If you are a fan of Mr. Darcy—uh, I mean Colin Firth—you’ll want to give a listen to his reading of The End of the Affair, Graham Greene‘s WWII-era chronicle of jealous love and a married woman. (It’s actually kind of a mystery, too.) The audiobook production is part of Audible’s A-List Collection, which means Audible gets famous actors to read older works. Audio usually is produced by the publisher for newer books, I think, and Audible just sells it.
I’m not sure what Audible’s strategy is with these. Would I listen to a book I didn’t especially care to consume just because somebody, anybody, famous reads it? No. Would I choose to spend an Audible credit based solely on the fact that any other actor is narrating it? Probably not.
Firth is special—special to me because his Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice was one of those perfectimundo casting choices, like Olivier as Heathcliff or Gable as Rhett Butler.
He is a special case when it comes to audiobook narration, even for non-Darcy lovers, because he happens to have a fine voice. I don’t mean booming radio pipes as an accident of physiology, just a nice cultured voice. It works especially well with this novel, which is written in the first person.
Firth uses his own voice as the narrator, a writer, which feels exactly right, and changes it up very subtlely to speak the dialog of other characters. As he fills in the background story, he tells us what happened in a quiet, confidential, way, suiting the mood of the story. It’s just lovely.
How does this relate to online learning? Not very tidily! It’s just that I love literary adaptations of all sorts, and wanted to write about this. Of course, John Cleese does business training videos, has for a long time. William Shatner once hosted first aid training courses, in that dry spell between Star Trek fame and his emergence as a cult hero. Any other tie-in? I suppose you hire somebody like Colin Firth to read Shelley, you’d likely get poetry students more ... arous… engaged ...