Solo: English Fiction


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

After London, or Wild England by Richard Jefferies

Alice in Blunderland by John Kendrick Bangs

NEW! Aristopia by Castello Newton Holford

The British Barbarians by Grant Allen

The Chimes by Charles Dickens

Christmas Comes but Once a Year by John Leighton

Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces by Thomas W. Hanshew

Cleek of Scotland Yard by Thomas W. Hanshew

The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

The Fearsome Island by Albert Kinross

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions
by Edwin Abbott Abbott

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain by Charles Dickens

A House to Let by Charles Dickens and others

The Riddle of the Frozen Flame by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas W. Hanshew

The Riddle of the Purple Emperor by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas W. Hanshew

The Seven Poor Travellers by Charles Dickens

Tea-table Talk by Jerome K. Jerome

Told after Supper by Jerome K. Jerome

NEWEST! Underground Man by Gabriel Tarde

NEW! Utopia by Sir Thomas More, translated by Ralph Robinson.

The Westminster Alice by Saki

The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

In Progress
Lavengro by George Borrow
Miss Pim’s Camouflage by Dorothy Stanley

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CD cover by The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Total running time: 13 hrs 29 mins

A collection of twelve short stories featuring Conan Doyle’s legendary detective, originally published as single stories in Strand Magazine and subsequently collected into a single volume.

There is not always a crime committed nor a culprit to find, and when there is, Holmes does not invariably get his man. However, his extraordinary powers of deduction generally solve the mystery, often to the discomfiture of the official police force. Holmes is a man of many facets, and I do not share the common perception of Holmes as cold and humourless: his sense of fun can be sparkling, and there are moments of rare pathos.
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After London After London, or Wild England by Richard Jefferies

Total running time: 10 hrs 6 mins

Jefferies’ novel can be seen as an early example of “post-apocalyptic fiction.” After some sudden and unspecified catastrophe has depopulated England, the countryside reverts to nature, and the few survivors to a quasi-medieval way of life.

I loved recording this novel. The quality of the descriptive writing is superb. My only reservation is the ending, which is rather abrupt and unsatisfying. But don’t let it put you off listening.

Review by PH: Many thanks to Ruth Golding for her wonderful reading of this novel. In another part of the English-speaking world, they would say: “She’s a hell of a reader”!

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Alice in Blunderland Alice in Blunderland by John Kendrick Bangs

Total running time: 1 hr 58 mins

Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland turned into a political satire in many ways as fresh, keen and relevant today as it was a hundred years ago.

Review by M: An audio gem. I enjoyed this reading immensely. Ruth Golding’s near-perfect diction and delivery is so very easy on the ears and gives life to what would otherwise be a very average story. Other readers could learn a great deal from her example.

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Aristopia: A Romance-History of the New World Aristopia: A Romance-History of the New World by Castello Newton Holford

Running time: 5 hrs 13 mins

Aristopia (published 1895) is truly an alternative history. It is an imagination of how the continent of North America might have developed if one man with the vision, altruism and determination to build a state for the benefit of all its people had been in the happy position of having wealth enough to make his dream a reality.

It is an interesting book which deserves its place in literary history largely for being the first novel-length example of its genre. It is written, not as a novel, but as unvarnished history. Only a few passages seem really to catch alight with the idealistic passion of the country’s founder, Ralph Morton. Those that do, however, are powerful.

Borrowing heavily from actual documents of the period such as Captain John Smith’s Journal, and also from More’s Utopia, Newton appears to use his book to show how the vast natural resources of the new continent could, with the vision and wealth of a man like Morton, have improved the lives of huge numbers of the poor, disenfranchised and disaffected of Europe, instead of making relatively few men very rich indeed. In keeping with the thinking of his own time, he seems not to have considered to any great extent how this would still have displaced the native inhabitants of Morton’s new ‘Commonwealth’.

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The British Barbarians The British Barbarians by Grant Allen

Running time: 5 hrs 3 mins

After Civil Servant Philip Christy crosses paths with the mysterious Bertram Ingledew in the respectable suburb of Brackenhurst, Philip and his sister Frida, married to the wealthy Scot Robert Monteith, become friends with the stranger. Bertram has some unconventional concepts about society, and as the story unfolds, his beliefs and actions cause much disruption in the family and the neighbourhood.

