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These Stumbling Chronicles,
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This review is from: The Good Companions (Csa Word Classic) (Book & CD) (Audio CD)
J B Priestley's celebrated and immensely successful award-winning novel, first published in 1929, has recently enjoyed a new lease of life with its re-issue, in an enhanced format, by Great Northern Books; the first professional revival, by the BBC, of the 1974 musical version with songs by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer; the launch of yet another musical version; and a recent repeat, on BBC Radio 7, of the 2002 BBC Radio 4 adaptation. Now comes this welcome, if abridged (although 7 hours long), audiobook version in which the reader is Bingley-born Rodney Bewes (of The Likely Lads fame). The novel recounts the adventures of a touring concert party, The Dinky Doos, which renames itself The Good Companions. But this is by way of being the backdrop to a tale about three disparate characters : Elizabeth Trant, a young-to-middle-aged spinster from a Cotswold village, Inigo Jollifant, a piano-playing schoolmaster from the Fen Country, and Jess Oakroyd, a joiner from the West Riding town of Bruddersford, who go 'on the road' to escape their stifling backgrounds and seek a new and liberating way of life. Although the overall tone of the novel is optimistic the darker side of England in the Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s is not forgotten. After a somewhat muted start Rodney Bewes quickly gets into his stride and takes on the many characters in the novel with aplomb. There are useful contributions from Tom Priestley, the author's son and President of The J B Priestley Society and a suitably 1920s-sounding dance tune as a recurring musical theme. The packaging leaves something to be desired, however : there is no accompanying booklet and not even a list of tracks, CD by CD, with narrative cues, such as would enable extracts to be accessed quickly.