Children’s #Classics Audiobook Review | “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” by Kate Douglas Wiggin, narrated by Ann Richardson a selection I added to my #theclassicsclub list under ‘Children’s Lit’

Posted Sunday, 26 August, 2018 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Audiobook Review Badge made by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in [2016] as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how your reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions. Through hosting for the Audiobookworm I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories whilst finding podcasters who are sharing their bookish lives through pods (ie. AudioShelf and Talking Audiobooks; see my sidebar). Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive for their digital audiobook catalogue whilst making purchase requests for audio CDs. It is a wonderful new journey and one I enjoy sharing – I am hoping to expand the percentage of how many audios I listen to per year starting in 2018.

I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” via Audiobookworm Promotions who is working directly with the publisher Post Hypnotic Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was keenly interested in listening to this Classics Children’s Story:

Of all the Shirley Temple films I haven’t yet seen, the one film which has stood the test of time of being of apt curiosity is ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’! I have adored Ms Temple for most of my life – as her films are wickedly delightful to see at any age – in my twenties whilst appreciating binge watching TCM, I had the joy of finding her as a sixteen year old in the film “Since You Went Away”. The film lead was played by Claudette Colbert who had impressed with right next to Ingrid Bergman for their dexterity and their depth of character performances. This was a rare treat to see Temple in a nearly-adult role.

I wasn’t sure where this particular adaptation of ‘Rebecca’ would befit within the Classic novel – as when it comes to adaptations, you have to keep an open mind as some are strictly by the ‘book’ of what was disclosed and others have a healthy heaping of ‘liberties’ taken with how their filmed. Either way, you look on it, I knew I wanted to see Shirley Temple in this role, even if I would prefer another version for keeping in better step with the original story.

Quite shockingly, at the time of listening to the audiobook, as would you believe I never had the proper chance to source a print copy of this novel?! It was one of those ‘book-to-film’ reads I had intended to get and simply never did. I ought to work a bit harder at rectifying this pursuit in the future. For now, audiobook versions are my jam. I am seriously over the moon in love in finding Classical works of Lit in audio formats – and this first and foremost is a strong affirmative of credit towards the work of Post Hypnotic Press, of whom, had my path not crossed with theirs during the Betty MacDonald memoirs, I might never had even realised how keen I am on listening to the Classics on audiobook!

Another shocker for this reader and book blogger was discovering of *all!* the fastidiously ridiculous series of adaptations for Classical Lit in motion pictures, somehow, this particular field overlooked ‘Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm’ as there appear to be only *three!*? Imagine!? I barely could myself!

One thing I was thankful for – my introduction into ‘whom’ would alight off the pages of the novel came into my headphones by way of Ms Richardson on behalf of Post Hypnotic Press! They truly go the extra mile in placing the right narrator(s) in the right roles which give you a wealth of joy to be #amlistening! It isn’t the first time I felt the narrator befit the character and had a wholly individual way of presenting the character of the hour – the last time I felt this for a fictional character was during my listenings of Ms Henderson voicing ‘Anne of Green Gables’.

Rather oddly, I had overlooked adding this particular title to my tCC List, of which I’ve amended during this blog tour. It ought to truly have been inclusive all along and the oversight was decidedly a reader’s over enthused approach at trying to compile a ‘list’ to present as a list of #nextreads when altogether mindful of the fact she might ‘forget!” a few in the process! I am thankful I can continue to share these readings and listenings with my fellow Classic Clubbers! (as I link my reviews, including the audiobooks to the main review archives)

Happily I spied a fellow book blogger, Classic Clubber and friend on this blog tour (Maggie) and I truly look forward to reading her ruminative thoughts and see how she took to ‘Rebecca’.

