I adore audiobooks and always have one playing away in my car during my commute to work; — so when I went hunting to purchase a new unabridged audio edition on CD of Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park, I was quite surprised to learn that my choices were very few at exactly two; a Blackstone AudioBooks, Inc (2008) read by Johanna Ward and a Naxos AudioBooks (2007) read by Juliet Stevenson. My first choice was, of course, the Juliet Stevenson version, for what Janeite could ever forget her outrageous performance as Mrs. Elton in the 1996 movie adaptation of Emma? My abject apologies to Johanna Ward, who I am sure must be a very fine reader since she has several audiobooks to her credit, but the thought of listening to Mansfield Park read by Mrs. Elton just intrigued me and gave me the giggles. If anyone could liven up Mansfield Park, reputed to be Jane Austen’s most complex and dark novel, she could!
Being a reader for an audiobook is not an easy task since so many different ‘performances’ are required to distinguish each of the characters for the listener. I have found through a course of trial and error that I enjoy audiobooks read by classically trained actors. Juliet Stevenson fills this qualification perfectly for me using every inch of her Royal Shakespearean Company training. Her understanding of Jane Austen’s use of language and her true British accent added greatly to my enjoyment of this fine production.
Naxos AudioBooks has made quite a solid commitment to present quality productions of all of Jane Austen’s six major novels in unabridged and abridged formats. You can read about all of their recordings on their excellent web site and listen to a PodCast of an interview of Juliet Stevenson as she discusses her involvement in the audio recordings and her affinity to Jane Austen. Of note is the free download for this month of Milton’s L’Allegro read by Samantha Bond (Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park 1983 and Mrs. Weston in Emma 1996)
It has been said that Jane Austen often read her writings to her family as entertainments. Her beautiful use of language which just flows effortlessly is completely suited for the spoken word. When you add to perfection an accomplished actress with a keen sensitivity to Jane Austen’s particular style, the results truly are remarkable.
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mansfield Park Madness: Day 4 Giveaway
Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. for one abridged and one unabridged copy of Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen audiobook.
FREE JANE AUSTEN AUDIO SAMPLER
Available to all participants of Mansfield Park Madness. Just leave a comment between August 15-30, 2008 and e-mail your physical address to Austenprose at Verizon dot net before September 1, 2008, and you will receive one copy of the following sampler by mail. US residents only.
Jane Austen Naxos AudioBooks Sampler, read by various artists
Naxos AudioBooks, Ltd. (2008). A lively sample reading of the Biography of Jane Austen by Elizabeth Jenkins, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and an interview with actress Juliet Stevenson. 1 CD, 75 minutes.
Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, read by Juliet Stevenson
Naxos AudioBooks (2007)
Unabridged 14 CD’s (17 hours)
Day 5 – Aug 19 MP novel discussion chapters 9-16
Day 6 – Aug 20 Metropolitan movie discussion
Day 7 – Aug 21 MP novel discussion chapters 17-24
Day 8 – Aug 22 MP great quotes and quips
Cover image courtesy of Naxos Audiobooks © 2007; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2008, Austenprose.com
I have ‘Emma’ read by Juliet Stevenson and it’s great – I always think of Mrs Elton when I listen.
Oh Please let it be me! Oh Please let it be me! ha ha That is a wonderful gift! Thank you for your generousity! This has been a fun week visiting your post! Have a great day!
I would love to win this giveaway! I have no doubt that Juliet Stevenson’s reading of MP is brilliant. Whether I win or not, Mansfield Park Madness is a wonderful idea. Thanks to those who have made it possible.
I, like you love to have an audio book playing in the car while driving. I have two of the audio books read by Juliet Stevenson (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion). I’d love to collect all of them! At first I was a little nervous to think that Mrs. Elton would be reading to me, but her performances are excellent! Everytime I hear her read “the letter” in Persuasion I’m moved to tears.
As always, your blog is very interesting, fun and informative. I am truly enjoying your focus on Mansfield park, its like a community group read. Please do this again in the future!
I never thought that listening to audio books is such a good idea because after sometime I’ll just lose concentration and might fall asleep. However, if I win this, I’ll definitely try to start listening to audio books in my spare time.
My youngest child will be in school a full day this year. I’m looking forward to having a bit of free time. LOL! I’ve already got quite a book list going and will have to try this new media.
