1923: Niagara Falls, Canada. Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, is recruited by the Women's Freedom Movement to recreate the daring 1910 feat of Annie Edson Taylor, the first person in recorded history to plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survive. Evangeline believes that the stunt will bring her fame and fortune, and freedom from her late husband's gambling debts.
Joshua McClaren, an enigmatic, battle-scarred veteran of World War One, reluctantly agrees to launch the headstrong Evangeline. Joshua has seen hundreds of bodies surface in the whirlpool below the falls, and has no wish to see the charming Mrs. Murray suffer the same fate. Before the barrel can be launched, Joshua and Evangeline will each confront their own demons. Hearts will be broken, painful secrets will be revealed, and the Niagara River will claim two more lives.
Summary: It’s the first half of the 1920’s and the women’s movement pins its hopes and dreams on a silly woman named Evangeline Murray who wants to be rich and famous. Her plan: go over Niagra Falls in a barrel. She’s not in it alone. She’s helped by two of the movers and shakers of the women’s movement along with a Canadian woman and the lady’s grumpy brother.
- The characters are irksome much of the time. In that sense, it’s realistic. (They’re not perfect.) Certain ones are selfish, greedy, unscrupulous, shallow, or some combination thereof. There are aspects of bravery and heroism on display as well.
- The romance thread was intriguing but also frustrating as the author went way out of her way to make sure messages were either cryptic or missed altogether.
- I enjoyed Maddie’s flashback to the war.
- The flashbacks in general were very well handled and seamlessly woven into the narrative.
- Favorite character = Danny most of the time, but there one a moment or two even he needed a good smack.
- I sort of wish there were some redeeming characteristics for Evangeline’s sons.
- Narration was very good.
- Narrative as a whole was decent. It was easy to follow as there were tags for whose perspective the pov would be limited to at any given moment.
- River scene at the end was well done.
Conclusion: A surprisingly simple story (woman wants to ride the Falls in a barrel) made complex by the multitude of human interactions and stored up emotions (Josh vs river, Evangeline vs her benefactors, her benefactors vs those who would stop her, etc).
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
Yes, it's a great story that moves forward without being forced ... it was great to listen to while I worked around the house.
Did the narration match the pace of the story?
The narration was for the most part wonderfully done. Nancy's voice was soothing and well-paced.
Who was the most memorable character of Whirlpool and why?
The most memorable character for me was Iris, due to her unexpected character development. Her role in the story played a much larger role than initially anticipated and her character rounded out beautifully.
Any additional comments?
I'm normally not much of a period-time-piece person, but I've read another book from this author, Afric, and loved it so I wanted to give this a chance. I am so glad I did. It was entertaining, had me reflecting on the history of the Falls and life after WWI, and really painted a picture of each character that came to life in my head.
What a fantastic story! I absolutely loved this adventure through time and space! It was my first experience with Audible.com. I read all day for a living and I'm not proud to say that picking up a book in the evening feels like a chore. Not to mention reading a physical book makes multitasking difficult. I fully experienced this story whilst mowing the lawn, doing laundry, driving to and from work, painting a block wall and finally...riveted to the climactic end, resting my eyes on a rainy day thoroughly immersed in Whirlpool. it is fantastic. Very well rounded. Heartwarming. Heart chilling. Suspenseful. Take the journey. Bravo to all who contributed to this production.
If you could sum up Whirlpool in three words, what would they be?
Unusual, absorbing, skillful
What did you like best about this story?
The story is surprising throughout and the characters feel very real, even though the setting is far from my experiece. I was carried swiftly along and only regretted that it came to an end.
What about Nancy Batko’s performance did you like?
I enjoyed that her performance was very smooth and unobtrusive. The pace, tone and pronunciation were well chosen and easy to follow.
Any additional comments?
This book takes you into another reality, as Eileen Hodgetts other books also do, but the characters are so convincing and the events almost inevitable, so that it gets under your skin and you won't forget it.