Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
John Major: the autobiography

Read by John Major

HarperCollins, 6hrs, pounds 11.99

JOHN MAJOR's low-key, impeccably fair-minded autobiography has become a surprise bestseller. Never has so colourful an ancestry been discovered by such an apparently grey man. But on listening to his mild delivery of his memoirs, we realise that, although there is something distinctly Noddyish about his determinedly ordinary progress through life, Major was in truth far from grey - it was just that Lady Thatcher's act was an impossible one to follow. Major emerges as not a great man, but a good one, behaving like a gentleman even when hard-pressed by criticism. But he also enjoys setting the record straight, especially when revealing what he really thought about his formidable predecessor.

The Lord of the Rings

Read by Rob Inglis Isis, 51hrs 38mins, 46 CDs,pounds 129.99

Mail order 0800 7315637

THERE IS no doubt that the long-awaited CD version of Isis's unabridged recording of JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings will be first on the Christmas list of all Tolkien addicts. I have to admit that I have not listened to it all, but from tasters taken from different parts of the trilogy, it seems that Rob Inglis maintains his calm, dignified delivery, vividly punctuated with suitable characterisation of Gollom, Ents, Elves etc, without flagging. One cavil: indications of which chapters start on which CD, and a brief plot outline enabling us to go straight to favourite episodes, would have perfected the attraction of this audio-publishing milestone.