CategoryAudiobook Reviews

Good Night, Irene by Luis Alberto Urrea

This is my third novel by Urrea and it has opened a new dimension of this author for me. One of his previous books, The House of Broken Angels, was an affectionate portrait of an extended Mexican-American family in San Diego; I’ve read that one of the angels was based on Urrea himself. This book centers on the experience of a woman who grew up in the New York area and dispensed coffee and...

Shadows on Our Skin by Jennifer Johnston

Now I’ve read four books by Jennifer Johnston and continue to be impressed by her work. This one was shortlisted for the Booker prize. She is not a well-known writer outside Ireland and without Reading Matters I would not have known about her. In the first book I read by her, The Gingerbread Woman, the main character declares to a visitor that there will be no talk of “the...

Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine

I listened to this book having recently read K√ľnstlers in Paradise that I liked so much. This one was about an interesting family dynamic. I will be restrained about plot revelations because those revelations were my favorite part of the book. Fin was so-named because after his birth, his father wandered into a theatre showing a French film that was just ending. He was clear that this son would...

Empress of the Nile by Lynne Olson

Lynne Olson has found another brave and impressive woman to write about. I was enthusiastic about Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, about a resistance warrior in World War II, as well as Citizens of London. Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt, born in 1913, became an Egyptologist for the Louvre in the mid-1930s. She was a rare, perhaps unique, female figure in digs and was unusual in making good...

Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker

This silly little book was published in 1940 and is told in the voice of Norman Huntley, a young man who plays the organ in the cathedral town of Cornford. When it begins Norman and his friend were traveling in Ireland and to amuse themselves while chatting with the sexton of an old church, invent an old woman named Miss Hargreaves. A letter is written, one thing leads to another, and Bob’s...

K√ľnstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine

What a wonderful book this is. I loved it and when I finished it, I listened to a randomly chosen part again. Julian, a young man who lives in Brooklyn, has hit some bumps in the road and his parents won’t subsidize him so he can continue to study Kurosawa’s body of work. His best option was to help with care for Maime, his 90-something grandmother in Santa Monica who had broken her...

Take What You Need by Idra Novey

This is one for the list of favorites this year. The story unfolds in two voices, Leah and Jean, her stepmother. Jean was married to Leah’s father for nine years, until Leah turned ten. This is the story of the complicated Jean, told from her viewpoint and from what the grown Leah remembered of Jean and what she observed when they saw each other one more time. It begins with Leah recounting...

The Power Broker by Robert Caro

It has taken me weeks to listen to this 66-hour audiobook and it’s been a grueling, but fascinating undertaking. This three-volume work about Robert Moses, written in the 1970s, is about an extremely unusual figure, a man who for nearly 40 years was a powerful figure in New York City and State politics who was never elected to any office. It is about how he amassed power, what he did with...

The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker

It was a tweet by Nancy Pearl that drew my attention to this 1973 novel. For me it was an entertaining cowboy story set in Russia with all the stock characters, including a large herd of cattle. It is told from the point of view of a young cowboy, Levi, named for the jeans. The story begins as the cowboys and their herd arrive in Vladivostok on their way to deliver the herd to a town hundreds of...

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

I had read this book in a different century, but was moved to listen to it again because of a chat with friends about politics in Israel. Recently Netanyahu put together a coalition to regain power by including an ultra orthodox party that is truly radical. The Shas and the Haredi parties demand increased funding for their schools with no oversight that would insure that math, sciences, and...

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