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Heard any good books lately?

All writers are readers, and I am no exception. Generally speaking I am monogamous - reading only one book at a time. I wouldn’t like to think that any of my readers are flirting with other books on the side! But, lately, I have made an exception to this rule, with Audio books. Living where we do, anywhere we want to go is a minimum of a twenty minute drive away, so I like to while away the journey with my audio book. Housework is SO much more endurable if you have something entertaining to listen to. In fact, I get quite cross when I have to switch off to do the vacuuming! As I mentioned last time, the late summer months involve a lot of time in the kitchen for me, processing the produce from the kitchen garden, and I like to listen to my audio book then too. Audio book etiquette is a thing, I think. If I’m listening to an audio book and someone comes in, I switch it off. Partly so that I don’t miss the story while the newcomer (usually my husband) greets me with his news, but mainly because it would seem rude.

Here are my top listens of the past twelve months:

This is a brilliant saga, well written, a sweeping and emotional storyline. The details of life in India and Afghanistan in the late 1800s was authentic and vividly described. I was caught up in the story of Ash.

I felt as though the last third of their story wasn’t necessary, though. It detailed a harrowing siege of Kabul in which a troop of soldiers is decimated. Ash took little part in it and the details of strategy and the battlefield were a bit wearisome.

I can’t decide what to say about the narrator. The parts where he spoke in an Indian accent were excellent, you can tell he was a native speaker and the voices were so authentic. Unfortunately his rendition of a British English accent, also his attempts at Irish and Scottish were woeful. The narration was done in what I assume is his natural accent, which is American. This really jarred as he used American English pronunciations (inquiry, rather than enquiry is just one example). Also, his inflections were frequently very odd, again I suspect from his being American (SOUTH downs, for instance, instead of south DOWNS). Both these things kept disturbing the flow of the story for me. However, as I say, his Indian accent was impeccable. In the end, this story (all fifty hours of it) really absorbed me, the narrator notwithstanding.

With so many reviews, mine can hardly make a difference, but nevertheless I will add my praise. This book is different, thought-provoking and affecting. I liked its metaphysical theme, its realism, and its hopeful conclusion.

Its message is that, contrary to the world of Insta and Facebook, 'Hello' and 'OK', there are no perfect lives, unalloyed happiness is not a thing. Everyone will experience disappointment and even despair at some point. This is a truth that many, dare I say, young people, would do well to take on board.

An interesting medley of stories, some of them connected by characters in common, and all set around music in some form. As usual with this writer, the prose is delicious, but the stories were each told from a different point of view and I felt that this lost some cohesion I would have liked the collection to have. A shared narrative voice would have held them together the way a good sauce holds together a complex and multi-layered dish.

In terms of the narrative structure, though, I enjoyed this work. It brought me in mind of my own layered novel, Crossings.

This kind of collection is what makes audio books such good value. These were dramatised adaptations of Waugh’s novels, but encapsulated all his wit, satire and melancholy. I loved them!

Other audio books you might like to try!


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