Quart on a Plane & Some Audio Stuff

A new picture of RA as Father Quart on a plane is as good a reason excuse as there could be…

It comes from a Deadline Hollywood article reporting on the comnmencing sales of the film through German media company Palatin Media. No other notable info in there. I am just smugly pleased to see the wording in the DH article: “…world sales on Richard Armitage thriller The Man From Rome” and “…an ensemble cast led by Armitage (The Hobbit)” as well as the headline “… Launches Sales On Richard Armitage Pic ‘The Man From Rome’”, giving Richard the star treatment acknowledgment and highlighting him as the main attraction of the film. In German, we call the driving force of an endeavour or star of a show the “Zugpferd” – literally the “draught horse”. It’s the name that will attract the attention, and possibly also the artist who will carry the biggest load of the production on their shoulders. That may be a heavy burden for Richard – but in itself it is also an acknowledgment of his bankability, his “star power”, and his abilities. At least that’s how *I* would like to see this…

While I am here, I also wanted to mention an article I came across last week. It comes from a site called Book Riot which writes about and reviews books. Their post is entitled “Listening Pathways: Richard Armitage’s Audiobooks” and praises Richard as a top audio book performer and then gives three listening recommendations for his audio work: The Mysterious Affair at Styles, The Jane Austen Society and The Velveteen Rabbit . They don’t really go in depth about his individual performances in the listed audio books, but basically summarise the cited books. Except for one choice. For The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, Richard is commended for bringing all characters alive with distinct voices and emotions.

“In-te-res-ting” choices, imo. They cover all genders and ages with the choices – thriller, (slightly historical) novel and children’s book – and all three books are probably equally easy to listen to. I say “probably”, because I have not listened to The Velveteen Rabbit to my shame. I am simply not really interested in a children’s book at this stage in my life. They probably represent the audio books that the author has listened to and deems the most interesting/easiest stepping stones to approaching Richard’s audio oeuvre. In terms of performative abilities, I probably would’ve listed other works, even if they are not my absolute favourites in his catalog of voice work. David Copperfield comes to mind (for the sheer number of different characters voiced) or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (for *two* very distinct voices and the way the transitions between the two are handled). Neither is a particular favourite of mine, though. And granted, such a list is difficult to compile, and subjective to boot. After all they also reflect our personal interests and preferences when it comes to our own choice of reading (listening) material.

If you asked me to compile such a list, I would probably include one of the Jackman/Evans books – because I really enjoy them, partly for the bonus visuals the main character evokes in me. For the variety of voices I’d actually go back to the very beginning and recommend one of the Heyers – I remember gasping with joy at the way Richard performed the young heroines and their rakish suitors. And for variety I’d throw in his Love Poems. 

What do *you* think? What are your three listening recommendations and why?

 

44 thoughts on “Quart on a Plane & Some Audio Stuff

  1. Ooh. Tough one.. Definitely has to be David Copperfield in there somewhere, due to the amazing voices of all the gazillion characters that were just brilliantly performed. Each voice was just perfect for each one. You know how Dickens chose the names of characters so suit their various personalities? A bit like that, but with the voices!

    I agree a Jackman and Evans one needs to be on this list. RA as Jackman IS Jackman! I hope if Joy Ellis has any more of these made into an audiobooks she never looks elsewhere for someone to perform them!

    The Heyers by RA were brilliant. Captures the comedy perfectly with his choice of voices.

    I really liked The Jane Austen Book Club, but for some reason his voice is strange in the recording, so much so I got a headache when listening. Sure, he has a deep voice, but it was rumbling around in my head like thunder. Probably how it was recorded rather than a reflection on his ability to perform! Not noticed it with any other audiobooks performed by RA. Or maybe I just need to upgrade my headphones?!

