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Vacation

By: JC Miller
Narrated by: Curt Simmons
Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

©2012, 2014 Jeanne Miller (P)2017 Jeanne Miller

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Curt Simmons brings Dr. Koval to life!

If you could sum up Vacation in three words, what would they be?

Despair-Hope-Surrender

What other book might you compare Vacation to and why?

A man called Ove because despair and the absence of purpose when a beloved dies is REAL! and the persistence of Life and love - the hope that it brings saves us all!

What does Curt Simmons bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Curt expresses the doldrum pace of the life of Dr. Koval in the beginning using tempo and mirrors his rising from the ashes like a Phoenix - some dramatic flair you wouldn't know was in him! I enjoyed JC's writing and easy use of metaphors and similes to describe wonderful places like Puget Sound and the Cotswolds! I'll be looking out for more audible books narrated by Curt or written by JC Miller! I actually have a Dr. Koval withdrawal after listening to this novel!

If you could rename Vacation, what would you call it?

I would not change it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Started off great, then a little predictable

Dr. William Koval is a 40 year old widower. He loves his microscope and petri dishes, his life being pretty uncomplicated. However, a shadow glooms his life up a bit, his wife, Kathleen, having been killed by a mentally unstable man three years earlier. Now work forces him to take a vacation and he decides on a whim to sign up for an English walking tour, something him and his wife were planning to do before her untimely death. The walking tour brings him some closure and perhaps a new chance at happiness.

I have to say this isn’t my normal cup of tea but I was intrigued by the English walking tour and a still-grieving widower trying to say goodbye to his deceased wife and the life they had together. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The English walking tour has some bumps and burrs to it and that made it interesting. I was hoping for a touch more here and there. In fact, if the book had all been set in this English country walk, with rich history and some cultural tidbits tossed in, then I would have been very happy with the book. There were plenty of fun & interesting characters on the tour as well but we had to say goodbye to almost all of them when the tour ended.

Alas, the second half of the book is back in the states and is a pretty standard contemporary romance. Should he call her? Will she call him back? Can he get over his past? Will she forgive him? Can they come together over a shared travesty? Quite frankly, it was pretty boring to me. The first half is exciting and different and more than a simple romance. It had complexity. The second half lacked these traits.

The main characters themselves were interesting. William is a doctor, but not a people person nor does he seek glory in complicated surgeries or being a leading expert in some minute field of interest. He’s a practical, quiet man. Deciding to go off to England on a whim was so out of his norm and yet I could clearly see it was him trying to breath life back into this stagnant existence he was stuck in.

Annie Logan is a history buff and also hails from the Seattle area (same as William) and it’s one of those odd quirks that they meet in England. I liked that she was generally soft spoken but would hold her ground, politely but firmly, when she decided enough was enough. She had this trait not only in England but also back home on Vashon Island.

It turns out that Kathleen had a secret, one that William starts to put together on the English walking tour. Kathleen’s best friend, Liz, is now William’s best friend. It’s a friendship that has given them each much comfort, especially when William comes over for a homecooked meal with Liz’s family. I really liked how comfortable they were with each other and how their friendship kept the good parts of Kathleen’s memory alive.

So all told, this story had a solid start with a complex William in an unusual situation. The second half wasn’t my normal fare and while it bored me a bit, I had to know how things turned out for Annie and William. If contemporary romance is your thing, then I highly recommend this book. It has depth.

I received a free copy of this book.

Narration: Curt Simmons was most excellent in this performance. I am truly impressed by his range of not only male & female voices but also his ability to capture nuanced emotions. He had the perfect voice for William, sounding as mild as milk initially and growing in complexity as learn more about William. His female voices were spot on. Each character was distinct and there were several accents for the English walking tour half of the book (Australian, French, British, etc.). He was a pleasure to listen to.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Book To Listen To More Than Once

What made the experience of listening to Vacation the most enjoyable?

It's a book that was sad a lot of the time. It had its up and down moments. But what was most enjoyable was going on vacation to England with our main character.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Since we see him for most of the book, and it's told from his point of view, I would say that it would be William. He's also someone that I can commiserate with.

What does Curt Simmons bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He was perfect for this book. He brought William's character to life. You could feel all of William's emotions as the story unfolds. Mr. Simmons also did a great job with the characters that had an accent.

If you could take any character from Vacation out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Since this is William's story. I would say William but now that he's found Annie I would want her there too. I'd want to know if they go back to England and what they would recommend I visit and where to stay. It would be a great way to catch up with them and find out what happens after this book ends.

Any additional comments?

This is a book that I could, in some ways, identify with. I could feel Williams' pain. Our pain is the same but different. His was from violence and mine was from old age. It was nice that at the end of the tunnel you can find love again. It's never easy but if you put in the time and sometimes persistence you can get your happily ever after.

