3hrs in the car a day = lots of listening time!
I was fortunate enough to attend a recent Guardian Book Club where Donna Tartt was talking about her first novel, The Secret History. I was even more fortunate enough to personally ask her about her books being made into audiobooks (she has narrated both her previous novels)
I was curious to find out how she felt about David Pittu's narration of her third novel, particularly as she has always been totally against her novels being made into movies because she doesn't like the thought of her character's voices being interpreted by a director or actor.
Her response to my question was fascinating to me as I've always wondered whether authors have much of an input into their novels being made into audiobooks. She said that she had wanted to narrate The Goldfinch herself but didn't have the time in her schedule, so instead she listened to many audition tapes and eventually chose Pittu because she liked the way he read the very strange,but somehow loveable, Boris.
She then spent many hours with David Pittu on the telephone and described to him all of the voices and how each character should sound. I love that she did this, I am fascinated that each character has the voice she intended for them, this 'schooling' of the narrator really has paid off.
She said that she hadn't yet listened to the finished audiobook but hoped that it was good, she asked me if I enjoyed it, to which I replied it is one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to. And it really is truly the best audiobook I've ever listened to, as good as if not better than some of my favorites- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Under The Dome, The Help, NOS4R2, the Name Of The Wind. I wonder if the authors of these novels had the same kind of input to the audio versions of their novels as The Goldfinch has had.
It is truly a work of art and will stay with me forever. My advice- don't read too many reviews, the less you know the better, just listen to this book and let it take you a place only the most special of authors and narrators can help you journey to.
I loved both Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, and The Marriage Plot doesn't disappoint- however it isn't quite the intricate saga that Middlesex was.
Madelaine is about to graduate from Uni having studied English Lit and Language, in particular the novels of the 19th century which more often than not centre around the courting, love triangles and eventual marriage of their protagonists. She loses herself in a relationship with the 'wrong' guy who she idolises due to his incredible mind but who also unfortunately suffers from severe depression and mental illness. She in turn rejects the advances of the possibly 'right' guy, Mitchell, who indeed also has his problems and so unfolds a story of a modern love triangle. The book looks human psychology, the naivety and meaning of love, the search for spiritual enlightenment (is there such thing as an unselfish act?) and the stages and effects of mental illness.
I loved this book because it reminded me of my state of mind whilst at university and during my first proper relationship. I also loved the insight into each character, not one of them flawless or indeed even very likable but all three vulnerable and very real. It reminded me very much of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, just really great American Literature which has something to say about society in a very quiet and therefore genuine way.
And because a Audiobook is only as good as it's narrator, I would also have to comment that David Pittu was excellent and made a great book worth listening to.
I really enjoyed listening to The Passage, and yes you should believe the hype. I'm not the biggest fan of this kind of literature, I think the vampire theme in a lot of novels is wearing a little thin, however what saves this book is the awesome writing. Although this is Justin Cronin's first bestseller, from what I have read he has been a writer for some time and this really shows in this novel. The character's are really interesting and his descriptions of their surroundings are well carved out which really does make it a page turner. His writing actually reminds me a lot of Stephen King. In all my reviews I feel it important to mention the narrator as I think this can make or break an audiobook- the narrators in The Passage are excellent, it is a long book and the main narrator doesn't lose pace once, he also has a really great tone to his voice, hard to describe but perfect for this kind of novel.
Certainly worth a listen if you appreciate good writing, good narration and a good old fashioned zombie theme!