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Children’s #Classics Audiobook Review | “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” by Kate Douglas Wiggin, narrated by Ann Richardson a selection I added to my #theclassicsclub list under ‘Children’s Lit’Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Source: Audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions
Narrator: Ann Richardson

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm has delighted readers for over 100 years. Published in 1903, when girls were inevitably depicted as pretty, gentle and proper, Rebecca Rowena Randall burst onto the scene of children's literature. Sent to live with her prim and proper Aunt Miranda, who is expecting her much more demure sister, Rebecca is a "bird of a very different feather". She has "a small, plain face illuminated by a pair of eyes carrying such messages, such suggestions, such hints of sleeping power and insight, that one never tired of looking into their shining depths...." To her Aunt Miranda's continual dismay, Rebecca is exuberant, irrepressible, and spirited - not at all "proper" or "demure". She wins over her aunt soon enough, and the whole town, and thousands of readers and listeners everywhere.

In 1904, author Jack London wrote Kate Douglas Wiggin: "May I thank you for Rebecca?.... I would have quested the wide world over to make her mine, only I was born too long ago and she was born but yesterday.... Why could she not have been my daughter? Why couldn't it have been I who bought the three hundred cakes of soap? Why, O, why?" And Mark Twain called Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm "beautiful and warm and satisfying".

This recording, narrated by Ann Richardson, whose sweet voice has a facility for accents and character voices, is a satisfying listening experience you'll want to revisit. Upcoming from Post Hypnotic Press is a new annotated print/eBook edition of this book, with illustrations from the original publication and a new introduction, as well as a work-book for children

Places to find the book:

ASIN: B07819NB8D

Genres: Children's Literature, Classical Literature


Published by Post Hypnotic Press

on 8th December, 2017

Format: Audiobook | Digital

Length: 8 hours and 11 minutes (unabridged)

Post Hypnotic Press (@Post_Hypnotic)

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Previously I’ve listened to the following titles:
[ of Classical Children’s Lit by this publisher ]

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (see also Review)

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (see also Review)

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (see also Review)

[ these were all narrated by the lovely Collen Winton! ]

*I truly hope they will be creating more installments for ‘Anne!’

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Whilst I’m featuring two more reviews for this publisher this coming week:

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet, narrated by Heather Henderson

Greenwillow by B.J. Chute, narrated by Ann Richardson

Whilst previously I listened to Heather Henderson narrating the Betty MacDonald memoirs!

And, Paula Becker leant her insight into Betty MacDonald as well!

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Kindly read the convo I had with Post Hypnotic Press!

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my review of rebecca of sunnybrook farm:

Rebecca’s mother wants to insist on Rebecca not to disclose private matters in public forums – though to a girl like Rebecca, sorting out what to filter from saying aloud in mixed company is quite the undertaking as we observe when she’s first meeting Mr Cobb, the driver of the stage which will take her to Riverboro where her Aunts’ Miranda and Jane Sawyer reside. It is here, in this earnestly innocent exchange, we hear the slight exasperation on behalf of her mother with the slight winsome hope the travel her daughter is about to undertake will be for her greater good. This is a mother with seven children at home and although Rebecca wasn’t the first choice of the matron Aunts’ to accept into their life and home, she’s the right sibling to have gone to live with them.

Parts of the first two hours of this narration reminded me of the sibling group being raised by Soule Mama and I believe anyone whose familiar with this mother’s dedicated journal of a public blog would oversee the similarities rather immediately!

You can’t help but get a chuckle of a laugh out of seeing how Rebecca’s plight in the stage coach would not be to a young girls’ liking! Kept hidden from the sight of the road, too short to see properly and too underweight to feel as if you were anchoured properly in the seat itself – no wonder she anxiously attempted to get the attention of Mr Cobb to switch ‘where’ she would sit on the journey to her Aunts’!

