CategoryAudiobook Reviews

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

This is my second book this year that featured the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary; the first was a wonderful work of fiction, The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. Now I’ve listened to the irresistible Simon Winchester’s book, mentioned with enthusiasm by Dorothy. The “professor” was the editor of the OED, James Murray, whose own story is quite dramatic...

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

Clint Smith tells how the story of slavery is conveyed to the general public by describing his visits to seven historical sites. I was especially interested in the book because I knew the author had visited Monticello and described the changes that have occurred to the narrative about Thomas Jefferson to broaden the story from “author of the Declaration of Independence, Founding Father...

The Color of Water by James McBride

Having loved James McBride’s recent book Deacon King Kong, I was eager to be in his world again and this book truly does take you there. His mother grew up in Suffolk, Virginia in an Orthodox Jewish family. Her father was a rabbi who, always fired by his congregation, finally became a successful merchant in a Black community. He was nasty and unpleasant to his customers and in general was...

The Mission House by Carys Davies

It was Tony’s description of it as “life-affirming” and “reticent and quiet and almost gentle” that took me to this book. All those things were true, but it was set in India, and in my experience of books set in India involve some pain. The story centers on Hilary Byrd, an Englishman who has been fired from his job in a library and always needed his sister to help...

The Old Jest by Jennifer Johnston

This is my fifth Jennifer Johnston book and, as usual, I was glad to have given it my attention. She is an amazing Irish author, almost unknown in this country. This one is set a few years after the end of World War I and focuses on Nancy Gulliver, who has just turned 18. Having been orphaned, she lives with her Aunt Mary and her grandfather who is moving into dementia. Bridey cooks and cleans...

The Dry by Jane Harper

Jane Harper’s first novel is a police procedural set in rural Australia a few hundred miles west of Melbourne in an area that had been beset by a drought of several years duration. The main character is Aaron Falk, returned to the town after 20 years absence for the funerals of his high school friend Luke, his wife, and son. Aaron and his father had moved to Melbourne when he was a teenager...

Here We Are by Graham Swift

I was excited to see that the author of Mothering Sunday (which I loved) and Last Orders, winner of the Booker prize, has recently written a new book. It more than met my high expectations and I am at the moment listening to it for the second time. The story begins with a vaudeville show at the end of a pier in Brighton in the mid-1950s, just before television puts an end to such entertainment...

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

While I was listening to this book, the announcement came that it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. What a good choice they made! The book centers on two stories that intersect. Thomas, a night watchman who succeeds in derailing an effort by a Senator in the early 1950s to abrogate the treaties with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, was based on her grandfather, Patrick Gorneau. The effort...

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

I was thunderstruck by this wonderful book and have listened to it again. It was a finalist for the National Book Award. Philyaw brings you into the intimacies of the lives of these black women with just a few words and uses a variety of storytelling approaches to do so. Some are first person narratives. In “Eula” the narrator Caroletta tells of her long-time friendship with Eula...

Tangled Up in Blue by Rosa Brooks

Rosa Brooks is the daughter of Barbara Ehrenreich, the political activist who wrote Nickled and Dimed. Brooks was unable to explain to her mother, her fellow law professors at Georgetown University, and her friends why she became a part-time volunteer police officer in Washington. If she had told them she wanted to write a book about her experience, they would have understood, but that was not...

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