Confessions of an OUTLANDER Audiobook Addict
First of all, if you don't know what the unabridged audio versions are or where to get them, go to Diana Gabaldon's web site, which explains it all in detail.
(Can I say this without sounding like I'm bragging? I was the one who suggested to Diana, in this thread on Compuserve, that putting together a comprehensive explanation of the current audiobook situation on her blog would be very useful to the fan community. And she posted this entry just three days after I made that suggestion. And included every single item I suggested that she put in it. I was flabbergasted. Not only does she listen to me. Occasionally -- very occasionally -- she actually takes my advice. Wow.)
Things I Like About the Audiobooks:
1) They force you to sloooow doooown [g] and take in all the details.
I have always been a fast reader, and a "skimmer". I missed huge chunks of Good Stuff the first time around, particularly in DRAGONFLY, because I was reading much too fast. (Example: "Wait, you mean to tell me Claire lost the baby? When did that happen? Did I miss something?" [frantically flipping back through the book]) Because the audiobook narrators read Every Single Word, you learn to slow down and listen for the smaller details, the subtleties, the lyrical descriptions that skim-readers like myself often breeze right past. Slowing down has enabled me to see things in Diana's writing that I never would have picked up on otherwise, no matter how many times I re-read the books, because I just read too fast.
2) The narrators are terrific.
Davina Porter's voice is so expressive, and she does a wonderful job with all of the accents. (Well, almost all. See Things I Don't Like, below.) I love being able to hear what the Scottish accents and Gaelic phrases actually sound like. And she can be very creative with the voices at times. I absolutely love the way her voice for Roger changes in FIERY CROSS, for example: strong and resonant in the beginning; barely more than a hoarse whisper when he begins to speak again after the hanging; and by the end, a sort of harsh, rasping shadow of his original voice. Very much as it's described in the book, in other words. And Davina Porter's voice for Mrs. Bug sounds so exactly like the way I imagined, that I always have to laugh whenever I hear it.
Jeff Woodman, narrator of the Lord John audiobooks, is also a wonderful reader. I love his voices for Lord John, Hal, Tom Byrd, and Harry Quarry. He doesn't do so well (understandably enough) with the female voices, but overall he does a good job.
3) You can listen anywhere, any time.
I experimented for a while with listening to the audio CD's while driving back and forth to work. It works out pretty well, especially if you are sitting in traffic, but I would recommend caution if you are listening to one of the really emotionally intense parts of the books! One day last fall, I was driving home while listening to the scene in OUTLANDER where Jamie is being given last rites. I suddenly found myself half-blinded by tears, still driving down the road, about a mile from my house. I got home without incident, but it was a pretty scary experience.
I would also recommend that those of you with young children be careful which parts of the books you listen to when your kids are around. There are a lot of scenes in these books that would be awkward to explain, to put it mildly. [g]
Things I Don't Like:
Some of the voices are just plain wrong. If you've read A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, you'll recall Wendigo Donner, the time-travelling Native American who whistles "Yellow Submarine". He's clearly not British in the book:
"Man," he said, longing clear in his voice, "what I wouldn't give for a cold Bud
and a baseball game on TV." (From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by
Diana Gabaldon, chapter 123 ("Return of the Native"). Copyright© 2005 by
Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
But the voice Davina Porter uses for him in the audio version sounds, to my American ears at least, like a Liverpudlian or something. [g] Certainly he doesn't sound like a man born and raised in the U.S.
Brianna's accent is also a bit odd. She lived her whole childhood in Boston, yet she doesn't have a trace of a Boston accent. I've always thought she should.
And as for Jeff Woodman's voices: Well, let's just say that I don't care for his Jamie-voice at all. Jamie sounds half-dead in most of the scenes where he appears in BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE, his voice dull and almost inflectionless. And even if this is Woodman's way of showing a more subdued or even depressed Jamie than we're used to from the OUTLANDER books (which would be reasonable under the circumstances, I suppose), I still don't like it one bit. Especially compared to Davina Porter's Jamie.
Still, these are minor quibbles at best. I am thoroughly addicted to the unabridged OUTLANDER audiobooks, and I would strongly encourage anyone who's interested to go to one of the sites below to check them out:
Recorded Books (http://www.recordedbooks.com/)