I am a long time fan of D. E. Stevenson's books, and Miss Buncle's Book was the first I read. I greatly enjoyed the audiobook version, and am delighted to see that Audible released the second in the series, Miss Buncle Married, which I am downloading as I type. Hopefully this will be followed by the third in the series, The Two Mrs Abbotts, which follows Barbara Buncle Abbott and her niece-in-law during WWII.
This novel was one of Heyer's "modern" works, set during the 1930's about when it was written. Now it has become a period piece. Being an American, I can't speak to how well Ulli Birve pronounces the English of the 1930's, but I love how she captures the personality of the characters. I enjoyed listening to this novel very much, and hope that Ulli continues with her reading of Heyer's mysteries, she has most of them available on Audible now.
This specific book is set during an "old fashioned English Christmas", a setting that has been used by mystery authors from Agatha Christie to Rhys Bowen. I read it most Decembers, and enjoy it. This year, it is pleasant to let Ulli Birve do the reading for me. While there are Heyer novels I enjoy more, this one is a fun title.
I do wish that Audible and Amazon would make more of Heyer's works "wispersync" capable. It is frustrating to own both the Kindle book and the Audible audiobook of the same work and not be able to use wispersync. Not to mention the nice discount pricing on the audiobooks if you already own a Kindle version.
(It would also be nice to have a discount on the Kindle version if you already own the Audible version!! Hint, hint!!)
Another fine story by D. E. Stevenson, most of it set in Scotland, although "Miss Bun" does travel to London and The Netherlands. The title is an allusion to the card game "Happy Families". Players collect sets of four cards belonging to a family. The Baker's family is composed of Mr., Mrs., Miss, and Master Bun.
This is a story of Sue Pringle, the daughter of a baker, and her friends, family and employers. It is set between WWI and WWI, and is a complex tale. It includes romance, family conflict, the challenges of learning to know oneself, and much more. It also adresses the English/Scots class system as it was in those years between the wars.
Social history, entertainment, and much more. A D. E. Stevenson novel is always a delight. And Hilary Neville's reading of it brings the story and characters to life.
The Masqueraders is set earlier in time than the Regency novels for which Heyer is best known. This fun romp of a book follows a brother and sister who had been involved in the unsuccessful "rising" of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and then and their father are now hiding with their lives at risk. Instead of fleeing to France, they change their appearance and hide in plain sight in the midst of fashionable London society. Sword fights, kidnapping, and plots of all sorts abound. This book is a lot of fun, closer in some ways to the Scarlet Pimpernel than to Jane Austen.
I had never listened to Ruth Sillers read a book before, but she does a great job of telling this story, making it easy to distinguish characters and capturing the feeling of the tale.
I highly recommend this!
Georgette Heyer is considered the inventor of the Regency Romance, and although she wrote a wide variety of different types of novels, her comedies of manners set during the Regency period in England are among her best and the best in the field. This book has long been at or near the top of my list, the hero and heroine are both well read and intelligent and share a sense of humor, and I find their dialog to be a delight to read. And this book has more "face time" between the hero and heroine than many Heyer novels. Be prepared, Heyer wrote between 1921 and the early 1970's, and some of her assumptions seem strange to modern readers. But no modern author has been able to match her wit and insight. This book was first published in 1958 and written when she was in her prime.
Phyllida Nash does a good job of giving the listener the proper feel for the story. Well worth my credit to get at once. I am very glad that Naxos is releasing more unabridged Heyer stories. Their earlier abridged versions were not bad, but to get the most from Heyer one needs all the words, and I personally will never purchase an abridged title.
Audible has Powder and Patch in two different unabridged versions, this one by Jamie Glover and another by Flo Gibson. I much prefer Mr. Glover's version. For one thing, this book's main character is a man. Also, I just think he gets the point better.
This is a very early novel by Heyer, and set earlier than the Regency which contains her best work. But a less great novel by Heyer is better than the best by many modern authors. I enjoyed this reading.
Another fun spoof in the Royal Spyness series. Georgie and most of her familiar friends gather for an old fashioned English Christmas with all the trimmings. What she doesn't know is that a killer is using the carol about the Twelve Days Of Christmas to make a literal killing, murdering a person each day (almost) to fit the pattern. More deaths than in the rest of the series, as the need to fit the pattern, but I would love to be able to spend a Christmas like Georgie and Darcy do, without the murders!'
If you have not read (or heard) the earlier books in this series, go back to the first, Her Royal Spyness, and start off right. But if you have read or heard some or all of the earlier books and enjoyed them and are in the mood for some holiday related murder, start to listen at once. You will enjoy.
As always, Kathleen does a great job reading this book and her reading adds to the enjoyment.
