Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The mists of time

It was pure circumstance that I finished listening to The Shifting Fog (The House at Riverton in the U.S.) the very weekend I devoted to all nine hours of Season 2 of Downton Abbey on DVD. Kate Morton's doorstop of a novel is a whole lot less romantic than the television program, but they do share a time and setting that made for an enjoyable country weekend, so to speak.

The Shifting Fog is the memoir of Grace Bradley, born in 1900 and now in her late 90s. She's been approached by a screenwriter/director who is making a movie based on an incident that took place at Riverton Manor in 1924. Grace was a lady's maid in the house at the time and the request takes her back -- at great leisure and length -- to her time there. Grace arrived as a housemaid in 1914, sent by her mother (who used to work at Riverton). Lord and Lady Ashbury live there quietly, but when the three children of their youngest son Frederick arrive, Grace feels an immediate connection to them, eldest daughter Hannah -- who is the same age as Grace -- in particular. When Hannah marries shortly after the end of the Great War, she invites Grace to be her lady's maid.

At the beginning of the war, brother David brings a schoolmate to Riverton, Robbie Hunter. The young men have enlisted, and later David dies at the front. Several years pass and Robbie appears at Hannah's London home, ostensibly offering to return a book. He has become a troubled, but well-known war poet, and he and Hannah -- quickly bored by her shell of a marriage -- begin an affair. As a cover for their affair, Robbie squires younger sister Emmeline around the London Roaring 20s party scene. Suspicious about Hannah's behavior, her husband insists that they move back to Riverton (a house he has purchased as Hannah's father went bankrupt) and revive a midsummer party that was an annual event when Hannah and Grace were girls. As we know from the beginning of the novel (since it's the subject of the movie), Robbie dies at this party, witnessed by Hannah and Emmeline.

Grace has a couple of secrets, one of which I guessed a whole sooner than she did (I'm never sure if the author intends for us to know things like this along with the protagonist or before her), and she teases out her story in a slow, tantalizing way. She also shares bits and pieces of her life after she left service. And we get a sympathetic picture of her dying, surrounded by memories and loved ones.

I like a fat, juicy piece of historical fiction, those big family sagas full of details about dress and culture, wronged generations, devastating secrets, and thwarted love. The Shifting Fog fills the bill admirably, with an interesting -- if flawed -- heroine and a nicely foreshadowed trick at the end. I really liked how the fog was not only atmospheric but also metaphoric -- Grace's perceptions keep shifting in and out of the fog of her memory. I see why the title was changed -- Downton Abbey before there was a Downton Abbey -- but something is lost as well. (On the other hand, I'm not quite sure who that prune-faced blonde is on the cover. She just looks moody, not glamorous.)

An Australian actress, Caroline Lee, narrates the novel. She maintains listener interest over the long story with a varied and pleasant delivery. I enjoyed the way she varied Grace's narration: When it's present day, her voice sounds older, weary; when Grace is relating the events of 1914-24, she's livelier, it's a younger voice. She's also very skilled at delineating between Edwardian and late 20th century speech patterns. It's not just the language, but the manner of speaking and Lee makes the difference clear.

Lee voices the novel, but her characterizations are subtle -- the characters are distinguishable, but there's not a lot of dramatic differences. They are appropriate characters, accurately revealing social class and gender. I did hear a few problems: The accents of the novel's American characters sort of come and go. And there were a lot of Australianisms -- particularly elongated vowels and those gloppy "l's." These emerged at will -- plopped down in the middle of otherwise British-sounding pronunciation -- as if she couldn't help herself. Several days later, I'm still hearing her "no's" which don't stop with "o" but stretch out into a kind of "oo"-"i" (which is not in any way a satisfactory way of describing what I heard). It makes for distracted listening, I'm afraid -- so much so that in future I'll limit myself to listening to her read books set in Australia. I think I might eye-read another Kate Morton novel, if I can face the prospect of toting it around for two weeks.

And while I have my cranky pants on, I've got to say my piece about Downton Abbey. People, this is not the first time that an English serial costume drama about rich people and their servants has made it big on this side of the pond. Unfortunately, explaining this means that I have reached the point in life where everything new isn't new to me, and I need to learn to refrain from saying so or my segue into fuddydom will come too soon.

As a Masterpiece Theatre fan from way back, I urge you young folk to seek out some of the great old stuff: I have very fond memories of The Moonstone, the old Sir Peter Wimseys (the star of which also reads the audiobooks), Danger UXB, A Town Like Alice, and the great, great Jewel in the Crown. A few weeks ago, I wallowed in 13 hours of To Serve Them All My Days. Even though today I myself wait for the DVD so I can watch them in one lost weekend, as a kid I really enjoyed the whole serial idea -- patiently waiting over the long weeks for the story to unfold. Go! Seek! Watch! You won't regret it.

[Stenography plays a critical role in Grace's life. This image is from the 1916 book Gregg Shorthand by John Robert Gregg, and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

[This photograph of longtime Masterpiece Theatre host Alistair Cooke in a 1974 photograph from the Library of Congress was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

The Shifting Fog by Kate Morton
Narrated by Caroline Lee
Bolinda Audio, 2006. 18:52

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poet of the dirt

Continuing the genre theme of the last few posts, I can safely say that horror is not my bag. The lovingly detailed descriptions of decomposing bodies from Daniel Kraus' Rotters eventually just made me laugh. But that was after I went through a lengthy ew! phase. Rotters is this year's winner of the Odyssey Award; and even though there aren't that many hard copies out there (WorldCat finds just 122 -- but does this count digital copies?), I was able to snag a set of CDs from the L.E.R. [Louise Ernestine Rammers] Schimelpfenig Library (you see why I had to write that down!) using Interlibrary Loan.

Joey Crouch is 16 years old when his mother is hit by a bus and dies. A social worker eventually locates Joey's father, Ken Harnett, in Bloughton, Iowa and gently explains that his mother wanted him to go and live with this man whom he has never met. Upon arrival in Bloughton, Joey discovers his father living in a smelly, decrepit cabin on the outskirts of town; there is no food, not even a place for Joey to sleep. When Joey shows up at Bloughton High, he learns that his father is known as the Garbage Man, which makes him an automatic social outcast. Ignored at home, bullied (actually, it goes way beyond bullying) at school, Joey soon finds out the kind of garbage his father collects. Ken Harnett is a "digger," carefully exhuming the remains of the dead, robbing them of valuables, and then putting everything back as if he was never there.

Joey insists that he come along on Harnett's next mission. It's disgusting. Squishy body parts abound, as does plenty of creepy, graveyard atmosphere. Joey is at first repulsed, but continues to learn the trade from Harnett. He acquires and names his shovel. He gets tougher and stronger. Soon he doesn't care that he's beginning to smell as rancid as Harnett does.

He learns there is a network of diggers -- each operating in a defined territory -- organized by a retired digger named Lionel. Harnett -- known by the other diggers as The Resurrectionist -- was raised by Lionel, who also fostered and trained another digger; a digger who is losing his mind, named Boggs. Boggs appears to have known Joey's mother.

As digging begins to consume him, Joey all but abandons school; but is able to use his newly acquired skills to enact a terrible revenge on those who bullied him. When Boggs desecrates Joey's mother's grave, Harnett collapses, but Joey joins Boggs on a cross-country rampage in order to retrieve something Boggs took from his mother. The goriness climaxes in a battle to the death as a hurricane ravages North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Considering this book's length -- and the unappealing (on so many levels) subject matter -- I was caught up in Joey's story. (See The Marbury Lens.) He's a very compelling narrator, and I really enjoyed how the story just builds and builds and builds. There's lots of delicious foreshadowing (you know the minute that Harnett tells Joey how to get himself out if he's buried alive that Joey's going to be buried alive), and the story is satisfyingly resolved. The descriptions are vivid and the novel's tension hums along the whole time. By the end, though, there was a fair amount of piling on, and I could only laugh at the towering body parts and glistening putrefaction. I can certainly see the appeal of this book, but went in knowing that it wouldn't appeal to me.

I also went in knowing that Kirby Heyborne is not a favorite narrator. I've never heard him give a poor performance, it's that his precise reading style and sing-song-y delivery don't speak to me (so to speak). According to Audiobook Jukebox, I've heard him read six times (most recently here) and I've pretty much said the same thing every time. Where he surprised me in Rotters, though, was his portrayal of the novel's many adult males. When he loses the boyish, actorly speech, he's actually pretty interesting to listen to. He varies the volume, the timbre, and each character's pitch (deep to high) for these men and each is a vivid, natural-sounding character.

