Pride and Prejudice vs Pride and Prejudice – Audio Book Review and TV Review

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Audio Book Review

I’ve been an Austen hater for as long as I can remember. Well, no, I know when I became an active hater. It was Year Twelve, I was doing literature, we were studying Mansfield Park, my literature teacher was swooning and gushing about it and I was bored out of my brain. I remember trying to enjoy it, but I just didn’t. And ever since, I’ve shunned and mocked everything Austen, despite many good friends urging me to give it a go.

Finally, I decided to give it a go. I went the Audible audio book of Pride and Prejudice read by Rosamund Pike. And… It’s bloody good. There were points while I was listening and driving where I was shaking my head, frustrated at being proved wrong. I mean, I knew enough about the story through general pop culture that nothing was a surprise, but it was the detail that got me. Austen was clever and made some pretty decent comments on society. And I have no doubt that my enjoyment was absolutely fuelled by the wonderful performance by Pike. I’m not sure that I’m ready to hit Mansfield Park again yet, but I was prepared to give the BBC production which everyone raves about a go.

Pride and Prejudice – TV Review

This is the one with Colin Firth, with the infamous pond scene, with a cast filled with familiar faces. It’s a six-part adaptation and it’s great. Cheesy and wonderful, and I will forever be quoting (or knowing me, misquoting) Mrs Bennet. I can’t say that I feel the passion that some do, and honestly, the wet shirt scene wasn’t all I’d built it up to be, but it’s a good watch. Now, time to take a turn around the room.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner – Audio Book Review

Romy Hall is in prison because she killed a man. She has a child, and a man from her past is stalking her. It is the story of desperation, a desperation to survive, to keep her child and herself safe, to try to find a better place.

The audiobook is read by the author, and it works so well as an audiobook. While the story edges forward and flies back, we are quickly on the side of Romy, willing her to find safety for herself and her child, but aware that she is in a dangerous world and has little on her side to help.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker – Audio Book Review

This is a story of women in war. Throughout time, women have been victims of war; kidnapped, raped, destroyed. This story is from the perspective of Briseis, the queen of a city the Greeks took around the time of the battle of Troy. She is the trophy of Achilles, now a slave and concubine. She has no say in her place in the world, and she despairs. Her place is tenuous, controlled by men.

There are several things that I loved about this. Briseis is quietly observant, and so it is a different perspective on some of these great, mythological characters that so much has been written about. The pacing is slow but constant, and the urgency of battle is present, but slightly distant to Briseis’ existence – while still managing to be extremely central. I listened to this as an audiobook and loved the tone of Kristin Atherton. I’m now very keen to re-learn some of the mythology, and keep this perspective in the back of my mind.

God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson – Audio Book Review

Following the same family from her previous book Life After Life, God in Ruins has the focus on Teddy, the younger brother who becomes a fighter pilot. It covers his life and the lives of those around him, including his wife, his parents and siblings, his very horrible and annoying daughter, her children and more.

I loved Life After Life, and was very excited to be back in the company of characters who I loved. However, I didn’t love this. I didn’t like the characters, I didn’t like the majority of the plot and I really hated the ending. Speaking with a mate who felt the same after I went to see what others online thought, and it seems that we’re in the minority. While I have often recommended Life After Life to friends, I’ll be a bit more hesitant recommending God in Ruins. However, I will certainly mention that it is loved by many.

A Christmas Carol vs A Christmas Carol – TV Review and Audio Book Review *spoiler alert*

Guy Pearce features as Ebeneezer Scrooge in this three-part TV adaptation of the classic Dickens novella. We all know the story… Scrooge is a grump who hates Christmas and people and life in general, and he employs Bob Cratchit (Joe Alwyn) who is barely making his meagre wage stretch to keep his family going. He grumbles about giving Cratchit the day off for Christmas and calls everything Christmas ‘humbug’. Then, on Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley (Stephen Graham) who warns that Scrooge must change his ways. Scrooge is then visited by three ghosts, Christmas Past, Present and Future, who show him visions that make him a nice person who loves Christmas and is generous and kind.

The television show takes a lot of liberties with the story, adding subplots and backstory to give Scrooge reason for being the way he is, giving a much larger role to Bob’s wife, Mary (Vinette Robinson), giving Jacob Marley reason to be as he is. Given I’d never read the novella, I wondered just much had been changed. Time to rectify that: I got an audiobook and listened to it. There are heaps of versions of A Christmas Carol available on Audible, with a wide variety of readers, but in the end, I settled on Sir Patrick Stewart, and I was very happy with this decision. The only thing was that this was 1hr 40 while others were over 3 hours. I’ve been back and can’t see that it was an abridged version, so I can’t really explain it.

The original novella is sparce, telling a good story well, though it does feel that Scrooge very quickly atones and changes. I wonder if just the concept of ghosts was more scary back in the 1840s, or if the creators of the TV show decided that today’s audience needed more. I liked that there was more of Mary and the family in the TV show, though suggesting magical powers seemed a stretch. Several of the reveals of Scrooge’s past seemed to either be giving him and excuse for being an arsehole, or making him more evil rather than just grumpy. All seemed valid within the world created, especially his poor business practices.

For me, I don’t think all of the expanded and reimagined parts of the tale were great choices, but I enjoyed the beauty of the show. I felt the terror of Scrooge (and his attempts to excuse or reason the visions he was having), and I felt that regardless of whether the audience was sympathetic or not, his change of attitude seemed genuine. Overall, I reckon definitely worth a watch.