When Mr Cobb and Rebecca take to staring after each other as a form of ‘proper acquaintance’ through self-scruntization of each others’ person, you had to marvel at the insights permeating out of this assessment on both of their behalf’s. For Rebecca held her own – there is a moment in this scene where Ms Wiggin secured my heart into her prose – as she found a way of eloquently reflecting about a person’s eyes and the soulfulness of individual spirituality and faith. It is a humbled observation and inside it, held such intuition to withstand the years of time between when it was first writ and now, as Ms Richardson spoke the words which still resonate with the reader who finds them. Their the kind of observation you love finding inside a Classical work of literature and makes the journey into it’s heart sweeter somehow.

Rebecca might vex Mr Cobb’s patience and his ability to logical follow her conversations – but for those who have known a Rebecca IRL, she’s a sweetheart of a girl whose bubbly observations are as endearing as the countryside she’s passing through! She’s still in the throes of her girlhood – where the realities of what makes the differences between boys and girls a rather dreary realisation of inequality but with the simplicity of a young girl for recognising those differences but not letting them stop her from pursuing what interests her most. She bounces round topics and declarations of ancestral lineage as fast as a dragonfly chasing after the windscapes. For you see, in her world – everything has meaning and the reasons why those meanings last in her mind and heart, is through the repetitiveness of telling those tales. This is the birthstone of ‘living histories’ and she surely has an enroads of an approach towards keeping this a tradition!

The very epitome of why Anne Shirley would embrace Rebecca is when she was attempting to explain rather plainly and surely to Mr Cobb why declaring her ‘farm’ was ‘Sunnybrook Farm’ for a surefire reason, there was something in her passionate response which smirked a kind reflection of Anne.

As we shift into the arrival of the Aunts’ – we hear voices seasoned by their experiences and their disappointments. Aunt Miranda you can discern the fastest, as she has a distinctive voice – the kind you know not to contradict inasmuch as Marilla of Green Gables; as their personalities felt as if they were twinning to me. Aunt Jane had a softer voice and a vocalised rallying of spirit – a bit unlike her sister’s own instincts. Their spinsters in their own rights, whereas their sister took off into marriage when it suited her and left the sisters as the last remaining ‘Sawyer girls’ to be forevermore known. This make me smile – as despite their zest to stand outside of each other’s shadows, they were interlinked and seen as a singular unit of ‘one’.

You realise rather suddenly this ‘other sister’ the Aunts’ are recollecting is Rebecca’s own mother – the woman who married Mr Randall and of whom, the Aunts’ staunchly disapproved. They weren’t kind in their criticisms either – which they doled out regularly and without remorse. They even had a staunch opinion about Rebecca as she was not the favoured sibling of seven nor was she second best despite being the second eldest.

Ms Wiggin’s approaches the back-history of Rebecca in the same fashion of familiarity you have from Ms Montgomery or even Ms Austen; for they regale you with the important details in only a recital of information which makes sense to the writer for the order in which it is disclosed rather than the reader, who hopes she/they can remember all the details rather than a parse sampling of them! You gather a rounded insight about the Randall family – of how the siblings are each their own person, with strengths and weaknesses, favourite interests and the ways in which siblings can interact and yet be considered distant from one another as well. It is a curious period of disclosure as you pull back from Rebecca’s arrival in Riverboro to reflect back on her life prior to this transitional period.

Rebecca could not have realised how imperative it were for her to tuck into these hours and days with her Aunts’ with reverend grace – nor could she have hoped to have guessed about her Aunt Jane’s great loss which is lightly touched upon. She isn’t given the whole story, but a small glimpse into why the loss of this potential relationship so early-on in her Aunt Jane’s life became a tipping stone towards how her Aunt became unwed and endured a life with her sister Miranda.

It is through this incensed relationship – for I would declare Rebecca and her Aunt Miranda were more oppositional than they were alike – where you first see the seeds of how they were wont to have difficulties in the future by the supposition of Miranda to claim ‘dresses whose buttons are reverse round’ is not the mark of a well-raised child. Or, as best as I can paraphrase, as Miranda has a sharpened tongue and isn’t afraid of a lashing out when she deems it necessary or worthwhile as a ”lesson for personal growth’ of which she personally seems to think is her duty to give out rather freely against Rebecca!

