characters’ language. Leighton Pugh is as accomplished with reading French names and expressions – not by any means a skill shared by all narrators – and in creating a rough accent for the Montsou pit workers. To have made them identifiably London, Irish, Newcastle or West Country would have interfered with credibility. As it is, they speak an unspecific Northern English which comes across as entirely authentic and believable as Montsou pit-workers.

Rachel Redford, Audible

Ghost Stories (unabridged) Ghost Stories Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0329 0329 9781781981740 9781781981757 Charles Dickens
David Timson
14 371 16:20:25 FIC029000 Available Available World

Charles Dickens was a master of the macabre. His stories of madness, murder and revenge, often imbued with a sympathetic moral undertone, have continued to thrill and chill readers ever since they were written. Here then are 15 tales that display the full range of Dickens’s Gothic talents. The Signalman, perhaps the most well-known, is a chilling story about a mysterious figure and its deathly omen; The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain shows the consequences for those who make deals with the dead; The Portrait-Painter’s Story follows an artist who paints a non-living person by memory; and Captain Murderer and the Devil’s Bargain, a bedtime story from Dickens’s own childhood, tells of a bloodthirsty man who kills his brides and bakes them into pies. Among others, the collection also includes A Christmas Carol, The Baron of Grogzwig from The Pickwick Papers, and The Ghost in the Bride’s Chamber, a novella co-written with Wilkie Collins.

£50.00 $89.98 Band N £33.00 €37.00 $44.00 Nov18 Timothy Brown

Ghost Stories is an audiobook rendition of fifteen classic ghost stories written by Charles Dickens, showcasing his versatile talents in the realm of supernatural horror. Vividly performed by BBC Radio Drama veteran David Timson, these Gothic tales include The Signalman, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, The Portrait-Painter’s Story, Captain Murderer and the Devil’s Bargain, A Christmas Carol, The Baron of Grogzwig from The Pickwick Papers, and The Ghost in the Bride’s Chamber, a novella co-written with Wilkie Collins. Ghost Stories is a treasure for connoisseurs of the genre in general and Dickens’s classic fiction in particular, highly recommended for both personal and public library audiobook collections.

Midwest Book Review

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (unabridged) Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Classic Fiction unabridged Single NA0015 0015 9781843794271 9781843794288 M.R. James
David Timson
Stephen Critchlow
4 69 04:43:27 FIC012000 Deleted Available World

The powerful sense of evil – darkness, creepy hairy presences, cloaks, hoods, talons and tentacles – pervades these classic ghost stories by M.R. James. A Cambridge scholar himself, James explored what happens when academics dabble in things they don’t understand and unleash forces of which they know nothing. The titles in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary range from witchcraft to the occult, and tap into our primal fear of things that go bump in the night. They are recognised as the best of their genre.

£16.99 $28.98 Band D £11.00 €12.50 $15.00 Oct10

M.R. James’s ghost stories were written, in the first place, to be heard, preferably in a cosy, dimly-lit room, with a reassuring glass of whisky or brandy close at hand. The ideal situation, of listening to Mr Provost himself, is, of course, impossible today, but we are remarkably fortunate, thanks to Robert Lloyd Parry, in having the chance to experience some of the stories in circumstances not wholly dissimilar to those of Dr James’s first audiences. The next best thing, I suppose, is a recording, to be enjoyed in the comfort of our own homes, and it’s a little startling to realise how recently recorded readings became available. To be sure, there was the occasional radio broadcast (and wouldn’t we just love to hear Valentine Dyall telling the tale of A Neighbour’s Landmark?) but they were rare enough. Then, about thirty years ago, almost as if to atone for his part in Jonathan Miller’s perverse film Whistle and I’ll Come to You, Michael Hordern began his superb series of readings for Argo, nineteen stories in all – or, rather, eighteen plus Stories I Have Tried to Write. More recently, David Collings made a similarly excellent recording for Craftsman Audio Books: The Complete Ghost Stories of MR James, which includes all the tales from the four volumes, plus The Experiment, The Malice of Inanimate Objects, A Vignette and The Fenstanton Witch, but, oddly, excludes Stories I Have Tried to Write. Sir Michael’s and Mr Collings’ are, together, the touchstone, the standard by which one can judge other such readings. I had been wondering if, in time, the admirable team at Naxos AudioBooks would tackle Dr James’s disturbing tales… and now, with great pleasure, I welcome this recording of his first collection, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. Both David Timson and Stephen Critchlow are superb vocal actors, with very pleasing voices, the voices of men you could sit and chat with over a pint of beer or a glass of port. Not the sort of voice that you’d immediately associate with the reading of ghost stories: they don’t have the silken menace of Vincent Price or the doom-laden resonance of Christopher Lee. But when you think about it, most of the best ghost stories call for a less – what shall we say? – a less theatrical approach from the narrator. David Timson in particular is an actor I’ve long admired. His recording of the Sherlock Holmes saga is a feat to rank with Radio 4’s complete dramatisation, and he accomplished it with dedication, erudition, panache and wit – the same qualities that both men bring to MRJ’s ghost stories. Mr Timson’s brief essay which accompanies these recordings is informative, intelligent and perceptive. I hadn’t considered the possibility that the ’crime’ of Canon Alberic ’is the destruction of a priceless old book, to provide material for his scrapbook – a sin MR James, as an antiquarian, could not forgive’, but it’s a rather appealing notion. As always with Naxos, the narratives are subtly enhanced by well-chosen music, all unfamiliar to me, by Chausson, Vieuxtemps and Eugène Ysaye. Overall, this recording is superb. There are just two small points that I ought to mention. Stephen Critchlow’s two readings, The Mezzotint and Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, are taken from a 2 CD set released in 2007, Classic Ghost Stories (highly recommended, by the way), in which Mr Critchlow also reads Rats and two tales by Charles Dickens. That’s not a matter for complaint, but I can’t help thinking it would have been nice to have the same voice reading all eight of the Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. The only fault here is a small one, but odd. In Canon Alberic’s Scrapbook, David Timson consistently pronounces the name ’Comminges’ as ’Commeen’ – as if it had been printed in his script without the letter G, making it ’Commines. A curious little error, but so very little that it can’t spoil the immense pleasure I get from listening to Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.

