Jane Austen Today
, April 2009
Juliet Stevenson: Jane Austen Reader
Of seven Naxos audio books in my possession, five are read by Juliet Stevenson, the actress who so brilliantly portrayed Mrs. Elton in 1996’s Emma and whose comical performance as Keira Knightley’s cleavage loving mother in Bend it Like Beckham is my favorite character in the film.
Juliet’s vocal readings of Emma, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility are outstanding. You can hear an 8-minute interview with her about the process at this link: http://www.audiobooksonline.com/audio/Juliet_Stevenson_interview_Naxos_Audiobooks.mp3
In the interview, she mentions that her favorite Jane Austen novel is Sense and Sensibility and her least favorite is Pride and Prejudice (read by Emilia Fox, the actress who played Georgianna Darcy in the 1995 film adaptation of P&P). Juliet also enjoyed reading Emma, which she describes as delicious. “The structure is miraculous,” she adds. “[Emma’s] snobbery is completely unforgivable, but miraculously you are on her side.”
Narrating lengthy text requires excellent story telling ability. Juliet Stevenson has it…In her interview Juliet reveals why she likes reading for audio book: “You can play anything—an old man, a girl of seventeen. It is really liberating but it is also difficult.” Being able to take liberties with characterizations also attracts her to the medium. In order to be an effective reader she must know the heart and soul of the book, an experience Juliet found enriching.