My Life With Ewa: The Early Years is a happily-ever-after story about the author's courtship of his wife Ewa (pronounced EH-va), whom he met in the 1970s during a trip to Poland with a barbershop singing group from Iowa. (He was part of a Cold War program designed to teach Eastern Bloc countries about the virtues of democracy by sending groups of ordinary Americans to eastern Europe as good-will ambassadors.) It is hard to decide what genre this book falls into—is it a romance, a humorous coming-of-age story, a travel book, or a lighthearted autobiography? Actually, it’s some of all these things, but whatever it is, it’s really fun.
Since I am frequently put off by the stilted performances of first-time authors who read their own books, I was pleased to discover that in addition to being a entertaining writer, Tim Pratt is also a gifted narrator. He’s not afraid to poke fun at himself, and he has a good-natured, I’m-just-telling-a-story delivery coupled with a willingness to sing and tackle foreign languages and accents. He handled it all with grace and style.
The book never failed to hold my attention, and at the end, I found myself wanting to know what happened next. Even if married life turned out to be a bit more mundane than the courtship (as it often does), Mr. Pratt seems to be one of those people that unusual things happen to. Or maybe it’s just that he’s a born storyteller with the ability to make sock lint sound interesting (think Bill Bryson). Either way, I’m hoping for a sequel.
I have read or listened to dozens of true crime books written by authors who are considered to be the masters of the genre. And almost none of them can hold a candle to The Good Nurse for sheer entertainment value.
As an aging attorney who started out in the District Attorney's office nearly 40 years ago, I am usually irritated to some degree by the non-nuanced manner that the criminal justice system is treated in books, TV shows, movies, etc. But Graeber hits the nail right on the head in The Good Nurse. And he does it all without pandering to the perpetrator, the families of the victims, or the cops who eventually solve the case--a claim that in my opinion can be made by only one other true crime author (Vincent Bugliosi). If there is any justice in the world, The Good Nurse will become a classic like Helter Skelter.
And when I finished listening, I couldn't remember anything specific about the narration, which is exactly what I want--a narrator who delivers the goods and gets out of the way. Excellent job by Will Collyer.
Looking forward to more books by Charles Graeber.
Even after listening to over a thousand audiobooks, a mediocre narrator can still wreck my day. But I was delighted with Kate Burton's interpretation of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which delivered on all counts: excellent pronunciation, believable accents, and sensitive characterization. I must warn you, however, that her style is nuanced and understated rather than theatrical and in-your-face, so if you are a big fan of Scott Brick, you may be disappointed.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a finely-textured comedy of manners concerning a retired English gentleman's growing affection for a Pakistani widow amid his attempts to cope with the current generation's departure from the proper British ways he learned in childhood and the family conflicts surrounding his brother's death. Although the author provides a sensitive look at the culture clashes that inevitably result, she does so without being preachy or intolerably politically correct. The narrator's plummy accent is perfect for the upperclass Major Pettigrew, but he is also quite adept at giving each of the other characters a distinctive and believable voice. An excellent book if you like a rather slow pace and dry English wit.
I'm a big fan of Ross King and this is an interesting history of a period of change in the world of painting. I would give it 5 stars if it were not for the narrator's incorrect and inconsistent pronunciation of the French words in almost every paragraph. This distracted me to the point that I found it difficult to pay attention to the substance of the book.
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