Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 46 (2015)
Audiofile praises the 'pleasant cadence' of Anna Bentinck's voice in this recording of George Eliot's Wordsworthian masterpiece but, initially at least, I found her reading with its beautiful elocution sounded a bit too like Mrs. Miniver (contrast Eileen Atkins's sensitive reading of The Mill on The Floss for Cover to Cover). The pace, moreover, is generally rather slow and becomes slower still when Bentinck comes to voice rural speakers like Jem Bryce or the company at the Rainbow Inn, and almost unbearably slow in the case of Snell the landlord (the exception is Dowlas, the quarrelsome farrier, for whom she finds a rather yappy staccato voice). This slowness of pace and the rather all-purpose rural accent have the unfortunate effect of making some characters, especially Dolly Winthrop, sound somewhat like Pam Ayres. Bentinck's light voice works well enough for Silas Marner himself, however (though I think she hardly makes him sound frantic enough at the beginning of chapter 7) but, unlike, say, Prunella Scales reading Wives and Daughters or Miriam Margolyes reading Oliver Twist (both available from Audible Audio), she cannot deepen her voice enough for male characters generally. The half-drunk Dunstan Cass in chapter 3 sounds very peculiar and Bentinck has real problems in trying to follow Eliot's detailed description of Squire Cass's 'coughing and interrupted manner of speaking' (also, Godfrey hardly sounds agitated enough in his painful conversation with the Squire in chapter 9).