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This is one of those plays that I always think I must get around to reading, so now at last I have done so. J B Priestley's famous play really makes you think and ponder your actions, it is just one of those things that grips you, whether you are seeing it performed or reading it. Set in 1912 in a town called Brumley, in the North Midlands this takes place a week before the sailing of the Titanic; this in itself is one of the little ironies that come up when reading the text.

The story is set in the house of the Birlings, where there is a gathering to celebrate Sheila, the daughter, getting engaged to Gerald Croft. The evening starts off pleasantly enough, that is until they receive a visit from the mysterious Inspector Goole, who is apparently investigating the suicide of a young working class woman, Eva Smith. Whilst Goole investigates this starts to turn into a more secular twist on the old morality plays that were once so popular some centuries back. As we hear all the evidence against the people in the room some of the characters will be shocked and horrified, whilst others deal with it in other different ways.

This makes compulsive and thoughtful reading, really drawing you in and questioning how one person's actions can affect other people. When those in the room start to think that they have been had, they are in for still another shock, one that we can only guess at. In all this is well worth reading.

This nice edition also has a very good introduction by Tim Bezant, which is well worth reading, and as this is for schools and studying you also have a questions section at the back, as well as a glossary. Well produced this is ideal for those who are at school age and are having to study this original, tightly plotted, and well crafted play.
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on 27 April 2004
A Review of "An Inspector Calls"
By J.B.Priestly
An inspector calls is a play set in 1912. It is written by J.B. Priestly,who considered himself a spokesman for the average person.
The book is about an inspector who goes to the Birling family'shouse about the sudden death of a girl who has just committed suicide. Theinspector goes round each and everyone of the family asking what linksthey had with Eva Smith. The family reveal secrets which could have playedleading parts which led to the suicide of Eva.
It starts off with theinspector knocking on the Birling family's door. The next thing they knowis that is that they are all sitting round the dining room table withquestions being thrown at them by the inspector. The book starts off quiteslowly but once all the pieces have been put together it really getsgoing.
What make this a really good book are all the twists. They allinterlink with each other and you never know when the next twist is comingup! I have never known such a book to finish in such shock even threeparagraphs before the ending, totally unexpected.
This book did nothave any particular exciting characters. They were just normal averagepeople like you and me. I think this is what Priestly was trying toachieve and he did this well, it could of happened to anyone!
If you read this book, you will need deep concentration becausedespite its easy language all the characters interlink with each other,and have unexpected twists. The message this book is, don't take anyonefor granted and try to not regret anything do everything you can to helpsomeone.
Sam Stone
Sutton Valence School
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on 14 March 2007
i am reading this in my class for gcse english it has got such a twist in it its fab i love the character eric i am a little bit squiffy! the inspector is such a good character how he is so aburpt and stern and makes nearly all of them regret there actions the play preformed on stage is also amazing i would reconmend this to anyone who loves a good moral mystery murder well suicide and to have all there ideas how they thought the play would end out of the window

read it!
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on 28 October 2015
I was really looking forward to hearing this BBC audio play but I was left feeling more than a little disappointed. There's nothing wrong with the adaptation, it's pretty close to the play as written, but some of the performances aren't great. In fact what disappointed me most of all was the performance of Toby Jones as The Inspector. I think he is an excellent actor and was expecting great things from him in this role but, to my ears at least, he got it all wrong. He starts off sounding like a whispering version of someone from The Sweeney and by the time he gets to his closing speech he's like a snarling, seething maniac along the lines of his Dream Lord character in the Doctor Who episode Amy's Choice. It just didn't fit the persona of The Inspector at all and, if you watch the far superior performances of both Bernard Hepton and David Thewlis in either the two BBC TV adaptations you will see why. When taken as a whole piece, it's not terrible...it's just not very good.
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It's been many years since I read the play at school and hearing it brought to life in this BBC drama was very satisfying. The actors bring out the various prejudices, weaknesses and strengths of their characters with sublty and the performance by 'the inspector' is the right blend of authority and righteous indignation that shatters the complacency of the family. Highly recommended.
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on 10 March 2011
This is the second audiobook in the BBC Classic Radio Theatre series to feature a play by J B Priestley and is a distinct improvement on the first (Time and the Conways). Originally broadcast on Radio 4 in May 2010 it boasts an ideal cast with Toby Jones absolutely right as the mysterious Inspector Goole. It is he who exposes the well-heeled, middle-class Birling family headed by industrialist Arthur Birling (David Calder) as complicit in the suicide of a young working-class girl. Priestley's classic morality play has never sounded better on radio and the director, Jeremy Mortimer, is especially good in establishing the cosily complacent atmosphere of the opening scene and in controllng the essential dynamics of the play. A special word of praise to Morven Christie, who is perfect as Sheila Birling. For some reason the running time is given as 2 hours 40 minutes when it is actually no more than 1 hour 30 minutes.
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on 2 May 2013
Had to order for son for his English lessons it was the correct copy required by school and my son likes it
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on 23 March 2011
An excellent production of an excellent play, with an excellent cast. That may sound simplistic but it's true. Toby Jones in particular is excellent as the mysterious Inspector.

The Beeb are doing a great job in plundering their vaults for unreleased drama, long may it continue.
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on 12 September 2000
This has to be one of the best plays I have ever read. The book is focused on an inspectors visit to a family after the suicide of a girl. The family all have something to do with her death. One by one each member tells their part, each more surprising than the last. The ending is a real twist which will leave you thinking about it for hours. The characters are well developed and intriging. This play also has some funny moments that lighten up the atmosphere a bit, for example Mr Birlings speech about the titanic full to the brim with dramatic irony. I would recommend this to anyone whether fans of this genre or not.
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on 27 September 2000
I thought the book exceptionally well written, especially as it is based as a childrens play. The author writes with such a success that children and adults alike can enjoy. The play opens with the family sat around the dinner table and immediately you are pictured with a family who it is quite obvious that how they 'look' means everything to them. Immediately you learn who each member of the family is and get to know a little about their character, warming to them all. Mr Birling is a man who most definitely likes the sound of his own voice and he is full of his own self importance and rates sucess solely on finances.However with most characters who are a trite self indulging, one normally becomes bored quite quickly, this is not the case with Mr Birling, his tales are amusing and actually very entertaining. Sat around the table we are allowed to see a little of each person, being able to share in the celebration of the engagement between Gerald and Sheila.
The story rapidly moves up a gear when Inspector Gool arrives, holding me entrapped in his amazing authorative line of questioning. It is wonderful to read; you can almost picture the looks on the faces of everyone concerned, which is them all. It draws you in, as if one is watching the play for real, not reading a book. The whole book has you gripped, not wanting to put it down, needing to know who the 'girl' really was. Having it suddenly dawn that not one member is guilty, but they all are. Without even realising it the tale unfolds from their very lips, the inspector is merely a spectator.
It is interesting to see the way the play develops, the way each person deals with their own guilt and feelings. The play has a remarkeable twist which may be picked up by the reader just before it is realised by the characters.
The ending of this play, leaves you sat there repeating those final words over and over again; makes you go back within the book to re-read certain parts. The book is very clever in the sense that it has one thinking about the way the story dealt with feelings, how when the characters were beginning to act selfishly once more, it really all did come pouring down on them and that this time there really would be no escape. Has one wondering that maybe, just maybe, if acceptance for actions were more forthcoming would the ending be different and isn't it a lesson to us all.
It deals with a lot of social, moral and personal issues that I believe every reader will in some respect be able to identify with. A book written perhaps with the thought in mind of provoking 'people' to challenge their own positions and feelings. This is a book that will never die and will always have a place on my bookshelf.
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