©2008 SamFry Limited (P)2008 HarperCollins Publishers
I'm not sure if I would listen again. I love listening to Stephen Fry, regardless of what he's reading, really. But the tone of this collection of short stories left me in a peculiar mood. I was not very familiar with much of Wilde's work, I have read one or two plays, but never his stories like these. They were fable-like, contained lots of moral lessons...but not in your usual bedtime story or fairytale manner. They were portrayed in a very cynical, pessimistic, sometimes almost defeated sounding way. If the author wrote them intending a commentary on the degradation of society and drowning out of innocent good in the world, lost to pompery and selfishness, he succeeded in sharing his disillusionment.
They were interesting to me because they made me experience a new emotional reaction, and a memorable one because it defied my expectations. Every one of the stories had incredible imagery, and painted scenes more real and often more heart-wrenching than your average short-story. Though they contained vivid characters, both noble and ridiculous, and good stories, they left me feeling a little unfulfilled in their conclusions because though the plots formed and progressed and ended, for the most part they don't follow a satisfying pattern of problems being solved, protagonists succeeding, antagonists becoming enlightened and changing their ways, and good triumphing over evil.
Really, every story moved me, but the two that have struck me the most and pulled at my heart-strings still, days and days after listening, were the moments of the self-sacrifice of the birds in both "The Happy Prince" and "The Nightingale and The Rose", both for the good of a man/mankind, and both unappreciated by the world.
"curl up for an evening in"
warm, heartfelt, thoughtprovoking
Just as excellent as every else he has done. (yes I am a Fry fan!)
no, this is a treat to dip into
This was a lovely listen, perfect for a cool winter's night to cuddle up and listen to the mesmerising voice of Stephen Fry. The imagery is beautiful and there is always a sting to make you think. It is like having a favourite uncle read to you.
"An excellent listen"
It's always special to listen to Stephen Fry read. It's extra special when he reads something that he himself loves and he loves Oscar Wilde.
This is a collection of very entertaining children stories. I'm not sure if we would consider these 'children stories' today but like Grimm's fairy tales they were at least intended to be for children when they were written.
The perfect marriage of narrator and story telling.
The Bible meets The Wind In The Willows. This collection of stories is quite full of lessons on the beauty of love & vanity cloaked in children's stories.
The Happy Prince - the sacrifice of true love.
2 stories illicit tears.
If Oscar Wilde were alive he would be Stephen Frye.
"Fantastic for the whole family!"
These stories are fabulous for trips, sparking lots of family conversations. Stephen Fry is terrific as the haughty miller!
"Fry is fantastic"
I did not enjoy was the fast change from one story to the next
"Nice job Stephen..."
About in the middle
My first exposure to Oscar Wilde. These stories were entertaining but more than a little heavy headed in their tone. Wilde beat his audience over the head with his points at every turn.
Stephen Fry did a great job emoting for these fables.
The editing was not so good. Played on an iPhone, each successive story began at virtually the same instant the last ended. No pause at all, as if the title of story N was part of the last sentence of story N-1.
"Why did I stop listening after two stories?"
I really liked the first two stories. The narration is definitely ok. But still, I was not hungry for more than those two first fairy tales. To me, Oscar Wilde will always be the author of 'Dorian Gray', not the man of the short stories.
"A family favourite"
These short, but entertaining, stories are a big hit with both my 'near teenage' son and my 20 year old daughter. Stephen's voice is, as always, a pleasure to listen to; and the stories are both entertaining and engaging.
I recommend this for a car journey where you want everyone to just calm down.
"More than just kid's stories.."
Having seen the other reviews, I was wary of this product & thought it may prove to be a flat note in Stephen Fry's/ Oscar Wilde's repertoire. Happily both were on top form with Oscar Wilde writing some devilishly clever stories, with his protegee Stephen Fry giving just the right voice to do them justice.
All in all, there are 6 stories (including a story-within-a-story) at 15- 30 minutes a piece, so they are manageable in a long car journey/ walk. They are as follows:
1) The Devoted Friend
2) The Happy Prince
3) The Nightingale and the Rose
4) The Remarkable Rocket
5) The Selfish Giant
6) The Young King
With all the stories I was expecting them to be either old fashioned or babyish. Fortunately they are neither & you can see why Fry says on the back cover that 'I do not mind admitting that at the recording some passages were hard to read out loud without choking'.
Like the 'Stephen Fry Presents - Short Stories by Anton Chekhov', though, I have the same nagging grievance - why is it only 6 stories & 2 hours 14 minutes of material? Fair enough that Wilde wrote few short stories, but a double album with the Chekhov stuff (or better still with some of Wilde's under-rated poetry) would have made a much more desirable product.
That said, I can think of few instances where a great narrator has been so perfectly matched with an author. Wilde & Fry are very much cut from the same cloth & Fry has even made a film playing his doupelganger.
The only thing I can think of comparable to this pairing is that of Dawkins reading Darwin on 'On The Origin of Species' & I wonder why it is not done more often.
Can anyone imagine The Queen reading 'Queen Victoria's Journals', or Terry Pratchett reading 'The Lord of the Rings'? It would give a whole new meaning to the phrase 'bringing a book to life'...
I could not help crying as I heard the story of the Selfish Giant, and the voice of Stephen Fry reading the story simply made the entire listening experience delicious. It is a guilty pleasure of mine to listen to a wee bedtime story, and this audiobook is the perfect thing for a sleepy-head. For children and adults alike. As I say, it is simply delicious.
"Oscar Wilde + Stephen Fry = Truth"
How could you possibly go wrong when you combine Oscar Wilde and Stephen Fry? They were made for each other!
I don't like short story compendiums very much, so the fact that I gave this a 4 is a good rating. (5 are reserved for books that truly moves me.)
"Fry brings Wilde to life"
That these stories were written by Wilde for his own children just makes them all the more special. Stephen Fry narrates them with his usual inimitable style and charm and really brings them to life.
The story that stood out for me was the tale of The Happy Prince. Hearing it again brought back memories of it being read to me in school assembly and it was read with such tenderness by Fry it is hard not to feel emotional as the narrative progresses.
I had downloaded the book to listen to with my daughter as she went to sleep but I stayed listening long after she had dropped off. Highly recommended.
"A gem of an audiobook for young & old alike !"
Exceptionally narrated by Stephen Fry, these classic Oscar Wilde stories which include "The Unfriendly Giant" and the "The Happy Prince" reminds us of the need for giving to those who are not as fortunate as ourselves, and to embrace those who appear different and show them kindness and love. A great moral builder for children, and reminder for us adults. A gem of an audiobook!
that there was no break between stories meant listening was a jarring experience. I hope this issue was technical not stylistic.
"Read and written by masters!"
I read the stories when I was a child. Having them read by Stephen Fry brought back some fond childhood memories. If you have children I find that these stories are great for them to listen to and to discuss the morals in the stories.
The Selfish Giant used to be a little scary for one of the younger children in the family. However, a year later they were loving the story as they could understand it better. (Age 9)
The Happy Prince where the swallow takes all the things the prince gives to help the people. So moving!
I could happily listen to it in one sitting, although the book is split into 6 short stories so can be listened to in a number of sittings.
"My favorite book on Audible"
How sweet you can make a character, then add some feeling from Stephen and you get a perfect combination. Fell in love with almost every character
The end of "The Selfish Giant", had me almost crying
Took so many unexpected turns, made adjustments, came to a conclusion and didn't end up in a perfect situation but was contempt. Just to end a way I never expected
"The Nightingale and the Rose" when the bird tried to fix the rose.
No, I would take a break between stories to get to process them a bit. Not sure but felt like they were somewhere around 30-45 min so to me it was a perfect sitting.
Its just a perfect choice of stories, narrator and the timelessness of the stories really make them work until the end of time.
If I had to describe this collection with three words it would be: heartbreaking and heartwarming
"Reliving childhood memories"
As a child I loved reading the short stories of Oscar Wilde and have vivid memories of the golden statue of the happy prince and his little swallow who stays with him and the selfish giant's garden. What a joy therefore to discover these six tales on Audible to relive those memories and play them to my children. Stephen Fry is an excellent reader, and somehow manages to capture both the simplicity and complexity of these tales, that have just as much to offer to me now as an adult as they did as a child. It is great to be able to share these tales now with my children and to see that Wilde's stories impact them just as much as they did me when I was there age. Too good not to share.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.