As The Crow Flies

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

HAVING SERVED ONLY half of his four-year sentence for perjury, Jefrey Archer was released from prison last July. In celebration, Macmillan Audio Books is releasing freshly abridged titles. This one charts the rise and rise of an amiable cockney barrow boy whose patter charms Whitechapel shoppers into buying his fruit and veg. During the First […]

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The Portrait of A Lady

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The best thing about the first of these three CDs is the reader, Gayle Hunnicutt. Her accents for the various types of Americans transplanted abroad are spot on: they bring to life each character in Henry James’s masterpiece, first published in 1881. Like most Jamesian plots, it is slow to get going, but Hunnicutt’s skill […]

Point of Origin

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

I am a Patricia Cornwell virgin, so to speak. Narrated by her celebrated heroine Dr Kay Scarpetta, a Chief Medical Examiner and consulting pathologist, the story’s end makes evident how many false clues have been planted and left dangling. An all-consuming fire devastates media mogul Kenneth Spark’s Virginia farm and racing stables. The horses’ screams […]

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Great Tales From English History

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Best-selling author Robert Lacey begins his fascinating history with Cheddar Man, who lived 9,000 years ago when England was still joined to Europe. He ends with the discovery of DNA and thus creates a frame for some entertaining historical tales. We are told how Julius Caesar first glimpsed England, with armed men standing along the […]

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The Phantom of the Opera

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

The original French thriller on which Andrew Lloyd Webber based his musical opens on a performance of Faust. Its star, Carlotta, sings the role of Margarita, and enraptures her adoring public until suddenly ‘HARRUCKKK’: a toad’s croak emerges from her mouth like a monumental belch. ‘It’s the ghost,’ mutters one of the managers resentfully. The […]

Waiting For Godot

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Dublin-born Samuel Beckett lived in self-imposed exile – in Germany until Nazism grew too repugnant, in occupied France where his Jewish friends were rounded up and sent to the camps. As an Irishman he was, in principle, neutral during the war, but ‘you simply couldn’t stand by with your arms folded.’ He joined the French […]

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Audiobook

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: The Biography (reviewed on page xx) is in four self-contained audio volumes. Ackroyd is unrivalled in vivifying the place as well as the person. Serious Shakespeare fans will find fresh material for their ongoing debate about how a country-raised young actor went to London and became England’s greatest playwright. Stratford was a […]

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Audiobook

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Suetonius chronicled the Caesars’ personal habits as well as their public achievements. Julius and Augustus provided him with little lurid gossip, for the two soldier–statesmen were engrossed in the duties of superb leadership. Julius addressed his soldiers as ‘fellow citizens’ and loved them so much that he did not cut his hair or shave until […]

Audiobook

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Written in the late Sixties, du Maurier’s last successful novel is deeply disturbing. Dick Young, bored with his job as a publisher, has just resigned. His tiresome American wife, Vita, is away. Though Dick loves Vita, he welcomes her absence. Since university twenty years ago, the stimulus in his otherwise grey life has been his […]

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Audiobook

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

First published in 1902, The Hound of the Baskervilles is generally regarded as the finest detective story ever written. This new and unabridged audiobook is a triumph. The story is familiar: an ancient manuscript reveals that the curse on the family began in 1742 when the sadistic, wild first baronet, Sir Hugo, carried off a […]

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