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"Be careful what you wish for" would make a better title for this book.
I was wondering why Kate Winslet chose this book, published in 1865, to narrate. I now understand that the movie version is due out in 2013. Kate Winslet was attached for a long time to star in the lead role. Then Eva Green replaced her with Gerard Butler as Laurent. In the fall of 2011, Elisabeth Olsen was announced as a replacement in the lead role with Glenn Close as Madame Raquin and Tom Felton. This book has been adapted on film many times and in several languages, going as far back as a silent film adaptation in 1915. That must have been interesting. I'm really looking forward to Glenn Close's eyes burning into Thérèse after Madame Raquin becomes mute and learns the truth.
The French author, Emile Zola, intended to study temperaments and not characters. His main characters were assigned various humors according to Galen's Four Temperaments: Thérèse is melancholic, Laurent is sanguine, and Camille is phlegmatic. The characters are often given animalistic tendencies, every one of them almost entirely consumed by self-interest. Thérèse and Laurent are often rightly described as brutes.
I don't generally finish a book in which I don't actually like ANY of the characters. After all, why should I spend time with them if I don't like them? But Kate Winslet's excellent narration kept holding my attention until I began to understand and better appreciate the story. I'm glad I listened to it, and I can now see its significance and influence on other later works of literature. Stick with it to the end and you'll appreciate the overall story and the style of writing as well. It must have been amazing when they performed this on stage in an opera, which lends itself so well to the drama. An interesting story on many levels.
58 of 63 people found this review helpful
Kate Winslet is a gifted actress and she can add talented narrator/story teller to her list of accomplishments. She is reason alone to partake of this audiobook. Zola is a solid writer who delves deeply into flawed characters' motivations and obsessions. However, the writing is not even close to Henry James or D. H. Lawrence as I was hoping for at the start of the book. Definitely worth a listen, just don't expect a classic masterpiece.
26 of 29 people found this review helpful
Not all actors make good readers (and not all readers make good actors) but Kate Winslet does a fine job with this tale. There are a few occasions where she misplaces the emphasis in a sentence, and her French pronunciation sometimes seems a bit off: her way of pronouncing Camille as an elongated "Cameeeya" sounded odd to my ears. But on the whole this is an elegantly read audiobook of Zola's harrowing novel.
Minus one star because Audible chose to use a Victorian English translation in the public domain, rather than a better, modern translation such as that by Robin Buss for Penguin.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
I've read three of the Zola books before so knew this was going to be gritty and harrowing. As my first audible book though I was blown away at how moving and shocking the narrative is. I gasped out loud several times in horror - Zola certainly knows how to get into ones head with his graphic descriptions of outer desolation and inner torment. Kate Winslet does a tremendous job and really relishes some of his most vivid adjectives - "sanguine, vile, grotesque" to name but a few. Must be riproaring in the original language. Highly recommended and especially as an introduction to Zola who can be heavy going.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
It's awful to watch these characters descend into self inflicted neurosis... but also deeply satisfying you watch karma served up to these awful people with such prompt and unyielding relish.
This is not a tale of redemption or genuine remorse - regret and self pity, perhaps, (maybe even a little bit of revenge from Madame Raquin's perspective) - but if you were hoping to come out the other side feeling like your faith in justice and all that is good and right has been restored... I'm putting it out there - this ain't the book you're looking for.
Kate Winslet's narration has a quiet, implacable, almost cold and unemotional edge to it - perfectly appropriate for the novel and its empty souled characters. Her deliberately detached and distant narration approach is very well matched to the novel and Zola's writing style.
While Therese Raquin is not exactly the most uplifting novel you're going to read/hear - this version is certainly worth a listen....If for no other reason than to remind yourself to work harder at being a better person than the characters in this book!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
bit to weird & full on for me, what a horrible way to have to live.