This book tells a largely untold story with sensitivity, honesty, and skill. The author is true to his purpose in raising awareness of controversial issues while weaving a plot that is intriguing and real with many unexpected twists and turns. Similarly, the characters are complex but artfully portrayed. I thoroughly enjoyed this work - not only because of its thought-provoking content but also because of the literary artistry. I think this is one of his best books yet.
As far as period romances go, this one was a little different. I like the fact that both of the main characters were outsiders; neither of them completely fit the types acceptable to London society and incorporating the explorer angle added an unusual and interesting dimension to the plot. However, I did find myself rolling my eyes in places because the dialogue bordered on the corny or predictable. That said, I enjoyed the story line overall.
What I didn't like was the narration. I've listened to other work read by Tavia Gilbert. I enjoy her delivery of the Night Huntress Series, for example. Although her rendering of the British accents in those books is only tolerable, she brings the right level of drama and excitement to the stories. Choosing her to narrate a period piece that is set in London was a mistake, however. Her narration detracted significantly from the authenticity of the novel. Ms. Gilbert needs to do some serious work with an accent coach. She does not, for example, know how to pronounce words like "water", "daughter", "walk", "talk" and "clock". Also, because she tells the story in an American accent and then switches to British for the characters, there is sometimes an annoying crossover where she gets them mixed up. She also comes across as trying too hard to get it right. In some places, her narration sounds practised and pedantic.
If you can get past how the story is told, it is not a bad listen.
I've been listening to Audible books for a few years. Most of the narrators have been excellent although a few weren't great. This one was absolutely AWFUL!!! It's really difficult to get into the plot and bond with the characters when you're being distracted by sprawling diction, poor intonation, and dismal character portrayal. And why do we have to hear all of this weird breathing and swallowing? Ugh. This book has proven to me that the quality of the narrator is critical with an audiobook. I could have gotten into this author's work but I won't subject my ears to that narrator again! You might want to go with the print version for this one.
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