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I have a kind of love/hate relationship with George Eliot. On one hand, she writes beautifully crafted novels filled with interesting and solid characters. On the other hand, she's always interrupting her narrative to tell me how to think about it. She's forever reaching after generalizations, but many of them ring as false to me as the narrative itself rings true.
Adam Bede is no exception. As a narrator, Eliot annoys me; as a narrative, the book is a graceful and moving story about life and love in a small village as the 18th century slides into the 19th. (Some of the dinner-table conversation revolves around Bony - Napoleon - and the threat he and the armies of France pose.)
Adam is a carpenter who's in love with Hatty; but Hatty's head has been turned by Arthur, the son of the local squire. Arthur and Adam fight; Arthur goes off to join his regiment; Hatty decides to marry Adam after all; but as the day approaches, she discovers (in wonderfully elliptical Victorian prose) that she's pregnant.
In some ways the book could have been written by Thomas Hardy. The ending is less grim than it would have been in Hardy's hands, and there is considerably more country-folkish humor throughout the book; but not everyone makes it through, and there is a kind of autumnal poignancy about the last moments.
One of the more remarkable achievements in the book is the character Dinah, an early Methodist. Until the Conference forbids it, Dinah plays the unusual role of itinerant preacher. She's a gentle, loving, peaceful soul, and one of the few utterly believable persons of faith I've encountered in fiction.
Nadia May is a comfortable narrator, reliable as a rock, and I very much enjoyed her performance.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
There are some audiobook readers whose narrations never fail and among those I would place Nadia May. I have had this audiobook for more than a decade and never got around to listening to it until now but it is still as wonderful as the day I bought it - and now there are so many other readings available but this is still the one I would choose. Nadia May has wonderful tone, pace, diction and an ability to tell a story without drawing attention to herself. That said her ability to appropriately read dialects in a natural tone is an amazing talent.
In this particular text she speaks the dialect of the rural farmers and tradespeople in a way that makes the realism for which George Eliot strives have a much greater impact than reading the book as a text. I have heard many of her other narrations such as 'Anna Karenina' in which her ability to give a subtle Russian accent to words also made the reading a much greater pleasure than would otherwise be the case.
I love the intricacy of the text in 19th century novels and having a reader like Nadia May makes these readings so much richer. I highly recommend this book, particularly as read by such a talented narrator.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book written by George Eliot or narrated by Nadia May?
What other book might you compare Adam Bede to, and why?
Adam Bede is incomparable to any book. It is a masterpiece as are all Eliot's works.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The whole presentation was flawed by the tenor of her voice and the irritating character studies.
Was Adam Bede worth the listening time?
The story would have been,; I have read the book and loved it. The narrator made the listening tedious. I would never buy a book narrated by her.
Any additional comments?
I hoped to buy Felix Holt by George Eliot but refrained from doing so because of narrator, Nadia May
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about Adam Bede?
I loved the narration, which made all the characters wonderfully sympathetic. I liked the exposition of spiritual dialogue, and that the story did NOT leave me feeling dissatisfied, the way Hardy's similar novel: Jude the Obscure does.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Adam Bede?
The annoying mother Lisbeth, yet a very sweet scene of her enjoying the company of her son, stroking his hair and such.
What about Nadia May’s performance did you like?
Wonderful accent and tone which brought the characters into my field of likeability.