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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

On Brazzaville Beach, on the edge of Africa, Hope Clearwater ponders the strange circumstances that led her to leave her husband, John, and his mathematical obsessions in England and venture to Africa to help world-renowned scientist Eugene Mallabar with his studies of wild chimps.

But the more Hope studies Mallabar, the more she comes to believe that something isn't right. That behind Mallabar and his obsessive work there lies another more sinister truth: one that might also help explain Hope's reasons for leaving England....

©1990 William Boyd (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"A brilliant storyteller...a book which stretches, tantalizes and delights." (Financial Times)

"A most extraordinary parable about mankind. Quite unlike anything else I have read." (Sunday Express)

"Brilliant, daring. A gripping and compulsive story." (Herald)

What listeners say about Brazzaville Beach

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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Muted drama

This was a story of limited appeal. Tensions and dilemmas less than enthralling and characters of stock middle-class sensibilities without deeper or wider resonance. Thematically ok but more playing with ideas than gripping and intriguing. After enjoying audio versions of several Boyd books this was underwhelming. Despite a good voice the reader seemed to be rushing and I found the high level of mispronunciation and faulty emphasis distracting and annoying. This is always a possible scenarion given Boyd’s wide range of diction but it is nonetheless a weakness.

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A great and famous book, bizarre narration

This version epitomises a bugbear growing steadily worse in my listening experience: a beautiful trained voice emerging from a grotesquely under-educated mouth. I believe this may be the result of young people aspiring to be actors too early in their education, and finishing up as someone with perfect elocution and a very poor grasp of the English language. The mispronunciations of long words are legion here; at least one per page, and I don't exaggerate. One example of dozens: tributaries pronounced 'try-beautaries' with the accent on the first syllable. Ms Bennet-Warner clearly has never seen the word before and has no idea what it means. 'Secede' pronounced as 'succeed'. Another: Danube pronounced 'de-noob' with the accent on the second. At least someone pointed this out to her and she corrected it in the second half of the book, but to not go back and edit in correct pronunciations I consider cheap and dismissive of the reader. Not acceptable. William Boyd must be furious,

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Listened to the whole in one go!

Love this author, he's like Ian McEwan with a heart. Very engaging, always a bit educational, with some very sinister undercurrents flowing.

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Great story impressively written and very well narrated .

William Boyd tells a captivating story set in 2 timelines - Hope Clearwaters marriage and complications with her husband set in England and in the later timeline she is studying chimpanzees in Africa and having difficulties with the research director . The latter part of Boyds novel takes a major detour into civil war . It’s well written from a writer who is impressive in style, knowledge and who is known as a great story teller. The narration is excellent and makes this a great audiobook . I’ve not given away any spoilers , but don’t be put off by chimpanzee research - it’s actually made quite interesting and is another story in itself. Some readers see it as a book on many levels - not just storytelling ( it’s certainly makes one think about mankind ) Its also apparently very loosely based on Jane Goodall an English primatologist who researched Chimps. Sometimes audiobooks can be let down by their narrator; not this time though.

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Wonderful narration - lovely writing

Boyd is a beautiful writer and makes a story that is perhaps not totally brilliant still a joy to listen to. Pippa B-W the narrator is fantastic - she made.me understand how a great narrator makes character transitions somehow invisible and seamless. Great !