I didn't want this book to end. And really, it could have gone on for another 14 hours. The writer must have been reading my mind as this was a perfect listen.
Full of insight and delicate nuance, this book took hold of my attention from the start. There is a vast range of terrific characters with understandable frailties, described and defined with stunning clarity. There are commonplace situations that this writer infuses with depth and dimension, finding wondrous realizations in everyday life and elevating the ordinary to a spiritual level.
The narrator was one of the best I have heard. Ironic when appropriate, but not heavy on drama or thick with accents.
I may have to listen again.
I will add one thing. It seems that I have recently read a fair number of audiobooks that, while very good, are not contemporary. This must be the fourth book in a row that takes place in the 1990's and early 2000s. Are all the recent books confined to the violent thriller bestseller genre? Since thrillers are not my preference there appears to be a lack of current fiction with a "family and relationships" theme. Introspective books that explore emotional perspectives seem to be missing from audible's selections lately.
Once again Alexander McCall Smith chronicles the happenings at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and at Speedy Motors with his usual wit and wisdom, and not one extra word. McCall Smith has the singular gift of writing with awareness, consciousness, acceptance and insight into the human condition without even the merest suggestion of psychobabble. I like the psychobabble books too, no question about that, but this author seems to accomplish the same result with his fictional crew and their life stories.
And many bows to the narrator, who continues to bring this now familiar Botswanan cast of characters to life!
This book starts with a simple bad luck story - in a very class-conscious country a "lower class" woman loses her menial restaurant job, which has helped support her family, and takes on a position as an "emotional" caregiver for a quadriplegic. His family has substantial economic resources and spares nothing in providing care for their impaired son; the protagonist, Louisa, is hired on, not as a medical care provider, but as a sort of lifestyle assistant, to improve the man's quality of life. This works until she learns that she is to be his babysitter to stop his suicide attempts - of which there has been at least one. She dislikes this premise when she learns of it but continues on to fulfill her contract, and Will's mood, appearance, and enjoyment of life gradually improve. She takes him on outings, to concerts, buys voice recognition software for his computer so that he can be part of the disabled community and form friendships, thus expanding the scope of his life.
At first I thought this would be predictably about how the able-bodied/impaired learn to relate, like each other and then fall in love. In this story, they do form a bond, of sorts, eventually, but it's not enough for Will to want to continue his life.
The story then moves on to considerations of assisted suicide, and asks the tough questions about quality of life and what level of quality is worth preserving. I won't spoil but the resolution of the story is handled with dignity and grace. Along the way, added to the mix are the emotional forces of those around Louisa and Will who have their own opinions and agendas.
Though well-written and full of laugh-out-loud moments, the book is not a front-runner on the audible home page, and I just happened to find it while browsing the "back room". The book truly deserves the 5 stars I've given it.
I would recommend a different title and cover design - both mislead the audible shopper towards the romantic and chick-fic genre and the story is so much more nuanced and complex. (Note: I am not disparaging chick-fic, and think it's a valid genre for entertainment purposes. But there are so many other reasons to read - learning how others live and handle life's challenges, appreciation of beautiful writing, virtual tourism and escape to other environments, handling conflict resolution, the list can go on.)
This is a terrific read, unconventional and unpredictable, and illustrative of larger questions than life in the present moment.