Julia Glass is a really fine writer and Mark Bramhall is a superb narrator. He nailed the voice of Percy Darling, the widower in the tale, as well as a range of other voices, the next best of which was a Guatemalan character, Celestino.
Glass weaves a tight tale, that encompasses multiple generations and perspectives, ranging from pre-school, immigration, and gentrification issues, to name a few. In other words, Glass is in touch with contemporary issues and manages to address them in a totally delightful story.
I was discussing books with a friend the other day, and we each admitted that we have trouble these days reading stories about painful issues, the Holocaust, war, racism, abuse, and terror. Sometimes we simply want to read a good story, well-written and meaningful but not horrific. That's a fine description of The Widower's Tale which I was sorry to finish. I wanted to stay with these characters; they were people I liked.
After listening to several intense books, I wanted something inspirational. I loved "Wild" and knew that Strayed could inspire, but I wondered how well an advice column would work in audio-format. Turned out to be a bit like a podcast, and I got what I wanted in terms of inspiration. Strayed's thoughtful, narrative essay responses knocked my socks off again and again. Just how did she get so smart and savvy? The answer to that question is in the stories she embeds in each response. Life well lived made her "Sugar." And though some of the entries were way more intense than I anticipated or was looking for, Cheryl turned every query and every response into a tiny beautiful thing.
Everything about Howl's Moving Castle was pure delight. The narrator was fine, assuming unique voices for each character and maintaining them consistently throughout the tale. I loved the voice she gave to Howl. One of my favorite scenes was when Michael and Sophie were engaged with a talkative witch who was going on and on. Jones captures the moment realistically and humorously, portraying how it goes when one can't extricate oneself from a talkative person. There were moments like this throughout the book that made this fantasy ever so real in terms of human interaction. I spent the whole time driving with a smile on my face as I listened to this book. I was so enamored that I've been unable to listen to a new books since--though I've tried several. So I decided to simply surrender and listen to the sequel, Castle in the Air, which sucked me right back into Diana Wynne Jones' imaginative world.
I didn't read the print version, but the narration of this book is so spectacular, I imagine the audio edition might be at the very least more fun than the print version.
Sophie, of course. Her rapid transition from young girl to old woman is testament to Diana Wynne Jones' talent. Listeners can hear the young girl while feeling the old woman. It was terrific (says this 64 year old woman).
Jenny Sterlin's rendition of Howl was my favorite. She assumed a voice that was distinctive and representative of the self-centered wizard who at his core was quite the compassionate. I heardSterlin's version of Howl's voice long after the story ended.
One of my favorite scenes was when Michael and Sophie were engaged with a talkative witch who was going on and on. Jones captures the moment realistically and humorously portraying how it goes when one can't extricate oneself from a talkative person. There were moments like this throughout the book that made this fantasy ever so real in terms of human interaction.
I spent a solid week driving with a smile on my face as I listened to this book. And I did something I've never done before . . . when I finished, I found I couldn't settle into any of the books I had in my audio queue, so I bought and downloaded the sequel, Castle in the Air.
Wild is an example of memoir at its best because of the emotional experience woven into the challenges of the hike.A good book for me is one that keeps me thinking about the story and/or the writing even when I've turned off my listening device. It's a book I dream about. . . one that relates to my own experience but also helps me better understand my own life. And it's a book that makes me re-examine choices or make decisions about things I'm doing or going to do. Wild does all of this.
This is a book I'm compelled to encourage others to read because I want to talk about the writing, the story, and what it made me think.
Bernadette Dunne does a fine job of reading the text, shifting tone to meet the moment, be it fear, enthusiasm, grief, or sexy. She was a convincing narrator.
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