Most helpful critical review
33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2011
My son and I listen to audio books frequently, as we have an hour commute every day. The Secret Garden is a simply wonderful story, rich in imagination, vivid details, and interesting characters. When I saw that an audio version was to be released, I pre-ordered it for Christmas. We began listening to it today, and what a complete disappointment!
Now, Finola Hughes is beautiful to look at, but the quality of her voice is just mediocre, and that's the whole point of *listening* to a book. She has the English accent, which is indeed a plus in this story, but her voice is thin and has an almost gravely quality to it, like she has just woken up or is recovering from a lingering cold.
She "reads" the story, with not much expression and strange emphasis on random words. A good audio book narrator whisks you away to the world they are reading about and you get lost on the heart of the story, almost as if you are observing it for yourself. This narration is like a kind aunt is reading you a bedtime story. The way she makes the voice for young Mary is squeaky and unrealistic and the thought that I have to listen to the entire thing for 8 hours may just cause me to drive off the road.
When looking for an audio book I suggest you look for the credentials of the reader. Stage performers are best, as they have really mastered capturing the audience with their voice, and not special effects and extreme camera close-ups. I feel let down by the publishing company who seemed to dart off to a "famous" Brit and did not require an audition. She was a Soap Opera star in the 80's and a recent reality TV show hostess on cable. I had wished they had actually hired someone who knows about inflection and character building. Shame on them.
If you are into the classic children's stories, I highly recommend Peter Pan narrated by Jim Dale (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=peter+pan+audio&x=0&y=0) or The Velveteen Rabbit narrated by Meryl Streep. Those "readers" will transport you off to the inside pages of the book instead of imagining them in a recording booth. Such a terrible disappointment!