Length: Approx 4.5 hrs
Reader: Martin Clifton
The book: Charles Pooter is a middle-class clerk in Victorian London. He's tired of seeing published diaries about the great accomplishments of people he's never heard of. So, he starts a diary of his own. In it, he records the great trials and triumphs of his life: his epic battle with the boot scraper, the tiresomeness of his friends, the wittiness of his own puns, and the inability of his servant Sarah to bring him a good breakfast. This, indeed, is the same great time and place that produced Alfred Tennyson and Sir Winston Churchill.
I found this book to be laugh-out-loud funny (that's not actually a good thing when you're listening on headphones at the train stop). I'm sure that as many jokes I laughed at, there were probably just as many that I missed because of my ignorance of Victorian England culture. Even so, the book is a great insight to how people spent their days in the late 19th century. Pooter is one of British comedy's greatest characters: he's self-important, easily offended, insecure, and cheap while wanting to appear wealthy, cultured, and dignified. Yet, he is written so skillfully that even though we know he's a phony, we can't help but love him.
The reader: Martin Clifton matches this book perfectly as a narrator. His clipped British accent is the essence of Mr. Pooter's character. Clifton's tone is that of mild exasperation; he does not overplay the humor, which would have ruined the effect. He reads in a short, telegraphic rhythm that echoes the writing style of a journal. The recording is nicely done with a merely a whisper of background hiss.