The following audiobooks were nominated in the Literary Fiction Category. This category is being reviewed by Jennifer from Literate Housewife, Theresa from October Lace…Thoughts and Stitches, and Melanie from Overreader. Would you like to join the crowd? Sign up here.
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and narrated by Simon Vance
As the main character through whom we see the events unfold, it was important that any narrator understand Thomas Cromwell and his motivations. His portrayal was strong throughout, and, as Cromwell ticked off the four paws from the unforgettable masque about Wolsey, it was chillingly apparent that Simon Vance knew his man.
This is my favorite of the group and my choice for the Audie award in Literary Fiction.
This narration just proves how right I am to follow Vance from genre to genre – he has that quality that makes the listener eager to hear what else he’s done. The voice differentiations here were particularly well-done, each person not only distinct, but perfectly suited to the character. I was distinctively entertained, and 24 hours of listening flew by.
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene and narrated by Colin Firth
Smart, subtle writing, and such deceptively complex characters. You think they’re one easily-graspable thing, but the deeper Greene goes (and deep he does go), the more each layer unfurls. And I could sense Firth’s enjoyment, especially of Bendrix. He approached the narration with a calm, almost under-stated attitude that really suited the overly-introspective Bendrix. But the passion for Sarah, the agony of their separation and uncertainty when they met again – it was all there.
This is an interesting tale of a love/hate relationship between a wife, husband, and lover, with more complexity than appears on the surface.
Colin Firth, while a man with a nice reading voice, was without passion while narrating most of this audiobook. As this book is all about the passion, it left me bored and wishing I had listened to the Michael Kitchen narration again.
Heft by Liz Moore and narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka
Were it not for this audibook’s inclusion in this list, I probably would never have chosen to listen to it, but I am really glad I did.
Keith Szarabajka’s Arthur Opp was amazing. It took me longer to warm to Kirby Heybourne’s narration, but this audiobook was a fantastic listen. The subject matter hit home with me as well. So glad the Armchair Audies prompted me to listen to this title.
I definitely enjoyed Moore’s tale which gradually – delightfully gradually – pulls together two unlikely recluses. Kel and Arthur are both intriguing characters, and Heyborne and Szarabajka (in particular) bring a lot of life to them.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and narrated by Simon Prebble
I very much enjoyed Prebble’s work at the conference held at Darlington Hall, which was full of accents and personalities. His narration of the scene on the bench was beautiful. After listening to this book, I can fully understand why people love his work so much.
This was a good story, though at times it was a bit slow. Simon Prebble’s narration was wonderful.
Stevens the butler wants, above all things, to be the paragon of his trade. This is one of those books where a hell of a lot more happens inside the protagonist’s head than in his actions, although it is due to the journey Stevens undertakes that he is finally reflecting on some aspects of his life and career. It’s absolutely full of subtle tension and heartbreak. Prebble imbues each moment with those quiet emotions, carrying us along Stevens’s road all the way. I loved how fully inhabited he was in Ishiguro’s voice, how completely present he was in the narrative. This was a great pairing of book with narrator, and I’d recommend it to, like, everyone.
Remember Ben Clayton by Stephen Harrigan and narrated by George Guidall
I will be honest and say that I really didn’t care for this one. I’m not much for Westerns and the whole concept of the story was a bit far-fetched for me.
This book bored me to tears. George Guidall has the right voice for narrating a Western, but the story itself wasn’t worth listening to. I DNFd this audiobook at around the 3 hour mark.
It wasn’t the narration that failed. The book is not interesting. It tries, and it fails, to sweep me into a grand historical setting with wars and travel and artists and lonesome cowboys with mysterious kidnapped-by-Comanches pasts. (See, so many elements! And yet they just didn’t speak to each other, or to me.) Guidall handled it all just fine, but he never seemed any more enthusiastic about the material than I was, and it was neither distinctive nor entertaining.