Rebecca has her own selective woes about missing Sunnybrook Farm, the ache of loss for her six siblings and the normalcy she used to know of being brought up in a lively house full of voices, noises and responsibilities which broker on being the family’s live-in nanny. For Rebecca had such a kind-hearted approach to helping younger siblings, she was a mother’s best hand. She would elocute these woes of hers inside her letters to her mama – where she would be mindful enough to enclose poetry and prose for her brother who collected them like found treasure. It was during one such fated letter where she was contemplating the differences and similarities between Angels and Seraphims; yielding that her first choice (the latter) was much better suited to her train of thoughts than the easier to substitute by ease of virtue of knowing how it was spelt ‘Angel’.

During her tenure with her Aunts’, she found curious little side venues of happiness – such as the secret path she could take between home and school. A path other children knew of themselves but of which, she was delighted in having long moments left alone or in the daring company of Emma Jane. Daring as Rebecca oft wandered curious if Emma Jane would ever draw a breath of curiosity herself and dare Rebecca to believe her to be an individual mind such as Rebecca was herself. These walks and talks they shared amongst themselves could only run so deep and true, being how Rebecca had to encourage out the seeds of their discussions.

When Rebecca was punished for excessive drinking of water, a flashback of memories flew through my mind which brought me back to Ms Beatle and the series of ‘Little House’. You can start to see why all of these stories are as perennial as they are as they each reflect a different version of life in America during different intervals of History. Thereby bridging the distances through time and relating familial stories each new generation can alight inside as if they could find recognition within them.

Sewing and quiet-time indoor activities from Aunt Miranda was the bane of Rebecca’s trials. As Aunt Miranda felt the best way to ensure a child knew her place and knew it well was through repetitiousness and dedicated practice, she reminded me of the ways in which even Caddie Woodlawn would become afeared of rapt boredom lost in spindles and thread such as dear Rebecca!

Aunt Miranda never wanted Rebecca to disappear into vanity, whereas Aunt Jane understood the colour palette Rebecca wanted to emulate as it was a partial view into her own childhood. Without Aunt Jane I don’t think there would have been a balance of temperament for Rebecca. As the sisters’ knew each other in such a way, as when Miranda coiled her stubbornness round Rebecca, Jane was there to soften the edges and lend out a way towards a reconciliation all parties could tolerate.

Small towne politics and the perpetual earphone of news floating in in with the new dawn and passed round before twilight kept the peculiarities of Riverboro well fed by its population. This was a small towne set in Maine, where you are jostled between Portland and Lewiston with quite a few routes betwixt the two between! It was rather interesting this was a story set in Maine and New England, as I found great similarities between the styling of this narrative and that of Prince Edward Island through the pen of Lucy Maud. So much so, I had a fever of interest to see if I could track down if either of the two writers knew of each other or if one had followed publication shortly soon after the other as well. I hadn’t secured an answer whilst I continued to hear the story-line but what was curious is how they both were so keenly adapted towards painting such a living portrait of two different kinds of places who shared such close-knit geographic continuity to each other!

Rebecca standing up for a family down on their luck from a school bully named Minnie became one of the cornerstones of her school years. As it marked a moment where you could see the moxie had built itself properly within Rebecca to ease out at just the right moment where it could affect the most impact. Contrary to her ire being irked by the intolerance of a peer, what touched your heart is when her pink gingham dress and her pink parasol drew themselves into a frenzy of angst when Aunt Miranda caught wind of her extravagance at having drawn herself an outfit worthy of a queen holding court.

The row between Aunt Miranda and Rebecca was quite landmark – as it allowed Aunt Jane to quit being the mouse of a voice she were in this co-parenting household, offering instead the reassurance of a matronly mother-influence who understood the toils of childhood but also, understood the injustice of Aunt Miranda’s bane of prejudice. It was here she offered her own words to contradict the row and to leave Miranda in a fit of thoughts she never felt she would endure as having come from her sweetly calm and quiet sister Jane.

