The story opens in the country parsonage of Dr. Primrose, a kindly man who has a good heart, a good family, and a good income. Suddenly, his idyllic life is cruelly devastated by a series of misfortunes, and he ends up in prison. Yet, despite all this calamity and injustice, the vicar never loses sight of Christian morality, a conviction which lends him genuine nobility and, in the end, also brings justice and the restoration of his family and fortune.
Through this simple, almost fairy-tale plot, Goldsmith gives us a charming comedy. It is not a novel of sentiment but an artful send-up of many of the familiar literary conventions of his day: the pastoral scene, the artificial romance, the unquestioning stoic bravery of the hero—all culminating in a gloriously improbable dénouement.
Narrators include: Susan McCarthy, Tim King, Kevin Kennedy, James Aylward, Lou Spiegel, Lauralee Westaway, Linda Montgomery, Al Bedrosian, David Thorn, and Bobbie Frohman.
The narrator, David Thorn, reads magnificently in the character of the 18th “Vicar of Wakefield”, He has a wonderfully soft, rich, and decidedly “proper English” accent.
I listened to this book with great delight for 23 minutes, at which point I was suddenly jarred from my reverie by a character in a loud, course, American, accent.
The readers that followed were less course but no less affected, wooden and artificial. Oddly the readers in this 18th century English novel, sounded more American to me than English.
To make matters worse the readings were disjoined and sounded like they were made at separate locations, with unmatched microphones; then patched together at some later date.
In fact, because the Narrator’s performance is of such a high caliber, the rest of the production seems even more amateurish and annoying.
Sadly I could not continue beyond 45 minutes.
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I was very disappointed to find that the narrative is not, as the summary suggests, one sole English narrator, but is in fact frequently interspersed with readings from a cast of very poor American actors. I have nothing against American readers but it seems rather odd that they should have been combined with an English narrator and cast to read a story firmly set in late eighteenth England.
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