I am always delighted when I discover another of D. E. Stevenson's novels has been made available in audiobook format from Audible. And Listening Valley is a delightful companion piece to Celia's House, which has been available for some time. Not really a sequel, but toward the end of Listening Valley the action moves to the same general location as Celia's House, and we get an update on some of the characters from that book.
In Listening Valley, we start in Edinburgh with young sisters, Antonia/Tonia and Louise/Lou. Their parents are busy with business and bridge, allowing Tonia and Lou to be largely raised by Nannie. After a short time in a school for very young children, the sisters are educated at home, and in a very isolated way, not knowing other children, not going to parties, not having friends. They are fascinated by "the house with the high wall" and the beautiful lady who lives there, and actually visit and have Tea there one day when Nannie is away and their mother isn't paying attention. They meet Jack, the young adult son of the "picture lady", who is divorced and thus someone that their parents won't recognize socially even though they knew each other in the past.
Tonia, the younger, is very shy and her isolated childhood makes this worse. When the 18 year old Lou re-introduces them to the "picture lady" and her family, Lou falls in love with Jack, and elopes, leaving Tonia alone and friendless.
How Tonia finds someone that changes her life is one major factor in this book. She then travels, with a honeymoon in India to visit Lou and Jack followed by a return to London where she and her husband do a unique sort of war work.
As a very young widow near the end of the war, Tonia goes to a small town in Scotland to live in a "hand made house" left her by Nannie, and learns yet another sort of life. She meets Celia (from Celia's House) and learns that their great aunts had been close friends, and she and Celia can build their friendship on roots 100 years old. She meets several young airmen from a nearby base and eventually learns that love can come in more than one form.
All of the locations are evocatively described, making this reader feel like she has been traveling each time she listens. Especially the locations in Scotland. I have been to the locations in Edinburgh and the Scottish boarder area that inspired the locations in the books, and walking the same streets as Tonia and Lou can provide a real thrill.
In spite of the title given, this is NOT an autobiography of Agatha Christie. It is something more important and rare. It is the actual voice of Agatha Christie dictating notes, some of which were used to write her autobiography. The sound quality is poor because of the primitive sound equipment available at that time, and nothing can be done about that. And it jumps about because she dictated ideas and memories as they came to her. I have read the finished autobiography and enjoyed it.
I LOVED being able to hear the Queen of Golden Age Mystery Novels talk about the development of some of her best and most famous novels and stories. I remember reading in the newspapers about the discovery of these historic recordings, and a few scraps were made available. I very much wished to be able to hear them all. I am delighted to discover that Audible has made these important historic recordings available to listeners, and the price (FREE!) makes it even better.
Those of you who have already listened to the audiobook of Katherine's Marriage, also read by Lesley Mackie, will know how this book will turn out. For some reason, Audible released the sequel years before the first book in the set! If you are new to the delightful works of D. E. Stevenson, or to this series, please listen to this one first.
Lesley Mackie's soft Scottish accent is perfect for this book, set almost completely in Scotland. The book opens with Katherine enjoying a beautiful early spring day in Edinburgh. The descriptions of Edinburgh at the beginning and of other portions of Scotland later in the book are so delightful that they inspired me to travel there in real life, and see them for myself. The streets and landscapes mentioned are still there, and D. E. Stevenson, with Lesley Mackie's help can transport you there.
Katherine soon meets with her former school friend, Zilla and through her meets Alec. Zilla doesn't value her brother, but soon Alec is becoming a firm friend to Katherine and her children, especially step-son Simon. A summer holiday at a cottage in the Highlands serves as a catalyst that changes the friendship between Katherine and Alec to something more romantic.
But this book is more than a simple "romance". Other plot points are plentiful. This family story is full of characters with real personalities. And, when these delightful people are added to the evocative descriptions of locations, which can transport the listener to Edinburgh, a loch in the Highlands of Scotland or an English estate, the sum total is a wonderful listening experience.
I wait impatiently for more unabridged recordings of the works of D. E. Stevenson.
First, this book was written 80 or so years ago. Listening to this book will take you to England and Scotland in the early 1930's, as the wife of an officer in the army. But, as you listen to the story you will find that in spite of the differences in details of daily life, human nature remains the same. Small children still delight and frustrate their parents. Organizing a holiday party for a number of families with children can be both joyful and embarrassing. Hunting for a house to rent and dealing with house agents is very frustrating indeed. Things don't turn out the way you expect.
I love the works of D. E. Stevenson, and this, her first successful novel is a delight.
The one warning I will give is that if you already own the D. E. Stevenson title Golden Days, which has been available from Audible for some time, the last half or so of this book will be a repeat. If you don't already own Golden Days you might not want to get both. But if you already own Golden Days, you will probably want to get this to discover the early adventures of Mrs. Tim.
Now, Audible, please make versions of the rest of this series available!! Mrs. Tim Carries On, about what happens to the family in WWII, followed by Mrs. Tim Gets a Job and Mrs. Tim Flies Home.
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