- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (28 Sept. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1856865207
- ISBN-13: 978-1856865203
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 5.5 x 14.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,893,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Stars' Tennis Balls Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Unabridged
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Ned Maddstone was born lucky; he is charming, handsome and on the school cricket team. In fact, Ned has everything most likely to grate with others less fortunate than himself, others who will do all they can to topple him from his elevated position.
Fry takes his title from Webster's play the Duchess of Malfi: "We are merely the star's tennis balls, struck and bandied which way may please them", and Ned finds out that while fate dealt him a kind hand at birth, his luck cannot hold indefinitely. Fry's novel, which he reads in its entirety for this audio book, plots a tragic cycle of blame, retribution and just plain bad luck. Yet as this pattern builds it quickly spirals out of control; running at ten hours long this is an ambitious novel and the strain shows with Fry, who like the story's villain Ashley, frequently relies on cliché to overcome difficulties.
However, if Fry's story is flawed, his reading is virtuosic. Unsurprisingly in a novel so concerned with power and status, accent is of key importance, with large sections of the novel consisting entirely of dialogue, yet Fry never resorts to caricature to differentiate between voices. Instead, he relies on precise observation of nuance and inflection creating a beautiful layering of different types of speech. It is this which most recommends Fry's reading--both as a valuable complement to the novel and as a performance in its own right. Those who know Fry best as a comic actor will not be disappointed by the sharp one-liners sprinkled throughout the piece, they may however be surprised by its darkness. --Anoushka Alexander
"The Stephenesque ... a national as well as a family treasure." -- "Guardian" "It is impossible to be unimpressed by Stephen Fry's writing." -- "Scotland on Sunday" "No one can make you feel quite like Stephen Fry can." --"Time Out" "Stephen Fry is one of the great originals." -- "Financial Times" "From the Hardcover edition."See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
You can't go wrong with Fry's novels: his plots are unpredictable, his writing style is witty, intelligent and captivating, and his (dark) humour is ever-present ... what more could you ask for?
I was aware of this from the beginning, as my brother, who was reading it before me, commented that it was sad and read the part where Babe reveals to Ned that he has been imprisoned for 10 years. I then outlined the first part of Monte Cristo, and he said it sounded much the same. With this in mind whilst reading it, I marvelled at Fry's dedication to the original, preserving the characters and even adding some clever techniques - I felt especially smug when I worked out the pattern at the introduction of Paddy Leclare - and Portia! - ha ha - genius!
And this is where it loses a star. It is a well told, gripping story but it does not have the power of The Count of Monte Cristo. Fry is hurried, while Dumas takes his time and builds up suspense. The characters in The Stars' Tennis Balls and the incarceration that Ned suffers do not have the depth that is there in The Count of Monte Cristo and so do not fill the reader with the same lust for revenge and empathy for the protagonist.Read more ›
Somehow, though I wanted Ned to get some kind of revenge for what happened, the latter part of the book felt overdone and tasteless, and I didn't really enjoy reading it. I would be tempted to say Fry was being brave in departing from the earlier tone and from his Mr Nice Guy image in general, but then the derivative nature of what ensues (noted by other reviewers on this site) prevents me from doing this.
I really wanted to like this book but I couldn't reconcile myself to the sheer nastiness of its ending. Perhaps it's unfair on Fry in the end - from a writer like Iain Banks the denouement might feel just right. Perhaps Fry was trying to get away from how he and his writing is perceived, but somehow it feels like he has missed the target with this one, rather than been misunderstood.
After this, I couldn't help thinking I was reading a text translated from another language. The same characters, with the same flaws as in Dumas' classic, existing in a time when the internet allows me to do as I do now...
And yet, the romance of Dumas' original was lacking. The original panache gone. Instead, a sterile tale told in sterile times, only the how different, and each villain's vice magnified a hundred-fold to remove any pity we may have had for their counter-parts in the original.
And as for the end? For Ned? The count we were happy for. Ned, we just pity him. My enjoyment of the book was overshadowed by this, maybe exaggerated in my mind, lack of originality on the part of Mr Fry. I wondered if he was having a laugh at the uneducated oiks we obviously are...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have always been a huge fan of Stephen Fry on television and as a comic and bought this book primarily for that reason. I was not disappointed. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Jamie
Modern Monte Christo.
Excellent use of the English language .
Worthwhile reading .
Good storyline with some pockets of humor
I have always had a lot of admiration for the polymath Stephen Fry but had missed some of his books. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Mel Blunt
The abstruse title “The Star's Tennis Balls” is enough to put you off. It is totally pretentious. This is nothing more than a pulp-fiction rewrite of a Dumas classic. Read morePublished 9 months ago by C. Gordon
Need to know all those famous people, so not so easy read for a non-UK person.Published 11 months ago by graaf
I have just finished reading this book, my second Stephen Fry . It was okay but in the second half of the book i realised that what i was reading was the story of The Count Of... Read morePublished 19 months ago by ticketyboo