When, on the spur of the moment, Norman Huntley and his friend Henry invent an 83-year-old woman called Miss Hargreaves, they are inspired to post a letter to their new fictional friend. It is only meant to be a silly, harmless game - until Miss Hargreaves arrives on their doorstep. She is, to Norman’s utter disbelief, exactly as he had imagined her: enchanting, eccentric, and endlessly astounding. He hadn’t imagined, however, how much havoc an imaginary octogenarian could wreak on his sleepy Buckinghamshire hometown.
©1940 Frank Baker (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I wasn't sure about this one until the end, but am giving it four stars as the ending was worth it. Norman, the main character through whom the tale is told, seemed a bit of a wimp to me, but I suppose he was a product of his time. I will say that I found the story lagged a bit when the title character wasn't present; there's a fair amount of internal monologue, etc. Other fans of Trollope might even feel it's in an earlier age, with all the Cathedral goings on (Dean and Chapter), though at one point Norman admits to being "mad for Garbo". Recommended for those interested in not-so-modern British stories.
Regarding the audio quality: Elfer does a good job with the characters, but has a wildly frustrating habit of reading the internal stuff and text in a Very Soft Voice, while abruptly switching to a louder voice for dialogue. I didn't see any need for that at all!
This is a great little story about a story that takes on a life of her own. I enjoyed that to the extent that I could given the difficulties with the recording.
The problem with this audiobook is the widely varying volume levels. The readers dynamics are so extreme that one must crank to full volume to get a hint of the whispered parts, and then one is blasted out of one's shoes when the loud parts come a minute later. The volume is turned down to accommodate, and then a minute later a whispered part disappears. You basically have to keep a finger constantly on the volume to get through this book, which sort of defeats the benefits of an audiobook. Better to just read a hard copy.
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