Who is Bertram? Where does he come from? Allen explores some interesting ideas about society, some of which are curiously relevant today.

The story is preceded by an introduction which, although it may appear to have no connection with the story itself, the reader is earnestly besought by the author to read. The introduction begins as a diatribe against publishers, and develops into a philosophical justification of Allen’s writing, and may, if desired, be omitted by the listener who is only interested in the story.

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The Chimes The Chimes by Charles Dickens

Running time: 4 hrs 18 mins

The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In is the second of Charles Dickens’ Christmas books, published in 1844. Its contemporary setting is the “Hungry Forties”, a time of social and political unrest, and the book has a strong moral message. It remained popular for many years, although its fame has since been eclipsed by that of A Christmas Carol, the first of the series.

Our hero Toby (“Trotty”) Veck is a poor but hard-working man, whose beloved daughter Meg is due to marry on New Year’s Day. Trotty, who is appalled by newspaper reports of crime and immorality, is further depressed by his encounters with the rich and influential Alderman Cute and Sir Joseph Bowley, who make him feel that the poor have no right to exist in society, and his daughter has no right to marry. Trotty hears messages in the chimes of the church bells, which lead him to visit the belfry at night on New Year’s Eve…

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Christmas Comes but Once a Year Christmas Comes but Once a Year by John Leighton

Total running time: 3 hrs 9 mins

A tale of the snobbish Brown family at Christmas time, 1850, and their experiences with the dubious Captain Bonaventure de Camp, the new tenant of the other half of their suburban villa.

It did make me laugh, even though sometimes I thought the endless sentences of the wordy Mr. Leighton would drive me nuts. In addition, interested in the Victorian period as I am, I was enthralled by this peep into the social life of a well-to-do family in the mid-19th century.

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Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces by Thomas W. Hanshew

Total running time: 13 hrs 25 mins

Meet Hamilton Cleek – man of mystery, and master of disguise and derring-do. Oh my, I did enjoy recording this!

Cleek’s exploits are, to say the least, highly improbable, but the book is enormous fun. The goodies are good and the baddies are very bad indeed, but beware – things are not always what they seem. Suspend your disbelief and enjoy a rattling good yarn!

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Cleek of Scotland Yard Cleek of Scotland Yard by Thomas W. Hanshew

Total running time: 12 hrs 46 mins

Hamilton Cleek is back – or is he?

Margot, Queen of the Apaches (the notorious French criminal gang) has been released on bail and vanished, Mr. Narkom has a series of inexplicable murders to solve, there is talk of revolution in Mauravania. And Cleek is missing.

Hold on to your hats for another thrilling ride as spying, murder, horse-napping, bombs and political intrigue rear their ugly heads.

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The Cricket on the Hearth The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens

Total running time: 3 hrs 54 mins

The tale of John Peerybingle, the good-hearted carrier, and his young wife Mary (‘Dot’), interwoven with the story of poor toymaker Caleb Plummer, his beloved blind daughter Bertha, and the harsh old toy merchant Tackleton, who is due to marry May Fielding, a childhood friend of Dot. Comic relief is provided by Tilly Slowboy, the disaster-prone nursemaid of John and Dot’s baby, and Boxer, the family dog.

The cricket who chirps on the family hearth assumes fairy form to save the day when disaster looms in the form of a mysterious stranger. Sentimental? Certainly – but this, the third (1845) of Dickens’ short Christmas books, is as charming and irresistible as its predecessors A Christmas Carol (1843) and The Chimes (1844).

The novella is subdivided into chapters called ‘Chirps’, similar to the ‘Quarters’ of The Chimes or the ‘Staves’ of A Christmas Carol.

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The Fearsome Island The Fearsome Island by Albert Kinross

Total running time: 2 hrs 55 mins

No ordinary sailor’s tale, this. Based allegedly on the real experiences of Silas Fordred, Master Mariner of Hythe, this is a story of shipwreck on an uncharted island and his supernatural adventures there with a witch, a hairy man, and various devilish devices and traps. The author, Kinross, adds an appendix purporting to explain the marvels which Fordred encountered.

