CategoryAudiobook Reviews

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...

A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage

Having loved Tom Standage’s The Victorian Internet, I was sure this was a good time to read this book written in 2005. And yes, it was as wonderfully interesting and informative about these beverages as his earlier book was about the telegraph. The six glasses have beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and Coca-Cola in them. Rather than recount here a history of the world as it relates to these...

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Well, another Jane Austen finished. I’ve written about four of her books on this blog, though not about the one I know the best, Pride and Prejudice. Though this one doesn’t displace Emma or Pride and Prejudice in my greatest esteem, it is right up there. It is a bit complicated and has more characters than her usual. When she was 10 years old, Fanny, the main character, goes to live...

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

I read this book when I was in high school and had come to think of it later as memorable, but not great fiction. It was hugely popular when it was written in 1931 and won Pearl Buck the Nobel Prize. It has come to be seen with more interest, perhaps because of the 2010 book Pearl Buck in China:  Journey to the Good Earth by Hilary Spurling. Buck grew up in China as the child of missionaries;...

The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman

My book choices have been unusual in this strange time and perhaps this is the strangest of them all. I have always had a strong dislike of birds. As I child, I was terrified the chickens would touch me. As an adult I am keenly aware of birds as disease carriers. They have not endeared themselves to me in recent years when they come in flocks and drunkenly eat berries from our holly trees...

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