CategoryAudiobook Reviews

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...

This is Not a Novel: A Novel by Jennifer Johnston

I admired Jennifer Johnston’s book The Gingerbread Woman and in fact have listened to parts of it again. Reading Matters’  post in January about the Irish writer’s other books took me to this one. It is told by a young woman whose life takes a turn in 1970 when, after a trauma, she finds herself unable to speak. She tells the story from the vantage point of thirty years later...

How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang

This book caught my eye because it is on the Booker Prize long list. The story of a family, told by Lucy, begins when she and her androgynous sibling Sam are 11 and 10, after their father dies and the two search for the appropriate place to bury him. This is the Wild West at the time of gold strikes when Ma had come looking for the Golden Mountain she heard about in China. She found Ba, mistaking...

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay

This 1993 novella by a Bengali writer is bound for the list of my favorite books of the year. It came out in English in July; after hearing Maureen Corrigan’s short review, I bought the audio version. It is a fairy tale featuring an angry ghost. Pishima was married at seven, widowed at 12, and kept in perpetual widowhood by the family so that they would eventually get her dowry of gold. The...

Carville’s Cure by Pam Fessler

The subtitle, “Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice,” signals this is the story of the only leprosarium in the continental US. Its history and the history of the treatment of Hansen’s Disease, commonly known as leprosy, makes for a dramatic read. The unwarranted fear of the disease has resulted in tragically mistaken public health policy; I appreciated learning the truth...

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The coming of age story of Nadia Turner is a dramatic one. She lives in a Black community in southern California with her beautiful mother and father who has a steady job and a beloved truck. The local church called Upper Room is an important part of their lives. That name is poignant for me because my mother always had a copy of the devotional publication of that name on the table by her chair...

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