Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Thomas Hardy.  Read by Anna Bentinck.

Anna Bentinck ratchets up the melodrama for this full-blooded reading of Hardy's classic—a staple of high-school English classes everywhere. Students desperate to penetrate Hardy's notoriously slow masterpiece should turn to Bentinck, who gives it an intense emotional coloring. She makes Hardy sound like a brother to the Brontë sisters: passionate and brooding. Bentinck alternates between a crisp, precise narrative voice that sounds like Helen Mirren, and Tess's own voice, quavering, shallow and meek. Bentinck retains her composure throughout, and her assured performance may be a welcome rescue for struggling 11th graders across the country.

One Day

David Nicholls. Read by Anna Bentinck

You'll Laugh, you'll cry. This is a lovely book both funny and moving and brilliantly read by Anna Bentinck. It charts a period of 20 years in the lives of two friends revisiting their lives on the same date in each successive year and with alternating (often contrasting) viewpoints of the same events. It sounds gimmicky (but then so did The Time Traveller's Wife) but works well and by the end of the novel you will feel as if you are leaving old friends behind. Anna Bentinck inhabits both characters convincingly and if you enjoy her reading then try her version of Hilary Mantel's "Beyond Black" - another funny and moving book with a dual narrative structure.

The Watsons and Sanditon

Jane Austen. Read by Anna Bentinck

Given that there are very, very few commercial recordings of Jane Austen’s minor works, I was very pleased to see Naxos AudioBooks’ continue to add new titles to their already impressive catalogue of Austen’s six major novels and Lady Susan in abridged and unabridged formats. This brand new recording of The Watsons and Sanditon maintains their impeccable quality. Amusingly read by the acclaimed BBC Radio personality Anna Bentinck, the diversity of the plots and the numerous characters could have been a challenge to a less accomplished reader, but I admired her energetic interpretations of the female roles. She has a fine touch with Austen’s nuanced humour and I appreciated her pregnant pauses as much as her rapid fire delivery when warranted. A must have addition for any Austen enthusiast, download this to your iPod or pop it into your car CD player for an amusing lark. 



Mick Herron. Read by Anna Bentinck

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner 

Anna Bentinck delivers a masterful rendering of this nail-biter about a desperate and confused young man who is holding hostages in a British nursery school. Much of the story's suspense stems from the thoughts, fears, and tribulations of the individual characters—the gunman, a nursery school teacher, the school's janitor, an awkward father with 3-year-old twin sons, the MI6 accountant who finds himself drawn inexorably into the situation. Bentinck's reading nimbly captures it all. Rage, despair, terror, disillusionment—all are portrayed in a manner that catapults this reading into an audio production that far exceeds the experience of the book in print. A masterpiece of a performance. 

Charlotte Brontë. Read by Anna Bentinck

Performances like this solidify the notion that much of classic literature translates beautifully to audio. Brontë's rich language and multi-layered plot fairly sing in the care of talented narrator Anna Bentinck, whose clear tones enliven each character, no matter how small his or her role. With an added lilt, a quickened pace, or an altered enunciation, Bentinck moves gracefully from one character to another and makes any bit of narration sparkle. Words that might seem stilted or stuffy on the page become as energetic as the social interactions of Brontë's Yorkshire. Growing industrialisation is juxtaposed with relationship woes as the title character yearns for love. All in all, this audiobook is full of plot twists and memorable characters. 

The Dark Flood Rises

Margaret Drabble. Read by Anna Bentinck

AudioFile Earphones Award Winner

This masterly novel by the great English author Margaret Drabble is beautifully served by Anna Bentinck's low-key and sensitive performance, which permits the book's language and meaning to shine... When needed, Bentinck gives unique voices to different characters, but it's mostly her rhythm, pacing, and audible love of the book that make her performance glow.