Rebecca’s solemn goodbye to a bittersweet day was of the mirth of a young girl whose innocence was slowly being rubbed away by the in-solitude of childhood anguish. It was here she would turn towards Mr Cobb to be her rescuer and to him, she would find a cherished friend she had hoped she had forged but hadn’t til then realised she had won over his heart as well. It was in this quiet somber filled evening of where rain showered heavily down upon the land prior to releasing rainbows where we see how Rebecca has already changed the lives of her (new) neighbours.

Milltown impressions and Portland dreams intercede into Rebecca’s sensibility about Maine’s place in the world. Of how, she dreamt of exotic locations in Europe but would hold Maine’s own cities in tandem to those far-off places if only the localised ones could provide enough entertainment and curious delights to keep her entertained without the longing appeal of travelling abroad. To her mind, the longing of visiting such a city held more appeal than actually visiting it – as there was the subtle realisation that she was easily disillusioned. Evenso, whenever she was able to travel even a furlough she made do and kept her saddened world-view a bit more to herself than she was wont to share with her friends or Aunts’.

The Cobbs wanted to keep company with Rebecca inasmuch as Rebecca wanted to keep company with the Cobbs. For there home and hearth had not become blessed with a child – despite their hopes of having their own children and the tragic loss of that pursuit. For them, Rebecca renewed something deep within their own souls – of where they could depart homespun wisdom, living affirmations of truths and a humbled bit of grit to enable her to endure those years with her Aunts’ where she herself was fumbling to know if she had enough strength inside her to see it through to the conclusion.

Schoolwork and the woes of composition and prose marked her days more than any other marker – as Rebecca was an accidental poet. Which means to say, poetry and prose came naturally to her but it was how to place the words together and to make ‘music’ out of them which vexed her more than any other outcome she could hope to achieve. She wanted her words to count for themselves and for the hearer or reader of her poetry to feel instantly what she had felt herself when she conceived them. It was a work of a tenacious mind not generally dedicated to their own influenced growth but where the mirth of the poetry itself overtook her logic, Rebecca shined the most. For sometimes she overthought things or second-guessed her intentions – when she allowed the poetry to bubble forth out of her insightful observations on life, living and the goings on of Riverboro, so too, did the poetry complete itself without challenging effort.

Aunt Jane was coming into a newfound confidence which both startled Miranda and embrazened Jane. The Aunt’s were fixed points on a compass when Rebecca first came to live with them – she never would have believed she could have influenced such stark changes in her Aunts’ if you had asked her that very first day she left the company of Mr Cobb and the safety of the stage.

The infractious grievances of misuse of words and the struggle to find the proper way to articulate oneself when assembling the words on paper continued to plague Rebecca. Whilst the industrious notions of children (selling soap door to door with Emma Jane) proved to be a balm to her wary soul. Her spirits were uplifted in such a genuine way as she fond her truest gift was in her ease of meeting strangers and of how none of the strangers she met would soon be bourne of that sole meeting – but rather, either endeared as familial acquaintances or steadfast ‘friends’.

Rebecca musefully reflects about ‘eating colours and being a tree’ during this period of her life where she vexed Emma Jane dearly for her insightful homage to their environment. Though counter to Rebecca’s continued growth of knitting closer to her adult years as a well-rounded youth, it was Jane’s great loss which became re-explored which leant further insight into what one of her Aunt’s most secreted memories. It was here, where Jane’s great Renaissance starts to undertake itself.

Rebecca’s brother dearly cherished dream of being a country doctor was all but in sight of being realised when Rebecca’s own curious insight into her place in both world and her family were being uprooted quite a bit. She was torn between her honour of duty with her Aunts’ faded invitation to educate her and set her off into the world on stronger foundations than the ones in which she first appeared verse acknowledging her tenure in Riverboro might be best to draw to a close sooner than later.

