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The core of this piece is satire, marking a path of wanton destruction through Moscow as Satan and his delightfully hooligan entourage parade from one scene to another causing chaos and watching the aftermath in the name of...well, why the hell not? There is also a love story as well as retelling of the history of Pontius Pilate.
Marked with numerous interesting characters, Bulgakov creates a readable if somewhat uneven tale. The title characters are introduced about halfway through the novel and are an attempt to create some sort of deeply affecting love story, that I don't consider all that effective given that it is pretty much the sole aspect of their personality we see is them pining for one another. However, title characters or not they are not there often and rarely without Woland or his minions at their side in order to make things interesting. The satire is effectively humorist and blasts Soviet greed well, but then greed is a very easy thing to parody.
The most interesting aspect of the novel for me were the moments when we are given a metafiction/history written by The Master. The language is wonderful and the imagery is perfectly evocative and I truly wished I had the option of reading more.
The narrator, which is quickly becoming the make or break factor of every audiobook I purchase, is, to my mind, remarkable. While the accents are all variously British, they are unique and he endows every character with a certain uniqueness and charisma (or lack thereof if the book should call for it) and should be beloved by all. I can't honestly understand the negative marks throughout the rest of audible. If you want a boring consistent drone of a voice, I think you are better listening to an automation than a legitimate audiobook.
Additionally, the translation (Michael Karpelson, 2006) is my personal favorite and has the most personality (the others I have read are much more dry in their translation and it shows heavily in the dialogue). This book was left incompletely edited when the author died, not being all that well acquainted with the rest of his work, which would explain some of the issues, but issues or not this book is a delightful read with a solid narrator.
33 of 35 people found this review helpful
If, like me, you were perplexed by Gogol (nose?? overcoat??), you will probably be even more befuddled by this novel that includes Satan, Pontius Pilate, and housing issues in post-Revolutionary Moscow. I felt as if I were somehow missing information critical to enjoying the work, as if it were a long inside joke that other people seem to appreciate enormously, but which left me puzzled and unmoved. I could never have gotten through the book without Julian Rhind-Tutt's oustanding narration. Not only did he help sustain my interest when it flagged, but his different voices helped me track who was who in the panoply of generously-named characters, with their longs surnames, patronymics, and nicknames or aliases (always more difficult when you don't have the printed page for reference). Rhind-Tutt has a lovely range of expression, uses pacing and variations in tone to advantage, and does a terrific silky Satan.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
This novel is a rare experience - compelling, moving, bizarre and enlightening. One of those novels where you find yourself wondering "how can anyone write this kind of thing?" There will be times where you find yourself shrinking from the savagery and times when you find yourself laughing out loud. Julian Rhind-Tutt's performance is just about perfect.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This went to my top five favorite audiobooks by the first twenty minutes, absolutely wonderful reading of this weird, funny, scary, profound satire/whatever it is. The dryly sarcastic narrative voice is pitch-perfect, the huge cast of characters wonderfully done. Not often a book this good gets and equally great performance. Fantastic!!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita is a work of beautiful language, powerful characters, fantastic magic, and moving moral tales.
Julian Rhind-Tutt's superb reading brings life, light and humour to a story often, in the best way, abstract, absurd and surreal.
This edition is also a flawless translation to English.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Didn't love the Pontius Pilate storyline, but everything else was brilliant. The idea of the world of the Soviet Union meeting with black magic is wonderfully realized, and highly entertaining.