If you know about Librivox and haven’t returned because you were unhappy with the recordings, give the site a second try. You will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of new recordings of several beloved novels. The audio recordings are free, and the site lists thousands of classics that are now in the public domain, including Jane Austen’s novels.
It seems that people with good voices and who know how to read and take on the right inflection for each character have been busy rerecording certain books. I am thinking specifically of Pride and Prejudice, Version 3, read by Karen Savage, and Northanger Abbey, Version 2, and Persuasion, Version 2, both read by Elizabeth Klett. Elizabeth is an American, but her ability to take on a British accent and do it well (to my ears) is uncanny. More versions are in the works for some of the other novels, including a third version of Persuasion by someone whose voice sounds quite lovely. Notably, no plans are afoot to rerecord Mansfield Park, which had so many different readers that I became quite dizzy keeping track of them all.
You can listen to these free audio files on your computer or MP3 players. I am so hooked on listening to Jane Austen’s novels while I am driving that I own two nanno Ipods – one for Jane’s works alone. Today I shall drive to my parents’ place for Mother’s Day. I am looking forward to the experience, as I am halfway through Northanger Abbey, and then plan on switching to Version 2 of Persuasion. Life is good.