The Legacy by Katherine Webb – Audiobook Review

The Legacy by Katherine Webb narrated by Claire Wille
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by William Morrow Paperback, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

From the publisher:

When they were children, Erica Calcott and her sister, Beth, spent their summer holidays at Storton Manor. Now, following the death of their grandmother, they have returned to the grand, imposing house in Wiltshire, England. Unable to stem the tide of childhood memories that arise as she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings, Erica thinks back to the summer her cousin Henry vanished mysteriously from the estate, an event that tore their family to pieces. It is time, she believes, to lay the past to rest, bring her sister some peace, and finally solve the mystery of her cousin’s disappearance.

But sifting through remnants of a bygone time is bringing a secret family history to light—one that stretches back over a century, to a beautiful society heiress in Oklahoma, a haunting, savage land across the ocean. And as past and present converge, Erica and Beth must come to terms with two shocking acts of betrayal . . . and the heartbreaking legacy they left behind.

Thoughts on the story:

There was a bit of a slow start to The Legacy. Erica and Beth’s story begins well enough, but it takes quite awhile to figure out how Caroline (the aforementioned heiress)’s story fits into theirs, which I found somewhat frustrating. Because of this it took me well over a week to get through the first half of the book, I just wasn’t engaged enough to make a point of picking it up. Once the storylines began to come together in the second half, however, I became increasingly interested in just what  had happened to this family to leave them like this.

I will note that there were a few times when Caroline and those around her in Oklahoma used words that seemed to be British (at least at other times Erica and Beth used the same words). It may be that these would actually have been used in the United States a century ago, but I suspect that they were just Britishisms used by American characters, which distracted me quite a bit.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Clare Wille is a new-to-me narrator, but I would definitely listen to her again. She has a good voice for audio and delivery that allowed me to pay more attention to the story itself than to her narration.

Overall:

Slow to start, but eventually enjoyable. Not an audio (or a book) to start if you’re feeling easily distracted, but worthwhile if you can concentrate.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Audiobook Review

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, narrated by Frazer Douglas
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Ecco, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

Apart from Odysseus, the best-known character in The Iliad is probably Achilles, he of the infamous heel. Readers of Homer’s famous work have long been perplexed by the way the hero mourns for an otherwise very minor character, Patroclus. From this question of why Patroclus’s death so affects Achilles, author Madeline Miller has created a shared past and love story for the two men, beginning with Patroclus’s exile from his own kingdom and his placement at the court of Achilles’s father.

Thoughts on the story:

The Song of Achilles is beautifully written and beautifully imagined. Miller has given these characters of Greek myth true depth and real life, complete with love, pain, and pride. The pace does not lag during their childhood, nor during the repetition of a decade-long siege on Troy. The story is told from Patroclus’s point of view, which seems to be a wise decision, it is much easier to narrate from the perspective of a more minor character, there are fewer worries about conflicting with the original story, although Miller still had to make sure that Achilles’s details mesh with the original narrative. The Song of Achilles works even for those who have only a vague familiarity with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, however. Both of these works are enough in the Western consciousness that most readers will have a decent background for the story, and Miller does a good job of introducing characters from Patroclus’s point of view so they are familiar to readers without seeming overly explanatory to those who know The Iliad better.

Thoughts on the audio production:

This was my first experience with Frazer Douglas’s narration, and I was certainly impressed. He drew me right into Miller’s story, and kept me rapt through the entire listen. He has a sonorous voice and a great delivery.

Overall:

Miller’s gorgeous and moving story would work well in print as well, but Frazer Douglas’s narration adds a little something extra to the audio edition. Highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson – Audiobook Review

The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, narrated by Kristine Ryan and Gerianne Raphael
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Harper, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

A whirlwind romance takes sensible Eve from her life in London doing French translations of boring, mundane things such as contracts to a lovely if somewhat decrepit old house in the South of France with a loving but secretive man named Dom. As summer fades, so too does the perfect live Eve imagined that the two of them were living together. She begins to question what happened in Dom’s first marriage that has made him the way he is today, and to feel a chill in the house around her that leads her to wonder if their lovely Genevriers is haunted.

As Eve’s story unfolds, so too does a story of her house’s recent past, centered around Benedicte, a young girl who once lived in Genevriers with her troubled family.

