Here is a collection of the Oscar Wilde's famous fairy tales, read by a cast of leading British actors. Additional narrators include Geoffrey Palmer O.B.E., Sir Donald Sinden, and Elaine Stritch. Music: 'Reverie De Sebastian' by Steve Davies.
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Which is more impressive in this audiobook, the fairy tales of Oscar Wilde or the readings of them by the assembled famous British actors? At their best, Wilde's stories are exquisitely beautiful and painful and reveal deep understanding of the tragedy of the human condition (mortality, inequality, prejudice, selfishness, and hatred), as well as its transcendence through generosity, self-sacrifice, beauty, faith, and love. The readers are perfect, with wise, compassionate, and flexible voices and deep understanding of each word they say and of each scene they depict.
Special highlights are Dame Judi Dench reading "The Nightingale and the Rose" so full of wit and emotion, Jeremy Irons reading "The Devoted Friend" with a surprisingly wide range of voices for different characters, Joanna Lumley reading "The Star Child" and moving me to tears, and Robert Harris reading "The Happy Prince" and moving me to tears, too, especially whenever he says, "Swallow, Swallow, little Swallow." Sir Derek Jacobi reading "The Fisherman and His Soul," Sinead Cusack reading "The Birthday of the Infanta," and Sir Donald Sinden reading "The Selfish Giant" all do fine jobs with fine tales.
The only dud (forgive the pun) is "The Remarkable Rocket," which, despite Geoffrey Palmer's excellent reading and despite the interesting concept (sentient fireworks talking about their upcoming royal display) is finally a mediocre joke that long overstays its welcome. The only disappointment is that the cover art says that there is a bonus track of "The Actress" read by Elaine Stritch, but it's absent from the audiobook.
Anyway, I highly recommend this excellent audiobook.
So I'll start this review by saying that Oscar Wilde is already the biggest literary influence in my life. There are so many good things about this recording, it will be difficult to enumerate them all. Let me start by praising the voice actors. Their rendering of these stories is very emotional (with the exception of the firework story, that one is good but silly), done with obvious attention to the story that it almost feels like it's something that they wrote for their children. BTW, I wouldn't mind being read stories by Judi Dench every night before I went to sleep. My favorite, and always has been, is The Happy Prince. I swear to God I cry every single time I read it anyways, and the audio of it had me almost crying in my office. UGH so good. Some stories were new, others were old favorites, but all of it was just perfect. Everybody should own this/ be sharing these stories with everyone. Also a very good cause. You have literally no reason not to own this.