Review: Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen

Emma Thompson & a full supporting cast perform a Jane Austen classic

Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen
Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen (Anna Lea, Adaptation Author)

Series: None

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Classic

Setting: Surrey, England

Source: Audible, Sep 2018 member benefit

Note: I received this book for free as an Audible Original Member Benefit. That didn’t influence my review.

Narrator: Emma Thompson with a full supporting cast (see below)

Publishing Date: 1815 (2018 for the Audible version)

Duration: 8 hours, 21 minutes

Synopsis: This Audible Original production of Jane Austen’s Emma is narrated by Emma Thompson (Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and BAFTA winner, Love Actually, Harry Potter, Sense and Sensibility), with a full supporting cast including Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar), Morgana Robinson (The Windsors, Walliams & Friend, Morgana Robinson’s the Agency), Aisling Loftus (Mr Selfridge, War & Peace), Joseph Millson (Casino Royale, The Sarah Jane Adventures), Alexa Davies (Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and rising star Isabella Inchbald as our eponymous heroine.

Before she began writing, Jane Austen wrote, ‘I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like’ and thus introduces the handsome, clever, rich – and flawed – Emma Woodhouse. Emma is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage; nothing, however, delights her more than matchmaking her fellow residents of Highbury. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected.

This lively comedy of manners, with its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, is often seen as Jane Austen’s masterpiece.

Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Ltd. 

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this presentation of Emma. Each character is voiced by a different actor and they do a great job. I love Emma Thompson as an actor and she is the narrator of this story. She did a wonderful job. I was totally immersed in the story. I haven’t listened to many dramatizations before and want to listen to more now that I’ve listened to this story.

It’s been a long time since I read this book by Jane Austen, but I’ve always remembered it as a favorite of mine. Jane Austen is always a good observer of society while also creating a very enjoyable story. I like that Austen writes about a character who’s not likable whom we end up liking, because she has learned a lot during the course of the book.

Emma

Even though Emma isn’t very likable during much of the book she’s certainly a force to contend with! I like that she grows and matures a lot and is self-aware enough to acknowledge and learn from her mistakes. She has to learn there are consequences to her actions. She learns some harsh lessons, but is a better person for it. She’s not the same person she was when the book began.

Bottom line

I very much recommend this dramatization.

My Rating: A

Dramatization Rating: A

Have you read any books by Jane Austen? What about full cast dramatizations? Do you like them?

Review: Feeding the Dragon by Sharon Washington

Feeding the Dragon by Sharon WashingtonFeeding the Dragon by Sharon Washington

Series: None

Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir

Setting: New York City

Source: Audiobook, (Sep 2018 Free Audible Original Member Benefit)

Narrator: Sharon Washington (1 hour, 18 minutes)

Publishing Date: 2018

Synopsis: Sharon Washington’s autobiographical one-woman play, Feeding the Dragon, delighted audiences off-Broadway and is now available exclusively on Audible. The one-act play invites listeners into Sharon’s unorthodox childhood, growing up in an apartment on the top floor of the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, where her father served as the building’s custodian. A love of literature and boundless imagination helped the playwright as a young woman persevere over dragons of all forms.

Directed by Maria Mileaf, Feeding the Dragon premiered at City Theatre in Pittsburgh and was subsequently produced by Hartford Stage and Primary Stages.

My thoughts

This is a short “Only from Audible” book that I received free on Audible since I’m a member. (This is a fairly new membership perk—members get to choose two Audible exclusives free from six Audible books each month.)

Her family lived on top floor of a New York Public Library!

This book was only 1 hour, 18 minutes long, but it was originally a Broadway play done by the author and narrator Sharon Washington. She talks mostly about the years she and her family lived on the top floor of a New York Public library. When I read that synopsis I knew I had to listen! I loved hearing how she spent time in the library when it was closed looking at and reading books as well as using her imagination to act out scenes. Since she became an actress as an adult I’m sure her years living at the library contributed to that.

Feeding the Dragon

However, there are lots of other parts to her story, too. The reason her family was able to live at the library was that her father had to take care of and fix problems at the library. His main job was to never let the coal-burning furnace go out. That is where the name of the story comes from. When she was a child she imagined the furnace was a fire-breathing dragon! She and her family had other dragons to deal with, too.

More to the story than the library

Sharon was lucky to go to a private school and sounds like she got a great education, but her story isn’t all light and happy. She is African-American and her parents explained the facts of life to her early. Not only is she African-American, but she also doesn’t come from a wealthy family. They made sure very early that she understood that.

She also learns the hard way that her father was a recovering alcoholic. That was very devastating to her—especially since she idolized her father. One morning she and her mother wake up and realize the coal-burning furnace is out and that her father isn’t in the building. Sharon and her mother must do the back breaking work to get the furnace working again because they know that’s the only reason their family gets to live at the library.

When she and her dad take a road trip to visit his family in the South, she begins to understand him better. During the road trip he doesn’t want to stop very often even when she needs to use a restroom at a service station. She finally realizes he’s afraid to stop because he’s African-American and the service station owner is probably white. She meets her grandma and her dad’s aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. After that visit she understands her dad better and is able to see him more realistically.

So glad I listened to this story

I really like this story and am so glad I listened to it. If I had seen this story for sale at Audible I might not have bought. I’m glad Audible is offering some stories for free each month. I try genres and stories I might not otherwise.

I’m glad Sharon Washington narrated this story. That made the story more real to me.  Since I’m not African-American and don’t know too many people who are I gained a little more knowledge about how different my life in America is.

My Rating: B+

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read (listened to) this book? It would have been fun to see the Off-Broadway play!