Archive for the ‘English fiction (solo recordings)’ category

New LibriVox recording: Underground Man

February 5, 2014

Underground Man by Gabriel Tarde (1843 – 1904), translated from the French Fragment d’histoire future, 1904, by Cloudesley Brereton (1863 – 1937).

It is the end of the 20th century; the sun suddenly starts to die and it’s… well, it’s a little chilly! In fact, earth is plunged overnight into an ice age, and life, including most of mankind, is virtually wiped out. A tiny number of the young, strong and intelligent find a way to survive – beneath the surface of the earth (or young and beautiful, in the case of women – the criteria for survival are hilarious).

In this new and strange world, where there are no countries, no nature, no sea and no sky, they must build a new civilisation. With commendable foresight, they have managed to preserve masterpieces from the major libraries, museums and galleries and transport them to their new home. Far-fetched, of course, but bear with me.

This is the story of how they build their new civilisation based on love and beauty, the fine arts and pure science. Tarde was a sociologist, criminologist and social psychologist, and this novella, his only venture into fiction, is replete with philosophical, scientific, sociological and political concepts, including a method of restricting population which has echoes of eugenics.

At one point Tarde refers to the sun being seen as blue in 1883 – this is based on fact, and happened after the eruption of Krakatoa.

Interestingly, shortly after I started recording this, I read an article on the BBC Science website about the sun’s current state of inactivity: “The drop off in activity is happening surprisingly quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if it will continue to plummet.” It sent rather a chill down the spine.

Nevertheless, I loved this little book – I hope you do too.

Here it is: http://librivox.org/underground-man-by-gabriel-tarde/

Apologies and new recordings

January 17, 2014

I have been appallingly remiss at posting on my blog during the past year. I shall now make amends and get up to date. I shall start with the audiobooks I have completed since my last post.

More short(ish) Dickens

In 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 Ghost’s Bargain.

More longish Cleek – hurray!

This was followed in March by my eventual completion of Cleek of Scotland Yard. This is more or less a sequel to the first Cleek book Cleek: The Man of the Forty Faces, unlike The Riddle of the Purple Emperor and the Riddle of the Frozen Flame, full-length stories which were each about one case, and both of which I found frankly a bit disappointing. Both of the latter were authored by both Thomas and Mary Hanshew, and just not up to the standard of the books written by Thomas alone, in my opinion. Anyway, if you enjoy a good unlikely detective romp, I’d recommend listening to The Man of the Forty Faces first, and then Cleek of Scotland Yard.

A difficult Saki

I then made what is probably a bad decision. I chose to record The Westminster Alice by Saki, a parody of Alice in Wonderland set around 1900 in Westminster, the seat of British politics. Now, Saki is generally very, very funny… but this book relies so heavily on topical humour relating to the politics of the day that much of its charm has evaporated like the morning dew. So much so that I found myself spending hour upon hour researching turn-of-the-century politics, war, religion and public figures to find out what on earth it was all about.

I ended up by recording and uploading to the Internet Archive the notes that I’d made, but in all honesty it didn’t really rescue what was a bad choice for a LibriVox recording. The upside is that I learned a lot about politics and the South African (2nd Boer) War in the process.

An alternative history

I had never heard of Aristopia: A Romance-History of the New World, but was introduced to it as an interesting recording possibility. It is an alternative history of the United States, documenting what might have happened if one of Captain John Smith’s Jamestown colonists had discovered an immense reef of gold, and used his vast wealth to benefit the poor and disenfranchised of Europe by providing them with immigrant transport to his new ‘Commonwealth’ in the New World.

It can’t be described as great literature, certainly. The characters (of whom there are few) don’t come to life at all. It draws heavily on More’s Utopia and Captain Smith’s diary. However, as the first novel-length example of the alternative history genre, it is interesting and was worth recording.

Did I mention More’s Utopia?

As I hadn’t ever read Utopia, it occurred to me that I should record that too. There was already a recording of the 17th century Burnet translation in the LibriVox catalogue, so I thought I would go back to the original 16th century translation by Ralph Robinson, and chose the version which William Morris printed at his celebrated Kelmscott Press, with his own introduction. It wasn’t very easy to read! However I did enjoy it, and feel that I am slightly less ignorant now.

stars

I have many other things to tell you all, but those for another day. I promise it will be soon.

I note that WordPress tells me that occasionally some of my visitors may see an advertisement here. Please ignore it if you do, especially if it says DOWNLOAD in big red letters. It is nothing to do with me (except that I haven’t paid WordPress any money to prevent it happening).

LibriVox recording: The Speaking Voice

February 16, 2012

Well, this was a challenge: take a book by an extremely successful dramatic reader in the early 1900s, and follow her training programme on the speaking voice and the vocal interpretation of various literary genres.

This is not a book designed for the professional reader’s training. It is meant for anyone who wants to get the best out of their voice in ordinary life. Watch out, though – if you are in the habit of wearing tight corsets, she has some severe words for you! :lol:

The first two parts of the book deal with vocal production and techniques such as change of pitch, inflection and tone colour, then the eight chapters of the third part offer studies on various genres such as the essay, the short story, several types of poetry, ending with dramatic monologues and plays.

Actually, by the time I reached the last few chapters, she had more or less given up trying to teach me anything, because she said I was supposed to know it all by then, so those chapters comprise mostly complete poems for one’s own personal study.

I did find it interesting. I think I found it useful. I hope that others may also find it so. Never having been a devotee of the great English poets Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Tennyson – indeed, to be honest, never having been a great devotee of any poetry at all – I was surprised, and really rather pleased to be forced to study some of their poems. And even more pleased to find that I could appreciate them.

