Finally an audio version that does justice to this particular book.

Review:

Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers, Mark Meadows

I don’t know if this January 2019 release signals a new series of audios of all of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, but if it does, please God let them all be narrated by Mark Meadows.  Although my overall favorites still remain the Ian Carmichael audios (not the BBC full cast dramatizations, but those where Carmichael actually narrates the unabridged novels themselves), there doesn’t seem to be a full set of those available any longer, and the alternatives produced in the interim are of — putting it gently — extremely varied quality.** 

 

This is particularly true for the first Wimsey book, Whose Body?, where those looking for an audio version so far have had the choice between two ridiculously over the top, trying-too-hard (and thus failing) British versions — one male, one female — and an American version failing even worse, for incongruously incorporating what the narrator obviously thinks Wimsey’s nasal upper crust voice would have sounded like into an otherwise unabashedly American accent. 

 

Imagine my delight, therefore, in listening to this Mark Meadows recording and finding that Meadows quite literally hits all the right notes; chiefly with Wimsey’s own voice, but actually with those of all the characters and, notably, also with Sayers’s own narrative voice … and with extra brownie points for also getting the occasional French and German bits right, with only a slight English accent to boot.  So even if this recording doesn’t usher in a full series of new Lord Peter Wimsey recordings — although I hope it may — it’s definitely the one I’d recommend as the one to turn to for those audio- rather than print-edition minded.  Who knows, you may even end up finding you like the usually shrugged-on Whose Body? better — or at any rate not any worse — than some of the later Wimsey novels.  (Five Red Herrings and Unnatural Death do come to mind in that department …)

___________________________________

 

** The one notable older, “non-Carmichael” audio I have yet to listen to is Patrick Malahide’s recording of Five Red Herrings.  Even with, as BT reports, his Scots accent somewhat regionally “off”, I can’t imagine it to be anywhere near as awful as the so far exstant versions of Whose Body?, however.

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1860434/finally-an-audio-version-that-does-justice-to-this-particular-book

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This is more like it.

Review:

The Gazebo - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop

(More than The Alington Inheritance, that is.) — Still a bit too much of a whiny heroine, but at least we’re firmly back in true and trusted Maudie territory.  And it has to be said, while the victim is no Mrs. Boynton (cf. Agatha Christie, Appointment With Death), by the time she finally meets her end few would argue that the world is not a better place without her in it.

There are some shades of Grey Mask here (broken off engagement sends the hero to “forn parts”, where he roams the wilderness for a few years until he starts missing the old country and returns, only to be plunged straight into his former / still beloved’s latest messy circumstances: if there’s one trope Wentworth can be said to be overusing, it’s probably this one; e.g., it’s also the premise of Miss Silver Comes to Stay, and with a twist, of The Traveller Returns / aka She Came Back, and a key character’s surprise return also features importantly in The Watersplash, albeit minus broken off engagement) — and although this is emphatically not an inverted mystery, both the whodunnit and the core “why” is pretty obvious from the get-go.  (Or I’ve just read too many stories of that type.  But Wentworth really isn’t exactly subtle about this particular bit.)  Despite a valiant attempt on Wentworth’s part at creating a plausible back story for the “who” and “why”, the motive still feels a bit contrived … or let’s say, it’s the kind of thing that pretty much only Arthur Conan Doyle could get away with (or the creators of mysteries for young readers, where it’s a particular favorite).  But at least Wentworth’s attempt here is not any worse than those of other authors using this particular trope.

Most of all, though, Wentworth’s fine eye for character(s) and human interactions shines once again — in the portrayal of abusive relationships (there are several here) as well as the creation of the comic relief, in this instance, three gossipping old-maidish sisters — who in another book might easily have had a different role (and indeed the local gossip is portrayed extremely negatively in The Alington Inheritance) but here it’s clear that they are essentially harmless and, indeed, ultimately even helpful to the investigation.  And of course, watching Maudie and her most devoted fan (Frank Abbott) is always a joy.

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1859881/this-is-more-like-it

Reading progress update: I’ve read 99 out of 186 pages.

Quartet in Autumn - Barbara Pym

Is this the fate that would have awaited Pym’s heroine from Excellent Women, Mildred Lathbury, if she had decided upon permanent “spinsterhood”?

 

So quintessentially late 1970s — cheap drabness (the cityscape and office life mirroring the four protagonists’s personal lives), occasionally contrasted with and punctuated by the visceral shocks of the psychedelic age.  Pym (1913-1980) quite obviously more than empathized with her protagonists — but unlike other writers born before WWI and still publishing books in the 1970s (looking at you, Dame Agatha and Ms Marsh), she seems to also have looked upon the concerns and attitudes of the representatives of younger generations with quite a fair amount of sympathy.

 

Now that the two female protagonists have retired (and I’m about halfway through the book), it seems a good moment to take a break.  I wonder how Pym is going to keep the “quartet” together, though — the office so far having provided their only, albeit persistent, point of contact.  I guess I’ll be finding out tomorrow!

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1859309/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-99-out-of-186-pages

If you thought Wentworth couldn’t go any lower than "Grey Mask" …

Review:

The Alington Inheritance - Patricia Wentworth, Diana Bishop

… don’t go anywhere near this one.