Thoughts on the story:

Initially the story of The Lantern unfolds slowly, it is well past the halfway mark before the reader has any idea what is meant by the title or how the stories of the two women will intersect. Luckily, the slower plot has Lawrenson’s lovely writing to fall back on. Aside from seducing the reader with beautiful language, Lawrenson is taking the first half of the book to fully develop Eve and Benedicte’s characters, as well as the secondary characters around them, giving the reader a stake in their lives when the tension begins to build in the second half the novel. And build it does. By the time I reached the halfway mark, I hesitated to leave the story, so drawn in was I; Lawrenson does a wonderful job building both investment and interest. And although I won’t spoil the ending, I will say that I found the wrap-up and explanations particularly satisfying.

Thoughts on the audio production:

As tends to be the case with books produced by Harper Audio, the audio production – and particularly the narration – was wonderfully done in The Lantern. Both Ryan and Raphael are talented narrators, but I was particularly impressed by Ryan. The character she was portraying, Eve, was a French-educated American women who at the beginning of the novel had been living in London for years, but who moved early in the book to the south of France. Certainly a narrator could have decided to work with only one or two of these linguistic heritages, but Ryan had me wondering if she had the exact same background as her character. At the base of her speech was a standard American accent, but there was a definite British inflection, with a French accent that rose and fell, depending on what exactly she was saying. It was absolutely perfectly done, more than just believable, she completely lived into her character.

Overall:

Although there is somewhat of a slow start, sticking with The Lantern is a decision that pays off completely. I am confident that Lawrenson’s lovely book would stand up quite well in print, but Ryan and Raphael’s masterful narration adds an extra degree of wonder that is well-worth experiencing.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible.com:

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: .
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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The Alice Behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester – Audiobook Review

The Alice Behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester, narrated by Simon Winchester
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by Oxford University Press


Synopsis:

There exists a photograph of a young girl, taken in the summer of 1858 at Oxford. The girl is the six year old daughter of Dean Liddell, dressed in the clothes of a beggar child and looking beguilingly at the camera. The photo is somewhat disconcerting – a half-dressed girl staring with the eyes of a woman – but would be largely unremarkable if this was not the same girl who would become immortalized in literary history for a story about a young girl bearing her name who has an adventure in Wonderland.

In The Alice Behind Wonderland, Simon Winchester explores the real people behind Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charles Dodgson (aka, Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell.

Thoughts on the story:

Other than the fact that the title is slightly misleading – Winchester spends more time delving into Dodgson’s life than Alice’s – The Alice Behind Wonderland is a very informative work of nonfiction. Winchester goes in-depth into Dodgson’s life, both before and after Alice, including a fascinating aside into the early days of photography.

Thoughts on the audio production:

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I simply adore Simon Winchester narrating his own work. Really, if he decides to stop writing he could just narrate full time, nonfiction in particular. Winchester comes across as a charismatic scholar whose passion for his own research is infectious.

Overall:

An intriguing story, and one that is both well organized and well narrated. Recommended.

After reading The Alice Behind Wonderland, if you are interested in more on Charles Dodgson and Alice Liddell, pick up Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been for a fictionalized account of their story.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound: Print*
Audible

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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Faith by Jennifer Haigh – Audiobook Review

Faith by Jennifer Haigh, narrated by Therese Plummer
Published in audio by Harper Audio; published in print by Harper Books, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

It is 2002, and Sheila McGann has never regretted leaving the Catholic Church less – nearly the only thing the news reports talk about these days are the priest sex abuse scandals. That these things happen is not particularly a surprise to Sheila, but that her beloved elder brother Art has been accused is a shock bar none.

Thoughts on the story:

I think it is best, actually, to go into Faith without knowing too much about it; at its most basic it is the story of a family whose world view is being severely challenged and whose life is being torn apart. Not only that, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Haigh has amazing pacing, and even better characterization and storytelling. I didn’t have a single issue with the plot, the writing, anything while listening. It is a deeply emotional story that rockets the reader deep inside the inner lives of the McGanns, a story you won’t want to put down.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Plummer’s narration is extremely strong, emotional but not overwrought; she hits every note perfectly. The audio production of Faithis so fabulous I was searching high and low for something, anything to do that would give me more listening time. It would not be an overexaggeration to say that I tried my best to plan my life that week around getting more time to listen to Faith.

For a more in-depth review of the audio, please see my review for Audiofile Magazine.

Overall

Faith was simply amazing and it will without question be making my ‘best of’ list at the end of the year, thanks in equal part to Jennifer Haigh’s writing and Therese Plummer’s narration.

Very highly recommended.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Print*
Indiebound: Print*
Audible: Audio

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: Audiofile Magazine.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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