Monday, August 5, 2019

Audio Interludes: British & Irish narrators

Often I find myself listening to audiobooks that fit together, either by narrator, genre, theme or setting. As I find myself staring at a long list of them to review, I decided to start writing Litsy-length reviews and grouping them together in a new recurring series I'll call Audio Interludes. Today's installment features a trio of contemporary novels narrated in British and Irish accents.

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
narrated by Niall Buggy

If an old maudlin Irishman narrator is your thing: do I have a book for you! Maurice Hannigan, over the course of one night, orders five different drinks a hotel bar and toasts each one to a different person who impacted his life. Through these five (very long) toasts that are more like stories, we learn about his life in interesting, and non-linear ways. For a debut novel, this book is bravely told, but for such an emotional book, it also felt like it was trying to be a little too clever. Is a lovely goal, but it didn't fully work for. I'm certainly glad I listened, as a man telling his life's stories is the ideal format, and Buggy's Irishisms were pitch perfect. For an audiobook that was only eight hours, it also felt like it could have shorter and achieved the same goals. I listened to this for book club, and there will be lots to discuss.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Length: 8 hours 5 minutes (324 pages)
Publication date: March 5, 2019
Source: library
Treat yourself! Buy it from Amazon or an independent bookstore.

The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

narrated by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Kwaku Fortune

If you're looking for a somewhat predictable but also endearing and charming romantic comedy: do I have a book for you! I listened to this while driving across Nebraska and Colorado, and it kept me entertained. The premise is modern and relatable: Leon is palliative care nurse who works nights and spends weekends and at his girlfriend's apartment. He's looking for extra income to pay for a lawyer to exonerate his brother, who is in jail for a crime he didn't commit. He comes up with the idea to sublet his flat to someone who works days, so they'll never see each other. Tiffy needs a cheap place to live quickly after a breakup. The two start communicating via notes at the flat. There aren't a ton of surprising twists in this book, but it's a good story and it's well-told. Tiffy and Leon are great characters, and both narrators shine. I was proud of myself that I correctly guessed Tiffy was from Essex based on her accent sounding exactly like Georgia Harrison's. Bonus: there's an interview with Carrie Hope Fletcher and Beth O'Leary at the end that made me wish audiobook narrators always chatted with the author about the book at the end. This is O'Leary's debut, and I liked it enough to give her next one a lesson.

Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 9 hours 39 minutes (321 pages)
Publication date: May 28, 2019
Source: library
Treat yourself! Buy it from Amazon or an independent bookstore

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
narrated by Katherine Manners

I listened to this after Reese Witherspoon picked it for her book club in June, and I loved every minute I spent with it. Katherine Manners is a superb narrator and Susan Green is a delightful character. Susan is on the autism spectrum, over 40, and pregnant. Pregnancy can be a baffling thing, and to see it through Susan's mind was fascinating and what I liked best about the book. There were a lot of other storylines, all centered around Susan and this time in her life, but the pregnancy and preparation for single parenthood felt like the book's heart and trajectory for me. Susan made me laugh and cry, but she also made me think about neurodiversity in a different way.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 10 hours 24 minutes (368 pages)
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Source: library
Treat yourself! Buy it from Amazon or an independent bookstore

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