 

Whiny, immature, TSTL special snowflake heroine.  Insta-love.  Completely implausible, “fortuitous” (*major headdesk moment*) first encounter between hero and heroine.  Weak plotline that is further weakened by an “inverse mystery” structure — it certainly does NOT help that we know whodunnit from the get-go.

 

One star for Maudie being Maudie.  Half a star for de-facto street urchin Dicke’s occasional comic relief.

 

So much for the much-needed comfort reading I was hoping for …

 

Next!!

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1859205/if-you-thought-wentworth-couldn-t-go-any-lower-than-grey-mask

Reading progress update: I’ve read 127 out of 304 pages.

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher, Matin Durrani

 

Almost done with chapter 3 and so far, so fluffy and easily digestible.  It reminds me a lot of some of the animal-related science programs on TV that I used to be glued to as a kid (and that I sometimes still enjoy watching) — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; they did / do get quite a bit of interesting information across, even if somewhat superficial in actual science terms.  As a result, there are a number of things I already knew going in (e.g., the Komodo dragon’s bite and the garter snakes’ fake-female pheromenes featured in a program I watched just recently), but there’s enough that I hadn’t heard about before to keep me interested.

 

The humor was funny for about 5 pages, then it got a bit much and I started getting a sort of “one-upmanship” vibe between the two authors as to who could come up with the funnier turn of phrase, and it began to intrude into the text.  I’m glad that by the beginning of chapter 3 they seem to have been over it and are now keeping it to more bearable levels.

 

Props for mentioning a scientist from my (German) alma mater, Bonn University!  (Prof. Helmut Schmitz, he of the scorched-wood-detecting fire beetles — whose actual research paper can incidentally be read HERE, in case anybody is interested.)

 


The building where Bonn University’s Institute of Zoology is located (an erstwhile palace of the Archbishop / Electoral Prince of Cologne)

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1857411/reading-progress-update-i-ve-read-127-out-of-304-pages

A Poor Man’s (or Woman’s) "House of the Spirits"

Review:

The House on the Lagoon - Rosario Ferré, Silvia Sierra

Ugh.  If this hadn’t been my final “Snakes and Ladders” book I’d have DNF’d it.  This is essentially a Puerto Rican version of House of the Spirits minus magical realism, plus a plethora of characters and episodes that don’t greatly advance the plot (think 500-episode telenovela) and a whole lot of telling instead of showing.  That isn’t to say I learned nothing at all about Puerto Rico, its people and its history — indeed, the island itself was by far this book’s most interesting, believable, fully elaborated and just plain likeable character — but by and large, I’d have accomplished more by reading a nonfiction history book or a travel guide about Puerto Rico … or by going there to see it for myself.  (Which I’m still hoping to do at some point.)

 

Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed my “Snakes and Ladders” run enormously — a huge thanks to Moonlight Reader for her spur-of-the-moment inspiration in initiating this game!

 

(Charlie and Sunny also say thank you for the exercise and all the snacks along the way.)

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1857037/a-poor-man-s-or-woman-s-house-of-the-spirits

Those old cheating dissembling tricks …

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

This (originally from Pepys’s diary of March 8, 1666) was the first tweet showing up in my timeline yesterday morning — very fitting in light of what I started having to work on / against, just yesterday, and what will keep me occupied for the next couple of weeks.

 

I hope I’ll be able to stick around for the upcoming group and buddy reads, but I may not contribute a whole lot otherwise.  Here’s hoping it won’t be too bad, but going by prior experience, I’ll likely be in the mood to wring a few people’s necks in a couple of weeks.  Oh well — I guess I’m just going to have to keep telling myself this too shall pass!

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1856273/those-old-cheating-dissembling-tricks

Snakes and Ladders Poll: TA’s Final Book to Read?

Reblogged from: Themis-Athena’s Garden of Books

Sister of My Heart - Julia Whelan, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni The House on the Lagoon - Silvia Sierra, Rosario Ferré Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood - Lisette Lecat, Alexandra Fuller Three Daughters of Eve - Elif Shafak, Alix Dunmore

OK, executive decision time then!

 

Of the two books that are ahead of the others by just about a nose (1 vote) at this point — namely, Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi’s Sister of my Heart and Rosario Ferré’s House on the Lagoon Ferré’s House on the Lagoon is calling more to me at this point.  So that one it will be.

 

Here’s the complete result:

 

 

 


 

I’ve made it to square 100 (yey!), which calls for letting the BookLikes crowd decide my next read.  So, please vote:

 

Which book should I read next?

Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi: Sister of My Heart

                Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon

Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve

 
Created with Quiz Creator

//scripts.poll-maker.com/3012/scpolls.js

 

The Blurbs:

 

Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi: Sister of My Heart

From the award-winning author of Mistress of Spices, the best-selling novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the family secrets and romantic jealousies that threaten to tear them apart.

Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite those differences, since the day on which the two girls were born, the same day their fathers died — mysteriously and violently — Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates as well as their hearts were merged.