Mr Aladdin’s Christmas surprise touched her spirit in a way she could not quite articulate and that was saying something for Rebecca was never short on platitudes nor words of rapt praise. His own understanding of Rebecca’s personality and her uniqueness in the world is what endeared her to him and him to her most readily. They were on an understanding amongst themselves that few could hope to achieve and in that understanding, the ways in which he sought out to make her smile was a small portion of the random joys Rebecca happily clasp onto whilst she was still in Riverboro.

Death like life held it’s own revelations about the spring of growth all young children face as they grow taller and the seasons of adolescent stumble closer to adulthood. It was in these murmured moments where Rebecca realised how dear Sunnybrook Farm had been to her and yet, how the passage of time from her absence had reflected the memories she had proudly held onto were simply that – memories of times gone long past. For her, Sunnybrook Farm had altered in both appearance and touch; it was not the place she had left behind but in other ways, it was as it always were even without her presence.

One of the reasons this story endures as much as it does to ignite the hearts of its listeners or readers (depending upon how you entered it) is because of its timeless canopy of childhood harmony. This is a coming-of age tale for readers who appreciate the long winded narratives of winding through the stark ordinary world in which small townes can provide whilst giving full measure of fortitude and purpose to how the children in Classical Literature are oft-times overlooked for their apt attention to detail, their internalisations of the purpose we all seek whilst alive and the platitude of understanding more than their years can divide between themselves and their adult guardians.

Rebecca is the kind of girl you wish to walk beside for as long as Ms Wiggin gave her to us to keep company round. She has a lot of attributes of the other girls’ I cherished visiting with as a young girl whilst giving me a strong impression of her nature even as an adult reader. There is a regret in not finding her when I had found the others, but sometimes in life, you will find your reading life takes a few surprising turns. Where even as an adult, you can re-find the joy of hearing a Classical story for the first time and be fully amazed by its execution, continuity and the joyfulness of the well-rounded characters who take up residence in such a way as to feel as if they are your own bonefide neighbours just ’round the bend’ a piece.

on the writing styling of ms wiggin:

I do believe there are some authors who know how to knit ‘real life’ into their narratives in such a way as to ground you so very dearly into their fictional world as if you could still take up residence in a composite ‘locale’ reflective of this particular life being explored by the writer themselves. This is another instance of a wholly realised world where the characters are fully alive and happily dimensional – as real as each of us, continuously living their own lives and sparing a few moments out of that life to impart to us why their life is one we, ourselves, should be clued into knowing more about through the story told on their behalf.

As forementioned, there were portions of this story which echoed fond memories of listening to stories shared by the Soule family as related to me by my Mum whose a dedicated reader of Mama Soule’s curiously delightful homespun family journal! We’ve spent a lot of dedicated hours looking over her blog’s photographs, her Insta feeds or mused about what her children could be getting up to next as they try their parents patience for acknowledging some of their children are making choices that aren’t necessarily the ones they thought they’d make (such as their youngest opting out of being homeschooled straight-off!) but are embracing the journey of parenthood and their homespun farm lifestyle as the seasons turn their tides.

I believe now, looking back on things a bit – I can see why the memoirs of Betty MacDonald, the innocence of Anne Shirley and the felicity of joy in Rebecca (of Sunnybrook Farm) are appealing to me! My sensibilities towards this kind of story-telling has been a part of my life for quite a long while as it is an arm of recognition of how my own living histories were shared amongst my own family. Of finding the ‘stories’ of life in the ordinary, of taking snaphots of ‘now’ and the ‘living hours’ to where those moments become treasured gold in the future of ‘remembrances’. It is a special kind of focus and nurtured awareness of life, faith, community, purpose and internal solitude – whilst acknowledging that no matter how difficult the road becomes, there is a new tomorrow right round the horizon of the last kiss of moonlight.

