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Publisher's Summary

King Leontes of Sicilia is seized by sudden and terrible jealousy of his wife Hermione, whom he accuses of adultery. He believes the child Hermione is bearing was fathered by his friend Polixenes, and when the baby girl is born he orders her to be taken to some wild place and left to die. Though Hermione's child escapes death, Leontes' cruelty has terrible consequences. Loss paves the way for reunion, and life and hope are born out of desolation and despair.
One of the late romances in Shakespeare's canon, this complex work is at times tragic, at times humorous, but always entertaining and enlightening.
Sinead Cusack plays Hermione, and Ciaran Hinda plays Leontes. Eileen Atkins is Paulina and Paul Jesson is Polixenes. Time the Chorus is played by Sir John Gielgud.
Public Domain (P)2014 Blackstone Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By John on 06-10-17

A Snapper-Up of Unconsidered Trifles

Thus does Autolycus, the quick-witted and even quicker-tongued rouge of this play, describe himself. And sometimes the same words apply to me.

Before I joined Audible as a full-fledged member, the sales and Daily Deals loomed rather largely in my life. I’d snap up books that “looked good” or that I knew would be “good for me”. Thus I have in my library War and Peace (granted, no trifle; I have yet to embark upon), Brave New World (which I enjoyed as far as a nightmare can be enjoyed) and Gulliver’s Travels (which I loathed). And, since December of 2014, I’ve had The Winter’s Tale.

After all, it’s Shakespeare, right? Shakespeare is good and good for you, right? And it was only $1.95, if I remember. Yet it languished on my digital shelf for coming on two and a half years. Only when our local (free) Shakespeare Festival chose Winter’s Tale as this summer’s offering did I dig it out and listen.

All my objections that had kept me from listening quickly fell away. I thought it would be hard to distinguish the characters without seeing them on stage. Wrong. I feared the plot—in a play such as this, complex, quick, fanciful—would leave me far behind, panting to catch up. Not a problem. I even suspected the acting would be hammy. Quite the opposite.

This is a superb production, superbly done. I hadn’t read the play since high school so the story (really a fairy tale) was completely fresh. Somehow Shakespeare managed to take an utterly implausible story (even when reading the scene, I can’t tell from whence Leontes’ baseless suspicions of his wife spring) and make it into something that made me laugh and, yes, even drop a tear.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By David on 03-14-15

Exit, pursued by a bear!

"Is whispering nothing? Is leaning cheek to cheek? is meeting noses? Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career Of laughter with a sigh?—a note infallible Of breaking honesty;—horsing foot on foot? Skulking in corners? wishing clocks more swift; Hours, minutes; noon, midnight? and all eyes Blind with the pin and web but theirs, theirs only, That would unseen be wicked?—is this nothing? Why, then the world and all that's in't is nothing; The covering sky is nothing; Bohemia nothing; My is nothing; nor nothing have these nothings, If this be nothing."

I can see why this play is called "complex" and "problematic." The tone shifts completely from the first act to the last. It begins as a tragedy in which King Leontes becomes irrationally convinced that his wife, Hermione, has been committing adultery with his best friend, the King of Bohemia, and that her child is that of Polixenes. This leads to a lot of death and misery, which makes the final act, in which everyone is reconciled, a miracle occurs, and the play ends with a Happy Ever After more typical of Shakespeare's more straightforward comedies, almost dissonant.

That and the fact that it has few of Shakespeare's famous quotable lines is probably the reason why it's one of his less frequently performed plays, but I think it's a great and twisty tale, and if the ending was a bit deux ex machina, it's still rich in humor and tragedy, and well worth listening to.

"Exit, pursued by a bear!"

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 11-28-16

Exit pursued by bear

The actors all have stunning voices and play it as though on a stage. Follow with your written copy if you're studying it to get a sense of the tone. I'm not going to try and praise Shakespeare because anything I say can't be enough. It's a wonderful romance with a decent bit of drama and comedy. Drama and comedy combine with the famous stage direction of 'exit pursued by bear'. But it's a better story than to focus on this. Just listen and enjoy!

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Patrick on 03-08-18

Great acting marred by irritating music.

The acting and recording are outstanding throughout but the music for the songs is somewhat irritating.

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