Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Short and sweet - Rachel and Dulcie

It seems that most of the books I've been listening to average between seven and eight hours ... with the occasional twelve- to 15-hour monster. (Or the soon-to-be-massive HP VII.) So, when there's some short ones, well, I almost feel cheated.

Listening for Lions was short (under five hours), and the book on cassette that I listened to after that even shorter: Defining Dulcie came in at a mere three hours, 45 minutes. This weekend's bathroom time (two showers/day ... cleanliness is my mantra) pretty much covered it.

Defining Dulcie is a little story that packs a lot in: dead father, road trip, abusive mother (different daughter), fight for independence. It never feels crowded, however. Dulcie reminds me (as other readers/reviewers) of Joan Bauer's shoe saleswoman/heroine Jenna as she struggles with her suddenly-absent father and values hard work (Dulcie comes from a long line of school janitors). The reader is not a favorite of mine, Jennifer Ikeda, but she makes this story move along at a sprightly pace.

Until the end -- after the story's been told and the threads are being picked up and resolved to everyone's satisfaction. It is here that Ikeda's "I'm serious" narrating manner comes to forefront -- with its soft, yet chipper sing-songy quality that absolutely drives me up the wall.

At the beginning of this year, I could not stand to listen to another story narrated by her. I only did Dulcie because it had been nominated. Having jumped back into the water, I'm feeling a little mellower now, so I'm going to plunge into a novel I've been wanting to listen to, but have been avoiding: Enthusiasm.

As for Listening for Lions, it all ended well (no surprise there): bright, plucky Rachel back in Kenya with her Kikuyu friends ... and a cat. Ah, comfort for smart spinsters everywhere.

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