Roger Johnson, The Ghosts and Scholars/M R James Newsletter

Gilbert and Sullivan (unabridged) Opera Explained – Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Explained – Music unabridged Single NA558166 558166 9781843790358 9781843793281 Thomson Smillie
David Timson
2 71 02:38:09 MUS028000 Deleted Available World excl. USA and Canada

This audio-biography sets out to explain the timeless popularity of the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan: a colourful partnership of the most successful writers in the history of light music. It highlights Gilbert’s mastery of language – his wit, his turn of phrase, his brilliant lyrics (alternately very funny and deeply moving) – and the special melodic gift which enabled Arthur Sullivan to write music of such beauty and style. While each was a master of his craft, it was the combination that created magic sparks and guaranteed Gilbert and Sullivan a place in musical history.

£10.99 $17.98 Band C £9.00 €10.50 $12.00 Feb05
Glory of Ancient Greece, The (unabridged) The Glory of Ancient Greece Junior Classics unabridged Single NA0012 0012 9781843794219 9781843794226 Hugh Griffith
Benjamin Soames
2 36 02:26:21 JNF025020 Deleted Available World

The glory of Ancient Greece is all around us, even in the 21st century, because Greece was the cradle of Western civilisation. We know about the gods and their characters – Zeus, Athene, Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite – and their heroes, both legendary (Heracles) and historical (Alexander the Great). Architecture, mathematics, politics, philosophy, observation of nature and the cosmos and much more emerged in Ancient Greece. Hugh Griffith’s entertaining but informative account of the people and the history places it all in perspective. An outstanding introduction for younger listeners.

£10.99 $17.98 Band B £7.00 €8.00 $9.50 Sep10

In The Glory of Ancient Greece young listeners will learn about the twelve most important gods and how they were created as well as their all too human qualities. Zeus for example was not an admirable fellow, being highly promiscuous. We learn about the Trojan War in the Iliad and the adventures of Odysseus. Greece before 500 BCE was a collection of small city states ruled by kings and later by aristocrats. In 776 BCE the first games were held at Olympia. Thales predicted an eclipse in 585 BCE and Pythagoras gave the world a mathematical formula. Sparta and Athens were often at odds and Greeks consulted the Oracle at Delphi. The Persians invaded and famous battles were fought at Marathon and Thermopylae. Greek warfare is described in some detail as is the birth of democracy. The Greek empire flourished under Pericles and Greek theater is celebrated, especially the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Both the Peloponnesian War and the plague attack Athens. Archimedes made a great scientific discovery and Socrates asked people to think, leading to his death. The book ends with the rise of Alexander the Great. Brief classical music excerpts separate chapters.

The book is narrated by former Royal Marine Commando Benjamin Soames who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. He has appeared on TV and the stage and has narrated fifteen audiobooks for Naxos, many of them junior classics set in ancient Greece and Rome. Hugh Griffith has four books available in the Junior Classics catalogue at Naxos Audiobooks. Besides The Glory of Ancient Greece Hugh Griffith has written Ancient Greek Philosophy: An Introduction, Aristotle: An Introduction, and Great Rulers of Ancient Rome and all are available from Naxos Audiobooks. The Glory of Ancient Greece is detailed but not graphic, a suitable introduction for a young audience.

Janet Julian,

Starting with familiar tales of Prometheus and Odysseus and ending with Alexander the Great, Hugh Griffith gives listeners a quick tour of Ancient Greece. British narrator Benjamin Soames takes the history seriously while making the examples and co