Testament of Youth

  • by Vera Brittain
  • Narrated by Sheila Mitchell
  • 23 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

This classic memoir of the First World War is now a major motion picture starring Alicia Vikander and Kit Harington.
In 1914 Vera Brittain was 20, and as war was declared she was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later her life - and the lives of her whole generation - had changed in a way that would have been unimaginable in the tranquil prewar era.
Testament of Youth, one of the most famous autobiographies of the First World War, is Brittain's account of how she survived those agonising years; how she lost the man she loved; how she nursed the wounded; and how she emerged into an altered world.
A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Vera Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time and has lost none of its power to shock, move and enthral readers since its first publication in 1933.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Old Favorite With Issues

I read Testament of Youth and Testament of Experience in print ages ago and loved them both. This edition is accompanied by introductions and explanations from the author's daughter and the author herself. I was excited to have an audio version of the book and looked forward to a long happy listen.

My problem lies in the fact that the narration makes the author sound like a haughty arrogant very old dowager. The listening is tough going as Mitchell, the narrator, allows her voice to drop off at the end of sentences and rushes through the cumbersome and complex ornate prose. This mix makes hearing what is being read difficult and understanding the words at times almost impossible.

This book was first published when the author was in her late 30's looking back at her experience of life before WWI and the impact the war had on her generation. The voicing the narrator uses sounds too old. I had come to think that this was the only voice Mitchell was capable of--then at the two hour point when the journal entries entered the picture--she switched to a young woman's voice for these portions--so this elderly voice seems to have been a choice. What a shame, because the younger clear voice made the elderly voice even worse by comparison.

I think the problem lies in that the author's intro for the 1970's edition was written when Brittain was 80 years old. It seems that production for this recording assumed the whole book should be voiced by an eighty year old instead of the age Brittain actually was when the book was written. This error makes listening to this recorded version impossible for me.

If you read the reviews on Amazon for the print edition you will find an even bigger debate going on over the content of the book. Reviewers sounding off, arguing about and judging what Brittain says--not how the narrator voices the story. To me, this is a book from history and about the author's personal thoughts, beliefs and perceptions. You may find many of her assumptions offensive--but I think they represent the culture of the time. I do agree with several reviewers in that Brittain was very contradictory in her opinions and to me that just exposes the "youth" from the title of the book.

This book is still an excellent look at one person's experience of WWI--even with its flaws. However, the unfortunate narration makes it impossible for me to hear and understand the words. Listen carefully to the sample before you decide and keep in mind that the actual narration is even worse than the sample suggests.
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- Sara "Avid Reader"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-07-2016
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group