Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
Shakespeare: his life and work

performed by Judi Dench and

Timothy West

CSA, 2hrs, pounds 8.99

SERIOUS SHAKESPEARE buffs will have got to grips with everything there is to know about the man of the millennium by now, but I found this combined biography and commentary on the plays so engrossing I listened to it twice. Although little is actually known of the Bard's life, there are plenty of theories about it - and much lively contemporary comment. This is woven into brief outlines of the plays, presented in chronological order, and illustrated by extracts read with great versatility by Judi Dench and Timothy West.

The Reader

read by Charles Dance

HarperCollins, 3hrs, pounds 8.99

THIS MOVING, deeply truthful novel examines the crisis of conscience of Germans about their shared guilt for the Nazi concentration camps through the medium of a love affair which links two postwar generations. Bernard Schlink writes with a lucid clarity that makes him an excellent audio author - the more so since an intrinsic part of the plot of The Reader is that books are read aloud on cassette for the benefit of the imprisoned, illiterate heroine. Charles Dance has exactly the right cool, precise objectivity required to put across this haunting love story.