The Hippopotamus

  • by Stephen Fry
  • Narrated by Stephen Fry
  • 9 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments, and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan.
But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted....

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good story, fantastic performance

Would you listen to The Hippopotamus again? Why?

Absolutely, because Stephen Fry brings the characters so fully to life.


What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hippopotamus?

The description of the events of the New Year's Day shooting party, from the point of view of two young boys.


What about Stephen Fry’s performance did you like?

Everything! Every character was distinct, even people who only had one line of dialogue.


If you could take any character from The Hippopotamus out to dinner, who would it be and why?

These characters are the sort of people one prefers to watch from a safe distance, actually.


Any additional comments?

This is the first audiobook novel I've experienced, and I can't help but think that, as first reads go, this one sets the bar extremely high. If you've never had Stephen Fry read you a story, doing all the voices, you've really missed out. I listened to the first few chapters while out walking one day, and was thus obliged to perfect the finger-point that perfectly expresses "I'm not laughing at you, but the sounds in my ears" to strangers surprised by the eruption of snorts, hoots, and giggles as they approach or pass.

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- W. Barron "A voracious reader from the age of five, I'm quite new to audiobooks, but looking forward to hearing some great stories. I loathe vampires."

Sensitivity, profanity, bestiality - its all here!

What made the experience of listening to The Hippopotamus the most enjoyable?

I could listen to Stephen Fry narrate a set of Ikea instructions, so it is not a surprise that his delivery and pace are just perfect here. He is able to change his voice very very subtly to convey information about each character - a slight accent for the character Michael, for example, and a slight softening for Jane. His narration makes the quite unlikeable Ted, quite loveable by the end.


What did you like best about this story?

I loved the character development and the way the story moved along. It is quite slow and the beginning as we are told about Ted's mission. However this allows us to get to know Ted well. In the beginning his profanity and sexism are quite shocking and seem very dated. However by the middle of the book the swearing seems as much a part of him as breathing. The book downloaded into 2 parts and they felt like very different books. The first set the scene and the second contains all the action. The ending was a complete surprise to me. I also like the insights that Ted gives about art and poetry and his own disappointment in his fading creativity.


Have you listened to any of Stephen Fry’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I listened to his biography.


If you could take any character from The Hippopotamus out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Michael. He is a true modern entrepreneur but his past and early life make him quite mysterious.


Any additional comments?

If you can get past the profanity and, of course, the sexual references, you are in for a treat. Ted turns out to be very sweet, sensitive and shrewd. The novel leaves the reader with lots to think about.

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- hfrances

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-02-2010
  • Publisher: Random House AudioBooks