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Would you consider the audio edition of Simple Jess to be better than the print version?
Yes! The narrator was top notch. His performance really added to the novel. The narrator has such a pleasing tone of voice and is very gifted at sounding like different people, including men, women, and children. I read that the narrator is from Arkansas, and I do think the accents sound authentic (I have visited that state twice.)
Any additional comments?
I received a free copy of the audiobook in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
This is the first book I have read or listened to by Pamela Morsi, and now she is one of my favorite authors. I was so pleased by this novel and by the narration.
I would classify this as romantic historical fiction. It does have romantic elements and a happy ending like a romance would have, but the number of love scenes is very few (but moderately explicit) and the romance is not as strongly emphasized as it would be in a romance novel. This book is set in the early 1800s in a remote, tiny town in the mountains of Arkansas. The town is full of colorful characters who all seem to want a say in what the young widow Althea should do with her life, her farm, and her toddler. It is a quaint little community that reminds me of the TV show "Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman" but without the railroad or Native Americans. The title character, Jessie Best, is a good young man in his 20s who is not as smart as other people. When he was born, the cord was wrapped around his neck, resulting in minor brain damage. He is not autistic because he has no problem reading other peoples' emotions. His reasoning skills are rather poor, and he has trouble understanding conversations when lots of people are talking. However, he works very hard physically on the farm, and he takes his time figuring out situations and what he should do. Jessie is such a wonderful person, and it bothered me how many of the townspeople discriminated against him and also took him for granted.
The novel is very well-researched. I love the many details of daily life, and it is fascinating how much work it took to get ready for a harsh Arkansas winter.
The novel is told in third person, alternating among five people. The writer deftly handled the alternating points of view, never staying too long on any one person.
The novel has a steady pacing. Plot and relationship developments are fairly evenly spaced for most of the 12.5 hours of audio length. The steady pacing reminds me of that in Susanna Kearsley's novels, which are excellent.
Four of the five main characters are are admirable and easy to relate to. They are good people trying to stay true to themselves and do what is best for their families. The fifth main character, Eben Baxley, is such a nasty villain, and the narrator's performance of this character was impressively perfect.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical fiction set in frontier areas and any historical romance fan who appreciates a well-written Western romance. It will also appeal to romance fans who like unusual male heroes. Wonderful audio book!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I'm not much of a historical romance reader. On the surface this book is pretty much the opposite of what I read and review. When I perused NPR's 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances in search of a gem or two that I might like it was the one that stood out. I'm an advocate for diversity in romance but it's still very rare to find characters with mental handicaps. Since it was so well reviewed I felt quite confident that Jesse was going to be treated as a person with the same dreams and desires as any man. I took the plunge and this book blew me away.
I listened to it on audio and at times the narrator was so good he was annoying but he brought the Ozarks and Marrying Stone to life. Morsi is a phenomenal writer. Not one word ever feels extraneous or like filler. The characters are vibrant, lively, and felt like they were real people, not caricatures. The plot is a bit of a classic, I could easily see this made into a Hallmark movie. Althea is impressively strong and flawed but someone with a good heart. Jesse may have ruined all future romance novel heroes for me. He's such a good man and so deserving of the love he finds.
If you're looking for an engrossing, heart-felt romance that is pretty unique please do yourself a solid and read Simple Jess. Even though it's not a book I would have ever found on my own it would make my own top 100 for it's beautiful contributions to the romance genre.
Notes: I received an audio review copy from the author for review.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful