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I've never read any Mark Twain, so didn't know what to expect. The book is pretty entertaining, but is marred by the narration. The characterisation and accent sound convincing, but the narrator gives the impression of reading the book for the first time, many of the comic moments and sarcasm are ruined by inappropriate pauses. I would have to think long and hard before buying any more audiobooks read by this narrator.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Until recently, "The Innocents Abroad" was only available read by Flo Gibson. The Flo Gibson reading is one of the most horrible readings available.
I was glad to have this narration available. However, it's got issues: first of all, goofy music at the beginning of each chapter, first it was banjo, then crazy computer music.
The narrator adds some cheesy editorial "ahems" and some other noises that I don't think were present in the text. He also reads very slow in an attempt at a drawl. I was so glad to get a version other than Flo Gibsons, and was happy enough until I listened to Bronson Pinchots "Autobiography," then I knew how this book should have been done.
The Innocents Abroad is a great read, good enough to make up for the shortcomings of this narration, but we can wish for a Bronson Pinchot reading.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
Robin Field comes about as close to channelling Mark Twain as it's possible for someone to do in the electronic age. Contemporaries described Twain's voice as a somewhat high-pitched drawl, and Field's reedy voice comes close to matching that description. He delivers Twain's observations on the Mediterranean world and the people who travel to see it with mostly deadpan humor, occasionally pausing slightly for timing or not-quite-clearing-his-throat for emphasis. For a long time, the only version of this book available on Audible was narrated by Flo Gibson; and while Flo Gibson is always a delight to hear, this reading is clearly more Twain-ish.
The book itself poses some problems for the reader in the 21st century. Twain spares no one his satiric eye; the "quaint" customs of Old Europe come in for particularly acidic commentary, as do the fawning antics of the New World travellers. But it's when the book veers out of Europe and into the Muslim worlds of Turkey, Syria, and Palestine that Twain's voice becomes a bit grating. Twain had few equals when decrying the ravages of poverty close to home, but for some reason when he got to the Middle East, his usual compassion deserted him, and the behavior of people trapped in brutal poverty -- alternately begging, feuding, and slumped in despair -- seems to have aroused a sense of moral indignation at the victims.
Still, Twain was a hard-nosed reporter to his core, and it would be difficult to find more precisely-observed pictures of unfamiliar sights than the ones he sets forth here. This isn't the funniest of his travel books, but it's a good place to start.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful