After surviving the Dunkirk retreat, Laurie Odell, a young homosexual, critically examines his unorthodox lifestyle and personal relationships, as he falls in love with a young conscientious objector and becomes involved with a circle of world-weary gay men.
©1955 Mary Renault (P)2014 Audible Studios
A reader from my youth in several languages, to have now discovered Audible is more than a bonus.
With such a well-written story as this, full of insight, of compassion, of understanding and of critical observation, it come hard to have reservations. But I do. First of all, that unnecessary over-didactic first chapter explaining that this is in some way, a novel with a Cause. The novel stands by itself, in its own right, and perhaps those who support "the Cause" should read it again and take note of its pertinent observations.
Secondly, the narration leaves much to be desired. As a narrator, the reader does well, but the register of the voices that he uses to depict the main characters – especially those of Laurie and of Ralph, and to a degree, of Andrew – ultimately irritate because of the curious strained tone that is apparent in all of them.
However, at the end, it remains a Mary Renaud novel: elegantly written, astutely observed and insightfully critical - surely a significant novel of the 20th century.
"A struggle at first. But then it pulls you in."
Amazingly well done. Psychologically comparable to Gone w/the Wind in many ways. Truly exceptional!
"A Gay Classic!"
The story is timeless in it's depiction of coming out and finding your own niche. Set in WWII the story of Laurie, a young man out of the army, wounded and coming to terms with his new physical body impairment as well as his sexuality. He breezes from the hospital to a party where he finds another group of like-minded men who round up the characters to be in Laurie's life. I found it interesting that different "types" of men still exist in gay society today. I really enjoyed the narrator who handled each voice well; never too over the top. This novel is a great representation of first loves and lasting loves. Highly recommend this book to young and old gay men of today for a bit of history on how it was like for us back in an earlier time and how some feelings stay the same when it comes to love.
"Beautiful story, excellent narration"
I loved this book. I found myself rewinding several passages to experience again the depth of feeling. It's a classic of gay literature.
"A complex and poignant love story far ahead of its time"
Wonderful to see Mary Renault's marvellous work now available on Audible. I hope that it will open it up to a wider audience.
"Magnificent story magnificently narrated "
I had forgotten how much I love 'The Charioteer ' by Mary Renault.
The story itself is excellent; the depiction of Laurie and Ralph and their struggle to be themselves within the constraints of their society wrenching at times. The characterisation is excellent and I always find myself rooting for Ralph and Laurie, even though I've read it a number of times over the years..
The narration was excellent. I could 'see' the characters as they spoke; their differences were apparent through changes in tone and pitch and I had no problems identifying who was speaking (I shall probably bookmark all my favourite bits so that I can revisit particular sections but I will be listening to this again (& again) as I've thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
The language, setting and characters are immersive to the point where you resent being interrupted reading or listening to go and do something else. It's a book I want to wrap myself up in whether I'm reading or listening and if you like WWII set novels with gay characters figuring themselves out in a restrictive society then I recommend giving 'The Charioteer' a go.
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