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Finakilly Chris

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  • Bitter Orange

  • By: Claire Fuller
  • Narrated by: Rachel Bavidge
  • Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 142
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 133
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 132

From the attic of a dilapidated English country house, she sees them - Cara first: dark and beautiful, clinging to a marble fountain of Cupid, and Peter, an Apollo. It is 1969, and they are spending the summer in the rooms below hers while Frances writes a report on the follies in the garden for the absent American owner. But she is distracted. Beneath a floorboard in her bathroom, she discovers a peephole which gives her access to her neighbours' private lives. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Brilliant slow burner.

  • By Rhian jones on 09-11-18

Peacocks and Pevsner

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-10-18

Listening to Bitter Orange I could almost taste the dust as Claire Fuller brilliantly evokes the sense of finding oneself in an uneasy, decaying English country house during a long heatwave. We guess from Frances’s first arrival at Lyntons – she is large, friendless and socially clumsy – that matters may not turn out well. Her unexpected downstairs neighbours immediately fascinate her – exuberant Cara and louche Peter, two 1969 bohemians who soon appear to have shady histories. Frances’s repeated temptation to spy on them through a peep-hole into their bathroom underlines just how irresistible this lonely woman finds them. The novel cleverly makes us empathize and identify with Frances, for she has at least conscientiously read her Pevsner on the house’s treasures, unlike lax Peter. Yet somehow we doubt her account can be a balanced one.

Some scenes are pleasurably excruciating: Frances is invited to a drunken supper and turns up in a grand evening dress straining over her late mother’s antiquated foundation garments. My favourite scenes explore the house. The orangery is a place of mouldering fruitfulness, where a hidden door, leads dream-like, into a hidden delight. There is a glorious peacock decorated room where all the birds’ eyes have been scissored away. Accompanying Frances to the downstairs cellars seemed to frighten me even more than her. And her own servants’ attic room (for Cara and Peter have of course grabbed the finest apartment) has skin-crawling odours and hints of a ghostly inhabitant. Frances’s limited comprehension of her neighbours’ desperation allows for plenty of clever dramatic irony, until ultimately the reader is left to mull over the final scenes playing with fascinating questions and disturbing answers.

If the audible edition has a fault it is in the accents, which are a hard ask for any narrator. Switching between plummy and pastiche Italian for Cara grates at times. And Victor is peculiarly lugubrious.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Villa in Italy

  • By: Elizabeth Edmondson
  • Narrated by: Nicolette McKenzie
  • Length: 13 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 598
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 538
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 538

Marvellously atmospheric tale of strangers summoned to a grand but neglected villa on the Italian coast. Each of them has been named in a will, but nobody knows their benefactress.... Four very different people are named in a will. Delia, an opera singer robbed of her voice by illness; George, an idealistic scientist who cannot face what his skills have created; Marjorie, desperately poor and unable to dislodge her writer’s block; and Lucius, ostensibly in control but whose personal life is in chaos.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent book

  • By david dodson (purple triangle ltd) on 24-02-16

Terribly old-fashioned

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-18

I took this on a trip to Italy hoping to have an entertaining and atmospheric accompaniment. Unfortunately, I found the story so dated and clunky that I was tempted to return it. Being abroad I stuck with it but to me it was from another stilted era and lacked relevance and subtlety. The characters seemed stereotypical, class-ridden and the plot so creaky it was often beyond all credibility.

  • Anatomy of a Scandal

  • By: Sarah Vaughan
  • Narrated by: Julie Teal, Luke Thompson, Esther Wane, and others
  • Length: 10 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,179
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,087
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 1,083

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him. Gripping psychological drama for fans of Apple Tree Yard, The Good Wife and Notes on a Scandal. Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Tense, engrossing and very topical

  • By Kaggy on 06-02-18

A novel that asks powerful questions

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-03-18

If there is one book that has stayed with me so far this year, echoing issues both on the news and in real life, it is this one. Somehow the author has grasped the zeitgeist and created a gripping narrative that illustrates issues of gender and class while keeping the reader entertained. Especially well drawn is the depiction of women’s hidden shame about bad relationships and their self-justification for taking a subservient role. The scenes in Westminster and Oxford, are especially vivid and well drawn; the locations at the heart of much that is rotten between men and women.

Though very well read, the accents didn't always hit the mark. Recommended for anyone wanting an entertaining read that raises powerful questions about the state of relations between men and women today.

  • The Last Days of Leda Grey

  • By: Essie Fox
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble, Rachel Atkins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 19 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 8

During the oppressive heat wave of 1976, a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the Brighton Lanes. It shows an alluring dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey. Leda Grey is living still, in a decaying clifftop house once shared with a man called Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois' lover and his muse, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Decadent, gorgeous and delightfully unsettling

  • By Finakilly Chris on 16-11-16

Decadent, gorgeous and delightfully unsettling

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-11-16

If you could sum up The Last Days of Leda Grey in three words, what would they be?

Gripping, gothic, gorgeous

What did you like best about this story?

The atmosphere conjured by hugely evocative writing - about lost silent movies, extravagant sets, a crumbling cliff top mansion. There is one scene when Peter goes to the kitchen and nearly eats a shiny fresh apple - only when he looks again, it's mouldering and maggoty. Something very strange is happening to time...

What does Peter Noble and Rachel Atkins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Peter Noble delivers a convincing delivery of young journalist Ed, catching his hesitancy as he tries to resist the lure of Leda. Rachel Atkins is tremendous as Leda; she could be sitting in front of you, drawing you in... The audio book frees your imagination to vividly picture the scenes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

The audio book drew me in and I hurried through it in a few days. I listened to the last hour in one sitting - I had to know what was going on!

Any additional comments?

This is Essie Fox's best novel yet – set in 1976 and Edwardian days, presenting a small cast of vivid and unique characters. I loved this book and recommend it to anyone looking for an imaginative and immersive audio book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Burnt River

  • By: Karin Salvalaggio
  • Narrated by: Erin Moon
  • Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3

When Detective Macy Greeley is called to Wilmington Creek, a sleepy ranching community in Northern Montana, she expects an open-and-shut, if high-profile, murder case. What greets her is anything but. John Dalton, a soldier returned home from serving in Afghanistan, has been shot dead in an alleyway outside a local bar.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Atmospheric Montana mystery

  • By Finakilly Chris on 14-07-16

Atmospheric Montana mystery

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 14-07-16

If you could sum up Burnt River in three words, what would they be?

Compelling, Lowlife, Mystery

Who was your favorite character and why?

Detective Macy Greeley, a terrific female character who is funny, feisty and courageous.

Which character – as performed by Erin Moon – was your favourite?

Macy

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I found it quite chilling, there is bleakness in the landscape and characters, especially the former veterans.

Any additional comments?

As a murder mystery it was very satisfying and told at a driving pace that kept me returning whenever I had a few minutes spare. Though part of a series this book easily stands alone. I’ll be back for more from Macy