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    • Yes, the number and variety of character voices was really impressive in DC. (I am just not a massive fan of those rambling and convoluted Dickens novels.) But absolutely props to RA for performing it.
      Jackman is really made for RA. I get the impression he is possessive of the character, anyway, now that he has also optioned the film rights. So fingers crossed we get more audio Jackman before that, too.
      I recently re-listened to TJABC, despite my dislike of the piece. I just find the whole story so unoriginal and predictable… But it’s perfect easy listening fodder. Can’t say I found Richard’s voice strange; I am more irritated by the story than by his performance. However, I agree that there are some recordings where his voice can be a bit too gravelly, and I don’t know whether that is a recording issue or he has had a particularly long night before with too much Pinot Noir 😉

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  2. (I saw that article, too, and found it arbitrary. Probably based on what some marketer thought was most accessible. Book Riot tries to take the tone of a group blog / labor of love, but it is a media company, part of a media conglomerate, and was the object of a lot of rancor back in 2019. Its main income apart from ads is selling subscriptions to a group of “insiders”.)

    Anyway, my choices would be:

    1. The Lords of the North
    2. The Bloody Chamber
    3. Aurelius / Meditations

    also ran: The Martian Invasion of Earth (not sure if it counts), Venetia, Sylvester.

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    • The Lords of the North!!!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! That would go on my list, too. I might even throw Jackman out for that! Still easily my favourite of his audio books. Bloody Chamber and Aurelius are both worthy – just weren’t my jam, so to speak (I only do easy listening 😂 because I listen when I craft.)
      And *absolutely* arbitrary! I looked on the site itself for an “About” section but couldn’t find anything about them. But what you are saying explains a lot. In any case, the piece didn’t really have that much substance. More of an advertisement than any real opinion.

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      • One thing his activities in audiobooks have made me realize is that if I wouldn’t like or read the book as an old-fashioned codex, I will hate it as an audiobook.

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        • That is a good point. It has worked out that way for me, too. Disliked the Holocaust novelisation, felt meh about the Romeo & Juliet re-write and could not stand the tacky romance; they were all books that I would not have bought to read myself.

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            • I have a general problem with fictionalised Holocaust accounts, but who knows, that may also be on account of my internalised guilt as a German. However, with Tattooist the quality of the whole book was… well, suboptimal. Not to mention the bad quality of the recording. I found that very distracting.

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              • Being German is really immaterial to wanting to see the truth told. While there has been some worthwhile Holocaust fiction, there is a general problem with a lot of it (for some experts, it’s a sub-category of torture porn). This was an active scholarly discussion in the late 80s / early 90s and entered the popular realm by the mid to late 90s, e.g., https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/1999/05/25/twice-violated-the-holocaust-as-pornography/fee44b0d-52cc-463d-b243-e82b341ab877/

                However, on top of the aesthetic problems, there were other severe ethical problems with that book. It was pretty universally criticized and even condemned by the Jewish press internationally; moreover, there’s at least one peer-reviewed condemnatory article about it in addition to the Auschwitz museum’s article in their main publication (and they really do not call out every piece of Auschwitz fiction). Even John Boyne, author of one of the most broadly criticized sugary Holocaust fictions (“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”) criticized it as a bad book. What’s particularly galling is that Mr Sokolov never did an oral history or left behind a testimony; Heather Morris was the only one he spoke to outside his family. So she altered the historical record while also destroying it. And then she went on to take one of the most problematic — or rather, completely false and morally offensive — depictions of Tattooist (Cilka’s affair with the SS commandant) and wrote *another* novel about it that may have impinged on the family’s IP/personality rights. It’s astounding to me that the second book got published after the first. Armitage’s participation in this project was hard on my crush, second only to his participation in CyberSmile.

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                • That was a really interesting review you linked to, and to the point. I have absolutely no words (and no time) for such Holocaust porn. Actually, to even write those two words next to each other, is painful.
                  With these fictionalised accounts, what bugs me the most, is that there are inevitably inaccuracies – whether due to lack of diligence by the author or due to false memories of the actual persons whose story is fictionalised. And I believe that the victims/survivors of these atrocities simply deserve better. The whole book was dubious, start to finish, and I have to agree with you that RA’s enthusiasm for it somewhat tainted my view of him.