Kinross claims to have stolen the sailor’s original account from Hythe Town Hall while helping the Town Clerk to sort newly discovered old papers. This is credible, as it is well-known that there were many such documents rescued from destruction in the late nineteenth century. The names of Fordred and his shipmate Snoad are also old-established Hythe families. However, even if Fordred’s account is mentioned in the annals of Hythe Borough, it is impossible to know how much was invented by Kinross. “Believe or doubt!” the author says. Much as I would like to believe, I know which way I incline.

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Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott

Total running time: 4 hrs 13 mins

A curious little book written by “A Square” about life in his two-dimensional world and his visits to the world of one dimension and even nought dimensions. His problems begin when he is introduced to the concept of three dimensions, regarded in his own world as a dangerous heresy.

The noted science writer Isaac Asimov described Flatland as “The best introduction one can find into the manner of perceiving dimensions.” It certainly makes you think! Quite a challenge to record, but one I really enjoyed.

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The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain by by Charles Dickens

Total running time: 4 hrs 14 mins

The last of Dickens’ Christmas novellas (1848), The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain centres around Professor Redlaw, a teacher of chemistry, whose personal life has been marred by sorrow and, he feels, by wrongs done to him in his past.

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A House to Let CD cover A House to Let by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell and Adelaide Anne Procter

Total running time: 4 hrs 12 mins

First published in 1858, this novella consists of stories within a story, and in the case of Adelaide Anne Procter, a story in verse.

The over-arching plot concerns an elderly woman, Sophonisba, who notices signs of life in a supposedly empty dilapidated house (the eponymous “House to Let”) opposite her own, and employs the efforts of an elderly admirer, Jabez Jarber, and her servant, Trottle, to discover what is happening within.

Wonderful characterisation, humour, pathos – this story is a great introduction to Dickens.

Review by CC: Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoyed listening to your reading of “A House To Let.” Your interpretation of the text, as well as the individual voices, was a delight from beginning to end.

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The Riddle of the Frozen Flame The Riddle of the Frozen Flame by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas W. Hanshew

Total running time: 8 hrs 7 mins

Cleek is called upon to help young Sir Nigel Merriton after a guest goes missing at night on the lonely Fens. Everything goes horribly wrong… Meanwhile, poor old Narkom is pulling his hair out trying to solve some devilishly tricky bank robberies.

Not the best Cleek mystery. I felt that Cleek himself would not have been satisfied with the inconsistencies and loose ends. However, if you like Cleek (and Dollops) I think you will still enjoy this.

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The Riddle of the Purple Emperor The Riddle of the Purple Emperor by Mary E. Hanshew and Thomas W. Hanshew

Running time: 8 hrs 19 mins

This full-length mystery is a welcome return for Hamilton Cleek, whom we first met in Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces. Much fun, and a cast of wonderful characters, as usual.

Orphan Lady Margaret Cheyne returns home on her eighteenth birthday to live with her embittered maiden aunt and to take up her inheritance of the family jewels. The Cheyne jewels include a pendant featuring the Purple Emperor, a priceless jewel looted from a temple during the Indian Mutiny.

During her time at school in Paris, Lady Margaret has met and fallen in love with Sir Edgar Brenton, the son of an old flame of her aunt and a neighbour in the village of Hampton, where Cleek’s adored Ailsa Lorne has also taken up residence.

Lady Margaret’s return leads to a mysterious and sinister chain of events, which Cleek and Superintendent Maverick Narkom of Scotland Yard attempt to unravel, with, of course, the help of the irrepressible and ever-hungry Dollops, Cleek’s cockney sidekick.
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The Seven Poor Travellers The Seven Poor Travellers by Charles Dickens

Total running time: 1 hr 11 mins

Another of Dickens’ “stories within a story” originally included in the Christmas number of Household Words for 1854.

This novella relates Dickens’ visit to the ancient Richard Watts’s Charity at Rochester and the touching story of “Richard Doubledick”, which he supposedly told the poor travellers round the fire on Christmas Eve.

Review by TB: These little known stories-within-a-story are charmingly voice acted (not merely read) with excellent sound quality. Thank you Ruth. More please!

