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The Brothers Karamazov is a wonderful book, and deserves to be read by many more people than might be willing to tackle the whole thing. This audiobook comes to the rescue. It's a remarkable achievement. It manages to get in every character, every incident, every philosophical digression I remember from two previous readings of the whole thing. And it does it without rushing. The pacing is steady throughout.
Unlike the four or five hour versions typical of abridged audiobooks, this one appears to operate at the level of the word and phrase rather than the level of the incident or chapter: a little snip here, a small excision there; it all adds up to a version with about 56% of the original text intact. It's more a condensation than an abridgment. Yes, you're not getting the whole thing, but you're getting a solid and thoughtful selection, not a hack job. The Grand Inquisitor is still there in all his confounding glory.
And you're getting Simon Vance. As a narrator of 19th century novels, Vance is nearly without peer. (He's pretty good with contemporary books as well, it's just that I've listened to more of the other.) Maybe not a man of a thousand voices, but he's got a couple hundred at least, and many of them are on display here - none of them for show, all of them in the service of the novel.
Of course, if you can and want to, you should eventually tackle the whole thing. But give this one a shot in the meantime. Or give it a shot if, like me, you've read it before and just want a somewhat faster "review." Except it doesn't feel like a review when you're listening to it. It feels like Dostoevsky.
35 of 35 people found this review helpful
The audiobook may be abridged, but at moments the narrator brought me almost to tears with how how he presented father Zosima. His voice is quite caring in the narrating throughout. He gets the female characters perfectly, especially Grushenka and you are able to distinguish one character from another, despite the numerous characters. I don't believe anyone should substitute reading this masterpiece by simply listening to the audiobook. However, to miss out on this narrator's telling of a beautiful story is to miss a performance of a lifetime. Believe me, I place no exaggeration on this at all.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
No, the characters are all just so unpleasant and the story is nothing to get excited about. Half the time I found myself thinking "Who cares?" Add to that a boring delivery by the narrator means this is a book I wouldn't want to inflict on any friends.
What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)
A damp squib. Like Dostoevsky just got fed up with writing and decided to end it there, and who can blame him?
Would you be willing to try another one of Simon Vance’s performances?
His characterizations were all the same and his delivery quite monotonous. The clearly well-to-do characters often had a north London twang to their accents, which was absolutely misplaced. So no, I would think twice before listening to another book read by Simon Vance.
If this book were a film would you go see it?
There is a Russian version and I'd be intrigued to see how they interpret the characters.
Any additional comments?
Plenty of better books out there.
2 of 6 people found this review helpful