But when Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is shattered. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust. Urged into arranged marriages, Sudha and Anju’s lives take opposite turns. Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household. Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. When tragedy strikes each of them, however, they discover that despite distance and marriage, they have only each other to turn to.

Set in the two worlds of San Francisco and India, this exceptionally moving novel tells a story at once familiar and exotic, seducing listeners from the first minute with the lush prose we have come to expect from Divakaruni. Sister of My Heart is a novel destined to become as widely beloved as it is acclaimed.

 

 

Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon

Finalist for the National Book Award: A breathtaking saga from Puerto Rico’s greatest literary voice.

This riveting, multigenerational epic tells the story of two families and the history of Puerto Rico through the eyes of Isabel Monfort and her husband, Quintn Mendizabal. Isabel attempts to immortalize their now-united families — and, by extension, their homeland — in a book. The tale that unfolds in her writing has layers upon layers, exploring the nature of love, marriage, family, and Puerto Rico itself.

 

 

Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Alexandra Fuller tells the idiosyncratic story of her life growing up white in rural Rhodesia as it was becoming Zimbabwe. The daughter of hardworking, yet strikingly unconventional English-bred immigrants, Alexandra arrives in Africa at the tender age of two. She moves through life with a hardy resilience, even as a bloody war approaches. Narrator Lisette Lecat reads this remarkable memoir of a family clinging to a harsh landscape and the dying tenets of colonialism.

‘Told with all the intensity of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood ‘ — The Times.

 

 

Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve

Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground — an old Polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past — and a love — Peri had tried desperately to forget. The photograph takes Peri back to Oxford University, as an 18-year-old sent abroad for the first time and to her dazzling, rebellious professor and his life-changing course on God. It also takes her to her home with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona, and their arguments about Islam and femininity and, finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart.  

 
 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1855099/snakes-and-ladders-poll-ta-s-final-book-to-read

Snakes and Ladders Poll: TA’s Final Book to Read?

Sister of My Heart - Julia Whelan, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni The House on the Lagoon - Silvia Sierra, Rosario Ferré Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood - Lisette Lecat, Alexandra Fuller Three Daughters of Eve - Elif Shafak, Alix Dunmore

I’ve made it to square 100 (yey!), which calls for letting the BookLikes crowd decide my next read.  So, please vote:

Which book should I read next?

Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi: Sister of My Heart

 

                Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon

Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve

Created with Quiz Creator

//scripts.poll-maker.com/3012/scpolls.js

 

The Blurbs:

 

Chitra Banerjee Divakarumi: Sister of My Heart

From the award-winning author of Mistress of Spices, the best-selling novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the family secrets and romantic jealousies that threaten to tear them apart.

Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite those differences, since the day on which the two girls were born, the same day their fathers died – mysteriously and violently – Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates as well as their hearts were merged.

But when Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is shattered. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust. Urged into arranged marriages, Sudha and Anju’s lives take opposite turns. Sudha becomes the dutiful daughter-in-law of a rigid small-town household. Anju goes to America with her new husband and learns to live her own life of secrets. When tragedy strikes each of them, however, they discover that despite distance and marriage, they have only each other to turn to.

Set in the two worlds of San Francisco and India, this exceptionally moving novel tells a story at once familiar and exotic, seducing listeners from the first minute with the lush prose we have come to expect from Divakaruni. Sister of My Heart is a novel destined to become as widely beloved as it is acclaimed.

Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon

Finalist for the National Book Award: A breathtaking saga from Puerto Rico’s greatest literary voice.

This riveting, multigenerational epic tells the story of two families and the history of Puerto Rico through the eyes of Isabel Monfort and her husband, Quintn Mendizabal. Isabel attempts to immortalize their now-united families — and, by extension, their homeland — in a book. The tale that unfolds in her writing has layers upon layers, exploring the nature of love, marriage, family, and Puerto Rico itself.

Alexandra Fuller: Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

Alexandra Fuller tells the idiosyncratic story of her life growing up white in rural Rhodesia as it was becoming Zimbabwe. The daughter of hardworking, yet strikingly unconventional English-bred immigrants, Alexandra arrives in Africa at the tender age of two. She moves through life with a hardy resilience, even as a bloody war approaches. Narrator Lisette Lecat reads this remarkable memoir of a family clinging to a harsh landscape and the dying tenets of colonialism.

‘Told with all the intensity of Lorna Sage’s Bad Blood ‘ — The Times.

Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve

Peri, a wealthy Turkish housewife, is on her way to a dinner party at a seaside mansion in Istanbul when a beggar snatches her handbag. As she wrestles to get it back, a photograph falls to the ground – an old Polaroid of three young women and their university professor. A relic from a past – and a love – Peri had tried desperately to forget. The photograph takes Peri back to Oxford University, as an 18-year-old sent abroad for the first time and to her dazzling, rebellious professor and his life-changing course on God. It also takes her to her home with her two best friends, Shirin and Mona, and their arguments about Islam and femininity and, finally, to the scandal that tore them all apart.

 

 

Original post:
ThemisAthena.booklikes.com/post/1854415/snakes-and-ladders-poll-ta-s-final-book-to-read