classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Karen Savage
Publisher: Librivox
Length: 14 hours-ish
Genre: Romance, Classic,
Rating: 3 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighbourhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Review:
I think of all the Jane Austen novels I’ve read/listened to, this one is the most boring. If I’m being for real. There was a lot of nothing happening a lot. But once things picked up I found myself enjoying it.

Fanny Price does not have a personality and I think that’s kind of the point Jane Austen was trying to make. She was seen by Henry Crawford as the perfect wife because she was agreeable and quiet and unable to speak out even when she was wronged. I like the point Austen was trying to make even if I think she took a little too long to make it.

Edmund Bertram also didn’t have a personality but in a different way. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but nothing particular stands out about him aside from him being nice to Fanny and wanting to be a clergymen.

I zoned out a lot listening to this novel and couldn’t be bothered to backtrack when I realized I did this. I enjoyed it but I definitely don’t think it should have taken over 14 hours to listen.

I listened to the Librivox free recording of the novel on Youtube. Karen Savage was a great narrator and I really enjoyed how she read it. I was worried because it’s a public space Audiobook that the quality would be sacrificed but it definitely wasn’t.

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Title: Emma
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Length: 16 hours and 38 minutes
Genre: romance, classic
Rating: 3.5 Folded Pages

Blurb (from Audible):
One of Jane Austen’s most popular novels. Arrogant, self-willed, and egotistical, Emma is her most unusual heroine.

Review:
Decidedly, Emma is my least favorite Jane Austen novel that I’ve read. It’s taken several tries to actually get through it (thank god for audiobooks tbh) and I finally have. I definitely like the book the more than any of the adaptations I’ve seen (2009 BBC Emma and Emma Approved) but I still find Emma completely unlikable.

For the most part, Emma annoys the ever living shit out of me. She’s bratty and conceited and can’t see the consequence of her actions before she acts. Frank Churchill also makes all these traits worse.

I did love seeing her character growth but she’s just less of those things. The only saving grace is Knightley who I honestly love as much if not almost more than Darcy. I love that he can see Emma’s flaws and loves her anyway.

Still I did enjoy listening to the book. I think the adaptations of the book present a much harsher Emma than the book does. I understand the need to get the point across about her character in not book form but still I see why I was turned off the book for so long.

As usual, Juliet Stevenson did an absolutely amazing job with the narration. I’m sad that the Naxos version of Pride and Prejudice isn’t narrated by Juliet Stevenson because she does such an excellent job.

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Length: 8 hours 47 minutes
Genre: Classic, romance
Rating: 4.5 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Anne Elliot has grieved for seven years over the loss of her first love, Captain Frederick Wentworth. But events conspire to unravel the knots of deceit and misunderstanding in this beguiling and gently comic story of love and fidelity.

Review:
Anne Elliot is the type of person I want to be and also want in a best friend. I like how down to Earth and loyal she is. And I think so far she’s my favorite character of any Austen novel I love Miss Elizabeth Bennet but she can be a bit grating which I don’t find at all with Anne.

Juliet Stevenson did an amazing job bringing this novel to life as well. I’ve read this before but I didn’t quite understand it the way I did when Stevenson narrated it. Her inflections and pace are amazing. The only thing I have to say is that I feel like chapter ends are abrupt because she narrates like the chapter is continuing. But I only noticed that 2 or 3 times.

I really enjoyed the way the romance played out in the book. Everything was done subtly. There were no grand gestures or over the top romantic lines. The romance perfectly suited Anne’s personality.

I think as far as Austen novels go, I’m going to have a hard time choosing the order of my liking. Pride and Prejudice (so far) has my number 1 but it’s a close fight for 2nd between Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility.

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Length: 12 hours and 43 minutes
Genre: Classic, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
When Mrs. Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for. The contrasting fortunes and temperaments of the two girls as they struggle to cope in their different ways with the cruel events which fate has in store for them are portrayed by Jane Austen with her usual irony, humour, and profound sensibility.

Review:
I struggled to finish this book when I was reading it in paperback form, but there’s something about the audiobook (and the amazing narrator Juliet Stevenson), that made it impossible to stop listening to the audiobook.

I LOVED this book. I think reading Austen can be a little hard because her work is so dry but given amazing narration and the book comes to life. I absolutely fell in love with the story and the characters. I loved the contrast of Marianne and Eleanor’s personalities. I also really enjoyed how the book showed both girl’s reactions to similar situations as natural even if completely different. The sisterly love was awesome too.

If you couldn’t guess already, the narration of the audiobook version I listened to was amazing. Stevenson has a way of using slight inflections and voice pitches to give each character’s dialogue a very distinct flare. It made conversations extremely easy to follow within the text and if I had forgot to pay attention it was easy to catch on to who was currently speaking.

I’m always a sucker for a good romance, especially when it involves the intricacies of courtship in the 1800s. Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite Austen novel but I think Sense and Sensibility is pulling a close second!

classic, science fiction, scifi

Book Review: 1984 by George Orwell

1984

Title: 1984
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Length: 668, Kindle book
Genre: Classic, Science Fiction
Rating: 3 Folded pages

Blurb:
In 1984, London is a grim city where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.

Review:
I finally finished it! Albeit, with a lot more skimming/skipping than I should have but honestly who can legitimately get through that long treatise from The Book? Because I certainly couldn’t. I would have quit the book entirely if I didn’t skip through it.

That being said I did enjoy the last part. The action finally kicked up and it wasn’t endless exposition. The book itself poses so many ideas to think about and I see why this is a classic but I still disliked the first two parts immensely. I was bored and I kept having to force myself through but it is no secret that I am not a big fan of classics. I want to read for fun and forcing myself through long winded and boring exposition is definitely not my idea of fun.

I do feel like I learned something from reading it though and I’m glad I did. I’m just also glad I’m done reading it. There isn’t much I can say considering it’s a classic. I’m glad it’s over and at least it’s given a few things to think about in the meantime.

children's book, classic

Book Review: Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

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Title: The Secret Garden
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Length: 298, Kindle Book
Genre: Classic, Children’s book
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
When spoiled child Mary Lennox loses her family to a cholera outbreak, she moves to her uncle’s manor surrounded by a massive garden. Within, Mary discovers a whole new outlook on life thanks to a supportive household and the garden’s power of healing.

Review:
Funny how the first review after my Unpopular Opinion: Classics goes out is, well, a classic. And although it’s a classic, I did really enjoy it.

It was very hard to get through the first 50 pages or so. It was all exposition and passive voice. I hated that. But I pushed through and once Mary Lennox started doing things instead of having things done to her, it became much more interesting.

I remember, vaguely, being read this in third grade. I remember the wheelchair and the big reveal quite differently than it actually happens. My third grade mind made a much bigger deal of it all and I see why it’s labeled as a children’s book. I actually really enjoyed being able to remember bits and pieces of how I thought it as a child. It gave me a very interesting viewpoint to compare it against.

Still I just can’t give it 5 folded pages. It was too slow for my liking and overall not a lot happens. It’s interesting and still kept my attention but I could only read it in bouts of 20 minutes or so.