I like to hear audio books when I take the train, when I clean and sometimes when I make dinner. I usually listen to audio books on my MP3 player and all of the audio books I’ve got are downloads from the internet. Some of the are bought and read by professional actors and other are free downloads read by regular people. There really is a lot of difference! Still I listen to too many audio books to be able to buy all the books I listen to. I’ve never heard Mansfield Park on audio book though.
I have several audio books, they are great, esp when I’m driving home from my daughter’s house, this would be a fine prize.
I downloaded audiobooks of Emma and Pride & Prejudice, and I listen to 30-40 minutes in bed every night, until I get sleepy. It’s really a great way to wind down from a long day and feel calm.
Audiobooks are so expensive but some of them so worth the price ! I listened to a sample of this reading of MP by Juliet Stevenson and I really liked it. Jane’s use of language is so exquisite I’ve found reading some passages out loud has added to my appreciation of the books, especially if they’re funny. Have you seen the Jane Austen book club ? At the end of the movie, a character reads Persuasion out loud to another one (I don’t want to spoil here, so I’m being evasive), it’s so beautiful.
I think audio books also give you the time to ponder and think about what you’ve listened to – it takes such a long time to listen to a full-length book that you stay in it way longer than you would have done reading it and it gives you the time to analyze a bit more.
It was manna from heaven reading your post about audiobooks. Like you, I adore audiobooks and in fact I have just finished listening to the Joanna Ward version of Mansfield Park. So it was with much interest that I read your post and then explored Naxos website relating to JA and the interview with Juliet Stevenson. I also listed to the sample audio, and I am certain now that Juliet’s version would be a great deal lighter in tone than Joanna’s. (I did enjoy the Joanna Ward version though)
So far I have listened to all my audiobooks courtesy of the public library, but I have recently started to explore other avenues out of necessity. I was wondering if anyone had used audible.com? It seems that as a subscriber you can get audiobooks at a much more affordable rate, and they make the Blackstone and Naxos recordings available.
PS. I am a great fan of your blog and also of Vic’s blogs.
I agree with Sibylle about the audio books. I have a chronic back injury and need to walk a few miles every day…I found that listening to classic literature on my ipod gets me out the door each day anticipating the next chapter. I have listened to all of Austen on tape over the past few years, and find that of all her books, it is Mansfield Park that improves the most in a listening format…there is more humor and nuance often overlooked in a reading of the book. The Juliet Stevenson version is fabulous. (and as an off-topic aside I would most highly recommend Dickens’ Great Expectaions read by Frank Muller!)
Hello to Mansfield Park Madness participants – Day 4
I am glad to know that there are so many audio book lovers! I am not alone then in my enjoyment of a good listening. The Juliet Stevenson reading are so excellent, that I am certain that after five minutes of listeing that anyone would be sold and want the entire collection. Listening to Austen is such a perfect match of novel text and dramatization. I am totally hooked!
Cheers to all, Laurel Ann
I listened to the JW version just recently and persisted, in spite of not liking her voice, because I paid for it. I would much prefer the JS version!
I haven’t listened to Mansfield Park yet, but I purchased the Juliet Stevenson versions of Sense and Sensibility and Emma audio books from BooksOnBoard (they really good prices – an important consideration since audio books are generally pricey – and they’re usually running specials). I love her voice, and her reading really brings the audio books to life. Perfect for the car.
How exciting! This audio would be an awesome addition to our home. We homeschool and I have been incorporating some of Jane Austen’s works into our school time. This would be so awesome to have for bedtime listening, or even in the car when we’re out. Thank you for this opportunity!
Oh, this looks so good! I agree, it would be funny to listen to Mrs. Elton read a Jane Austen audio book =)
I absolutely LOVE my sense and sensibilty audio book, but have yet to find ones i like of the other books. I’m definatly taking your suggestions!
Angela, I love to download books too and listen before bedtime! I love the librivox website where the public domain books are free to download!
MP is the latest Jane Austen book I have re-read. I have never heard it in an audio version and am sure it would be most pleasant. Juliet Stevenson sounds like she would be a good reader.
I would love to experience an Austen audiobook! What a great suggestion, the existence of such a thing never even occurred to me before!