Here it is:
http://librivox.org/the-speaking-voice-by-katherine-jewell-everts/

Section 11 includes a detailed study of Shelley’s Ode to a Skylark and, in the order they appear, the complete poems:
The Lesser Children, or A Threnody at the Hunting Season by Ridgley Torrence
Hunting Song by Sir Walter Scott
It was a Lover and his Lass by William Shakespeare
Pack, Clouds, Away and Welcome Day by Thomas Heywood
Memory and Enamoured Architect of Airy Rhyme by Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Love in the Winds by Richard Hovey
Candlemas by Alice Brown
She Was a Phantom of Delight by William Wordsworth
Nonsense Lyrics Topsy-turvy World and I Saw a New World by William Brighty Rands
Hymn Before Sunrise, in the Vale of Chamouni by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Juan’s Song from The Spanish Gypsy by George Eliot
Pablo’s Song from The Spanish Gypsy by George Eliot
My Star by Robert Browning
Cavalier Tunes Marching Along by Robert Browning
Garden Fancies The Flower’s Name by Robert Browning.

Section 12 has a study of part of Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning, and the complete poems:
Each and All by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Forbearance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Section 13 comprises mostly just the complete short story The Revolt of ‘Mother’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

Section 14 has a study of a cutting of Gareth and Lynette from Tennyson’s Idylls of the King.

Section 15 has the complete poems:

A Tale (epilogue to Two Poets of Croisic) by Robert Browning
Incident of the French Camp
My Last Duchess

New LibriVox recording: The Cricket on the Hearth

December 31, 2011

Well, I didn’t quite make it by Christmas, but I have managed to get it finished before the old year dies.

Last year, I recorded Dickens’ second short Christmas book, The Chimes, and this year I have recorded his third, The Cricket on the Hearth.

http://librivox.org/the-cricket-on-the-hearth-by-charles-dickens-2/

This little book sat on the family bookshelf when I was a child, and it always looked a very strange title to me.

It is a very sentimental story, but not without flashes of Dickensian humour, and is 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.

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

I wish all my listeners a very happy and peaceful New Year.

At last! New free LibriVox recording: The Riddle Ring

December 16, 2011

Much delayed owing to horrible computer problems, today sees the release of my latest LibriVox recording: not, I am sure, one you will have heard of before, and perhaps a rather unusual choice for me, but well-written and with some intriguing characters.

The Riddle Ring, by Justin McCarthy, is a romantic mystery – or mysterious romance – and tells the tale of jilted lover, Jim Conrad, who discovers an unusual gold ring while on a visit to Paris. What is the story of the ring? Why is Clelia Vine so sad? Who is the nameless ‘chief’? And how is a dour English barber in a Parisian salon mixed up in all this?

Justin McCarthy was an Irish nationalist, Liberal historian, novelist and politician.

This is in the public domain everywhere in the world. I hope you enjoy it.

http://librivox.org/the-riddle-ring-by-justin-mccarthy/

Also in progress: another of Dicken’s Christmas stories. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to record for over a month, and it will be a miracle if this is finished before Christmas.

After that, I will be completing Volume 2 of Henry Lucy’s East by West, and returning to my old favourite Cleek for more adventures with Dollops and Inspector Narkom of the Yard. Lots of fun to come.

New Iambik audiobook: Trencarrow Secret

October 7, 2011

My latest recording for Iambik Audiobooks, Trencarrow Secret by Anita Davison, is released today.

It is available in MP3 or M4B format directly from Iambik Audiobooks, nearly twelve and a half hours for just $6.99 at:

http://iambik.com/books/trencarrow-secret-by-anita-davison/

or you may even be able to win it free if you enter the Iambik First Birthday competition!

Set in 1882, this is the story of the Hart family who spend summer as usual at their country house on the Cornish coast. But this year, things are different. The sheltered and sensitive Isabel is approaching her 21st birthday, and there is talk of an engagement to Jared, the son of old family friends, whom Isabel has known since childhood. Isabel’s mother Marie is seriously ill. And Isabel sees something that turns her world upside down.

The events of this sweltering summer, leading up to Isabel’s birthday ball, form the framework of the story. It is more than a simple historical romance. The Harts must keep up appearances before their house guests and friends despite the tensions that arise within the family, and there are family secrets that Isabel has never been told. Can Isabel come to terms with her deep-seated fears and face reality?

The characters are well-drawn and I had no difficulty in visualising them as I recorded the book. I particularly enjoyed recording the indomitable Aunt Margot, Isabel’s widowed aunt, and Isabel’s brother-in-law Walter who does, oh does so enjoy his food. All in all, a book that I think you will enjoy.

No violence, sex or swearing – makes a pleasant change! :)

“With rich prose and compelling characters, Anita Davison weaves a magnificent Victorian era love story filled with dark family secrets and intrigues. Each chapter is more tempting than the one before it. Fans of eloquent and meaningful romantic historical fiction will want to savour every word. Not only are the historical details well presented, but the love story that unfolds is exhilarating and stunning. A deep, enriching lesson on the nature of life and love.” — Mirella Patzer – Historical Novel Review Blog

Read more about the book and some of the characters on the Trencarrow Secret website and more about the author on her blog, The Disorganised Author.

June is Audiobook Month: narrator interview

June 13, 2011

The Audio Publishers Association writes that “Every June, the APA carries out a campaign to enhance visibility, awareness and popularity for audiobooks by directly reaching out to consumers. In 2010, over 100 authors and narrators teamed up with publishers to reach approximately 4 million people through all forms of social media.”

As our contribution to the fun, the fragrant Miette has been hounding gently encouraging Iambik narrators to answer a few questions for publication on the blog.

Read my little contribution on the Iambik blog.

As your reward, you can enter #jiam2011 at checkout on Iambik.com for 50% off all titles until the end of June 2011. Stock up for next year!


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