Despite my reservations about Heyborne, he always demonstrates that narrator skill of identifying and then vocalizing a novel's emotional arc. Joey feels everything in this novel, in a way he is decomposing (while living), and Heyborne delivers Joey's emotions in such a way that we share his journey intimately. Some of what happens to Joey is a sock to the gut and Heyborne makes sure we get that right in our solar plexus.

I'm excited to be going to this year's ALA Annual Conference and plan on attending the Odyssey ceremony. Some people would rather stalk George Clooney, but I want to check out Lincoln Hoppe and Wendy Carter. (I don't even know if their publishers invite them to come ...) And to hear what Kirby Heyborne sounds like in "real life."

[Joey and his father spend some time in Edinburgh, Scotland sleeping rough in Greyfriars Kirkyard. This photograph of the cemetery was taken by Eiscir and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Rotters by Daniel Kraus
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne
Listening Library, 2011. 16:18

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Closure

And speaking of genres, it's always nice to see an author step away from what we know them for to (successfully) try something else. Lauren Oliver spends a little time away from her sci-fi-ish teenaged girls to bring us the middle-grade fantasy, Liesl and Po (with their reversed e's and i's from the same Germanic [?] roots, Solveig and Liesl are challenging my spelling fingers!). Read by that master of the non-human character, Jim Dale, it's a satisfying and friendly ghost story clearly inspired by A Little Princess, with a dash of Cinderella.

Liesl has been banished to the attic of her greedy stepmother's home ever since her father took ill and was taken to the hospital. He died there a few weeks later, and Liesl never had a chance to say goodbye. An alchemist's apprentice, Will, who makes sure he passes by Liesl's house every day on his errands (even though he doesn't know who she is), has noticed that she hasn't been looking out the attic window for the last week or so. He's so distracted during a late-night delivery that he mixes up two boxes and a very important box of magic is not delivered to the Lady Premier, but comes instead to Liesl's house.

One night, Liesl is visited by an entity who might be a boy, or a girl; it doesn't remember. It introduces itself as Po and explains that it is a ghost from the Other Side. Accompanying Po is a soft, formless creature that might be a dog, or a cat; this is Bundle. Liesl pleads with Po to find her father on the Other Side, and -- even though Po tells her it will be a one-in-a-million chance -- they do meet, and Liesl's father tells Po that he'd like to be buried next to his first wife under the willow tree by their house in the country. When Liesl discovers the box (of magic) that she believes to be her father's ashes, she's determined to leave the attic and fulfill her father's wish.

Po and Bundle help her escape, and on their nerve-wracking journey out of the city -- chased by the Lady Premier, the alchemist and her evil stepmother -- Liesl meets up with Will. If I have one complaint about the book, it is that it takes an awfully long time to get to this point. But once it does, it's a nail-biting rush to the story's conclusion. And the conclusion is a sad one, but also plenty cathartic and when the omniscient narrator relates this part of the story in those soothing, grandfatherly, Jim-Dale tones ... well, you know everything will be alright.

It's been less than a year since I last listened to Dale, and I'm pleased to say that I liked this material much better. He creates ridiculous, yet entertaining, voices for all the adults (mostly rather unpleasant people, worthy of caricature) in the story and his voices for the novel's children -- Liesl, Po and Will -- refreshingly are not reprises of Hermione, Ron and Harry (or at least how I remember them through the mists of time). He even gets to emit a dog-like meow (or a cat-like bark) when Bundle goes "mwark."

Dale's narrator voice here is what truly shines. He confidently moves the story along -- building up excitement as the chase is on -- but there's an underlying calm and protectiveness in his reading. Listeners know that Liesl and Will are in good hands because our narrator tells us so with his reassuring demeanor. If you're in the right mood, Dale effortlessly sends you back to a childhood moment on dad's lap, face resting on his chest, listening to him read aloud and feeling the vibrations of his voice. Bring on the macaroni and cheese!

Thinking about how Katherine Kellgren makes a shift when she reads adult materials reminds me that I want to listen to Dale do this too. There are still far too many holds on The Night Circus (although it's on my list), what about The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (French, the basis of an album, I don't know if this is good or bad)?

