#363 ~ MacBeth A Novel

MacBeth A Novel by A. J. Hartley & David Hewson

Genre: Fiction

Audiobook Published by: Audible.com

Published on: June 2011

Narrator: Alan Cummings

Audiobook Length: 9 hours 45 minutes

My Reading Format: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com.

Available Formats: Audiobook only

My Review

As the title suggests, MacBeth A Novel is a novelization of Shakespeare’s MacBeth. Per the author’s introduction, the setting was changed to match the place in which the historical figures lived. All of the main characters are present as well as many new supporting characters used to help flesh out the main characters as well as provide details on those events that happened off stage in the play.

I can’t remember if it was the result of an email or a chance sighting of the page on Audible.com, but as soon as I saw the article about the making of MacBeth A Novel along with the video with Alan Cummings, I was sold. I purchased it immediately. I hadn’t had a chance to begin listening yet when the latest issue of AudioFile Magazine arrived also featuring Alan Cummings. As soon as I finished See A Little Light, my current listen, I could wait no longer. The audiobook began with a short introduction by the author and then came Cummings’ Scottish brogue. I was entranced. It was good that I’m quite familiar with the play because there were moments where I was listening to him speak for the sake of the sounds themselves. His voice and his intonations are rich and wonderful. I’d be tempted to pick up anything he were to narrate. There are times when Hollywood actors have let me down in an audiobook setting. No true of Alan Cummings. Spending time with him was audiobook reader’s delight.

I have focused mainly on Alan Cummings, but I was recommend MacBeth A Novel on its own merits as well. I love what the authors did with the weird sisters especially. They were wild, manipulative and without shame. This novel also shed Lady MacBeth in a different light as well. It’s been several years since I’ve read this play, but she has always been more evil to me. I felt she deserved her nightmares following the death of Duncan. The scenes leading up to and including his murder are well done. Lady MacBeth is no less responsible here, but there is something more warm about her. This deeper look into Lady MacBeth and other characters brings home the repercussions of listening to the wrong people.

I think MacBeth A Novel will appeal to a broad spectrum of audiobook fans. It was read by a marvelous narrator and brings the characters to life in a new way. I had no idea at the time, but MacBeth A Novel is only available in audiobook. I think that’s a first for me. I’ll be curious to see if it’s published in print. In the meantime, pick this up with your next credit. If you just couldn’t wait as I couldn’t, experiencing this story through Alan Cummings was worth every penny.



  • At 2011.08.31 03:18, David Hewson said:

    Hi Jennifer. Glad you enjoyed our book and Alan’s superb narration. It was commissioned as an audio original by Audible in the first place. But we hope to announce details of its release as a print book very shortly.

    • At 2011.08.31 07:39, wall-to-wall books-wendy said:

      Oh no! This book brings back so many horrible memories for me! I read it in, I think 10th grade. My English teacher was drunk all the time. He had a coffee cup that we all knew was not filled with coffee! Macbeth was THE ONLY thing we did that year! He would stand with his cup in hand and yell out the lines to us then throw things at the class if we didn’t respond. Fortunately he was fired after that year. Unfortunately it wasn’t before I had him! But needless to say it totally ruined Macbeth for me!

      • At 2011.08.31 09:33, Jennifer said:

        Thanks so much for stopping by, David. Very cool that it was commissioned just to be an audiobook!

        Wendy, OMG! No wonder MacBeth was ruined for you. Holy crap. It just may be too soon for you. 🙂

        Kathy, you should really see the play performed first. Loved the book, but I think the play itself should come first.

        • At 2011.08.31 08:59, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

          I don’t think I’ve ever read the play so this would be a good introduction for me.

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          • At 2011.08.31 09:40, Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said:

            I think we’ve talked about it on Twitter, but I’m also a big fan of Cumming’s reading. He was fabulous with Westerfeld’s Leviathan and Behemoth. I’m also loving him as Eli Gold on the series The Good Wife .

            This one is next on my Audible cue.

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            • At 2011.08.31 09:43, Jennifer said:

              Oh, yes, we’ce talked about him on Twitter. The Good Wife would make a good series for me to watch. I can catch up & then watch the new season. Alan Cummings is so talented!

              • At 2011.08.31 10:36, Kailana said:

                Sounds like an interesting listen. I will have to add it to the list. 🙂

                • At 2011.09.01 09:15, caite@a lovely shore breeze said:

                  does Macbeth really need a re-telling?

                  • At 2011.09.01 10:40, Jennifer said:

                    I suppose need is something that has to be defined by the individual reader. I enjoyed it. It wasn’t something that was trying to improve on Shakespeare. I guess you could categorize this similarly to retelling of fairie tales.

                    • At 2011.09.03 18:52, Emily said:

                      Your review can at the perfect time – this would make a great birthday present for my dad! I better have it shipped directly to him, though, so I’m not tempted to keep it for myself. This sounds fantastic, Jennifer. Thanks for the review!

                      • At 2012.02.09 15:13, Dona said:

                        Have a 3 hour round trip to work each day, so was very pleased with listening to the book. I am suppose to teach Macbeth to my 10th graders this year, so it was a good refresher for me. Great reader!!! Australia’s favorite author for teenagers, John Marsden turned Hamlet into a novel, and again, it is a good way to introduce Shakespeare.

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