Source: Librivox (alternate version)
Reader: Anne Coleman
Length: 13 hr, 25 min
The book: I started this novel thinking that it would be a girl-book full of overwrought emotions, improbable love, and very little action. This is not my kind of book. To my surprise . . . I was completely right. But the real surprise was that I liked it.
Austen tells her story while chuckling at her characters, which is what makes the whole love story palatable. I say "chuckling" because she rarely actually makes fun of the characters by forcing them into paper-thin stereotypes (Mr. Collins may be the only exception), but instead portrays real people acting with their own goals in mind and crossing each other's paths. Elizabeth, the main character, is especially agreeable and so completely breaks the stereotype of the swooning love-lorn girl that I can't see why romance writers ever went back. The plot can be a bit difficult to follow when listening, since you can't flip back a few pages to see who some minor character is, but is not unmanageable. It wasn't my favorite book; toward the end, I felt like smacking a few heads to speed the characters toward an ending that was by now obvious, but I understand why many of my female friends claim it as their favorite.
The Reader: Anne Coleman is one of Librivox's excellent amateur readers. You'd never mistake this reading for a pro job; there's some background noise, some pops and crackles in the recording and some breathing into the mike. Ms. Coleman's voice, though, is lovely to listen to and her love of the book shows through the reading she gives. She has a nondescript American accent and gives enough voice to her characters to usually know who is speaking, but not so much that it's annoying. If you're an audiophile who loves a clean recording this isn't for you, but if you're willing to overlook some noise, this is a fine reading.