Les Liaisons Dangereuses

  • by Choderlos de Laclos
  • Narrated by Dominic West, Janet McTeer, Una Stubbs, Elaine Cassidy, Adjoa Andoh, Edward Holcroft, Morfydd Clark
  • 2 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the sumptuous private drawing rooms of 18th-century Paris to the decadent estates and chateaus of the French countryside, La Marquise de Merteuil and Le Vicomte de Valmont hatch a long-distance plan of vengeance and seduction.
Valmont is determined to conquer the famously pious Madame de Tourvel, whose husband is abroad on business. However, Merteuil has other plans. She enlists his involvement in the seduction of a young convent girl, Cécile Volanges, the wife-to-be of the Marquise's former lover. But as they race toward the culmination of their plans, events start to spiral out of control, and they realise that they might not be as in control of their hearts as once they thought.
Madame de Volanges: Adjoa Andoh
La Présidente de Tourvel: Elaine Cassidy
Cécile Volanges: Morfydd Clark
Le Chevalier Danceny: Edward Holcroft
Marquise de Merteuil: Janet McTeer
Vicomte de Valmont: Dominic West
Madame de Rosemond: Una Stubbs.
With announcements by Simon Kane.


What the Critics Say

“This audio production provides a master class in inhabiting character, interpretation of text, and vocal technique.” (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

So, I didn't like a "classic"

I know Choderlos de Laclos "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (1782) is an important work, s thinly veiled criticism of pre-revolutionary French nobility and the terminal debauchery that infected and eventually felled the monarchy.

Or maybe it wasn't. de Laclos' patron was the duc D'Orleans, a real political player and the king's brother. Maybe it was a commissioned 18th Century version of E. L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey" (2011). "Les Liaisons" features the Vicomte de Valmont, whose name is close to the actual French royal House of Valois. Christian Grey could, in some respects, be Valmont in a private helicopter instead of on horseback.

Maybe it's a combination of both and much more. Spark Notes and Shmoop are better resources than this review, although I'm not sure that either compares it with 21st century sadomasochistic erotica.

Literary analysis and criticism aside, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" did not travel the cultural and social terrain well. I read the full version of the book - this Audible is abridged - many years ago, in high school, and I remember it as moderately scandalous. Now I'm pretty horrified by some parts. No, I really don't want to hear about adults having sex with adolescents, even if it was legal in Europe two centuries ago. I most definitely do not want to hear about a violent rape, no matter how fictional it is.

I did like two recent movies the book was based on, "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988), and "Cruel Intentions" (1999). Despite the historical significance and de Laclos' good writing , I just don't like the actual original complete book/story.

The performance wasn't great for me, either. The women's performances were good, but i had trouble distinguishing one male character from another.

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- Cynthia "Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always.""

Almost better than the movie

This was an abridged full-cast performance, in epistolary form, of the play, which is based on the 1782 novel about French aristocrats engaging in recreational adultery and competitive seduction. It's marvelously acted with all the venom and petty viciousness befitting scheming, amoral aristocrats whose only ambition is sex and the ruination of lives.

The Marquise de Merteuil (played in the 1988 movie by Glenn Close) is a rich widow who has clawed her way to the top the only way a woman can in her society. Sexually rapacious and (deep down) embittered by the double standards that allow men to boast of their conquests while women have to carefully guard their reputations, she enjoys manipulating people and ruining lives, and enlists a friend of hers, the equally amoral playboy Vicomte de Valmont, to deflower the virginal fiancee (played in the movie by a young Uma Thurman) of a lover who just broke up with her. He has his own conquests in mind, however, and the two of them spar with at first friendly affection as they execute their separate schemes, but the two of them wind up ruining lives, breaking hearts, and eventually, causing more than one death as their rivalry escalates.

One might be forgiven for concluding that the moral of the story is that the entire French aristocracy were worthless parasites who deserved the tumbrils soon to come.

It's a great story, which I downloaded as an Audible freebie. As much as I enjoyed the 1988 movie, the cast here is perfect.
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- David "Indiscriminate Reader"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-27-2016
  • Publisher: Audible Studios