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Swooning over Sylvester

Richard Armitage reads Georgette Heyer

July 2009, by Chloé Harmsworth

Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage: Naxos
AudioBooks’ Sylvester

Take a look at our releases this month. Notice anything different? Yes, they are wonderful titles as always, but there is something new. Someone new, to be precise. We have a new reader: Richard Armitage. Many will know him from his work in television dramas North and South, The Vicar of Dibley, Spooks and most recently, Robin Hood. But not only is he skilled at playing both charming and dastardly roles – he also has a rich, alluring voice which is very welcome on Naxos AudioBooks!

But what would it be like for this leading man to enter a speech studio to record an audiobook – often regarded as one of the more unglamorous sides of the acting profession?

Producer Roy McMillan said: ‘Armitage is very nice... and was patient and dedicated. I felt he underplayed it rather nicely... treated it with respect... and had some good voices for the elderly ladies and the fop.’

Motivation Sound Studios, where Sylvester was recorded, isn’t new to big names. It has hosted Kenneth Branagh, Brian Cox, Stephen Fry, Juliet Stevenson, David Tennant and many others. So it was without fuss, but with delight, that the staff there worked with Richard Armitage. They, and we at Naxos AudioBooks, were very impressed with his rendering of the character Sylvester, the flawed yet ultimately deserving dandy-hero of Georgette Heyer’s Regency novel.

The story contains all the romance, humour and satirical traits of an Austen novel, so if you haven’t tried Heyer yet, this is the opportunity to do so. We thought those who were already fans of the author would be pleased, but we were surprised at how quickly and energetically the news spread across the internet.

Sylvester (abridged)

We didn’t realise, for example, that there was a forum dedicated entirely to both Georgette Heyer and Richard Armitage at C19 – and that we’d made their dreams come true. Reacting to the hugely enthusiastic response, we sent an audio clip of the reading to the forum, which was then bombarded with comments. Below are some examples of the fans’ opinions (the fans themselves ranging from teenagers to those in their 70s):

‘I loved it. Sylvester is one of my very favourite books by Georgette Heyer and to have the characters and images come alive through someone as skilled as Richard is a treat.’

‘I find listening to audiobooks very relaxing and the best time to read them is after retiring for the evening. I can honestly say that I will have no problem whatsoever taking Richard and Sylvester to bed!!’

‘...love, love, love his voice.’

‘Wonderful, just wonderful.’

‘Two favourites together – what more could I ask for – except can July come quickly please???’

As you can imagine, there was an immediate rush from fans across the world to pre-order the title. We hope they are enjoying their very own copy now. Those who haven’t already heard the news will also be excited by the release this month. Listen to the audio sample to see what you think.

Thanks to all those who made this project happen, for everyone’s encouraging comments, and finally, to Richard, for lending us his ‘delicious’ voice.

Sylvester (Abridged), 4 CDs, £16.99 is out this month.

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