Expert reading of a classic,
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This review is from: The Wind in the Willows (Children's Classics) (Audio CD)
This now very rare five disc box-set of Kenneth Grahame's enduring masterpiece is extremely hard to find and is consequently prohibitively expensive. That said if you can find it and you are blessed with ample pockets the investment is very worthwhile. Ralph Cosham has an ideal voice for the reading and never ventures into extreme characterisation. He captures the essence of the four protagonists creating a kindly gruff old man in the Badger, a shy and considerate Mole, a countryman for the Rat and for once a quite restrained Toad although the conceit is still very much there. Fortunately the emphasis is on character appreciation and the listener is not subjected to any over dramatization. Outside the adventures of the four characters further delights include the author's descriptions of the countryside and the changing seasons.
It is a regrettable irony that this full reading is so hard to find but seriously abridged versions clutter the catalogue. Here the chapters "The piper at the gates of dawn" (considered to be influential on the hippy movement of the 1960s) and "Wayfarers all" invariably fall victim to the editor's blue pencil. For the BBC Alan Bennett has provided an enjoyable reading as has Martin Jarvis (on leave from Just William) for Naxos, although the voice given to Toad is too extreme. A pleasure with this reading is the occasional musical interludes featuring the music of Danzi. Another unabridged reading and far less expensive is the "good try" effort given by Shelly Frasier. Ms Frasier's reading has some merit but it cannot compare to that given by Cosham. The reading cries out for a male English accent