Thursday, October 23, 2008

Listening to Anne of Green Gables


The audio edition I listened to was narrated by Kate Burton and released in June 2008. (There are other editions read by other narrators out there.)

I *love* Anne of Green Gables as most of my readers know (or are finding out). Yet I sometimes have difficulties loving audio books. It is rare for me to overcome my natural prejudices and embrace this format of a book.

It is my advice that you do yourself a favor and skip the three tracks of introduction. (Especially Intro B and Intro C.) The intro (so I'm told by the narrator) is by Margaret Atwood. It is smug and condescending and rubbish essentially. (Again, that's my personal opinion that her opinion is such.) What she says basically is that readers have to work to overcome a sense of embarrassment or shame over liking Anne of Green Gables. After all, the book is popular and beloved so it can't possibly be good and of quality and worthy of attention or praise. "It can't be good or good for you" if it is popular. Doesn't that sentiment make you want to slap her? Then she says that the sequels aren't as good as Anne of Green Gables. That they're lacking. And she has the nerve to assume that all readers agree with this assessment. That Anne of Green Gables is the sole gem. (As if!) She then proceeds to theorize that Marilla is really the heroine of the book. "The book is about Marilla becoming a good and more complete woman."

The narration. I liked it okay. I have nothing to compare it too. I found the voice to be a bit boring. Almost a lulling quality to it that you could sleep through. I always imagined Anne being more excitable and entertaining than that. I did like her narration of Matthew, however. But the other characters, well, not quite as much. Again, not that the narration is awful. It's more than acceptable. But it sounds like a bored-and-sometimes-uninspired adult being paid to read a kid's book.

Reading what I've written so far...it sounds like I'm cranky. That I regret the ten hours (or so) I spent listening to the book over the past few weeks. That isn't the case. Some audio books have a magical feel to them. They bring something new to the text. They offer something lyrical or dramatic. They engage the reader's imagination, their attention as well. They offer through the narration their own perspective on the story and words. This one...not so much. The audio book works because L.M. Montgomery's words are magical in nature. The story is so good that the narration would really have to be bad for it to make a difference to whether or not one enjoyed it.

But there was nothing in the narration that makes me say to my readers that they should seek out the audio book instead of the actual book.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

5 comments:

Chain Reader 5:28 PM  

This makes my not appreciate Margaret Atwood so much. How dare she?
I only listen to audio books because they help me get through the mundane aspects of life, but there is nothing like the experience of seeing the print and feeling the pages, and being able to control the "voice" you hear in your head.

3M 5:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natasha @ Maw Books 9:25 PM  

I have no shame in loving Anne of Green Gables. The books are one of my fondest childhood memories and I must admit that I watch the movies way to much. As for audiobooks, the only time I have to listen to them is on road trips in the car, which I enjoy.

Nan 8:45 AM  

Oh, Becky, here's the one to listen to:

http://www.recordedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=rb.show_prod&book_id=53842&prod_id=89150

It is unabridged, no extra "junk," with the best narrator of young people's lit I've ever, ever heard, Barbara Caruso.

You may hear a clip of her voice here:

http://www.recordedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=rb.show_narr&narr_id=2357

to see if you like it as much as I do. I've listened to several Anne books (more than once) from Recorded Books, and have loved them beyond words. If I lived closer and if I owned the tapes or cd, I'd pop over this morning, Becky to loan them to you!

I am a huge fan of audio books, but the narrator makes a huge difference. I just gave up a Wodehouse (my fave author in the world) book because I thought the narrator just didn't have the voices right. And the other thing I hate is when an audio company puts on music either at the beginning, or even worse all through the book. Yuck! RB is great because each narrator reads the book as it is on the page with no frills. They have tremendously talented readers who bring a book and its characters alive for me.

3M 9:10 AM  

I deleted my previous comment because I realized the one I heard was Barbara Caruso, NOT the narrator I listed earlier. Sorry!

Barbara was great!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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