• The Hippopotamus

  • By: Stephen Fry
  • Narrated by: Stephen Fry
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (126 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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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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I really didn't like this much at all

The sex and the casual mentions of pedophilia and bestiality were enough to put me off. I think the book could have done without it. I wish I hadn't listened to it. This from a person that loves listening to anything Stephen Fry writes or reads.

A huge disappointment.

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what a british gem mr fry is!

i can't possibly get enough of stephen fry. i'm gulping his books like morning tea.

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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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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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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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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Becki
  • 07-18-11

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Patch
  • 09-18-13

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 06-27-15

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Katie Sutton
  • 06-29-18

Vulgar

I have read the lier and although it was rude at bits I was fine with that but this book has beastiality and statutory rape I found disturbing and distasteful. Also didn’t think Stephen read it as well as his autobiography’s and the lier.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 09-18-15

Bit peculiar but good

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ms. R. D. Cook
  • 04-24-19

A Challenging Listen

I'm not sure whether I can really profess to have enjoyed this story. There were some interesting passages, some more difficult to endure than others. I knew nothing of the story before embarking upon this book and having had more than one WTF moment, I'm not sure I would have bothered if I had. The trouble is on one hand it is well written and quite funny but on the other it is also deeply unsettling. Suffice to say if casual misogyny, homophobia, bullying, rape and bestiality are your thing you might fare better than I.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J A Bull
  • 02-21-16

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.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Stan d'Up
  • 06-05-17

Got up it's own fundament a wee bit too much!

Witty as one would expect, with a nice finish, albeit somewhat 'So long and goodnight!'

1 person found this helpful

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  • Villa Man
  • 02-18-16

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
  • 07-15-22

Very odd

Well written and performed but such a strange story. Quite uncomfortable at times. Sexually explicit / graphic content (involving bestiality and minors). Maybe a content warning would be helpful?

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  • Shae
  • 07-08-17

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-10-22

Love it

Very well written, smart, witty & I love Teds character!!! Do not be put off by previous prudish reviews. It’s funny / smart and entertaining.

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  • N
  • 07-15-22

Mastery

What a wonderful book. It’s old school in so many ways, not the least of which is Fry’s breathtaking command of the language. He displays a great knowledge of human behaviour, portrayed via a blistering snobbery tempered by the protagonist’s self-deprecation. It’s so rare to enjoy such talent and the cherry on the cake is the joy of listening to his voice. If you love traditional high literature, this is it, dragged laughing and puking into the modern age. I’m in awe.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-24-22

Sad face

Normally happy to listen to Stephen read a menu!
Found this to be purely a rambling, indulgent diatribe
On the snooty and crass of English society.

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  • Michellington
  • 06-16-22

What a Gem!

I had initially been put off by the repugnance of our protagonist way too much too bear in the initial chapters. However I am so glad I made the effort to persevere as I was rewarded by a listen of great merit and enjoyment. This is both a romp of a book and a wonderful 'who-dun-it' without a murder. Very clever writing by Mr Fry. The narration is also top shelf. I had to look twice to make sure it was actually the well known author and actor at first such was the cleverness of the voicing in gravelly tones of his old curmudgeon. An absolute master-class in audio narration and such a joy to listen to. Worth every moment.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-15-22

Struggled to get into it

I normally love everything Stephen Fry does, but really struggled with this one. Maybe it’s too much British wit for me, shame because I really wanted to get into it.

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  • Jennifer
  • 06-12-22

Quirky, witty and fun...and very naughty!

Stephen Fry had me laughing out loud whilst pondering where the story was headed. Quintessentially British humour at its best!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-05-22

Loved it

A bit confronted at the beginning by where I thought it was going but persisted, put my trust in Mr Fry and thoroughly enjoyed it