Thursday, June 28, 2012

Audiobook Week - Three Family Stories

It’s Audiobook Week which is encouraging me to catch up and review the backlog of audio books that I’ve listened to but not yet reviewed.  For this post I’ll review three very different family stories. 
Defending Jacob
by William Landay, read by Grover Gardner, Blackstone Audio, 12 hours and 25 minutes, January 2012

Defending Jacob is a taut family drama that reads like a thriller.  Andy Jacob is an assistant district attorney who finds that his fourteen year old son is accused of murdering another student.  His son proclaims his innocence and Andy supports him despite mounting evidence that incriminates his son.  The story examines a number of issues – the limits of parental love, the possibility that violent tendencies are inherited and the actions of families in crisis.  There are lots of twists and turns in this story and a shocking ending but all in all I think the story could have been better edited as it moved at a slow pace.  The narrator, Grover Gardner did a great job with this story, just the right amount of emotion in his reading.
I bought this audiobook

A Shoemakers's Wife by Adriana Trigiani narrated by Annabella Sciorra and Andriana Trigiani, Harper Audio, 18hrs, 19 min.  April 2012
The Shoemaker’s Wife is an epic family drama that tells the familiar immigrant story.  This time it is Northern Italians, Ciro and Enza who in the early years of the twentieth century meet in their native Italian village but do not reconnect until some years later in New York City.  It is a big story.  Enza leaves behind her mother and siblings and accompanies her father to the US to earn enough money to build a home in Italy.  She ends up working with the Metropolitan Opera as a seamstress.  Ciro driven from his native village by a sleazy Catholic priest (too many of those lately) learns a shoemakers trade in NYC and then enlists in the army and fights in WWI where he is gassed. After a number of false starts Enza and Ciro finally marry after the war and move to Minnesota where he sets up shop as a shoemaker.   I liked the characters in the story, clearly the author is writing with love and affection for her grandparents who served as models for the lead characters.  It is a long listen, more than 18 hours but if you’ve the time it is enjoyable.  The first half of the story is ably narrated by Annabella Sciorra and then the author Adriana Trigiani narrates the last half.  The unannounced change of narrators was a little disconcerting to me and I did not understand why it occurred until I read a review of the story that included the fact that Trigiani wanted to narrate that portion of the story.
I received a review copy of this audiobook from the publisher

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, narrated by Christopher Evan Welch, Harper Audio, 6 hrs 56 mins, June 2009 
The Art of Racing in the Rain is a family story with a different twist; it is narrated by the family dog Enzo.  It is a wryly told tale.  On the eve of his death Enzo recounts the life of his owner Denny Swift a race car driver (skilled at driving in the rain, hence the title).  Enzo has a human soul and a marvelous voice.  He has educated himself by watching TV and listening to Denny.  He believes that life’s problems can be solved by applying the techniques used by race car drivers.  While the premise sounds somewhat loony the story works well.  Denny marries and has a daughter.  Tragedy strikes and a happy family falls apart.  Denny fights to hold onto his family and Enzo narrates it all for us.  This is a poignant story that is at the same time funny and uplifting.  Christopher Evan Welch does an outstanding job bringing Enzo and this story to life.  Don’t miss this one! 
I bought a copy of this audiobook


Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

The switch to Trigiani does seem like it would be strange.

JoAnn said...

The last two books are both on my wish list. It's seems strange that the author would start narrating so abruptly though...

Carole said...

Loved Racing in the Rain, and Defending Jacob. I read both, rather than listened to them, but still highly recommend. Both were just enough off the beaten path to make them memorable.

Laurie C said...

I loved the audio of The Art of Racing in the Rain too. Was planning on reading Defending Jacob, but now that you mention it, why not listen to it on audio? ;)