- A Life
- Narrated by: Ron Powers
- Length: 10 hrs and 52 mins
- Abridged Audiobook
- Release date: 26-09-05
- Language: English
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Regular price: £23.79
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Carol on 11-01-06
I am a huge Mark Twain fan. I was eagerly anticipating reading this biography. As I listened, I didn't become engrossed, but I became completely bored. Actually reading the book instead of listening to this narrative might have produced better results. Very disappointing.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Tad Davis on 05-01-12
I held off listening to this for a long time because it's abridged. I prefer unabridged when it's available, and I particularly wish this title was unabridged. (I took one star off the "Story" rating for this.) But it's a good abridgement: there's still plenty of detail and plenty of terrific yarns (and generous quotations from Twain's own letters and writings), and there are no jarring or incoherent gaps in the narrative.
There's lots of material here about Twain's boyhood, his mining expeditions out West, his trips to Europe, his crush on Laura Wright, his marriage, his kids, and his books: a good discussion, both biographical and critical, of most of the travel books, of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, of the later political essays. And there are some wonderful turns on the banjo to mark transitions.
I do wish the producers had allowed more time for Powers to discuss A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which gets a full discussion in the unabridged text, but here gets only a couple of sentences. The period from 1888-1898 is, in general, the period that gets the shortest shrift in this abridgement.
As all biographies of Twain are bound to do, the work becomes sadder and darker as Twain passes into old age. He outlived his wife, two of his daughters, his brothers, and many of his friends. When the end came, he was more than ready to go. Powers' description of this period in his life is poignant and moving. (For a partial antidote to the gloom here, I recommend Michael Shelden's Mark Twain: Man in White, narrated by Andrew Garman.)
Ron Powers is an excellent reader of his own work. Without batting an eye he slips from his own voice into Twain's drawl, and sometimes even from there into spirited exchanges between Twain's characters. I'm quite surprised at the comments on his narration in other reviews. For my part, once I made the decision to listen to it, I couldn't stop.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful