(Mis)Adventures in Audiobooks

A Reader's Respite is a big fan of Audible.com. We subscribe, so we get to download an audiobook once each month (which, coincidentally, is about how long it takes us to get through one unabridged book).

We try to switch it up a little and alternate fiction with non-fiction and last month, it was time for a non-fiction book. So after browsing the Audible site for at least an hour (who said decisions like this were easy?), we settled on Alison Weir's Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England. We thought it might be interesting to delve into some non-fiction about England's King Edward II and his French wife Isabella, who along with her lover Roger Mortimer, wrested the throne of England away from Edward in 1327.

Oy vey.

About the only good thing we have to report is that the narrator, Lisette Lecat, has a pleasant voice.

The problem was Weir. In all honesty, A Reader's Respite has never come across a work of historical non-fiction so biased, so slanted as to be almost untenable.

Here are Weir's salient points:

  • Edward II was evil.
  • Isabella was a saint.

Really, those are the points made over and over and over and over. Now we're no expert, but we're pretty certain that any historical portrait should be a tad more balanced to be taken seriously.

Unless it's about Hitler.

That's pretty much our only exception.

A Reader's Respite Complies with New FCC Ruling:

We did not receive this awful book in audio format for free. We paid damn good money for it and probably would have gotten more pleasure from flushing the cash down the toilet instead where it could join the 3 Matchbook cars and 1 Christmas ornament my kids have already flushed down there.


  1. But don't forget point # 3:

    3) Roger Mortimer was a REAL MAN who satisfied Isabella's needs.

  2. Damn. I did indeed miss Point #3. My eyes had glazed over by that point and I may actually have been in an audio-induced coma.

  3. I get all my audios from the library, paid for by my tax dollars but the closest thing to "free" as I can get. I've only run across one or two audios in my life that I hated, and I stopped listening somewhere around disc one or two. That would seriously piss me off if I paid for it and hated it. I've made a mental note to NOT rent this one.

  4. Bummer! I've read Weir's nonfiction on the Tudors and have not been disappointed. Glad you reviewed it because I would have probably spent a credit on it.

  5. I was curious, and looked up Weir, finding that she is known as a "popular" historian, which is sometimes a way of saying "not a real" historian.

    Nevertheless, I would not recommend flushing her or the cash you paid for her down the toilet, as you will end up paying way more for a plumber than you paid for her book in the first place. On the other hand, perhaps a plumber could help you retrieve the other items now making a home in your toilet bowl.

  6. Yikes! This sounds like one to avoid.

  7. Thanks for the FCC disclosure...it really made me laugh!

  8. Sandy - you know, if I had just rented from the library, I wouldn't have made it through about the first couple of hours of it, I would have just returned it. Instead, since $$$ was spent, I felt compelled to torture myself and listen to the whole thing. All it did was raise my blood pressure, LOL.

    Misfit: Happy Birthday!!! :P

    Beth - you know, I vaguely recall reading Weir's The Princes in the Tower years and years ago and I think I somewhat enjoyed it. Now I'm wondering if all of her writings are this slanted. Think I'll dig out the Princes book and re-read it to see.

    Rhapsodyinbooks - ahhhh, "popular historian" must translate into "sloppy, opinionated historian". Glad you cleared that up for me! lol. And I'm waiting until we have a real treasure trove before I call in the plumber.

    Kathy - yes, avoid at all costs, please. There's got to be better nonfiction about these two out there somewhere.

  9. oh.. how I enjoyed this review! And I am glad that you "sounded the alarm." :) I am a big audible fan! I get a book a month also. Thank you for the awesome comment on my blog. I don't know how for the life of me your blog was not on my blog roll. But is surely is now.

  10. It is a good thing I do not do audio books, and I know that I most likely will not be buying the book. If the audio was that bad I would hate to imagine about the book. your FCC clarification made me smile....

  11. i too am a subscriber to audible.com...i think i got one where the guy did not know he should not read his own book and there was no wine to help it either....i had to just stop...my ears hurt and he gave me a headach.

  12. LOL Michelle! I can't syop laughing!
    And point #3 and the reply to that :D :D

  13. I like audio books but there is no way I could listen to non-fiction. I tend to start looking stuff up when I'm reading those so I can see what these people looked like, where they lived looked liked, and videos if possible.

  14. "the narrator has a lovely voice" is right up there with "oh, interesting!" when someone asks how you like the new outfit they're wearing :)

  15. It seems Weir's books are all over the place as being hit or miss.
    I have I think this version of Isabella by Weir somewhere at home but haven't had the guts to pick it up. (US vs UK titles get so garbled I never know what is what sometimes).
    I have read her Innocent Traitor (fictional on Lady Jane Grey), people were mixed but I enjoyed it; and I have read her non-fiction 'Wars of The Roses' which took me two weeks to get through but found it interesting as well, but perhaps not exactly stellar.. and read 'The Princes in The Tower' but I think my eyes glazed over through most of it so can't honestly say what to think of that one..
    I have *just finished* Weir's The Fall of Anne Boleyn, review posts in 7 minutes.. and it is almost near gushy. Don't shoot me. So I made sure to add some snarkiness towards the end which I hope you'll appreciate =)

  16. You should try the format for audiobooks from newfiction.com They break it up. Besides they are free.


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