Monday, June 21, 2010
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde (audiobook): Review
It's been a long, long time since I listened to The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, in fact, it was during the last Read-a-thon. Jen at Devourer of Books is hosting Audiobook Week (June 21-25) and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to finally review it.
So during the Read-a-thon, I really needed to fold my laundry and various other household drudgeries, but I didn't want it eating up into my reading time. Darn you, real life! So I downloaded The Canterville Ghost onto my iTouch from the Free Audiobooks app (Traveling Classics), which I highly recommend to you book loving iTouch owners.
Why did I choose The Canterville Ghost? Well, I love Oscar Wilde and the narrator, David Barnes, had le sexy English accent. And it was FREE!
In The Canterville Ghost a wealthy American family purchase an English estate. The local people are terrified of Canterville Chase because it is haunted by an angry ghost with a history of frightening people into madness. The Americans are unperturbed and rather pragmatic about it. They clean up mysterious blood stains with Pinkerton’s Champion Stain Remover and Paragon Detergent and offer to oil the ghost's creaky chains. Sir Simon, the ghost, is increasingly frustrated with his inability to scare the Otis family. Soon the family gets tired of his antics and set about haunting him. The only family member who has any sympathy for Sir Simon is 15 year old Virginia who makes it her duty to find him peace.
Wilde satirizes both the Americans and the Brits in the story. The Otises and Sir Simon are caricatures of the cultures they represent. They are over the top. I can see why The Canterville Ghost has been adapted for film and stage. There is a great deal of physical humour and sight gags. Great for watching, not so much for listening. I found some of the antics of the Otis twins and Sir Simon tedious.
The second part of the book involving Virginia is much darker and sombre. The story becomes a lesson in understanding and compassion. Sir Simon is seeking forgiveness he believes he can never have.
The audiobook is short at about an hour and a half. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. If I had a choice between listening to this or The Picture of Dorian Gray, I'd go with Dorian Gray. It's a much more mature piece of work.