CategoryAudiobook Reviews

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

I listened to this one after I recommended a friend read Clare Pooley’s Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting and discovered this one was available through our library. It’s been a fine audiobook for me. An elderly eccentric artist in London named Julian writes about himself in a notebook and leaves it in a cafe, inviting others to write about themselves and to get to know their...

The Quiet American by Graham Greene

This is my fourth Graham Greene book; I am enthusiastic about two and not-so-much about two. This falls into the not-so-much category. It was written in 1955 and set at the end of the era of French colonial control of Vietnam as told by a cynical British reporter. Thomas Fowler has lived in Saigon for some years, happy to be away from his wife in Britain who refuses him a divorce. He lives with...

The Flight of the Maidens by Jane Gardem

Jane Gardem turns up on my radar now and again for her trilogy that begins with Old Filth. “Filth” is the acronym for Failed in London, Try Hong Kong and the trilogy is a much respected work with the ending of the British Empire as the backdrop. One day I will read it, but at the moment, I am not up for reading about colonial privilege. This coming-of-age novel is set in 1946 in...

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

Once again James McBride has brought me a lot of joy and continued to win my admiration for his work. This one is set in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and begins in 1972 when a skeleton was discovered in a well. Before much investigation begins, Hurricane Agnes hits and the skeleton and any other evidence is washed to the sea. The author turns then to Chicken Hill in Pottstown in the 1920s and 1930s...

Went to London, Took the Dog by Nina Stibbe

I have read almost all of Nina Stibbe’s books. This one is non-fiction, like her first, Love, Nina, about moving to London to be a nanny for the two sons of Mary-Kay Wilmers, founder and former editor of The London Review of Books, and Stephen Frears, filmmaker (My Beautiful Laundrette and Philomena). That book is a compilation of her letters to her sister Vic; this one is in the form of a...

Fraud by Zadie Smith

I listened to Zadie Smith read her fictional work about squabbles and disagreements in the Nineteenth Century literary world among authors William Ainsworth, Charles Dickens, George Cruikshank, and William Makepeace Thackery. The work also turns to the true story of a man who claimed to be Sir Roger Tichborne, the heir to a baronetcy. Sir Roger was lost at sea in 1854; his mother posted ads in...

Dayswork by Chris Bacheider and Jennifer Habel

It’s a little hard to imagine, but this is a novel in verse written by a married couple that is part Melville biography and pandemic memoir, with doses of Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, “The Biographer” (of Melville) and others obsessed with him thrown in. Oh yes, and Hawthorne who was a friend of Melville’s. The narrator is working on a biography of Melville as her...

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

Few books I read are what I think of as “historical novels,” that is, novels whose placement in the past is a key element of the work. The books I’ve read by Paulette Jiles do fall into that category; the three I’ve read do not let you forget they are set in Texas in the period shortly after the Civil War.  I have admired and enjoyed the three, including this one. The main...

Foster by Claire Keegan

I have listened to this one-hour audiobook three times now and have grown to love it more each time. It is a sad story with warm loving characters. I will begin with a SPOILER ALERT; after all, I am writing to revisit what I loved about the book and it’s hard to go far without revelations in this case. It is written from the point of view of a child and begins with her being driven to stay...

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

It was my enjoyment of Zevin’s Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow that took me to this 2014 book of hers which has been made into a movie. It’s a little tough to imagine that a cranky literary snob who owns a failing bookstore could be made a sympathetic character. Throw in the tragic death of his wife, the theft of a rare book, and an abandoned baby on his doorstep, and things can...

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