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  3. I tend to get lost in the story, so my list is somewhat arbitrary. I loved the TJABC because i feel RA would be perfect as Dr, Gray on screen. His & Hers because of the plot ( Wow!), another thriller crying for a RA film. Finally, the Garden of Angels, for so many reasons, including that it made me cry. I buy all of his audiobooks, although I don’t listen to some of them because they aren’t my cup of tea. And, I’m totally committed to the Jackman/Evans series because the voices of the recurring characters are so familiar now and as comfortable as my fleecy UGGs.

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    • Arbitrary is fine here on this little blog 😉. After all, we are just discussing our favourites among ourselves 🤗.
      I liked His & Hers, too – it was suspenseful. Garden of Angels – ah well… 🤐. (I have a massive problem with Hewson, hence I am not objective anymore when it comes to his work.)
      Nicely said re. Jackman/Evans and UGG boots (I am laughing here because I just wrote a big piece on winter boots for a fashion site, and UGG featured in that 😂)

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  4. Oh yes, I absolutely love the Jackman & Evans series and I really hope that if Richard develops them into a tv series, as it’s one of his production company’s projects, he’ll see himself as Jackman. I think he would be perfect. In fact when I listen to the books I always visualise Richard as Rowan. And I seem to remember so does the author…Fingers croseed 🙂

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    • Same hopes here, Manu. I really hope that Richard is not going to apply his usual humbleness and decline to play Jackman – just because he may simultaneously be producing the film. Let’s hope that Joy Ellis will put her foot down 😉

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  5. Then 3 audio books I’d recommend would be David Copperfield, The Romeo and Juliet novel and The Other Queen. I thoroughly enjoyed all three, and between them they really show off his range. Also, Alex Kingston’s performance in The Other Queen is a superb contrast to Richard’s character. I was very impressed with The Tattooist of Auschwitz as well, and would certainly recommend it, but it’s so dark a story that one can’t be said to enjoy it as such! The same applies to some extent to the very gory Jackman and Ellis series, even though things always turn out reasonably well by the end. I think as an introduction to his audio work it’s perhaps best to start with the lighter stuff!
    And I have everything crossed that Richard will play Jackman – it would be so disappointing if he didn’t!

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    • I actually agree – the lighter stuff is always a good introduction, i.e. Jackman/Evans. Copperfield is a great advertisement for Richard’s range. I liked The Other Queen, too – I just enjoy historical novels in general. Not a fan of Tattooist at all, partly because of the sloppy writing, partly because of too many recording blunders that made me wonder whether the recording had been proofed at all. Richard as Jackman is very high up on my list, too. He doesn’t quite match the supposed age of the character, but maybe they could adjust that a little bit for a film. Otherwise I think he’d make a great DI.

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      • For some actors, the age might matter, but having just seen Richard convincingly play Ray now and when he was 17 years younger, I’m sure knocking what I think is rather fewer years off for Jackman really isn’t an issue for him. After all, he still moves like someone much younger! (I wish I did!)

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        • He was definitely convincing as an early-40s Ray! 👍🏻 Not sure whether an early-30s Jackman would be quite his range at this stage – but I’d simply hope for them to adjust that detail and make Jackman a tad older.
          But who knows – maybe I simply know too much (avid fan 😂) and other, unprejudiced viewers without prior knowledge would not even think of questioning the age of the performer… Whatever the age – I’d like to see RA play Jackman because his face is already connected with the character in my mind…

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  6. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a voracious reader. Having greedily consumed all of Richard’s film work in a relatively short time, I needed another fix. It was the idea of his voice resonating in my head that led me to my first audiobook.

    Thus far I have only listened to Rock Paper Scissors and Heads You Win (with The Jane Austen Society waiting in the wings). I was pretty sure Richard would aptly handle the Russian, Italian and Scottish accents in HYW, but was thrilled at the authenticity of his Brooklynese, having lived in and around NYC most of my early life.

    The only thing holding me back from delving further into the technology is… well, the technology! To date I’ve only listened to those books available on CD from my local library. I haven’t quite unravelled their digital options. I really must get an Audible subscription!

    Thank you for decoding the DH article. I had read it on a FB fan page just yesterday and was hoping it would offer hints as to when and how we will be viewing TMFR. Alas, the nice words in praise of Richard will have to suffice … for now.