If I had not been part of a tour for this book I might never have read/listened to it. This is one of those that you can't judge a book by its cover. It's one you need to take a chance on. There were times that I had tears in my eyes but that's a good thing. You need to let your emotions out - keeping them bottled up isn't a good thing. This was a pleasant way to help with that.

Like William I went on vacation too. But after listening to his story I almost wish that I had gone on a walking tour. It's a great way to meet new people and make lots of new friends. But that doesn't mean it won't happen - my bucket list just got a little longer. Will make sure to have this book with me when I go. It was also a great way to be introduced to a narrator and author that I have not experienced before. But will most definitely experience again.

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Audio Copy of this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A quiet, interesting story

A few weeks after finishing this book, the quiet enjoyment I felt while listening is easy to remember, and the artwork on the cover well represents the story: a man on a journey that is overall calm but involves a lot of switchbacks and requires a bit of steady, uphill determination. Will embarks on a walking tour of England in a half-hearted attempt to get over his wife's murder, and during his trip he meets a woman who awakens his dormant interest in life and love. But the switchbacks arrive in the little ironic twist the gods throw in his path. The story moved well and the secondary characters all added interesting color and flavor to the tale, and I'm very grateful to the author for having gifted me this audiobook in exchange for an objective review. I felt like I had spent a bit of time in England and the Pacific Northwest myself, after finishing, and that I had said good-bye to some friends whose company I greatly enjoyed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant read

First, I have to start off by stating that I got this book free of charge in exchange for a review, but as I always state, this does not in any way impact my review. My reviews are always honest and my own.

Perhaps it is because I have recently returned from two months in Florida, but the description of the trip brought many memories back about this beautiful countryside. The hero is an introverted, insecure, and socially uncomfortable pathologist who takes the vacation that his late wife and he had been planning before her untimely death. Over the course of the next few months, he begins to heal from the trauma in his life. I enjoyed this novel and will read more offerings by this author.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A love story to make you laugh and cry


I’m a big fan of JC Miller’s work. Of her other 3 audiobooks currently here on Audible, I’ve rated each 4 out of 5 or above. She’s a marvellous storyteller and Vacation is no exception. Falling somewhere between a comedy and a romance, her ability to make me laugh and then tear up with sadness is a credit to her talent.

The plot is an unexpected one for a romance because there’s a great deal of focus on the situation rather than the budding romance. A Seattle doctor, still grieving for his deceased wife three years on, is encouraged to take a UK history tour that he and his late wife had once wanted to do. At the same time, fellow Seattle resident, Annie, escapes for respite to the UK on the same tour after her own family tragedy. The tour is lead by a shonky but likeable Irishman who eventually takes off and leaves the tour group to fend for themselves.

As the narrator, Curt Simmons has mixed success. His American, French and various British accents are suitably done but, like most Americans, his painful Australian accent misses the mark completely. It appears to be the one accent that most American performers cannot mimic. That aside, he brings feeling and fun to this story about grief, love and letting go.

I was provided a copy of this recording for review about a year ago but, due to an accident, was unable to fulfil that promise. Relistening to it again only 12 months later has proven just as enjoyable, although that’s primarily because of Miller’s writing. Lovers of romance should find this particular story a bit different from the usual fare with Simmons narration doing an overall satisfactory job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Larry
  • chenoa, il, United States
  • 03-25-18

fun read

ENJOYED THE BOOK I took away the lesson of forgiveness! The narrator Curt Simmons was excellent! This is my second book by JC Miller and will look for more I received this audiobook at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Loved listening to this engaging story.

I enjoyed the arc of the story and the development of the central character. His thoughts and speech, as well as the voices of those around him were well presented by Mr. Simmons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Great Story Well Told

I found this novel hard to stop listening to. JC's characters are true-to-life and the story moves along at a good clip so there is nary a dull moment. The narration by Simmons is a great match due to his masterful ability to bring the characters to life with the different and authentic accents of the travelers. I would recommend this book highly--it does not disappoint!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Ready for a Walking Tour of the English Countryside!

I enjoyed listening to "Vacation" by CJ Miller immensely. The story may have been a bit predictable but it was still sweet and the characters were believable and so well done by narrator Curt Simmons.

One thing that really stood out and impressed me was the quality of his dialects. I'm so used to hearing the Australian accent mangled by Americans that I cringe at the thought. So, when the story required going from an Australian accent to an English accent, back and forth, back and forth, and then throw in a couple of French accents on top of that, it could have been a disaster! However, Simmons made the transitions seamlessly. Very impressive.

Simmons skilled, accomplished voice is easy to listen to and draws the listeners in, giving us a connection to the characters. I will be looking for more books narrated by Simmons.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful