Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen **

OK - this is a classic in the Romance field, actually written during the Regency period that so many favorite Romance novels take place.

It's also on the AAR Top 100 of 2007 (and other years as well), so it fell in my TBR list. I decided to listen to it in audio book form when my March audible.com credit became available. First, I looked at the free online websites for audio books - it is, after all, many years out of copyright at this point. The only one I found was read by a young woman in an American accent - a few seconds into it, I decided I'd rather pay. Then I went on Audible.com only to realize there are so many versions, I would have trouble deciding. I did 2 things: I looked for reviews that praised the narrators then did the sample listenings from 4 versions I picked from those, and basically I chose one at random, since I couldn't decide.

The version I chose - for anyone interested - was narrated by Josephine Bailey. I'm trying to decide if hers was a good narration or not. Frankly, it's hard to decide since the language is so obscure, and I had so much trouble following the story. Multiple negatives turned into possible positives. Things insinuated which I couldn't understand. I think Ms. Bailey probably did a good rendition. She did manage to use a different voice for most of the characters (her Jane and her Elizabeth seemed awfully similar - her Lydia mostly higher pitched and louder than Jane/Elizabeth - her male voices different from females).

The thing is, I could not figure out when it was that Mr. Darcy (whatever was his first name?) decided he was madly in love with Elizabeth. And I guess it's supposed to be ironic that the pride Mr Darcy is accused of is what kept Elizabeth from considering him anything other than... not worthy? A bad sort of fellow? Her pride, I mean, not his, is what kept her from... whatever.

Maybe if I had actually read the words, I could have spent more time allowing my brain to find the meaning of them. As they flowed into my brain in Ms. Bailey's voice, I found myself mostly frowning and wondering what the hell she just said.

So - did I dislike the recording, or the story? Unfortunately, they are at this moment the same. I have only the recording of the story to go by - and I did not like the mental calisthenics I had to go through to figure out what was being said. I guess I need the contemporary American translation to understand it.

So sue me. 2 stars.

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