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    • Richard was my gateway to audio books, too. I didn’t particularly like audio books beforehand because I always felt that I needed to concentrate on what I was hearing, so it felt like wasted time. (By now, I have learnt that it is the perfect background when I am crafting. I do enjoy audio books now, and even have an audible subscription, but basically only listen to Richard’s works and only very few other celebrity narrators – I am shallow that way 😁)
      Good to hear that Richard nailed the Brooklyn accent in HYW. I didn’t like that book – due to prejudice levelled at its author 🤐 – but I liked his narration.
      As for technology/subscription – over here in Europe in many countries the state library services are affiliated with a free audio book app. In Ireland and UK it is called BorrowBox. Maybe you can find something similar in the US?

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  7. I see it is really time that I can return to my office and have commute time for listening. Maybe this could make me try some of Richard’s works. I listened to some trials but strangely I did not feel like buying them so far.
    After years of audio books for my children playing in the house I am still so happy to read my books quietly. The narrator of their favorite series still drives me crazy if I hear the voice on TV. If I would ever meet Philipp Schepmann in RL I would have to ask him to shup up.

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    • I know where you are coming from, NF. It took me a while to get into audio books, too. In the end I caved because I decided it would be a good idea to distract myself with some velvety baritone in my ears while undergoing a root canal procedure. It worked a treat, and since then I have been convinced…
      I find audio books quite relaxing while I am crafting but that is the only time I listen to them…

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  8. Any of the Jackman and Evans audiobooks, Lords of the North and Venetia – I loved all his Georgette Heyer audiobooks – his female characters are wonderful, especially the old ladies. I also enjoyed His & Hers and TJABC. As much as his narration of David Copperfield was brilliant, I’ve never liked Dickens, and that audiobook remains unfinished. I’ve also been unable to get into Garden of Angels, maybe it’s time to try again next time I’m in the car.
    I’m another one with everything crossed that Richard plays Jackman onscreen.

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    • I really enjoyed Richard’s voices for the female characters in the Heyers. Over time, I have become a little critical of his female voice. To me, the often sound like breathless damsels in distress – which works well for Heyer, but not so much for some of the other characters. That said, I still enjoy his narrations – it is clear that he really makes an effort and isn’t “just reading”.

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  9. Pingback: Discuss… or Just Giggle | Guylty Pleasure

  10. That image knocked me for six! Gorgeous and. yes, it is great that he is a ‘draught horse for once’. I only listen to audio books for RA (but have not attempted the Velveteen Rabbit yet for the same reason as you). His range of voices is fantastic. I had forgotten about Lord of the North, and that is one of my favourites, love the Elllis books and thought David Copperfield was a tour de force. Rock Paper Scissors was really good recently. I do have a slight issue with his voices for women characters n that he often makes them sound enfeebled but what can the poor man do with his deep rich rumbling baritone!

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    • I think we have the same taste in audio books – and the same impression when it comes to his voicing of females. There is a little bit too much “breathless, feeble damsel in distress” in there for my taste. That kind of voice suits the Heyer heroines, but not so much the more modern women. But well, that’s just a personal niggle of mine…

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  11. Oh, you have to listen to “The Velveteen Rabbit”. I was thrilled to bits and … moved to tears!! Such a beautiful story…Richard is the perfect narrator for a children’s story. Warm, playful and caring…Apart from that a big fan of all the Heyer books he read, and of course the “Lord of the North. His incredible ability to choreograph and rhythmise not only the battles and fightings with his voice only …Spectacular!

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    • Agreed, he really has an audio gift!
      I’ve got the Rabbit in my library, so maybe one day, when I can muster up enough resilience to face the sadness, I will put it on 😉

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  12. always always always the Lords of the North!!!! I just absolutely love how he voices Finan, Hild, Uthred and young Æthelflæd, daughter of Alfred: “Uthred has a broken nose! 😳😢 and the man who did it is dead now! *fierce smiley*”
    but I have to admit that I am biased when it comes to this 😉

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