on 11 October 2011
Really enjoyed reading this selection of the Diaries. Great if you like history and especially if you know London well, particularly the City and along the Thames. It gives a wonderful insight into how people lived back in the day along with important moments of history decsribed and perceived by a man of the time in a way that brings everything to life, you can almost feel lke you are there walking the streets alongside him. Want to read all his Diaries now!
This is another fascinating historical biography that reads more like a novel than a stuffy factual book. Virtually everyone knows the name of Samuel Pepys. Ah yes, he's the man who wrote the diary. This is of course true, but do they actually know anything about the man behind the name of Samuel Pepys. What for instance were his feelings on the politicians of the day. What were his own ambitions and aspirations.
Pepys was a naval administrator and friend and confidant of some of the most famous and powerful people in London. Sex, the plague, music, marital conflict, naval life, public executions and incarcerations in the Tower of London. These are just some of the colourful events in the life of a man famous for his writing of a diary.
The book contains a wealth of interesting material about the life of a man who's name goes before him. Everyone knows his name, but few know of the life of the man himself. More importantly his diary gives a wonderful insight into the period that he lived in. Written not from the point of view of a historian but simply as a man who is living his life.
on 8 July 2014
This version had most, but not all, of the "smut" removed from it (graphic descriptions of his multiple extra-marital liaisons were mostly removed), which made it a much more gripping read. I could barely put the book down as I read his personal descriptions of the Black Death flowing through London and it's surrounds and the events surrounding the Great Fire. A classic for good reason!
First of all this is a review of Maloney's abridged reading for Naxos Audiobooks. Many of the other reviews here appear to be about either the diaries themselves or other Pepys related products. 'Tis a pity when this happens, as it misrepresents and misinforms re the actual product customers are seeking to learn more about.
I have to admit I've not heard of Michael Maloney before. There's a Kenneth Branagh version out as well, which I haven't heard, and which Amazon have mistakenly referred to in their product description above (at the time of my submitting this review at any rate). He reads his part as Pepys very well, but with a decidedly affected plummily posh accent that I found simultaneously strange and charming. It leaves one, or me at least, wondering how such decisions about voice-casting are made. Maloney's characterisation is so affected that I feel it gives a slightly strange slant to the material at times.
But in the end what makes this so fascinating and compelling is the material: Pepys' candid confessional diary entries tell a marvellously vigorous and entertaining tale of a highly interesting life lived through very turbulent times. Pepys grew up during the English Civil War and Cromwell's 'protectorate', and this audiobook abridgement selects several key episodes, such as outbreaks of the plague, the great fire of London, the naval war with Holland - which his work for the navy meant he was intimately involved in - and, talking of intimate involvements, his relationships with numerous women, in particular his wife and Deb Willet, all of which give the abridgement some narrative shape and drama.
Mostly this is a solo reading, but it is augmented by some narrative comments, and a few brief interludes of period music, including a very short song which Pepys set himself, music being, amongst his other accomplishments and, alongside the company of women, his chief pleasure in life. Pepys' diaries are noted for their candour, including detailed and frequently hilarious relations of such things as bowel movements and ejaculations. Aside from a few coy references to hanky-panky (often in a strange jumble of tongues, inc. French and Latin), and a few bouts of flatulence, this side of Pepys rather 'earthier' nature is notably and sadly absent, which slightly emasculates this edition.
Despite these caveats, however, this is enormously enjoyable. I found myself very much compelled to listen to it - I/we always generally listen to audiobooks during car journeys - as near straight though as possible, albeit over numerous individual journeys. And indeed, I've already listened to several parts several times over. I'd like to hear Branagh's version (is that similarly abridged?). I generally dislike Branagh on-screen, but I'd be intrigued to see how his voicing of the part compares with Maloney's slightly effete rendering.
So this Naxos audiobook isn't necessarily the perfect Pepys for me, but it is nonetheless excellent, and great fun to listen to. As a result of listening to this (thanks mum!) I've started reading Tomalin's Pepys biog, The Unequalled Self. And at just over a tenner (at the time of writing), that's great value for a 4-disc set.
on 2 January 2014
Although this book is lengthy and I did find myself re reading some passages to understand the language better, it is overall a very interesting book. There is a fair amount on politics, parliament and the monarchy, but the majority concerns everyday life. That's the bit that is most interesting. Its fascinating to get an insight into what food was eaten, how people socialized and the etiquette etc back in the 17th Century.
Because the book is a diary, its easy to read small portions at a time and not get lost as might happen in other classic works.
on 24 February 2004
I've been listening to these diaries on the train, and they're wonderful, surprisingly contemporary for a guy who was writing around the time of the Great Fire of London, now commemorated by the Monument.
Samuel Pepys is a civil servant, having to wade through the red tape and intrigues of his role in the navy. He's enjoying a tumultous relationship with his wife and the way he acts towards her pisses me off occasionally, especially as he's quick to put her in her place at times.
I confess a soft spot for Pepys, despite his womanising, but otherwise overmeticulous mindset, which makes him incredibly irritating at times! He is eminently human, trying to do his best in situations where, often, he has to make concessions, necessary transgressions, small deviations from what might be 'right'. I don't exactly like him, but I feel for him, not least because, in essence, he's a nice guy with some dislikable sides.