This is a story from the In the Ravine and Other Stories collection.
Anton Chekhov, one of the finest masters of what is acknowledged as a difficult genre. There is the richly comic "Oh! The Public" about a hassled ticket inspector, a wry look at morals and manners in "The Chorus Girl", and the melancholic tale of a cab driver in "Misery".
Perhaps the finest of all is the novella "In The Ravine", a minutely observed look at life in a village through the eyes of one family. All the characters come to life with their foibles, their strengths, and their hopes. Kenneth Branagh uses his natural talent for characterisation to bring this village to life.
The other short stories in this collection are: "The Trousseau", "A Story Without a Title", "Children", "Fat and Thin", "The Beggar", "Hush!", "The Orator", and "An Actor's End".
Skvortsov, a comfortably middle-class man, is approached by Lushkov, a beggar, who tells him a sad tale in order to gain his sympathy. Recognizing Lushkov as someone who has previously told him a different story, Skvortsov scolds the beggar for his lies and decides to put him on a more respectable path by hiring him to chop wood. Renowned actor Kenneth Branagh captures Skvortsov's simple self-righteousness, contrasting it with Lushkov's voice, which at first brims with pathos, then defensiveness and self-pity, and finally, a sober honesty that punctures Skvortsov's assumptions. Branagh's performance is paced deliberately - his use of pauses and hesitation lends immediacy to the story.
"If you want an outstanding reading, in which the narrator's voice brilliantly conveys the speaker's class and the intricate relationships between characters during conversations, you can do no better than to listen to Kenneth Branagh. This great actor mesmerizes as he gasps, chuckles, stutters, and declaims. A must listen." (AudioFile)
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