Audiobook Review

“All her attention was for her work. She seemed determined to be interested by nothing else. But taste was too strong in her. She could not abstract her mind five minutes: she was forced to listen; his reading was capital, and her pleasure in good reading extreme.” (Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen, Ch. 34)

LibriVox currently has three complete, free, public domain recordings of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — one with various readers, one read by a full-cast, and a third read by Karen Savage.

LibriVox (Savage, Karen)Karen Savage’s reading of Mansfield Park is quite good. She speaks clearly and not too quickly or too slowly, has a pleasing voice, and reads as if she understands what she is reading. She does skip, add, or change words from time to time, however. For example, in chapter 19, instead of reading “Why do not I see my little Fanny?” she says, “I do not see my little Fanny.” When, also in chapter 19, Mr. Rushworth complains of Mr. Crawford, she deletes the second “not” from his speech, “I do not say he is not gentleman-like, considering; but …” In chapter 47, during Edmund’s final summarization of Miss Crawford, she reads “Hers are not faults of principle” — the “not” is not in the book, for Miss Crawford’s faults are faults of principle. Still, I think the meaning remains clear throughout the reading. The biggest flaw, I think, is the way Karen Savage chose to read Miss Crawford’s voice — it is much too drawling for such a lively character.  Then, she pronounces “Miss Sneyd” as “Miss Snayd”, and “Cowper” as “cow-per” (like the animal). These may not be faults, but I am used to hearing them pronounced otherwise. With few exceptions, however, Karen Savage does an excellent job of interpreting each character and differentiating between them. And, of course, there is the added benefit that her audiobook is free!

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