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The Hippopotamus

Narrated by: Stephen Fry
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Ted Wallace is an old, sour, womanising, cantankerous, whisky-sodden beast of a failed poet and drama critic, but he has his faults too. Fired from his newspaper, months behind on his alimony payments, and disgusted with a world that undervalues him, Ted seeks a few months repose and free drink at Swafford Hall, the country mansion of his old friend Lord Logan.

But strange things have been going on at Swafford. Miracles. Healings. Phenomena beyond the comprehension of a mud-caked hippopotamus like Ted....

©1994 Stephen Fry (P)1994 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Hippopotamus

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    2 out of 5 stars

Well read but I didn't like the story

The narration was great but the story was disturbing and I didn't especially enjoy it.

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  • W. Barron
  • 18-11-2013

Good story, fantastic performance

Would you listen to The Hippopotamus again? Why?

Absolutely, because Stephen Fry brings the characters so fully to life.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hippopotamus?

The description of the events of the New Year's Day shooting party, from the point of view of two young boys.

What about Stephen Fry’s performance did you like?

Everything! Every character was distinct, even people who only had one line of dialogue.

If you could take any character from The Hippopotamus out to dinner, who would it be and why?

These characters are the sort of people one prefers to watch from a safe distance, actually.

Any additional comments?

This is the first audiobook novel I've experienced, and I can't help but think that, as first reads go, this one sets the bar extremely high. If you've never had Stephen Fry read you a story, doing all the voices, you've really missed out. I listened to the first few chapters while out walking one day, and was thus obliged to perfect the finger-point that perfectly expresses "I'm not laughing at you, but the sounds in my ears" to strangers surprised by the eruption of snorts, hoots, and giggles as they approach or pass.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-11-2019

The language and turn of frase are superb.

Fry delivers a character who's one liners are cuttingly funny and delivered like rounds from a tommy gun. loved it 💪

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  • hfrances
  • 16-05-2013

Sensitivity, profanity, bestiality - its all here!

What made the experience of listening to The Hippopotamus the most enjoyable?

I could listen to Stephen Fry narrate a set of Ikea instructions, so it is not a surprise that his delivery and pace are just perfect here. He is able to change his voice very very subtly to convey information about each character - a slight accent for the character Michael, for example, and a slight softening for Jane. His narration makes the quite unlikeable Ted, quite loveable by the end.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the character development and the way the story moved along. It is quite slow and the beginning as we are told about Ted's mission. However this allows us to get to know Ted well. In the beginning his profanity and sexism are quite shocking and seem very dated. However by the middle of the book the swearing seems as much a part of him as breathing. The book downloaded into 2 parts and they felt like very different books. The first set the scene and the second contains all the action. The ending was a complete surprise to me. I also like the insights that Ted gives about art and poetry and his own disappointment in his fading creativity.

Have you listened to any of Stephen Fry’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I listened to his biography.

If you could take any character from The Hippopotamus out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Michael. He is a true modern entrepreneur but his past and early life make him quite mysterious.

Any additional comments?

If you can get past the profanity and, of course, the sexual references, you are in for a treat. Ted turns out to be very sweet, sensitive and shrewd. The novel leaves the reader with lots to think about.

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  • johan
  • 11-12-2012

Very good, clever and original story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Well written and clever with superb story telling

What other book might you compare The Hippopotamus to and why?

Dunno, but it definatly has a very Fry-esque stamp on it.

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  • Becki
  • 18-07-2011

Extremely funny

A great story, funny from start to finish. I loved the reveal at the end. A great bunch of strange, pompous and eccentric characters without too much of Fry's own history (hopefully at least!) interwoven like some of his others. Very, very enjoyable and, of course, expertly read by the man himself.

7 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 27-06-2015

Story teller extraordinary

Would you listen to The Hippopotamus again? Why?

Stephen Fry can do nothing wrong in my mind. This book is just another facet of his brilliance. A very clever, very sexy, very funny, totally compelling book. I will definitely listen to it again, probably more than once.

What did you like best about this story?

The unexpected twists. The characterisations.

What about Stephen Fry’s performance did you like?

Stephen Fry has the most incredible speaking voice and makes the characters live because he is also a brilliant actor.

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

Definitely

Any additional comments?

Thoroughly enjoyable listen.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Patch
  • 18-09-2013

Stephen Fry at his best

What made the experience of listening to The Hippopotamus the most enjoyable?

This was beautifully written and narrated. A great story, couldn't stop listening, the aural equivalent of a page turner. Excellent characters, a great plot.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Hippopotamus?

The twist, which I never suspected for a moment.

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

His wonderful speaking voice reading his own words. What could be better.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Stephen Fry has worked a miracle with this great story.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Twinkle
  • 06-03-2015

Superb

I was engrossed from start to finish. Stephen Fry narrated wonderfully. I think he gave something more t to the book that would have been missing had it been narrated by anyone else. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be eager to hear the next one. .

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 18-09-2015

Bit peculiar but good

Really enjoyed it though has some very strange adult themes. Not for the faint hearted.

3 people found this helpful

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  • J A Bull
  • 21-02-2016

A Stephen Fry classic

As always, Stephen delivers a flawless performance. The story was interesting. ..bit odd. ..but it wouldn't be Fry without some gratuitous swearing and explicit sexual references.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Villa Man
  • 18-02-2016

most entertaining drive to Italy!

loved it especially Oliver. You can never have enough cock gags. Good story very skillfully read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-07-2020

Hopelessly addicted

I first began listening to both audible and Stephen Fry at the beginning of lockdown. I treated myself to mythos followed by heroes. I listened to Victorian Secrets and then embarked on Liar. By this time, of course, I was hopelessly addicted. This latest acquisition surpassed expectations both of its wit and its delivery. Only Stephen Fry could have written it and only Stephen Fry could narrate it! I can’t wait for the next x

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  • Gabriela Budnik
  • 15-04-2020

Marvellous however listen away from other people!!

I loved it. I giggled involuntarily to surprise of other people around me. But I don't care if they think I am mad as I enjoy this audiobook a lot ;) Thank you Mr Fry.

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  • Reviewer263
  • 11-04-2020

Different, but very entertaining

This is quite different to other S.F. books I've listened to, and it took a while to get into. However, with perseverance, I'm glad I continued.
It is not, a book for the 'delicate'. There is some choice language in it; however within the context of the story, and characters, if not enjoyable, then it is acceptable.
By the end of the book, I was rapt. Laughing uncontrollably at times and tears in my eyes at others. If you have the open mindedness and patience to continue with this, it is a great listen......and dare I add, a touch of Mad-Eye Mooney in there as well?