A Journey through France / A Journey through Italy

Compiled by Martyn Wade
in collaboration with Catriona Oliphant

Read by Rachel Bavidge, Jilly Bond, Bertie Carvel,
Gunnar Cauthery, Jonathan Keeble, Peter Marinker,
and Patience Tomlinson

Best audiobooks of the year 2010 – Sunday Times
A Journey through Italy

A Journey through France – Fashion and manners (Lady Blessington / Jilly Bond) & Getting foreignised (Mark Twain / Gunnar Cauthery)

A Journey through Italy – The Italian way of life (Hester Piozzi / Rachel Bavidge) & Lodging in Bologna (Dickens / Bertie Carvel)

‘. . . these audiobooks are perfect companions . . .

. . . The travellers range from Tobias Smollett via William Hazlitt and Charles Dickens to Henry James, and the extracts from their writings are a wonderful introduction to early travel literature – Lady Blessington’s Idler in Italy, Fanny Trollope’s Paris and the Parisians and Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad are all now on my wish list.  There are excellent notes and a variety of well-chosen narrators . . .’
Christina Hardyment, The Times
A Journey through France & A Journey through Italy

A Journey through France

‘. . . this hugely entertaining collection of 19th-century travel snippets from Boulogne to Marseilles . . . Could anything be more delightful than to arrive, like Dickens, with your entire family in a horsedrawn carriage at L’Hotel l’Ecu d’Or in rural France? You may, like Smollett, have been charged 17 livres import duty in Boulogne on the dozen and a half silver spoons you brought with you. You may, like Twain, have signally failed to track down a single grisette in Paris: “For three or four days I was constantly saying, ‘Quick Fergusson, is that a grisette?’ and he always said no.” You may, like Thackeray, have been dismayed by the oyster shells, cabbage stalks, broken crockery and old papers littering the road in front of Versailles. But to arrive anywhere without setting foot in an airport has to be the golden age of travel.’
Sue Arnold, The Guardian

‘The crick-crack of carriage wheels reminds Dickens of a firework; a crabby Smollett surrenders his spoons at customs; Hazlitt swoons over the Louvre; and Mark Twain laments the mustachioed women. These vivid dispatches by 18th and 19th-century travellers, superbly read by half a dozen actors, are enhanced by discreet sound effects. An enticing signpost to some wonderful writers.’
Carole Mansur, The Telegraph

‘A spirited presentation by six narrators of the experiences of eight 19th-century travellers in France: Hazlitt stands in tears before Poussin in the Louvre; Dickens describes Lyons with its houses ‘as rotten as old cheeses’; Thackeray conveys the thrills and discomfort of travel by stagecoach.  Innocents abroad, they enthuse and exclaim at everything from the awe-inspiring Alps to good wine, too much garlic, quirky inns and the demier cri of Paris fashions.’
Rachel Redford, The Oldie

‘Ideal for armchair listening this winter . . .’
Choice Magazine

‘Listeners explore France through the eyes of travelers from years past with this compilation of works by various writers, including Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Mark Twain . . . Light background sounds of Gallic accordion music, clinking café dishes, and similar atmospheric effects create transitions between tracks.’
AudioFile, USA

A Journey through Italy

This comic compilation of travellers’ tales has to be essential listening for anyone contemplating a cultural tour of Italy. Be advised by the experiences of some eminent erstwhile travellers and prepare to be disillusioned. Dickens was unimpressed with the Capulets’ house in Verona, Henry James abhorred the ubiquitous hawkers selling tourist tat, and everyone, especially Twain, hated the serenading gondoliers.’
Sue Arnold, The Guardian

‘. . . the lively anthology’
Karen Robinson, The Sunday Times

‘Perfect for literary-minded armchair travellers.  Journey through Italy in the company of Charles Dickens, Henry James, William Hazlitt, John Ruskin and Mark Twain, seeing the country through their eyes and experiencing secondhand the tribulations of foreign travel.  There are some marvellous extracts, full of descriptive colour.’
Choice Magazine

‘Six narrators present the mixed experiences of nine 18th- and 19th-century travellers through Italy.  Venetian gondoliers singing Tasso were sublime to Hester Piozzi; to Mark Twain, along with a surfeit of Michelangelo, they were insufferable.  Dickens was struck by the ‘awful beauty’ of the Colosseum, while Smollett was unimpressed by the Pantheon and its surrounding stench.  The fiery eruptions of Vesuvius, mendicant friars, the ‘treasure city’ of Florence and lack of soap are all part of these glorious adventures.’
Rachel Redford, The Observer

‘Italy has been luring travelers for centuries with its cultural attractions . . . listeners are transported back in time to Italy of the past, traversing territory both rural and urban, from Piacenza to Rome to Naples, as depicted through the writings of authors such as Henry James and Mark Twain.’
AudioFile, USA

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