[The print version of Liesl and Po was illustrated by Kei Acedera. Here are two of her (his?) character studies for Po and Bundle, copied from the book's website.]

Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
Narrated by Jim Dale
HarperAudio, 2011. 5:55

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rated R

I was introduced to romance novels (of the bodice-ripping variety) many years ago when we passed Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower around my dorm at my Seven Sisters college. Needless to say, it was pretty dogeared and the spine was cracked at the nasty bits. Now I had dabbled in Victoria Holt as a younger person (before I realized that she was telling Jane Eyre over and over again and that Charlotte Brontë told it better), but -- quite frankly -- I had never read anything like that before! And I've always been a little embarrassed about reading books like that ever since. As for listening, oy vey! Even though it's for my ears only, it's even more embarrassing.

I just took a Readers Advisory refresher so I could work in the Popular Library, and the instructors reminded me how important it is to read broadly. So, I found Amanda Quick's The River Knows on the shelf and decided to take the plunge. It was read by Katherine Kellgren, so I knew at least I was in the hands of a master (mistress?) narrator.

Louisa Bryce meets Anthony Stalbridge while lurking outside the bedroom of Elwin Hastings, the host of the society party they are both attending. When their whispered conversation about why each of them is in that somewhat compromising position is interrupted by one of Hastings' bodyguards, Stalbridge embraces and kisses Louisa in an attempt to deflect questions (ah! the old meet-cute). After this narrow escape, they learn that they each have suspicions about their host -- Louisa believes he is financially backing a notorious brothel, while Anthony believes Hastings is somehow connected with the suicide death of his fiancée a year ago. Louisa, who is hiding a dark secret or two of her own, convinces Stalbridge to partner with her to get to the bottom of Hastings' activities.

Of course, even though Louisa is a bit of a plain Jane (she wears spectacles, after all), there is a mutual attraction. Before too long, they are working together in all sorts of ways. During the first sex scene, I was thinking way too much about the mechanics of their encounter, which seemed particularly preposterous as the witty repartee was flying fast and furious in what appeared to be a somewhat awkward location and position. Funny ... I am having no trouble remembering this. :*-)

The River Knows (aside from the fact that the novel's suicides [3] all end up in the Thames, this title [along with the feather] seems way too oblique) is no-surprises romantic fiction -- there's the investigation plot alongside the romance (which slows down the story a bit), but really it's all about our hero and heroine. And they are just fine, thank you. Louisa is spunky and opinionated and doesn't care that she's poor and on the shelf (definition 4) and Anthony has all the riches he needs, but comes from a family that knows that other things are more important. Fortunately, he never really loved his dead fiancée, so he's free to love Louisa. And they all lived ...

Kellgren is good (no surprise). The surprise is how differently she reads adult novels. I am so used to hearing Jacky Faber from her, that the narrative restraint, lower volume, and more neutral characterizations are a definite change. She reads very quickly but precisely, and portrays the steamy parts with confidence and aplomb. Her individual characterizations come from all levels of English society, everyone sounds like a human being (occasionally tricky with the expository dialogue that shows up here), and she gives the novel's stock figures a little more life than they might have had were I reading this to myself.

Still, it's not my genre. I like romance in my novels (Pride and Prejudice anyone?), but this book feels very cloned to me. If you read one Amanda Quick you've read them all. Now, insert another roamnce author's name into that sentence. And then there's the whole shame of carrying around a book with that* on the cover! (Maybe this is why The River Knows has such a blasé cover, but don't you still know what kind of book it is, even without the author's name?) Is it the familiarity that readers crave, they know what they are going to get when they open the book? I like to be a little more adventuresome in my reading.

[*The classic bodice ripper cover was retrieved from Publishers Weekly's Listen Up blog, but they didn't say where it came from ... tsk tsk.]

The River Knows by Amanda Quick
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Brilliance Audio, 2007. 8:32

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skald-ing hot

Must apply nose to grindstone, as the memories of Matthew J. Kirby's Icefall are about two weeks old and getting older by the minute. I'm trying to remember why I downloaded this book in the first place and I think it was because it had some passionate advocates on the Heavy Medal blog (here's another shoutout to Newbery-Medal-winning Jack Gantos!). I've never been as articulate and just plain thoughtful as the hosts and commentors on that blog, but the idea of the novel intrigued me so I put it in my ears.

