Category Archives: Audiobooks

Just finished reading Robert Harris’s novel, An Officer and a Spy, about the astounding Dreyfus affair and can’t help thinking that I’m living through a similar abuse of power at the highest levels of government. We need the equivalent of a Colonel Picquart to expose the corruption and lies. Two other bestsellers authored by Harris, Fatherland and Archangel, are familiar to fans of Michael Kitchen. If only the Trump presidency were like the Nazi regime in Fatherland — alternate history fiction.


Shylock Is My Name

by Howard Jacobson (author); Michael Kitchen (narrator)
Release date: 8 February 2016 sample (includes “read for you by Michael Kitchen”)

The novel is reviewed in this week’s The New Yorker in Adam Gopnik’s interesting piece, “Why Rewrite Shakespeare?“. His assessment of Howard Jacobson made me smile:

Jacobson has an unmatched reputation in his homeland as a humorist, but not all of it translates for an American reader, since the jokes seem to depend more on extreme aggravation of tone than on close observation of life. Everything in Jacobson sounds as if it should be read out loud by Alan Rickman…

Well, we didn’t get Alan Rickman, but Michael Kitchen seems to have captured the right tone in his narration. From a review at

An excellent reader like Michael Kitchen (Foyle’s War) is an added bonus. His clipped, ironic delivery perfectly matches the author’s sardonic wit. The complex language makes the novel perhaps easier to listen to than to read and Kitchen’s performance gives us many laugh out loud moments.

And from Library Journal:

Provocative and unsettling, Jacobson’s insightful examination of contemporary Jewish identity gets resonating attention from British actor Michael Kitchen.

AudioFile’s page on Michael Kitchen is just what I was looking for — a list of MK’s major audiobooks accompanied by short reviews. Almost uniform high praise for MK’s narration save for a few duds.

And having recently listened to Two on a Tower, I couldn’t agree more with the plaudits Michael Kitchen receives at for his enthralling reading of Thomas Hardy’s novel. Back in 1975, Michael Kitchen played Swithin St. Cleeve in “Viviette”, a radio play of Two on a Tower. Wish I could give that a listen.

Listening to One World Music Radio’s free offering this month. (Odd that the paragraphs in one chapter on disc 2 are out of order. An error in the original recording?)

Play sample.

I love the ground under his feet, and the air over his head, and everything he touches and every word he says. I love all his looks, and all his actions and him entirely and all together.

-Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

SC said:

I loved Wuthering Heights when I read it and when I saw the film (the old one with Laurence Olivier) but I was never a fan of Heathcliff. I loved the language, the beauty of it and the flow of it all of which fit perfectly with Michael Kitchen’s glorious voice. When I first heard MK’s voice, I thought perhaps I should not listen while driving. Fortunately, I did not run into a tree.

Happened upon Catherine’s description of her love for Edgar and was reminded of your comment, SC. The quote pretty much sums up why this site exists, too.

A dreamy photo landed in my inbox last week, and out came the drawing materials and MK audiobook (one in which he does an American accent – sort of. 🙂 ) Thanks so much, KT!

The various voices Michael Kitchen uses in his superb narration of Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1998) kept me smiling throughout this surprisingly funny and romantic novel by George Orwell, an author I’d previously only known from my required high school reading of 1984 and Animal Farm.  When I learned that there’s a movie adaptation starring Richard E. Grant, my first reaction was how much more suitable a 30-year old MK would have been for the role of the diminutive Gordon Comstock.  MK playing opposite Helena Bonham Carter as Rosemary would be dream casting, imo.

Just finished ploughing through the novel, The Goldfinch, and I’m now definitely ready for something lighter – perhaps another Robert Goddard audiobook read by MK.  Last month, I spent a marathon session listening to the enchanting Caught in the Light while drawing.  Sigh, wish I could capture MK’s likeness as magnificently as he brought Goddard’s story to life.  I completely agree with this blogger for the Williamsburg Regional Library:

I thought this was going to be a simple mystery novel I could listen to while driving to work, until I found myself looking for reasons to go around the block, down the street, and out on the interstate to avoid turning off the car.  I was quickly drawn in by the suspenseful yet vulnerable voice of Michael Kitchen…

(Coincidentally, right after finishing the book, I watched the wonderful Swedish historical film, Everlasting Moments, also about a woman fighting the odds to pursue her love of photography.)

What a good subject he makes.  Drawing, as it turns out, is the one activity I’ve found that allows me to properly concentrate on an audiobook for an extended period.  I might actually make it through one at last.  Naturally, I’m listening to one read by MK.

In this WSJ article on audiobooks, the writer looks at reviews from readers to compare “star” Colin Firth’s performance of Graham Greene’s “The End of the Affair” with “professional” reader Michael Kitchen’s rendition:

British actor Michael Kitchen, who has narrated novels by Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Emily Brönte among others, got fewer accolades, receiving 4.27 stars from 75 Audible listeners. One reviewer gave Mr. Kitchen five stars for a “captivating listen.” Another gave it one star, with a curt pan: “Not Colin Firth.”

I came across an amusing comeback on twitter from a reader strongly in MK’s court:

I’ve never heard Michael Kitchen say his own name, so his intro to the Making of Foyle’s War DVD bonus feature is quite a thrill.

pdx144 said:

At the beginning of every audio book he says, “Read by Michael Kitchen”. I never get tired of hearing it. Nice to actually see him say his name.

I must have missed it in the one audiobook of his I’ve tried. The book was Wuthering Heights, a novel whose appeal I never understood, but I thought MK reading it might change my mind.  Nope…it was all I could do to stay awake through one chapter every time I tried to listen – finally gave up. 

pdx144 said:

I have all of them and WH is the only one I couldn’t get through. Hope you give the others a chance as he is wonderful to listen to.