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Why Rebecca reminds me dearly of Anne:

Having become re-attached to Anne of Green Gables only a bit ahead of listening to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, to where the echoes of Green Gables are still in the forefront of my mind and heart – it isn’t hard to see the similarities to Rebecca and Anne Shirley! For starters, both girls’ are overlooked by both their adults and their peers – each of them have their own acquiescence therein, whilst the humbling truth remains – where Anne had Marilla, Rebecca had her Aunt Miranda!

Rebecca and Anne would have made splendid friends – they see the world rather similarly to each other but they also hold back a bit of innocence saved for themselves. They try to put a purposefully joyful bent on their life by seeing things rather uniquely and differently than others. They don’t put on airs nor do they readily admit when their in error, but what they lack in a weakness they make up for in strength for work ethnic, sincerity and an ingenuity a bit more rare in girls’ today.

I wished I had seen this story sooner – I would have been properly in love with her life’s view inasmuch as Anne Shirley, Caddie Woodlawn, Pollyanna, Pippi Longstocking, Heidi, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden and Annie! Rebecca’s presence would have rounded out nicely alongside Laura Ignalls and Jo March!

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About Ann Richardson

Ann Richardson

Ann Richardson has been narrating for major publishers as well as independently published authors since 2008, happily giving voice to classics such as “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (Kate Douglas Wiggin), “Greenwillow” (B.J. Chute), and Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage”.

Her narrations have been awarded AudioFile Magazine’s Earphones Awards, as well as having been finalists in the Voice Arts Awards in 2016 and 2017. In her spare time Ann is a volunteer narrator for Learning Ally (formerly Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic), and speaks to author groups and at writers’ conferences about the process of making an audiobook.

I am appreciative of Ms Jess providing a cursory outline of how best to articulate my listening hours on behalf of this audiobook and the others I shall be blogging about or reviewing in future. I’ve modified the suggestions to what I felt were pertinent to respond too on my own behalf as well as keeping to the questions I felt were relevant to share.

Number of Times I’ve heard the Narrator(s):

I’ve partially listened to Greenwillow ahead of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm thereby this is not entirely my first time listening to the narration of Ann Richardson. I had hoped to finish Greenwillow ahead of Rebecca, however, with my health afflictions and my father’s – time slipped past me this Spring and Summer [2018] to where the reviews and ruminations are going to be featured during the same last week of August.

Regards to the Narrator’s Individual Character performances:

Rebecca: I found it refreshing how Ms Richardson voiced Rebecca as she tapped into a way of intoning the youthfulness of a young girl – where she doesn’t shriek or sounds too (high) pitchy either. She sounds rather comfortable as ‘herself’ – with the self-assurance of a young girl trying to find a way to fit into her confidence which is building with each new experience she undertakes.

(Rebecca’s Aunt) Miranda Sawyer: Her named sounded like “Aunt Mirandy” rather than Miranda of which she was rarely called. She had such stern and strictness knitted into her it was hard to see why Ms Wiggin would want Rebecca to reside with her though it reminded me greatly of how Lucy Maud had placed Anne Shirley with Marilla. In fact, there were so many close comparisons between the two relationships, I nearly felt the two were connected somehow by a thread I could not yet see.

(Rebecca’s Aunt) Jane Sawyer: My favourite of the two sisters, by far is Aunt Jane – for she was a woman you could readily tell would have loved to have been a mother. She had the patience for childhood and she had the insight of a mother who could take in the world’s concerns of a daughter with the attention it deserved rather than the harsher and oft-times too hastily drawn conclusions of her sister Miranda. Soft-spoken but kind, Aunt Jane was the confidante and winning ally in Rebecca’s life.

