WELCOME to this, the second entry in a brand new series here on No Script For Life.com.
Every day for the next few weeks I will be helping you escape lockdown boredom with review and recommendations on easy to track down audio books. Today we’re turning our ears to
THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS by Kenneth Grahame.
Audiobook in three parts read by Richard Briers
Call me old fashioned (thanks!) but nothing warms the cockles like Wind in the Willows. If you’re unfamiliar with the tale of Mole as he leaves his familiar home to explore the nearby river bank with his new friend Rat (a thoroughly agreeable specimen with a nose for adventure) meet the gruff Badger and the naughty as nuts Peter Pan of the river community the motor car obsessed Toad of Toad Hall, then you could do far, far worse than seek out this audiobook to introduce you to these seminal characters.
Briers was once a fine stalwart of that endangered beast, the gentle British sitcom and known for his fine comic timing. He imbues each character, even ones that appear for only a few lines, with a distinctive voice and personality, demonstrating his fine vocal range. I first heard him lend it to a reading of Roald Dahl’s The Witches, an audiobook I borrowed from the school library when I was 14. Yes, I borrowed audio books from the school library at 14, so obviously I was bullied mercilessly. But I digress. Which is funny because that’s precisely what Grahame does in the original book, so it is perhaps a relief that this is an abridged reading clocking in at just under three hours. Perfect if you’re looking to be pulled gently into this world of boats, rivers and, erm toads in drag. Though in some ways, the abridgement robs us of more hours of Briers’ wonderful narration. If you are familiar with the story before coming to this telling it’s possible you’ll find it lacking depth.
Those unfamiliar with the story need to remember this was written almost a century ago, so the character archetypes may feel well worn to modern audience. You need to unplug your grown-up brain for a bit and pretend you’re five years old again. That’s easier for some people than it is others (not me I can be virtually embryonic if I so choose) but the effort is rewarded.
It took me a while to finish this because I didn’t want it to end. I was savoring every minute. It’s warm and cuddly, self-effacing fun with a narrative that gives itself a good shove up the arse every time things get too cozy and sweet. Funny, fun and utterly charming.
You can find this on Youtube, just search key words Wind in the willows Briers
Tomorrow I will be taking a look at a Doctor Who adventure released on CD in 2002.