The three children of a Nordic chieftain have been tucked away at the end of a remote fjord backed by a menacing glacier with a few warriors and family retainers to wait out a long winter in safety. The chieftain is making war again (over the fact that his older daughter doesn't wish to marry an elderly rival chief) and knows that if his children are captured in battle, he will lose his chiefdom. The chieftain's younger daughter, Solveig, knows that she is the child who doesn't matter. Her beautiful older sister will make a political marriage and her younger brother, Harald, will inherit the chiefdom.

As the snow begins to deepen, her father sends a boatload of berserker warriors to further insure his children's security. While the berserkers bring food, their edgy violence also lend an atmosphere of dread to the small steading (communal shelter), an atmosphere exacerbated when Solveig's pet goat is butchered. The berserker leader, Hake (pronounced HA-kah), attempts to apologize to Solveig by bringing her an injured raven, whom she names Muninn (memory) in honor of one of the ravens who served the god, Odin.

The berserkers brought a skald with them as well -- a poet and bard who expertly relates the heroic stories of Norse mythology to the lives of his listeners. Alrec takes a liking to Solveig, and begins to teach her the trade as the dark nights close in. Even as Solveig's confidence grows, aided by Muninn sitting on her shoulder, the berserkers are struck by a terrible disease that kills nearly all of them. Only those who did not eat the meat of Solveig's goat survive. When the ice melts and the fjord opens, it is not Solveig's father who arrives at the now-defenseless steading, but his enemy, Gunnlaug. But that arrival still doesn't tell us who poisoned the goatmeat!

My quick notes to myself on Icefall say this: This book had so much going for it: adventure, mystery, war-mongering, storytelling, coming-of-age and a pet raven! Kirby tells us the story as an expert skald: creating atmosphere through descriptions of the physical setting and the behavior of the characters, foreshadowing and providing tantalizing clues to the mystery, focusing on a sympathetic heroine and her fits and starts in understanding her world and her place in it, and connecting all these elements slowly but inexorably to a thrilling climax where -- yes! all is revealed, all you've invested in the story is amply satisfied.

I almost always like listening to a book that incorporates storytelling, or includes storytelling in its themes; I like the convergence of the oral tradition and hearing rather than reading. And when it is a favored narrator, Jenna Lamia, who does an outstanding job, that's even better. Lamia (pronounced La-ME-ah) has a soft, girlish voice which is perfect for the shy, self-effacing Solveig. Yet, as Solveig learns to be a skald, her voice grows in volume and in heft when she is telling a story. I was also pleasantly surprised at how well Lamia performed the novel's other characters. They were distinct, natural-sounding and consistent -- and without the whispery quality that I associate with her "narrator" voice. I've enjoyed listening to her every time (but it's been awhile, last heard here), and yet for some reason, I don't associate her with strong characterizations.

The author reads a note at the end, explaining how he was inspired by the tale of the Ragnarøk and the tradition of the skald to tell his story. He's a little wooden, but I always enjoy hearing from authors. I was also surprised to hear a credit to the composer of the intro/outro music, which I have never heard before in an audiobook. (And my apologies to the composer for not writing down your name so you could be properly credited by me.) I wish I could remember even a snatch of the music, which may have been atmospheric and appropriate but is lost to me (if it doesn't have words, or I haven't heard it a whole lot, I'm not going to remember it).

The last thing I learned in listening to Icefall is that -- if you don't close Overdrive and don't shut down your computer, your audiobook's digits will remain operational past their expiration date (the books don't expire at all once they are transferred to my portable player, or at least they don't now). This would be most helpful to me if there were more audiobooks in the mp3 format, but I guess we can't have everything.

[The silver figurine of Odin on his throne with his ravens is from the Danish archeological dig at Lejre and is dated 900 C.E. This photograph was taken by Mogens Engelund and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. The figurine itself is housed at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde.

[The photograph of the Svartisen Glacier in Meløy, Norway was taken by Guttorm Raknes and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
Narrated by Jenna Lamia
Scholastic Audio, 2011. 9:18

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Check which box?

