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Decline and Fall

Narrated by: Michael Maloney
Length: 5 hrs and 38 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Expelled from Oxford for indecent behaviour, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly unsurprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle.

His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze.

As the farce unfolds and the young run riot, no one is safe, least of all Paul. Taking its title from Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Evelyn Waugh's first, funniest novel immediately caught the ear of the public with his account of an ingénu abroad in the decadent confusion of 1920s high society.

©1928 Evelyn Waugh (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Michael Maloney, voice artist

Very enjoyable and funny. The voices are brilliantly done. Glimpses into the meaning of life from unexpected characters.After Brideshead Revisited, read by Jeremy Irons, you'd want to read everything by Waugh. I do.

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Wonderful reading by Michael Maloney

Hilarious piece of satire on class and education. Loved it. Michael Maloney brings each of the characters alive spectacularly.

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  • Claire
  • 05-04-2017

Unsurpassable narration

If you could sum up Decline and Fall in three words, what would they be?

Quaint, clever, wry.

What did you like best about this story?

The narration is absolutely perfect and gave me so much more expressive characterisation than I'd have been able to conjure in my own head - thank you, Michael Maloney!

What does Michael Maloney bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

It's honestly as if he wrote the novel himself, so perfectly does he capture each snort, sneer, grimace and tick - he narrates each character with a sort of audible physicality which makes it easy to visualise the characters, and it's laugh out loud stuff. It's ridiculous, it's over the top, and it's jolly good fun.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found it very amusing, diverting, and just what I needed to wind down to each night for a week. Waugh's not to everyone's taste, but if you like a class-based period comedy, boom, here it is. They don't make 'em like this anymore...

Any additional comments?

I read that David Suchet will be appearing in a new TV adaptation, and I can see that working very well; having seen him as Lady Bracknell recently, he can do comedy brilliantly.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • 09-02-2017

Give the narrator an oscar!

This is a wonderful, Jeeves-and-Wooster-esque yarn (although with a bigger helping of satire) made fantastic by the skills of a highly adaptable and talented narrator.

High recommended!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Raal Harris
  • 11-02-2016

Ripping Yarn

Thoroughly enjoyable book and wonderfully narrated by Michael Maloney who expertly brings the larger than life characters to life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Harriet
  • 20-04-2016

Brilliant narrator

Would you consider the audio edition of Decline and Fall to be better than the print version?

Can't say as I haven't read the print version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Decline and Fall?

All of it.

Have you listened to any of Michael Maloney’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Michael Maloney is brilliant at capturing character, and the mood of the period, all of his voices are distinct and brilliant.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • MC
  • 05-06-2019

classic Waugh

a tale of black humour which makes you squirm and giggle in equal amounts. will listen again and again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Pepino
  • 08-09-2018

Pifffection

A short spiffy social commentary on public school education and the absurdity of life, often funny sometimes touching but always true. This is one of the rare gems of audiobooks where the performance is top draw and brings the book to life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Coady
  • 29-04-2017

Perfect Narration

Would you listen to Decline and Fall again? Why?

I will certainly revisit this production. The story is hugely enjoyable but Michael Maloney's narration really stood out. Not only did he highlight the comical elements but he seemed able to distinguish a fine spectrum of 'posh' voices which hinted at varying degrees of class, income, education etc.

What did you like best about this story?

I enjoyed Waugh's parody of public school life and society in general - criminals of all classes included.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The Sports Day farrago was very enjoyable. On a quieter level, so were many conversations - with much subtle humour.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Certainly not crying - I laughed aloud many times, and smiled many more.

Any additional comments?

This is a really fun listen. I certainly plan to re-listen - and probably more than once.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Douglas
  • 06-04-2017

Excellent narration

I am a fan of Waugh but this is definitely not my favourite of his books. However it was brilliantly narrated and often seems like a full cast rather than a single voice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful