Stephen Gordon (named by a father desperate for a son) is not like other girls: she hunts, she fences, she reads books, wears trousers, and longs to cut her hair. As she grows up amidst the stifling grandeur of Morton Hall, the locals begin to draw away from her, aware of some indefinable thing that sets her apart. And when Stephen Gordon reaches maturity, she falls passionately in love - with another woman.More
Stephen Gordon has led quite a life and yet also has hardly any life at all. Born into the very best a loving but rather average family can provide, she is fraught with a sense of her innate differences from the other girls. This classic late Victorian novel charts the developmental course of a "sexual invert", from her childish crush on the housemaid, to her dangerous infatuation with the neighbor's wife, to her efforts at settling down into whatever small happiness society would begrudgingly permit. Narrating the deeply delicate sensibilities of Stephen's painful coming of age is Audible newcomer Cecilia Fage, a London actress and back-up vocalist who lends all her many talents to this very weighty and pioneering piece of literature.
Stephen's own background permits Fage the use of her lovely and strong natural voice for the majority of the text, but when the main character ventures into literary Paris after being booted from the family's countryside home by an unforgiving mother, Fage's command of the French language and accent is entirely persuasive. There are also Irish ladies and lower-class British servants with quite convincing dialogue. Fage's only weakness is the Southern belle next door, a loathsome and self-pitying creature who tortures the helplessly devoted Stephen but missteps in voice work here are much more forgivable than the evil deeds of the character they represent.
As Radclyffe Hall's most important work, and indeed one of the most important early calls for homosexual equality in general, The Well of Loneliness is here preserved successfully thanks to the formidable talents of Cecilia Fage. Whether you are looking to delve into this controversial book for the first time, or rediscover why so many people consider this heart-wrenching book a touchstone, the audiobook really loses nothing in the translation from page to Fage. Megan Volpert
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Moving and astonishing