CategoryAudiobook Reviews

She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

Given her outstanding book about growing up in poverty in Kansas (Heartland), I was happy to listen to Smarsh read her new book about Dolly Parton. Dolly grew up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and left after high school to make her way in country music. Her talent as a songwriter, her business acumen, her looks, and her voice have made her a wildly successful and rich entertainer. She has become...

Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

I listened this memoir by a Native American poet in December because it was mentioned by Laura. I am currently listening again to bring Joy Harjo’s voice back into my head. The first chapter or two is poetic, including part that she sang. She moves into a more conventional story-telling mode and we learn that she was born in Tulsa, her father was Muscogee Creek, and her mother was part...

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

In 2015 and 2016, I listened to audiobooks of Graham Greene:  Our Man in Havana and The Heart of the Matter. I was enthusiastic about both of them, despite having expectations that the plots of both would make me uncomfortable. What I knew about the plot of this one also made me uncomfortable, and in this case, that feeling remains. In the case of Our Man in Havana I was wary that the humor was...

Foolish Mortals by Jennifer Johnston

This is my third Jennifer Johnston novel. She is an Irish writer, much loved by Reading Matters. I have appreciated each of them. I listen to them and have been rewarded for that because in each case sound is an element of the storytelling. In this case the reader slips into the occasional song, most notably Christmas carols. SPOILER ALERT Much of the story is told from Henry’s point of...

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald

It will not be possible to fit all I want to remember about this book in one short post. So I’ll start by saying that listening to the author read her essays was educational and entertaining, but even more, it was uplifting and brought me joy. It was as wonderful as her first book H is for Hawk. From childhood she has always been a lover of the natural world and her essays reflect that. She...

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

I was conscious of this author, but it was Jennifer who told me she had written a book that recounted the Pride and Prejudice story in present day Cincinnati. How could that possibly work, I thought, and will it include the beloved Cincinnati-style chili? Well, yes, that chili with cinnamon, served on spaghetti, topped with cheddar cheese, beans and onions is featured. And yes, the translation of...

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I appreciated hearing the author read this audiobook, a personal message to his 15-year-old son.  It was beautiful, moving, and brilliant by turns, so I honor it best by quoting some passages. He writes about the false concept of “race” and refers often to those who “believe they are white.” Someone he knew from his time at Howard University was killed by police. It was...

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Having seen the movie Rebecca (and who knows, maybe I read the book too), I was happy to listen to the audiobook of My Cousin Rachael. The story is told by Philip Ashley, brought up by his beloved uncle Ambrose after his parents died. They live in a completely male household and lavish their love on the estate that Philip will inherit. By the time Philip is in his early 20s Ambrose has health...

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan

Is it a mistaken perception that people who run, own, or work in high end restaurants are more likely than a person successful in some other endeavor to write a book about it? Books in this category that occur to me begin with George Orwell’s Down and Out in London and Paris (those kitchens were disgustingly dirty), to Alice Waters’ writing about Chez Panisse, Anthony Bourdain’s...

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

I came upon this book in a listing of “beach reads,” and having read two other Charlotte Wood books, I was surprised by that category. The Natural Way of Things is a feminist polemic and very affecting. The Weekend is centered on three women going to a beach north of Sydney over the Christmas weekend (beach weather in Australia). Sounds like a beach read so far. But no. The three have...

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