Audiobook review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

51cmeqw2tdl-_sl300_The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Release date:
 15 March 2012
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)
Length:  9 hours 57 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by:  Rachel Joyce
Published by:  Random House Audiobooks
Available at:  Audible.co.uk,

My Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Publisher’s Summary:

Winner: New Writer of the Year – Specsavers National Book Awards 2012

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof, or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking – to save someone else’s life.

Jim Broadbent has starred in a huge range of films, from British favourites including Bridget Jones and Hot Fuzz, to Hollywood blockbusters such as Moulin Rouge, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and the Harry Potter films. In 2001 he won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Iris. Most recently he starred as Denis Thatcher opposite Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady.

©2012 Rachel Joyce (P)2012 Random House AudioGo

My Thoughts:

I purchased an Audible.co.uk download of this audiobook through my Audible.co.uk monthly subscription.

Whenever I still have a whole week to go until my Audible subscription renews, and I’m craving a book to listen to on the train, while I’m walking, to keep me company while I’m gardening, this is the audiobook I keep returning to.

It’s a gently told story, but not to be underestimated for that reason.  Jim Broadbent is the perfect narrator.  I can easily imagine him being perfect casting for the role of Harold, if this book were ever to be transformed into a film/TV drama.

It starts so simply with a man, just doing the same thing he always does every day.  Each unremarkable numb day.  He gets a letter from an old friend, and that sets in motion something in Harold’s mind that I think he can’t even articulate at that moment, never mind predict the end result.  He writes a reply and then walks to the post box, and then decides to walk to the next post box, and then just keeps walking and walking and walking.

To begin with it seems that walking is giving him room to think.  It soon becomes apparent that in many ways Harold is walking away from his life, and then himself.

It’s one of those books where publisher’s summary doesn’t do justice to the places the book takes you.  An ordinary slightly dull man, living his ordinary slightly dull life, does one little extraordinary thing and the ramifications turn out to be huge.  This unassuming man who seems to think when all is said and done he is a waste of space and oxygen, is shown that he does have value.  More than that, he inspires other people, is briefly a media sensation, does something quite beautiful.  At the end of it all this is a remarkable man who has faced up to the pain of his past, and can at last move forward.

It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me think.  I thoroughly recommend it as a wonderful weekend listen/read.

 

Audiobook review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

61q7rd1eu9l-_sl300_The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Release date:
 03 July 2014
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)
Length:  12 hours 02 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by:  Jessie Burton
Published by:  Audible Studios
Available at:  Audible.co.uk,

My Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Publisher’s Summary:

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways. Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall? Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Jessie Burton was born in 1982. She studied at Oxford University and the Central School of Speech and Drama, and has worked as an actress and a PA in the City. She now lives in south-east London, not far from where she grew up.

©2014 Jessie Burton (P)2014 Audible Studios

My Thoughts:

I purchased an Audible.co.uk download of this audiobook through my Audible.co.uk monthly subscription.

I first heard about this book at last year’s London Book Fair, where it was held up as an example of effective marketing launching a debut novel.  It’s been on my to-be-read list ever since, and finally it’s moment came.

I hadn’t bothered to read the publisher’s summary on Audible before I downloaded and began listening, so beyond a glowing recommendation from an exhibition, had no idea what to expect.

As the story began, I really wondered what kind of a book it was going to be.  The beginning is very gentle, even though Nella is only a girl as she arrives at her husband’s house for the first time after a wedding arranged by her mother.  She is only seventeen, still a child really, and has a head full of romantic notions about her new life.  Her illusions are quickly shattered by both her husband’s aloofness, and the sharp cold tongue of her sister-in-law.

Told in the naive understanding of a girl who thinks she should be a woman, events unravel at an increasing rate, secrets leaking out as it picks up speed.

No one is what they seem, and all are hiding a compromising secret.

There is so much in this book: romance, deceit, social prejudice.  For me, the most striking thread through the book is the story of a young girl who finds herself in a situation which is markedly different from the one she thought she had agreed to.  As she finds herself wondering who she can trust, if everyone has been deliberately misleading her, she is forced to grow up, and find the maturity and strength to bravely take charge of an increasingly out of control situation.

I won’t go into detail about the ending, for fear of ruining it for anyone who goes onto read/listen to the book after reading this, but it a brave and unexpected ending executed extremely well.  It left me with that “wow” feeling.

It is great to hear that this book is to be made into a BBC three-part drama.

Audiobook Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

61-noujtgwl-_sl300_The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
Publication date:
 07 July 2015
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)
Length:  10 hours 11 minutes (Unabridged)
Narrated by:  Thomas Judd
Published by:  Audible Studios for Bloomsbury
Available at:  Audible.co.uk

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:

It’s 1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties.

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the listener on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles longstanding traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

My Thoughts:

I purchased an Audible.co.uk download of this audiobook through my Audible.co.uk monthly subscription.

This book has sat in my wish list since its release last year.  When my subscription to Audible.co.uk renewed this month, I decided it was time to satisfy my curiosity about this book.

I wasn’t disappointed.  Immediately the intrigue begins with Thaniel discovering that someone has broken into his flat to give him a gold pocket watch, which will not open.  A bomb goes off near Scotland Yard, and watch saves him from the explosion.  From here a series of unlikely but logical events lead him to the watchmaker with a pet octopus, a headstrong female scientist, and the maker of the bomb.

Thomas Judd narrates perfectly, adding enough character to dialogue and narration to give the words life, without becoming a distraction from the story.

This book is a page-turner.  I listened in commuter-chunks to and from work.  I almost missed my stop on the train several times – I was that engrossed.

Listening in these chunks in no way interrupted the tension and compelling nature of the story.  In fact, I found myself thinking that this book would make a wonderful serialised radio play, or tv drama.  Each scene, each chapter is a perfectly constructed episode that satisfies your last curiosity, and then presents you with a little cliff-hanger that leaves you hungry for more.

I loved this audiobook, and imagine that in paper-book format it is just as wonderful.  I recommend it heartily, but with the health-warning that reading/listening to it on public transport will result in missing your stop!