This is the first time I've tackled this novel and indeed the first time I've read Tolkien. Or rather, listened to Tolkien, because this review is of the audiobook version narrated by Rob Inglis.
In many ways I didn't listen to the audiobook under ideal circumstances. I was okay for the first few chapters, but then I listened to some of the book on a four hour road trip immediately following a thirteen hour flight. I found that nodding off in the passenger seat was not the best way of keeping details of the characters and the plot firmly in my mind. Picking up the threads of the plot when I finished listening to the book two weeks later was also not particularly easy.
However, while I may be hazy about some of the details of the plot, I still very much enjoyed the narrative, the characters and the style. There's excitement and humour, as well as a message. I always had the impression that The Hobbit was a book for kids: I seem to recall my older cousin trying to interest me in reading it when I was about eleven. I'm glad he was unsuccessful, because had I read the book at that stage, I would have pretty disturbed by some elements of the plot.
Rob Inglis' narration was excellent. He brought each character to life with a distinctive and appropriate voice.
How great to have enjoyed a novel which only a short time ago I would not have contemplated reading! I'm very glad that I made the decision to overcome an almost life-long reluctance to read fantasy and I can now move on to a group read of The Lord of the Rings with some degree of confidence I will enjoy it. Thank you to the GR friends who encouraged me to read this book.