What a delight to have yet another book by D. E. Stevenson to listen to. I loved Miss Buncle's Book and Miss Buncle Married, so it is wonderful to get to find out what happens next to Barbara Buncle Abbott and her friends and family. With any luck we can hear the rest of this story in The Four Graces, then get more Stevenson.
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.
This is the first entry in the Brother Cadfael series. It introduces most of the continuing cast of characters and is a delight in and of itself. Brother Cadfael, "retired" crusader turned monk and sometime detective is an enjoyable creation by Ellis Peters, and his adventures as a Benedictine Monk in both England and Wales have long be favorites with me.
In this book Brother Cadfael is part of a group traveling into Wales to hunt for the body of long dead Saint Winifred to return to his abby to inspire pilgrims to visit. The Welsh villagers aren't eager to loose their saint, murder takes place, and it is up to Brother Cadfael to find a solution that will bring a measure of justice, mercy, fairness and satisfaction to as many people as possible.
Patrick Tull does a good job of bringing Brother Cadfael and his friends to life.
I love the Lord Peter Wimsey books by Dorothy L. Sayers. I own all of the unabridged audiobooks read by Ian Carmichael on audiocassette, and have been waiting eagerly for them to be available in digital format, as my cassettes are getting old and worn out from much playing. Ian Carmichael, who played Lord Peter in some of the BBC TV versions does a fantastic job narrating the story. I love the entire series. Unnatural Death is the third in the series, and I can only hope that Audible will soon have the rest of the series available for sale to US listeners, as they have been in some other countries for some time.
If you don't already know Lord Peter, this is a fair place to start. There are other books in the series I like more, but if you enjoy this one you will be delighted as more become available.
I will be listening to this many times over the next decade or more.
D. E. Stevenson wrote many novels of life in Scotland and/or England, beloved by loyal fans world wide. Since her death in the 70's, it was thought that we would have no new novels from her pen. However, two years ago her grandaughter discovered some previously unpublished manuscripts in her attic. The publication of "new" books by D. E. Stevenson 40 years or so after her death has been a joy to her fans.
While these early works aren't quite up to the level of quality of her mature works, a weak novel by D. E. Stevenson is still better than the best works of many lessor writers. This novel, with action set in both England and Scotland, tells of the life of Emily Dennistoun as she escapes the domination of her tyrant father and learns to trust herself and her true love. Other memorable characters are part of this tale. And, as always, D. E. Stevenson's descriptions of the countryside of both England and Scotland transport the reader to another time and place.
Lesley Mackie has added her gentle Scots accent to another of D. E. Stevenson's delightful novels set mainly in Scotland. This story, of The Marriage Of Katherine (the U.S. title for this novel) lets the modern listener travel to Scotland and camp by a lovely loch, shop in Edinburgh and visit its famous "Castle", and experience the joys and sorrows of newly married life. Like all of D. E. Stevenson's novels, this book is a pleasure to listen to, and Lesley Mackie helps it along.
I can only hope that soon we will get audio versions of the two books that come before this. Katherine's Marriage is a direct sequel to Katherine Wentworth, starting just a few days/weeks after the end of that book so I hope that plans to produce an audiobook version of Katherine Wentworth are in the works. Katherine's Marriage also makes reference to an early novel by D. E. Stevenson, Smouldering Fire, with overlaping characters and locations, and an audiobook version of that early novel would by wonderful as well.
While Frances Hodgson-Burnett is best known for her children's books, such as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden, she also wrote books for adult readers. What a pleasure that Lucy Scott and the folks from Persephone Publishers have brought this book to life for modern readers/listeners. Lucy Scott's reading is a perfect compliment for this, perhaps the best of the "adult" novels by Burnett.
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