• A Charmed Life

  • The Worlds of Chrestomanci, Book 1
  • By: Diana Wynne Jones
  • Narrated by: Gerard Doyle
  • Length: 7 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (698 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Cat doesn't mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.
©1992 Diana Wynne Jones

What listeners say about A Charmed Life

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Delightful Read!

I grew up reading the books of Diana Wynne Jones as a pre-teen and teenager and it was most wonderful to be able to return to her work as an adult.

The story has twists and turns, secrets and spells. Here is the story of Cat Chant and his sister Gwendolyn. After barely surviving death by drowning and losing their parents, they are sent to live with the dashing (and remarkably well-dressed) Chrestomanci at Chrestomanci Castle. Gwendolyn sees an avenue to really show off her witchcraft, but Cat is somewhat disappointed to leave Mrs. Sharp on Coven street. At the castle, Cat has to learn the secrets of what his sister has been plotting, discover the true nature of Chrestomanci, and learn who he really is. There are many suprises in store for the reader and most will enjoy the well-developed characters and interesting plot.

The story is well read by a very talented narrator. The inflection for each character is very well defined and the pace keeps the reader (or listener) interested. I would recommend this to adults and children alike. Originally published in print in 1977 followed in 1988 by its prequel The Lives of Christopher Chant (about Chrestomanci's childhood) is likely to become a classic, especially as most of the author's works are being re-released.

If you like J.K. Rowling, you'll love Diana Wynne Jones. This is a most remarkable read.

43 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible, but one note

This is a marvelous book, I sincerely recommend. Full of whimsical English magic. However there is a passage when the children are playing that could be very triggering and is very offensive, a couple racial slurs, so please be advised.

9 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good book, bad reading

Though a little dated and a little simple, <u>Charmed Life</u> is an engaging intermediate-level fantasy, a good introduction to children's speculative fiction, well written, with a nice balance of wonder, humor, and tension. Diana Wynne Jones is an experienced hand in this genre, one of the best, and in this story her problematic depictions of women and gender are more balanced than in some of her others. This is the first of the Chrestomanci books, and a fine place to start reading Jones's work.

It's a pity, therefore, that Gerard Doyle is such an extremely bad reader. He flattens the humor and the personalities like a steamroller, distorting the entire story in the wake of his artificial-sounding dialogue and uninspired narration. Although <u>Charmed Life</u> is one of my favorite pieces of children's literature, dating back to my discovery of it when I was 10 years old, myself, I found this performance something to be endured rather than relished.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A childhood favorite

This story was my first introduction to the author, narrator and series, and has remained one of the most loved books from my youth. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci is an exciting world in which magic, strange creatures and other worlds come to life through the narration by Gerard Doyle. If you loved Harry Potter, you'll love this enchanting series.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Another delightful tale by Diana Wynne Jones

Where does A Charmed Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Although I didn't enjoy this audiobook as much as other Diana Wynne Jones' books, I still enjoyed her wit, and how she brings out the truth in human personalities.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Charmed Life?

Gerard Doyle yelling out in a "female" voice, "Hunt for pussy everyone!"

Did Gerard Doyle do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Gerard Doyle differentiates as well as his distinct male voice can, however, he speaks quite slowly with long pauses after each comma and period. I increased the speed, or else it would have taken forever to get through it! I did enjoy his voice of Chrestomanci, and wished Chrestomanci spoke more often!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Spoiled and nasty sister steals brother's magic...and almost all of his nine lives.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderfully Fantastic

I love this book, it is read well and is very humorous.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good plot, flat characters

I am an adult reader who enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and it was mentioned to me that I might like the Chrestomanci books as well.

I found this to be truly a children's book, whereas the Potter series appealed to adults as well.

The plot was decent. My main problem was that the characters were flat. A huge plot point about the relationship between the sister and brother in this book is revealed at the end, and the emotions that I would expect to feel for these characters were just not there

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Oh Gwendolyn...

I loved this book, I love the characters and the magic of the world but Gwendolyn is another story I haven't hated a character this much since Dolores Jane umbridge from Harry Potter! uh she gets my blood boiling. which should tell you this is a good book and well writen. 👍

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Perfection

This book is a treasure! It has all elements of a great story! I can’t recommend this book enough!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book for the kid in all of us.

Cat is a boy who’s sister is a mean person. Power hungry and misguided. Their adventures are really hard on Cat. In the end, all works out well.