Review – Clouds of Witness

Cover of Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. SayersClouds of Witness, Dorothy L. Sayers
Featuring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, Peter Jones as Bunter, and Gabriel Woolf as Inspector Parker

This is the second of the Lord Peter radioplays, at least going chronologically by the order of the books. It’s longer than Whose Body? and a bit more personal: Lord Peter has to defend his own brother, the Duke of Denver, against a charge of murder. As usual with the Wimsey radioplays, the cast is excellent, and the parts chosen directly from the novels for dramatisation are great. I think only Ian Carmichael could get exactly the right tone for me in the part where Wimsey climbs on Parker’s back, looks over the wall, and then announces that it’s a marvellous ditch which he is going to proceed to fall into.

And of course, the ending with everyone drunk is pretty funny…

The main thing that doesn’t really work for me is, unfortunately, the sound effects. The gun sounds are more like party poppers — hardly the dramatic scenes needed. And I could maybe wish that Ian Carmichael wouldn’t sing — it’s in character, but something about it grates.

Rating: 5/5

Review – Whose Body?

Cover of Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers, audio editionWhose Body?, Dorothy L. Sayers
Featuring Ian Carmichael as Lord Peter Wimsey, Peter Jones as Bunter, and Gabriel Woolf as Inspector Parker

I think the casting for the BBC radioplay adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers was nigh on perfect. Ian Carmichael might’ve been too old to play Peter, but it doesn’t show in his voice, and he perfectly conveys the warmth and humour, the silliness, and the underlying strength. I can never get used to the new voice actor for Parker in the later episodes, either: Gabriel Woolf sounds just perfect as Inspector Parker.

It might not be a high octane crime novel (rather more toward the cosy side), but I still found the adaptation to be a good one, bringing across moments of confusion, embarrassment, discovery and conflict. It does a pretty good job with narration (weaving some of it into Peter’s character) and in choosing which scenes to represent, and how. One thing I do miss is the Dowager Duchess’ rambles. There’s more sense in them than you’d think at first blush, but of course it would cause anyone to tune right out in audio form.

These are all now available on Audible, which is certainly more convenient than having all the CDs, and definitely worth trading a credit a month for. Needless to say, given my affection for both Sayers and these radioplays, I’ve sped that process up rather and have (I think) all of them.

Rating: 5/5

Thursday Thoughts: Audiobooks

Aaaaand this week’s theme from Ok, Let’s Read:

Do you listen to audiobooks/Have you listened to an audiobook in the past? What books? Do you enjoy audiobooks? Why or why not? Are there certain genres that you feel might lend themselves better to being read in audiobook form?

Audiobooks! I love listening to audiobooks, particularly while I’m crocheting or doing something else that similarly occupies my hands but not (too much of) my mind. For a long time I was just listening to the BBC adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayers’ work, and the mammoth set that is The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: I’m now supplementing that with a bit of Ngaio Marsh read by Benedict Cumberbatch, and I have some other books on the queue: some Iain (M.) Banks, one of Chris Holm’s, Trudi Canavan… I love the BBC audioplays of most things best: they do great casting, and they have a great range of stuff. My favourite was probably the adaptation of The Dark is Rising. It’s different, but I can accept that, because that’s what adaptations have to do. (Same reason as I reluctantly accept Faramir being less noble in The Lord of the Rings movie, because the reasoning makes sense. Also why I accept that some people will enjoy The Hobbit film, but I don’t: it’s an adaptation, and I can accept why they’ve done it that way, it just doesn’t work for me.)

So yeah, right now I’m listening to Artists in Crime (Ngaio Marsh) and Dead Harvest (Chris F. Holm). I’m struggling a little bit with Dead Harvest, even though I love the novel itself: it’s not abridged, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the narrator at first, though by now I’ve decided he sounds perfect. Just a pity he doesn’t change his voice a little when Sam changes bodies…

The downsides to audiobooks for me, really, are when I disagree with the adaptation, the choice of narrator, the abridgement, etc. Also the pace: I’m a fast reader, and in the time it took the narrator to get to chapter three in Dead Harvest, I could’ve been on chapter ten by myself. Still, it’s a different medium and I try to enjoy it for what it is.

In terms of genres, no, I don’t think there’s a particular genre that lends itself to the form. I do think there’re styles that do, though: something with a lot of dialogue, and less by way of visual description, or with a good first person narrator, for example. So much depends on how the adaptation is done.