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Tea-table Talk Tea-table Talk by Jerome K. Jerome

Total running time: 2 hrs 33 mins

In all honesty, I was a bit disappointed in this book. This lesser-known work by Jerome K. Jerome has its moments, but, as the New York Times said in 1903, it does not display “the wit of Congreve or even the glittering sort Mr. Jerome employs in some of his other books.”

It takes the form of imaginary conversations between the writer and a number of un-named characters at the afternoon tea table. The Woman of the World, the Old Maid, the Girton Girl, the Philosopher and the Minor Poet wax lyrical on subjects like marriage, art, society and politics.

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Underground Man Underground Man by Ganriel Tarde (1843 – 1904), translated by Cloudesley Brereton (1863 – 1937)

Total running time: 2 hr 56 mins

This post-apocalyptic novella tells the story of the downfall of civilisation and mankind following a solar cataclysm in the late 20th century. To survive, the remnants of humanity had to build a new civilization underground in the complete absence of all species except mankind, choosing to base it only on love and beauty, the fine arts and intellectual pursuits.

In view of the sun’s current inactivity, this frighteningly prophetic tale might have been written today, saving that the cultural references and the fluid prose might be beyond, if one dares say so, many modern writers.

Tarde was a French sociologist, criminologist and social psychologist. This novella was, as far as I know, his only venture into the writing of fiction, and is heavy with philosophical, sociological, scientific and even political concepts. It is an absorbing and thought-provoking work.

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Told After Supper Told After Supper by Jerome K. Jerome

Total running time: 1 hr 18 mins

This is much more fun than Tea Table Talk. It is Christmas Eve, and the narrator, his uncle and sundry other local characters are sitting round the fire drinking copious quantities of whisky punch and telling ghost stories until bedtime, when…

But no, I won’t spoil the fun. This is a little gem: Jerome at his tongue-in-cheek best.

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Utopia Utopia by Sir Thomas More, translated by Ralph Robinson

Total running time: 6 hr 03 mins

Recorded from a reprint of the 1556 Robinson translation, with a foreword by William Morris, this was a hard read – hopefully not such a hard listen.

The first book tells of the traveller Raphael Hythloday, to whom More is introduced in Antwerp. The second book consists of Hythloday’s description of the island and people of Utopia, their customs, laws, religions, economy, language and relations with other nations. Hythloday portrays Utopia as an idealised state, where all property is common to all the people and money does not exist within its bounds, thus, he argues, removing all poverty, hunger and fear, and most criminal acts. More himself appears unconvinced by some of his narrator’s arguments.

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The Westminster Alice The Westminster Alice by Saki

Total running time: 55 min

Published five years before John Kendrick Bangs had the same idea with Alice in Blunderland, Saki, in his 1902 series of satirical articles, takes an Alice in Wonderland view of British politics, which Alice finds even stranger than events in Wonderland.

In all honesty, owing to its extremely topical nature this political satire hasn’t worn well, which explains why it has virtually sunk without trace. To appreciate it at all, it’s really rather necessary to understand the topical references. I am no historian, least of all a political historian, but I have researched it as well as I can, and made some notes in an attempt to put the events and characters into their political context for the listener. Links to my notes may be found above.

I hope that this may still appeal to the political sceptic of today. With some basic understanding of the situation, I found the satire bitingly keen at points, and was left with the feeling that some aspects of British politics have changed little in more than a century, although current political satire sadly lacks Saki’s wit. As the Red Queen says: “I don’t know what business you have here, if you don’t belong to the Cabinet; of course… there are so many of them, and they’re mostly so unimportant that one can’t be expected to remember all their faces.”

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The Woman Who Did The Woman Who Did by Grant Allen

Total running time: 6 hrs 1 min

An early example of feminist literature – written by a man. Herminia Barton and Alan Merrick fall in love, but Herminia has a deeply held belief in freedom for women, and she holds immutable views against what she perceives as the slavery of marriage. Part love story, part polemic, the reader is deeply drawn into Herminia’s life as a single mother in Victorian England. A thought-provoking novel.

Review by PH: Another splendid reading by Ruth Golding

…Many thanks to Ruth Golding for her wonderful reading of Grant’s novel. Highly recommended!

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Women in Love Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence

Total running time: 25 hrs 19 mins

Lawrence’s controversial novel follows the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist, and Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual.

Review by TB: A truly outstanding reading

Ruth Golding’s interpretation is of the highest quality… This is a longish book, but Ruth is able to maintain her voice characterizations from start to finish. Her careful diction and well thought out interpretation is simply wonderful to hear — even though Lawrence’s self-absorbed characters can be fairly annoying!

Review by PH: A breathtaking recording

…Many thanks to Mrs Golding for her outstanding reading of this long novel. A truly remarkable performance well worth listening to.

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Wuthering Heights Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Total running time: 14 hrs 48 mins

Emily Brontë’s only novel, published in 1847 under the pseudonym Ellis Bell, tells the tale of the all-encompassing and passionate, yet thwarted, love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and how this unresolved passion eventually destroys them and many around them.

As a born and bred “Maid of Kent” it was a challenge for me to attempt Yorkshire accents for this classic. I hope it is not too offensive to the Yorkshire ear.

Review by LW: I joined this forum just so I could let you know what a beautiful job you did with Wuthering Heights. I could not tell you were not a professional reader!! I loved how you changed your voice often and readily returned to the same voice for each character.

Review by PH: Many thanks to Mrs Golding for her passionate reading of the novel. A wonderful listening experience.

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13 Comments on “Solo: English Fiction”

  1. quietinkles Says:

    I was looking for a Wuthering Heights audiobook, and happily stumbled into the one you’ve done. I’m currently reading it, and already enjoying your work! Would just like to thank you in advance for the experience :)

  2. Christine Says:

    What a lovely reading, perfect voice.


  3. Dear Ms G,

    I just wanted to tell you what a beautiful, complex, detailed reading you have done with Women in Love. It is really incredible. One of the best audio book recordings I have ever heard–if not the best. Truly outstanding!

    Thank you for bringing this book to such vibrant life!

  4. RuthieG Says:

    Thank you, Michael! This was one of my early recordings, and quite a challenge. I see that there is a dramatic adaptation of The Rainbow and Women in Love on BBC Four this week. I wait with interest to see how they manage to adapt two novels totalling 360,000 words to 3 hours of TV. The screenwriter talks about this here.


  5. Ruth, it is many years since I read Wuthering Heights as a teenager and thought it a love story but listening to your magnificent reading of the book I now realise it is a story of obsession and revenge. Your characterisations are flawless and, as a Yorkshire woman, I can assure you that the “Maid of Kent’s” accent is perfect! Thank you for a wonderful listening experience.

    • RuthieG Says:

      That, Kay, is positively the best thing that I have read for a long time. :D I agonised from the very beginning about my ability to carry off a Yorkshire accent, and have agonised about it ever since. I am so very grateful to you for taking the trouble to post.

  6. Laurent Says:

    Hi Mrs Golding, just finished listening to Wuthering Heights and wanted to thank you for the time you’ve invested with your talent in this reading. It was fantastic, lively and very enjoyable – the best audiobook I’ve come across! Thanks :)

  7. Jenny Smith Says:

    Dear Ruth,

    I am enthusiastically enjoying your version of Wuthering Heights – the nightmare in Chapter Three nearly had my hair standing on end this morning during my commute!

    I’ve recommended the recording to a friend. Thank you very much for your clear speaking and for your superior style in distinguishing the characters and inflecting the dialogue.

  8. angels2send Says:

    thank you so much for all your reading, your work on other librivox projects, this wonderful page…and…and…it makes the world a nicer place to be. :-)

  9. Gardenwife Says:

    I listened to your reading of Jerome K. Jerome’s “Told After Supper” a few weeks ago and with it was introduced to that author and your talented narration. Ruth, I had to look you up and tell you what pleasure it was to hear you read that story. Down the highway I drove, laughing out loud as you brought the characters to life and provided the perfect timing and inflections. Thanks! I’ll be sure to listen to more of your recordings.

    • RuthieG Says:

      I am sorry I didn’t reply to this. I am so glad I made you laugh. It had me in stitches when I was recording it.


  10. […] January 2013 I completed another of Charles Dickens’ “Christmas” books, following The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth in previous years. This year’s was The Haunted Man and the […]


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