I’ve been wanting to do a post about audiobooks since I first tried them earlier this year. I was pleasantly surprised by my first forays into this digital world…
My little brother loved Lord of the Rings growing up and so my mother bought him the cassette tapes (pre-audiobook) where each voice was acted by a different voice actor. He ran those tapes until they were just threads. My family saw them as an aberration at the time but we weren’t surprised later when the digital way made audiobooks more accessible.
In spite knowing and applauding the idea of books on tape for a long time it was only this year that I decided to venture into trying an audiobook. In fact I tried three different ones that really clarified what an audiobook is all about. I’m in a book club with my mother and some of her friends; at first it was really fun and we read a wide range of books and I read some that I normally wouldn’t have but enjoyed. Over the last year or so the books have not been as good so this year I decided to make it fun by making it audio!
Crocodile on the Sandbank
(Amelia Peabody #1)
by Elizabeth Peters,
Susan O’Malley (Narrator)
I read this a long time ago, this author is a favorite of my mother’s and I fell in love with Amelia too. When our book club decided to read the book again in 2017 we decided to listen to the audio book. This was my first audio book and I loved it! The voice actor (Susan O’Malley) did an excellent job with the narration and especially all the other voices. While you can tell the same person is doing all the parts it’s fun when you can still differentiate the different character’s parts due to the voice. Totally enjoyed, followed and kept my interest… Listening to the book’s narrative and dialogue instead of reading it made the book a lot more dynamic to me. The beginning which always read slow and slog-ish, was filled with personality due to Amelia having a voice. For my first audio book I could not have picked a better choice! There are 8 parts at a hour to 1:15 each and that was a good length to listen to and not feel the book was dragging.
by Daphne du Maurier,
Anna Massey (Narrator)
I read this a while ago so when my book club decided to read it again I decided to go the audio book route. It was only the second audio book I’d ever listened to and while I wasn’t a fan of the narrator, she was very good at the alternate voices. The voice used for Mrs. de Winter just didn’t seem to be realistic to me. Brits have several different accents and the one used was very aristocratic while the girl was as plain and un-aristocratic as could be. It was very distracting, but I did get used to it by the end. The audio book was so terribly long! We listened to it on 1.25x speed just because there were these odd lulls at times that drove me crazy. I’d have even gone up to 1.5x but then there were some times when the narrator spoke extremely fast and 1.5x was too fast to be understood. It was quite impressive though to get Mrs. de Winter’s thoughts in a female voice, it truly added so much to the story. There were 15 parts between 45 minutes and 1.5 hours each. I think they cut them that way because they wanted you to be able to stop at a cliffhanger.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
(Flavia de Luce #7)
by Alan Bradley,
Jayne Entwistle (Narrator)
I made it through several chapters of this audiobook and it quite killed any desire I had to even read this book. The main trouble was that the voice actor could not be more off on her rendition of Flavia de Luce, a young girl from an old world aristocratic family. Instead of using a child actor it was an adult which I expected… then she had this guttersnipe accent that is no where near what her upper class British accent should have been! It was worse than with Rebecca because it made Flavia sound like a member of the cast for Oliver Twist when he’s out on the street. I’m not making fun of the accent so much as pointing out that it is NOT how Flavia de Luce would sound. The thing is the voice actor was quite superb with the other English characters so it’s not that she didn’t have mad skills! I eventually gave up and am now at 8% in the book.
What I concluded from my first experience with audiobooks is that hearing the words audibly can totally change how you experience the story. With Rebecca it shone a light on how Mrs. De Winter truly was, with Crocodile on the Sandbank it improved the experience or it can totally ruin it like with As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust. The best you can do is try the audiobook version and continue if the voice suits your taste.