• Jane and Prudence

  • By: Barbara Pym
  • Narrated by: Maggie Mash
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • 3.7 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Over the years, as Barbara Pym replaced Nancy Mitford, Georgette Heyer, even Jane Austen, as my most loved author, I devoured all her books, but Jane and Prudence remains my favourite. Even an umpteenth reading this weekend was punctuated by gasps of joy, laughter and wonder that this lovely book should remain so fresh, funny and true to life" - Jilly Cooper

"The setting of this very funny novel, one of Barbara Pym's earliest, is an English village where Jane's husband is the newly appointed vicar, and where Prudence will pay Jane a visit and find herself courted by a fatuous young widower. Prudence, at twenty-nine, has achieved nothing in life but a dull research job in London and a string of dud affairs; Jane, now in her forties, was Prudence's tutor at Oxford. Jane cheerfully concedes that she is an incompetent housewife, but she hopes that the move to a rural parish may transform her into a Trollopean vicar's wife, as well as a crafty matchmaker. There are many comic complications here, as Jane learns that matchmaking has as many pitfalls as does housewifery" - The New Yorker

©1953 Barbara Pym (P)2011 Hachette Digital

What listeners say about Jane and Prudence

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Dreadful narration

This is a very funny story, but is ruined by the narration. Her delivery is slow and over-emphatic, almost as if she were reading to people who are hard of hearing. This has the effect of erasing the subtlety of the writing.

1 person found this helpful

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Understated hilarious comic writing

Where does Jane and Prudence rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Love Barabara Pym with whom we delight in the comic nature of the tiny things in our lives. The reader had just the right accent and collctions of voices for the characters but often spoke too slowly, so much so that you wondered if there was something wrong with these men. Apart from that, discover Barbara Pym.

What other book might you compare Jane and Prudence to and why?

Lightweight Jane Austen - a comedy of manners.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Maggie Mash?

While good, I found the slow speed of her narration of dialogue distracting.

1 person found this helpful

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Hard to stay awake

Unfortunately, I found it difficult to remember the characters and even more difficult to care. There didn't seem to be any plot development. I haven't managed to listen to the end.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nakul
  • 06-30-12

A delight

The book is a delight, though a shame to have a number of plot points revealed in Jilly Cooper's introduction (less easy to skip in an audiobook). Not overfond of Maggie Mash's narration – she over-enunciates, and simply misunderstands the tone of a considerable portion of the dialogue.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Ann
  • 04-06-14

I gave up

Is there anything you would change about this book?

I have enjoyed many of Barbara Pym's books and was so looking forward to hearing this one. However I gave up after about 6 chapters as the narrator was so irritating when she read men's speech - so slowly and ponderously I almost thought she was joking. However, she wasn't. Sorry Maggie Mash - your ladies are fine but you have to speed up your men.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Speed up the men's speech

How could the performance have been better?

Speed up the men's speech

Was Jane and Prudence worth the listening time?

No

Any additional comments?

No

4 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • L
  • 09-03-12

Great book, poorly narrated

This is a lovely book, and if it the narration was up to the standard of the writing then this review would have been a 5 star. Maybe the reader thought that we readers would be too stupid to notice the subtleties of the story if she didn't telegraph them loud and clear. Whatever the reason for it, the emphasis of the reading was frequently all wrong, with quite mundane remarks being ridiculously over-dramatized. Too much playing to the gallery!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alex Dean
  • 07-31-11

More Please

A real joy to finally have some Barbara Pym here..if you've never read or listened to any of her books you are in for a real treat and if you have.. well you know already how good this is going to be. I'm keeping everything crossed that we get some more Pym...........please!!!

6 people found this helpful

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  • Choosy
  • 04-17-15

Awful narration spoils a wonderful book

What disappointed you about Jane and Prudence?

Not the story, which has been one of my favourite books for years, but ruined for me in this reading by the awful attempts by the narrator to play the characters. I found it impossible to lose myself in the story as Barbara Pym's subtle and deliciously funny writing became a world inhabited by automata whose clockwork was running down.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Jane and Prudence?

There weren't any for me in this reading.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Maggie Mash?

Juliet Stephenson or Lucy Scott.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The book is wonderful

Any additional comments?

Memo to self- avoid this narrator at all costs in future!

2 people found this helpful

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  • datz
  • 04-19-22

Ruined by poor narration.

Sorry to have to say this, but the vocal performance of the narrator is terrible - really slow and ponderous, with no feel for the nuance of the text. Such a pity.

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  • Bame
  • 11-10-21

Loved the book - hated the narrator!

Barbara Pym deserves very much greater public recognition than she has so far received. There is so much to love and admire in her work which has a charm and humour all it's own. I will definitely seek out all her other books.
That I endured the agonising narration to the end of the book speaks volumes for the author. Maggie Mash managed to make all the characters spoken dialogue sound slow, ponderous, pretentious and generally robbed them all of any of the character, intonation and humour obviously intended by the author. If this is the only audio version of this book, please take my advice and read it instead!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-31-21

My least favourite Barbara Pym

It's hard to say whether it was the poor reading of this book, but i felt pretty disappointed in it, and I am a Barbara Pym fan. Of course BP sets most of her stories in the period after the war, which is a pretty depressing time. However, I've enjoyed her other books a lot. The story here seemed less interesting and the characters held my attention much less than is the case with her other books. Can it really be that the conversation at that time was so banal and shallow, for example?
I think now that Angela Thirkell has overtaken BP as my favourite author of that genre; Summer Half and August Folly, for example, are quite outstanding in my view, but they do have the benefit of being set in pre-war England and therefore lack that grey sadness that is at once one of Pym's strengths and also perhaps a drawback.

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  • Marianne Caton
  • 03-13-21

most enjoyable

This is one of my favourite Barbara Pym novels. I really like Jane. Not so keen on Prue. The narrator was very good. I did not think she over-acted at all. Her clear delineation of the different characters added to my enjoyment.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-14-19

Beautiful, amusing, ruined.

This is one of the great classic novels of it’s era, a joy to read. Slaughtered by the orator, the....way.....certain....characters....talk.....slowly is appalling, old ladies and men apparently, speak......like.....this. It is a great shame as she, the orator has a good voice.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-02-22

Timeless social comedy

This novel is hilarious, with such a sharply drawn social commentary still relevant for today. Fans of Jane Austen and Tracy Chevalier will love this. A real hidden gem, looking forward to reading more Barbara Pym.

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  • Edmund Doogue
  • 06-24-20

Another wonderful rendition of a Barbara Pym novel

Thanks to Audible, I've discovered that BP's novels lend themselves to live narration. I read and loved all her books about 30 years ago, but they are far better being read aloud, as the novels are full of dialogue. With the many different characters, some quite eccentric, the narrators need to be highly skilled. This one is. It's not the best Pym novel, but it's very entertaining. And if you haven't listened to A Glass of Blessings and Excellent Women, I urge you to do so.

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  • Sammy J
  • 04-11-19

Fantastic

Not one of my all-time favourite Pyms, but all Pyms are worthy in my opinion! I thought the narrator really captured so much of the humour inherent in these often mundane characters and their overly dramatic inner lives. Fantastic, and constantly entertaining, both from the narrator and the text

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  • Anna M
  • 03-05-18

Terrible narration spoiled the book

The narrator was so theatrical and overly dramatic that it made the story sound stupid, outdated and not funny at all. I am really disappointed that I got to this book in this way, should have better just read it myself. Absolutely spoiled it for me.