I discovered G. Elizabeth Kretchmer's work on ACX. I was searching for an audiobook to narrate after 18 months of mostly recording corporate training materials and dry historical accounts. I really wanted to find a book I could connect with and help bring to life for those who could not physically read it.
I'm not too proud to admit that I judged this book by its cover. I was hooked by the majestic purple mountains and decided to read the audition piece solely based on its beauty.
Never have I read a 3-5 minute audition piece and then immediately purchased the book. I've done that with plays, but small snippets of novels rarely carry enough weight to warrant a high level of excitement. However, that is precisely what I did after being dropped into Beth's world over halfway through the novel. It was a dense passage, ripe with clues about the many lives threaded into this story. I was immediately invested in Beth, Ryan, and Lynn's lives and had to know more.
I don't want to give too much away, but the symbolic objects used and the act of climbing as ritual is so beautiful and makes you remember there are many ways to pray and memorialize. (This is especially profound for those of us who have faded away from more organized religious practices.) The language leads the reader's imagination in a way that makes you wonder if the author spends countless hours meditating on the characters and settings to produce such an effect, or is simply gifted beyond the typical craft of storytelling. Her technique is deceptively simple, which I believe is why it is so powerful.
I stopped numerous times thinking, "That is the perfect way to describe such a thing. I know exactly what she means!"
Beth is an active and engaging narrator. You forget she is a helpless, trapped observer, because she isn't merely narrating. You feel her struggle and tension, but she is part of the scenes and it often feels as though she is part of the dialogue.
While I was wrapped up in this world, the narrator contract went to someone else. I spent too much time engrossed in the story to get my audition recorded in time! However, I do not regret missing the boat on this one, because I've discovered my new favorite author in the process. Excited for her next novel, which I've read is set in Yellowstone.