Secondary Characters:

Mr Cobb: He’s a bit introverted and shy; if you hadn’t realised he was present you might overlook him completely as he’s a rather soft-spoken man. He had his charming moments though – his voice was curiously familiar and he had a fondness for Rebecca even if he was surprised to realise it.

Mrs Cobb: As calm-minded as her husband, her voice reassures rather than takes anything away. The Cobbs were the calm in the storms of living with Rebecca’s Aunts’ as here, she could find kindness and humbled love at moments in her life where she needed extra hugs of love without the conditions her Aunts’ placed on her soul.

Emma Jane Perkins: Uniquely enough, Emma Jane was generally willing to fall in step to Rebecca but it was Rebecca who generally planned out what they would do. Emma Jane was not a freethinker but she did have some gems of insight to share every now and then.

‘Mr Aladdin’: The carefreeness of this character was charmingly winsome! I loved how he understood the reason behind Rebecca and Emma Jane’s visit with him. He was one of those kinds of characters who endears you simply by how respectful they are to a younger character.

Rebecca’s Mother: She had a very matter-of-fact and tactful voice – specifically intending to make sure Rebecca makes the stage and can be received by her Aunt’s on the time-table agreed upon. You barely get to hear too much of her in the opening of the story but already you can discern she’s a woman who keeps herself organised and expects others to match her in those pursuits.

How the story sounded to me as it was being Read: (theatrical or narrative)

I loved how this was being read in a narrative styling I previously loved by Heather Henderson who narrated Green Gables. It is one I prefer, as you get to spend time with the characters in such a way as to become properly acquainted. You can hear the distinctions within their voice, feel their thoughts before their spoken and find the nuances which make them individual.

Regards to Articulation & Performance of the audiobook:

Ms Richardson had a ready familiarity with the characters – you could tell she truly loved narrating this story due to how she approached it. I truly appreciated how she created dimension between the young and old characters whilst she truly tricked your mind into thinking there was a full equality between the genders. The men sounded like men and the girls sounded like girls which is a tricky balance when it comes to narrating. I loved taking stock of how she approached each of the variant strains of the dialogue and presented us with a fuller girth of performance which seemed full enough for the stage.

Notes on the Quality of Sound & the Background Ambiance:

This audiobook is blissfully without background ambiance – as you want to focus on the voices and the vocalisations of the characters. No added fuss behind the words and you can intuit where the story is leading you by how the incantations of the narrator voice carries you forward.

Preference after listening to re-Listen or pick up the book in Print?

Similar to my listening hours spent in Green Gables, I find myself dearly attached to this particular version of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Thereby at this point in time, I think I’d yield in wanting to keep this version the one firmest in mind and heart. However, I was curious about the special edition of a print book which will serve as a companion to the audiobook. Now that would be a keen idea and one I look forward to seeing released.

In closing, would I seek out another Ann Richardson audiobook?

As previously stated, I happened to be co-listening to two audiobooks by Ms Richardson, and having finished one of the two, I can honestly say I do appreciate her narrative style. I would welcome finding more stories narrated by her and to see how she continues to expand her narrating portfolio – especially through works of Classical authors.

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 This blog tour is courtesy of Audiobookworm Promotions:

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Whilst participating on:

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, book synopsis, author & narrator biography, photograph of Ann Richardson as well as the Audiobookworm Promotions badge and the audiobook tour badge were all provided by Audiobookworm Promotions and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Audiobook Review Banner, Historical Fiction Reading Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2018.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 26 August, 2018 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 20th Century, Audiobook, Audiobookworm Promotions, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Brothers and Sisters, Bullies and the Bullied, Childhood Friendship, Children's Classics, Children's Literature, Classical Literature, Coming-Of Age, Historical Fiction, Indie Author, Juvenile Fiction, Life Shift, Macaroons & Paperbacks, Maine, Poetry, School Life & Situations, Siblings, Small Towne USA, Teacher & Student Relationships, the Nineteen Hundreds, Transfer Student at School, Village Life, Young Adult Fiction




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