Audiobook Review: How Green Was My Valley

I received this book for free from Audies in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: How Green Was My ValleyHow Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Length: 16 hrs, 23 mins
Published by Blackstone Audio on April 27, 2011
Genres: Classics, Historical
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audies

Huw Morgan, about to leave home forever, reminisces about the golden days of his youth, when South Wales still prospered and coal dust had not yet blackened the valley. Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh, and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people.

How Green Was My Valley is a man in his 60s looking back on his youth in a coal mining valley in Wales. The focus is on the romantic drama of his family, the difficulties of coal mining, the need for a union, education by the British and the way that industrialization is slowly poisoning the beautiful green valley. I did not much care for the story.

For the most part, the book seemed to be a Welsh, male-focused combination of North and South (which has the unions, depression and industrialization) and Little Women (which has the big family, the awful schoolmaster, and the complicated romantic entanglements, wherein siblings steal romantic prospects from one another).

Oh, one thing that’s central to the book that I forgot to list previously: fighting. Huw, the narrator and youngest boy in a big family, is taught that phsyical violence is the right way to respond to and insult, verbal or otherwise. When he starts school and boys destroy his pencil box, he challenges them all to a fight. Unsurprisingly, they whup him. When he goes home, he is given money, told to keep fighting until he wins, and given boxing lessons. Later, he beats up his teacher, who was mean but still. Both his parents praise him for this behavior. Ummm, no.

Without a doubt, this was the worst audiobook to listen to thus far. The story lent itself well to the format, but the narration was incredibly awful. For one thing, the guy’s voice was annoying and did not sound particularly Welsh. I had to do research in the beginning to figure out where the story was set.

What makes the narration so awful, though, is that his voice is incredibly monotonous. He speaks at the same speed and the same volume all the time. Nor does he supply different voices for the characters. Thus, this audiobook consists of almost 17 hours of unvaried tone. Painful!

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