Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton – Audiobook Review

Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton, narrated by Simon Vance
Published in audio by Blackstone Audio, Published in print by Other Press

Synopsis:

When Laurie Clow travels to London, distracted as she is by her mother’s dementia and an odd incident with a friend, she finds herself witnessing a horrible traffic accident and spending with Arthur Hayman’s last few moments with him. After his death, she meets his family, including his son, Luke, who is the title character in Arthur’s series, “The Hayseed Chronicles.” Staying with the family through the funeral, Laurie has the opportunity to read all the books and is immediately charmed. When she returns to California, her trumpeting of the books begins to elevate media awareness of both the books and Laurie herself, changing irrevocably the lives of all involved.

Thoughts on the story:

I really enjoyed this book for what it had to say about fame, and the culture of fame: the difficulties, the way people think they own the things they love, how easy it is to suddenly find yourself going off the tracks. Luke narrated the majority of the book, and was a very insightful narrator. My biggest issue with him is that he often felt more like the narrator than like the main character. Part of this is because he was telling this story from his vantage point at the end of the novel, but it still didn’t quite work for me as well as it could have. One reason for this may be that none of the characters were easy to empathize with. Laurie was a great character at the outset, but she was much changed by fame, and that change seemed so sudden, from Luke’s point of view in not having seen her for some time, that it was hard to understand where she was coming from at that point.

My other minor qualm with “Mr. Toppit” was that there seemed to be an awful lot of setup to get to the point where Elton could offer the reader a view of how fame changes people and their lives. That really is the main thrust of the book, but the “Hayseed Chronicles” did not take off until approximately the midpoint of “Mr. Toppit,” and I found that first part somewhat hard to get into, although ultimately worth the wait.

I do want to mention, Arthur died at a point when his series was ultimately unfinished, and I got the cold sweats ‘what if’ing J.K. Rowling dying somewhere in the middle of Harry Potter. Imagine what would have happened! Of course, in “Mr. Toppit” Arthur does not find fame until after his death, but the comparison still nearly gave me nightmares.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Simon Vance was narrating, what else really needs to be said? It was Vance’s usual fabulous narration. Really the audio production was strong overall, there was a complete absence of any noticeable variations in sound quality or problematic moments of narration.

Overall:

A good book, one I can recommend for those interested in a commentary on fame, but not one that will intrigue all readers. I can definitely recommend the audiobook, because Simon Vance helps greatly at moving the reader through the slower portions of the book at the beginning.

Need another opinion? Jennifer from Literate Housewife and I read it together, and her review is up too!

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

Source: library.
* 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 Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore – Book Review

The Heroine’s Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore
Published by Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins

I doubt that any reader of this blog would debate the idea that books have much to teach us, perhaps even more, at times, than the author intended. Erin Blakemore certainly believes that this is true, and her goal in “The Heroine’s Bookshelf” is to suss out some of the fabulous female characters created by fabulous female authors who have so much to teach today’s heroines. “The Heroine’s Bookshelf” is divided into twelve sections with titles such as “Self,” “Dignity,” and “Compassion” and covers women like Jo March, Scarlett O’Hara, and Lizzy Bennet. Each chapter briefly outlines the life of the author and the premise of the book, weaving in the arguments for why the author and character exemplify and can teach us the stated virtue of the chapter. Additionally, each chapter ends with a bullet pointed list of three times when you should read the book in question, and the literary sisters/kindred spirits of the character discussed.

Oh, “The Heroine’s Bookshelf,” you have earned yourself a permanent place on my bookshelf!

Blakemore’s book is an absolutely lovely and engaging read. I ended up finishing it in less than 24 hours because every time I finished reading about one heroine, I wanted to see what Blakemore had to say about the next one. Each chapter was both nostalgic and informative, bringing me new and interesting information about even the authors and characters who were most beloved by me. I only wish that I had spaced out the chapters and savored the book, because I was very sad when I found I had reached the end. No matter, though, because just like the books Blakemore writes about, “The Heroine’s Bookshelf” is something that I will be able to go back to again and again when I need reminders and encouragements about dealing with life’s difficulties.

I highly, highly, highly recommend “The Heroine’s Bookshelf” by Erin Blakemore. I think the ideal audience is women 15 to 35, but I imagine than many others would enjoy it as well. However, if you have a readerly woman 15-35 on your Christmas list, BUY THIS FOR HER NOW. There, your shopping is done! Whether she has read all of the classics, or is a Twilight or Harry Potter-created reader unsure where to go next, this is sure to be a big hit.

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Now for a little game: Can you match the heroines with the virtues they represent (as per “The Heroine’s Bookshelf”)?

Virtue Heroine
A: Ambition 1. Anne Shirley in “Anne of Green Gables”
B: Compassion 2. Celie in “The Color Purple”
C: Dignity 3. Claudine in Colette’s Claudine novels
D: Faith 4. Francie Nolan in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”
E: Family Ties 5. Jane Eyre in “Jane Eyre”
F: Fight 6. Janie Crawford in “Their Eyes Were Watching God”
G: Happiness 7. Jo March in “Little Women”
H: Indulgence 8. Laura Ingalls in “The Long Winter”
I: Magic 9. Lizzy Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”
J: Self 10. Mary Lennox in “The Secret Garden”
K: Simplicity 11. Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind”
L: Steadfastness 12. Scout Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Answers can be found at the bottom of this post.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

This review was done with a book received from the 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.

Answers: A7, B12, C2, D6, E4, F11, G1, H3, I10, J9, K8, L 5