Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Travels Continue With An Audio Book

We took the train north from Florence to Genoa where we are tonight.
Along the mediterranean coast. The train was practically on the beach.
We are now past our second week milestone in our European trip. It is all good fun with plenty of eating (especially gelato in Italy), much sight seeing and gathering of history on the Hop On Hop Off buses. We have been hopping a lot. I can't begin to recount all of our experiences without showing you about 1000 photos and I'm sure no one is really up to that.  I have posted photos on my Facebook for close friends and family and they have the choice of looking at them or not. Much better than the old fashioned slide shows I used to get roped into with 160 views of the Eiffel Tower.  Most with somebody's precocious grandchild in it.

Since we are on trains a lot I decided to listen to some audio books. Much of the scenery is gorgeous and I have been busy observing the sights and taking photos. But some stretches look the same and it can get tedious especially on the days when we might be on a train for several hours.

The first book I completed today was Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë.  I decided if I am going to listen to audio books I will explore some of the classic authors as I know I will get into the stories and others can read to me. I got this free copy from Libravox which has free audio books read by volunteers. As they are free one is not certain of the narrators and in this edition I listened to 5 or 6 separate narrators. Most were young women with an appropriate voice for a book written in the first person about a 20 year old woman. However one voice was elderly and one was Indian which was quite amusing. Her pronunciation of English vocabulary was much different than what I am used to.

I can go into the story here but I would rather put fun little pictures up of bookish things I have encountered on this trip through Austria (Vienna, Salzburg) and now Italy.  I found some interesting information about the plot and details of the publication of this work which I found quite interesting. If you like you can read it you can here on Wikipedia. Quite interesting.

Thoughts of the book: I have never been one for English period novels. I never understood what the fuss was about. However having heard so many bloggers sing praises of the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen I thought I should see what I am missing.  I must admit they are not my most favourite novels. I find the plots all the same and in Agnes there was so much information about religion. Not being a religious person I get bogged down with all of this.

However I really liked the character of Agnes. I liked the values she represented. I enjoyed learning about how difficult it was to be a governess, given the care of children but yet no control over them. The children in this book really were monsters. Her first household of which she was employed as a governess made me want to strangle the little boy she cared for.  However in writing about his character she was able to get the message of treating animals kindly and not cruelly.  Animal welfare has come a long way since the mid 1800's and she was probably a pioneer in writing about it then.

The difficulties of her station in life as a governess was interesting too and although some people were kind to her others treated her as though she were invisible.

The second job she procured being a governess to two young women, Rosalie a flirtatious silly thing and Melanie who was rough around the edges and refused to behave like a proper lady were entertaining. It was interesting how the young women approached their life with nothing substantial to really give them direction and the mistakes they made.

I will read more of Anne Brontë's books and I have seen the films. I think there is a knack to enjoying these books and I find I do quite enjoy them. This was Anne's first book and according to Wikipedia it was attached to Wuthering Heights as Wuthering Heights was 2/3 of a novel with Agnes Grey making up the last 1/3 attached to the end as both were published in the same year. I thought that was interesting.  I enjoyed reading about the author and the publishing history as much as I enjoyed listening to the books.  However I think it is time to sign up for and pay a little bit for getting proper readers of these audio books.

Okay now enjoy the quirky photos of book information I found on my travels.

The complete library in our hotel in Vienna. All books in German except on crime book.
People must be too busy sight seeing than reading.

These little mice reading their books were for sale at a market stall. They were gorgeous.
However I am thinking too hard of downsizing our property not bringing home more stuff.

Books about art at the large museum in Vienna. 
The classics for sale in a bookshop in Verona, Italy. I could still enjoy the covers.

The cemetery in Verona, Italy where Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried. She spent her
last years in Italy.

The Penguin is loving how dog friendly Austria and  Italy are.
On our way to Barcelona in the next few days. 


  1. I was sort of nostalgic for a proper old slide evening then, but you swiftly pulled me up by mentioning the photos full of family members! I'm enjoying your vacation virtually - and agree too that Agnes Grey is the right sort of heroine.

  2. Youre Funny Vicki. I am glad you stopped by. We are still having a good time but sure miss our 5 little furry kids terribly.

  3. Welcome to Europe! It seems like you cover a lot of countries. I was not so fond of Agnes Grey either, but I loved Anne Brontë's book "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall". It is totally different and far ahead of its time.

  4. Thank you Lisbeth. I wish we spoke a few more languages though we are pretty good with understanding Spanish. I will have to try Tenant of Wildfell Hall and I find I like listening to these English period books on audio. Will have to see if library has it as I know I don't have it on my shelves.


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