The thing is, Audible.com have finally released the four volumes in the series by Anthony Powell: ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’. Each of these volumes (or ‘seasons’ as they are termed) is about 20 hours long as they each contain three of the original twelve novels that make up this ‘universally acclaimed epic… of twentieth century London’ (from the publisher).
I recorded the series last August/September/October and have been waiting since then to see how it is received. I, personally, loved it… to give you a brief idea of the time period covered in each volume here are a couple of lines from the publisher:
A Dance to the Music of Time opens just after World War I. Amid the fever of the 1920s and the first chill of the 1930s, Nick Jenkins and his friends confront sex, society, business, and art. In the second volume they move to London in a whirl of marriage and adulteries, fashions and frivolities, personal triumphs and failures. These books “provide an unsurpassed picture, at once gay and melancholy, of social and artistic life in Britain between the wars” (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.). The third volume follows Nick into army life and evokes London during the blitz. In the climactic final volume, England has won the war and must now count the losses.
I’ll be honest here and say that some might find the story boring, it certainly doesn’t pretend to be any kind of a thriller, more of a vintage soap opera – but the writing is beautiful, the characters engaging and the feeling of being immersed in another time and place all-engrossing.
I’m happy to note also that all three novels in the Millennium series are still in the audible.com top five downloads list! Which makes me think that if I had been able to negotiate residuals I’d be able to retire about now (or at least take a little more time off).
I don’t know if you’re aware but the vast majority of audiobooks are recorded as a work for hire agreement: we’re paid a flat rate (which is negotiable) usually based on the duration, but we don’t make any extra if the book is a success (and we don’t lose anything if the book is a failure). Nothing to get too upset about as it’s the way the business has operated for a very long time.
Here comes the really shameless part:
However… if, at audible.com, you search for the narrator ‘Simon Vance’ (er…that’s me) on the latest releases page below the A Dance to the Music of Time novels you’ll see two books: Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals and The Big Questions in Science and Religion. Now for these two I have entered into a rather unique arrangement with University Press Audiobooks. I recorded these two books for no advance payment whatsoever… but, in return, I will see residuals!
Will this (in essence, working for nothing) be worth it?
Well, that’s entirely up to you. If you choose to buy either, or both, of these books you will be enabling me to clothe my children (oh, okay… you’ll be enabling me to start saving to buy an iPad or some such gadget) and you’ll make me very happy.
To be honest they are quite intellectual books (they call them scholarly) that require you to do some thinking in order to follow the arguments, but even I like thinking from time to time. And if you do buy one (or two :)) you’ll have that feel good sensation knowing you’ve rewarded me in the process.
I said I was shameless…