Friday, 27 May 2011

Audiobook medley

Partly not feeling up to much and partly so that I can have accompaniment to my knitting I have had a few more audiobooks. The Awakening by Kate Chopin came from the Audiobook Library and as I listened I realised it was a book that my friend Julie had lent to me some years ago. It is a beautiful period piece set in late 19th century southern America, following the life of Edna, a relatively young married woman, as she falls unexpectedly in love with Robert, and comes to a new view of her constrained and socially dictated life. She seeks to find an alternative path, only to discover that none is, in reality, open to her. Although the voice reading the story irritated me from time to time I guess it had the right pitch of formality that is the backbone to the story and the lengthy passages about the social niceties that had to be observed create quite an intensely suffocating atmosphere. As when I read it before I was left frustrated on her behalf that her behaviour and choices were so confined. A truly classic book, full of repressed passion.



The Risk of Darkness by Susan Hill was picked out at the library because of enjoying 'Woman in Black' so much, though this is one of a series of detective type novels she has written. In spite of it having a detective theme it is not really a 'murder mystery' at all, though there were plenty of dead bodies scattered throughout some were murdered, some suicide and some just died. Based in a fictitious cathedral city where Simon Serrailler lives it follows a variety of story threads; his own as a policeman and the child murder case he is pursuing, his sister who is a local GP and a woman patient dying of CJD, and a newly arrived local priest who gets caught up in the events. A very enjoyable book, driven very much by the characters, lots of little portraits of even minor players engage you with the complexity of how much people are bound up with each other. The story of the child abductor Ed is central but her determination to shut out the police means that she shuts out the reader too and I was left wanting to have understood her better. Mostly though it is a book about guilt and grief, and the ripple like consequences that such overwhelming emotions can have.


Reading in Bed by Sue Gee was just on in the background and it was ok but the style was really irritating. Short staccato sentences detailing the contents of people's mantlepieces made it sound at times more like an interiors magazine than a novel, ditto to the descriptions of what people wore and other meaningless, contentless padding. Dido and Georgia lifelong friends are both newly retired and looking forward to gently unfolding days of relaxation, only to find that things are not going to turn out as they hoped. The characters were all quite nice and it was just a saga of how easily perfect seeming lives can be turned upside down by small events and that the anxieties of being a parent don't diminish just because your children are grown ups too. It did pick up in the second half when she stopped waffling on about vases of flowers and got on with the story, and pulled itself round into a nice predictable (reasonably) happy ending. Light reading only, if you really have nothing better to do with your afternoon.

Saving Agnes by Rachel Cusk should have had a lot more potential having won the Whitbread First Novel Award but I have abandoned it after one tape, I think it should probably be read as I am blog browsing at the same time and not engaging with the rather self-obsessed young woman in the story. Am now on the second CD of Testimony by Anita Shreve, picked up yesterday because I have read many, many of her novels and always enjoyed them. It is jumping from character to character rather swiftly but I will try and give it a chance to settle down before giving it up too. M and I will probably go back to Gilmore Girls when she gets back from drama group later.

2 comments:

  1. I just read your reviews. Must be my previous life as a librarian and current life as a writer/knitter but I love reading people's takers on novels. Yours are very astute and well-crafted. I hope you'll read mine when it's published, that is, if you enjoy mystery/suspense.

    Jane

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  2. Hi Jane
    thanks for visiting. I've never done a commissioned book review, I'd be more than happy to read your book when it comes out and write something, can't promise gushy but can promise honest:-)
    best wishes
    martine

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