Every year for the past ten, my library has celebrated a "one book" community read, and practically every year I sigh and say, here's what you get when you pick a book by evaluating it by checklist. This year, I went back to review my thoughts on previous years, and found I only unequivocally liked Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates. The rest have run from yawn to I'm not interested in this lesson. I've listened to the selections (2011, 2010, and 2008 [A Long Way Gone, which I forgot to blog about ... hmmm]) when I could, and was underwhelmed each time. The interesting thing is that I have almost no strong feelings (pro or con) about most of the books, because they are such middle-of-the-road selections that it's hard to muster up any enthusiasm or dismay.

Heidi W. Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is another one that moved me neither way. It is the story of Rachel Morse, the only survivor of a horrific family tragedy. Rachel's father is an African American serviceman who met Rachel's Danish mother while serving in Germany. Following her recovery, her father begs his mother to take Rachel in and raise her. Living with her grandmother and beloved Aunt Loretta in a mostly black neighborhood in Portland, Oregon in the 1980s, Rachel begins to understand for the first time that others see her as African American. Yet, there are African Americans who view Rachel -- with her light skin and green eyes -- as not black. Durrow's story -- inspired by her own origins, which do not include the novel's central tragedy -- follows Rachel as she grows into young womanhood, searching for her place in the world.

The novel also includes the story of a boy who witnesses Rachel's fall, who visits her in the hospital and meets her father, and whose life is transformed by what he learns there. Brick's story is told in third-person narration. Entries from Rachel's mother Nella's sobriety diary round out the novel as the story of what actually happened to the family is teased out.

Durrow tells her story deliberately; even though we only fully understand Rachel's tragedy near the end of the novel, Durrow's focus is actually on the characters. As is fitting in a novel about identity, who her characters are is what's important, not what they are. When Durrow does bring in big social issues -- American racism, black-on-black racism, poverty, gentrification, homelessness -- they feel ponderous, unnecessarily weighing down a story of interesting individuals.

The novel's three perspectives are read by three narrators (hooray!). Emily Bauer reads Rachel's narration, Kathleen McInerney reads the diary entries in Nella's slight Danish accent, and Karen Murray takes on the third-person narrative of the boy and of Nella's supervisor for a brief time, Laronne (pronounced LA-rhone). I've only heard Bauer read before; she has a youthful sounding voice that is a nice fit for Rachel. When she voices the novel's other characters -- notably its African Americans -- she's sounds, well, like a white girl trying to voice a black grandmother (I kept wanting to hear Bahni Turpin read this part). Still, she keeps the narrative moving along and Rachel's internal conflicts are movingly portrayed. McInerney's brief appearances are appropriately infused with sadness and dread, and her accent was consistent if very, very faint.

It is Murray who really stands out here -- her confident, natural voicings of all ages, races and genders make the third-person portions of the novel the most interesting to listen to. She doesn't try to match Bauer's interpretations of characters that they share, but I didn't find this a problem while listening. (I think this would only be noticeable if one narrator really tried a poor imitation of another narrator's style.)

OK, so Girl has some good points. But boy does it fulfill the Everybody Reads checklist (this is a checklist of my imagination, I am not privy to the selection process in any way). Racial/cultural minority - check. Overcoming personal losses - check. Coming-of-age - check. Contemporary story - check. I think the book has to clock in at under 300 pages - check. And for bonus points -- Portland, Oregon - check. (And isn't it a bit ridiculous that this book has been done twice before as community reads in Portland already!)

Now, I don't object to any of the above literary components, but when they show up over and over again in books that purport to be for everybody, I'm bored. Or, perhaps, after 10 years, I'm jaded enough that I now look for how the book fulfills everything that's ordinary in our community reading program. (Now I am taking everything that I wrote here and placing it further down the post, because truly I don't wish this rant to be the only thing worth sharing about this book.)

On a more positive note, it is certainly the best audiobook version of an Everybody Reads novel that I've heard. (Kind of faint praise, there ...)

[Durrow feels connected to the writer Nella Larsen, who shares her African-American-Danish heritage. This photograph was taken by James Allen in 1928, resides in the Library of Congress and was retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.]

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Narrated by Emily Bauer, Kathleen McInerney and Karen Murray
HighBridge Audio, 2009. 6:57