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I am a Ruth Rendell (aka Barbara Vine) fan, but this audiobook stands out because of the amazing narration by Juliet Stevenson. The reader takes this book to a higher level and as a result her voice beckoned to me constantly to pick it up and continue after every interruption over the past three days. The story itself begins very well, but it drags on just a little too long to be rated as highly as the narration. The ending was ultimately surprising and neatly tied up the threads of the story but without this fabulous narration I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. The subjects of the story focus on infidelity, cruelty, how women's lives and social views of marriage and fidelity have changed over the last 70 years - all interesting and engaging topics that carry most of the story along at a very good pace.
I can't say enough about the power of Stevenson's reading. She adds subtle differentiation to voices through accents and voice coloration that make it impossible to miss which character is speaking, her ability to communicate emotion is unequalled among female readers, and her timing is perfect.
The story is very interesting and I only rate it a '3' because I felt the pacing of the story stumbled in the second half of the story and made me impatient when there remained three hours left to go. Overall despite this flaw it was one of the better psychological mystery novels I've read in a while.
Still, I recommend it as highly as I do because I am amazed by what Juliet Stevenson adds to this novel by her tremendous abilities as a narrator.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This book written by a master and read by a master narrator is to be savored a bite at a time like a box of chocolates -- or gobbled whole overnight! I didn't gobble it whole; however I stayed with the last several hours and was left in a real funk! The story is about a sweet old lady who is only in her early 70's but is dying of cancer. Her care-giver in a pricey nursing home thinks the old lady is interesting. A real love and care grows between them. There are plot details that would be missed by listeners who "gobble"! The medical details are minimal. Both women have been married and had a lover on the side. Their stories are inter-twined with no confusion between the two. The listener cares about both -- with Genevieve's (the care-giver) story progressing in real time and Stella's (the old lady) told in flashbacks and on cassette after she is gone. This is a true horror story! Ruth Rendell is clever and subtle and quite delicious!
Juliet Stevenson is superb narrating Jane Austen. In this story she gets to holler and talk like some unkempt hausfrau in a dirty housecoat. She's an actress! I appreciate the silences after some shocking fact is revealed and between sections. At first Genny sounds like real disadvantaged trash. As the story progresses, we learn that she looks up words and studies classical music and art (to impress the cultured lover) and as she reaches to improve her knowledge, her voice softens. She takes on some of the fastidious "great lady" qualities of her patient, Stella, even as we learn that Stella was considered and treated as "a little nothing" in her own prime!
I feel like I know these people. Right away I sent for a reading copy of the book to go to my elderly English friend, Anne, living in Alabama. (She gobbles!) This is a book to set aside as a real treat on a long weekend or New Year's Eve when you don't have a date. Enjoy!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Juliet Stephenson's narration was superb. main characters likeable, just found the story didn't have any excitement. Might stick with Ruth Rendell from now on.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This is a novel I've read a couple of times before, but Juliet Stevenson's narration really brought it to life. The story of Genievive (Jenny) Warner, a care home worker and Stella, a dying resident, were voiced by Stevenson to highlight both the similarities and difference to their respective lives. A truly great story of love, regret and loss, set in and around the fenland of rural Norfolk.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful