IoS Books of the Year 2012: Audio books - Reviews - Books - The Independent

IoS Books of the Year 2012: Audio books

The name's Bonneville ... Hugh Bonneville

In 1967, Ian Fleming thought David Niven a perfect choice to play his hero on screen. But films make their own demands and stray from their progenitors. How Fleming would have thrilled to hear all his original books read with imperturbable panache, by a dozen of our finest actors, half a century on. Hugh Bonneville coolly saves the world from the evil Goldfinger; The Spy Who Loved Me rescues feisty Rosamund Pike from ruthless hoodlums in a seedy motel; Dan Stevens is restored to vigorous manhood by the glorious Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. These and other equally fine actors perform all of the Bond books, unabridged (AudioGo, £15 each). Each reader adds comments on a final, bonus track. Bill Nighy, for instance, is delighted by how well written Moonraker is, adding, besottedly, that he loves everything about Gala Brand, including "her skirts, her shirts … her throat".

This is the original, ultra-suave Bond, born before our times. A soft-centred killer, he smokes Chesterfield Kings; thrashes the bejazus out of a supercharged 1933 Bentley convertible (just listen to the "loitering drumbeat" of that exhaust); surfaces unscathed from cliff-falls, explosions and more intimate tortures; and remains unshaken and nearly always unstirred throughout, despite drinking enough to send today's GPs into apoplexy. These readings are fabulous, and dangerously addictive.

An earlier hero emerges in the first of a beautifully constructed series about murder in 18th-century Leeds. Chris Nickson's protagonist is Richard Nottingham, Constable of the city, searching for a murderer, a thief, and the other half of The Broken Token (Creative Content, £24.27). Steven Pacey is the fine reader of this vividly convincing historical thriller. You long to go to Leeds, right away, and trace the ancient streets he inhabits.

J K Rowling's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy (Little,Brown, £30) is strong meat. Tom Hollander does a miraculous ventriloquist's job on the huge cast inhabiting a small West Country town with more than its share of greed, jealousy, racism, heartbreak and petty ambition. Bleak it may be, but it is also brave, compelling and unforgettable.

Generally, authors are unwise to read their own work. But Edna O'Brien is a soft-spoken and seductive exception. Her memoir Country Girl (Canongate, £21.41) looks back over her life from its beginnings in rural Ireland, where she qualified, surprisingly, as a pharmacist, to the maelstrom of 1960s London, a turbulent marriage and agonising divorce, and a career as the novelist who, like Françoise Sagan in France, defined a generation. Once started, it is impossible, in every sense, to ask her to pause.

Finally, a new unabridged reading of Kazuo Ishiguru's 1989 masterpiece The Remains of the Day (Canongate, £19.99). Dominic West perfectly captures the painful dignity of Lord Darlington's butler, Stevens, in a deadpan reading redolent of pathos, regret and occasional wild humour – as when Stevens is required to instruct His Lordship's nephew on the facts of life. Neither, by the way, emerges any the wiser.

Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week