Thought I’d finally try one of the Aurelio Zen books narrated by Michael Kitchen. After finishing Blood Rain, I think I’ll be skipping the rest in the series. The story wasn’t my cup of tea, and for the first time, I understood the occasional negative reviews that MK receives for his narration style. He read the first chapter in such an odd, halting manner that I was tempted to give up on the book after half an hour. The distracting pauses between words did eventually subside, but I wasn’t swept away by this audiobook as I have been by the others MK has read. Mafia crime is perhaps too much outside of my realm of interest. Far more enjoyable is the Georgette Heyer audiobook I’m now listening to narrated by Richard Armitage, another Leicestershire-born actor with a gorgeous voice and expert narrative abilities.
Category Archives: Audiobooks
Just finished listening to Michael Kitchen’s outstanding narration of Shylock Is My Name. Now referring back to the source material for Howard Jacobson’s novel by viewing Shakespeare Uncovered and Trevor Nunn’s National Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice with future Foyle’s War guest stars, Henry Goodman, in an Olivier Award winning performance as Shylock, and Mark Umbers as Solanio. (Since we were denied the scenes showing Foyle catching up with Howard Paige, watching the destruction of Goodman’s Shylock could be the next best thing, although unlike Shylock, Paige wouldn’t be deserving of any sympathy.)
Abridged and unabridged audiobook editions released in 1997. Robert Goddard is such a good writer that I wouldn’t want to miss a single word, especially when the words are read by Michael Kitchen. But it would be interesting to listen to Martin Shaw’s narration for comparison.
Finished listening to The Great Train Robbery today. One of my favorite movies is now one of my favorite audiobooks as well. Michael Kitchen’s expert narration gave distinct voice to each of the characters in the large cast, vividly bringing the personalities to life. Loved all of the additional historical background provided in the book. And the exposition on the physics pertaining to a moving train made Pierce’s feat of traversing the train cars all the more thrilling and amazing.
From the Irish Times, May 5, 2001:
Swimming without a roof over your head has become a subversive activity, says Roger Deakin – and it’s one he pursues with glee as he breast-strokes, crawls and occasionally paddles his way around some of the UK’s more esoteric swimming places, from lazy ox-bow rivers to icy glacial lakes, from the balmy Scilly Islands to the Norfolk Broads. This is eccentricity elevated to an art form, a meditative hymn to the atavistic pleasures of water, which is expertly accentuated by Michael Kitchen’s abrasively English reading. It’s one to listen to again and again.
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
Overdrive.com 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 nomoreworkhorse.com:
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 audible.com 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?)
One of the “Other Tales of Terror” on the Jekyll/Hyde album is “The Body Snatcher”, and it’s available to listen to for free at esl-bits.net, a neat site even for those whose first language is English.
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
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!
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…
Karen C. Parker wrote in her review on audible.com:
I don’t think I have heard Michael Kitchen before, but in the hundreds of audible books I have listened to, I think he is the best narrator thus far. He is so good that you never notice the narration – you feel you are listening to the different characters as they speak. Fantastic.
(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.
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.
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.