• The Final Confession of Mabel Stark

  • By: Robert Hough
  • Narrated by: Betty Bobbitt
  • Length: 14 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 03-02-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.7 (9 ratings)

Summary

Barely five feet tall, suicidally courageous, obsessed with tigers, and sexually eccentric, Mabel Stark was the greatest female tiger trainer in history. Clad in her leather suits and married five times, she was the Mae West of tiger taming. In the 1910s and 1920s, when circus was the most popular entertainment in America, Mabel Stark was the biggest attraction for the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey circus. This vibrant and moving fictional autobiography begins in 1968. Mabel is turning 80 and is about to lose her job. Faced with the loss of her beloved cats, she looks back on her life, her escapades and tragedies, her love affairs with tigers and men. She confronts her darkest secrets, her guilt at committing "the worst thing one person can do to another". Now, with the end of life in sight, there is one thing above all else she needs to do. Mabel wants to confess.
Exuberant and inventive, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark transports its readers to the carnival world of the Big Top to an age before cinema and television, when circus performers were superstars.
©2001 Robert Hough (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
Show More Show Less

Critic reviews

"Robert Hough pulls together fact and fiction to unfurl a life that invites sheer, slack-jawed fascination." ( Time)
"A marvelous debut narrated with delicious humour and warmth. Just about perfect. One of the most entertaining novels in many a year." ( Kirkus)
"Listeners are treated to Betty Bobbitt's performance of the indomitable, unconventional Mabel Stark....Bobbitt's raspy voice and full-throated chuckle perfectly draw Mabel's sassy attitude, complete with period diction, circus lore, and Kentucky twang." ( AudioFile)
Show More Show Less

Regular price: £32.89

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
Select or Add a new payment method

Buy Now with 1 Credit

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Buy Now for £32.89

Pay using card ending in
By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

By completing your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and authorise Audible to charge your designated card or any other card on file. Please see our Privacy Notice, Cookies Notice and Interest-based Ads Notice.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Lorraine on 14-11-08

Book of the Year

This book is absolutely fabulous! The development of the protagonist, Mary/Mabel is cleverly crafted, taking the listener on a journey of emotions towards her of innocence, admiration, pity, elation, fear, and pride. By the time you're half way through this title, you feel as if Mabel is your own long-lost great-aunt! The circuses of the 1920s and 30s must have been incredible and seeing circus life through Mabel's eyes gave it an intimate touch. The narrator plays a large part in the success of this story, in my opinion, with her intonations and amazing accent! I have to admit to sitting in my car, in the garage, long after arriving home in order to hear the end of a section! My Book of the Year!

Read more Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Miss Jacqueline A Weaden on 10-08-16

first ever audible...brilliant

loved the accent. loved the writing style. loved the story. loved the female character. loved.

Read more Hide me
See all reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Casey Keller on 01-08-06

Couldn't stop listening

What an incredible idea... to take the known events from the life of an historic figure and, through research, empathy and imagination, create a novel that reads as though it were that figure’s autobiography. This is what Robert Hough has done with great success in “The Final Confession Of Mabel Stark.”

Stark, as you may be aware, was a circus superstar back in the 1910’s and 1920’s. She was a sensation with an act in which she, a tiny blond woman, wrestled a 500 pound tiger.

Working with tigers is a hazardous undertaking. So is setting out on your life adventure as an uneducated orphan. Both left huge scars on Mabel Stark. These scars, emotional and physical, create the theme of the book. With each trauma, Mabel learned more and grew as a person – at least the fictional Mabel did – and for that reason one has to cheer for her and ultimately empathize with her final heart break.

One also has to cheer for Mr. Hough whose visual metaphors, colorful ‘Kentuckyisms’ and ear for dialog created such a compelling book. The tale is incredibly plausible and the telling so convincing that you believe it is coming from the mouth of Mabel Stark – or that Mr. Hough spent years training big cats with a tent show.

Big applause is also due to Betty Bobbit, the actress whose reading brings Mabel to life so vividly. She was entirely believable as an old woman, born in Kentucky, looking back and examining the events and the emotions of a very tough and a very remarkable life.

A warning: Some people see a colorful dust jacket and a book about the circus and assume that it’s a book for children. It’s not. This book is fairly explicit in the way it deals with sex and while that shouldn’t be a problem for most adults, I would certainly not recommend it for the nursery.

Read more Hide me

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By James on 07-03-05

A fun book perfectly narrated!

For the first hour I was convinced this was an autobiography read by the author! I had to double check to see it was fiction written by a man. The "voice" of the writer and the voice of the narrator are perfectly matched for this fictional account of the real "lady with the tigers." It's rather raunchy, much as if it were written by the Mae West contemporary that Mabel Stark was.

In addition, it reflects an empathy with animals that made it a perfect follow up to "Animals in Translation" which I read last week. When Stark was training tigers she had no models to follow, and no psych books to read, just pure instinct and self-preservation.

Read more Hide me

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

See all reviews