Sunday, April 25, 2021

Still Reading Like Mad--Best Audio Listens So Far

 Several of my most engrossing reads of the year have been on audio. The penulitmate was probably Belonging by Nancy Thayer, which was a re-issue of one of her early novels published in the 1990s, set on Nantucket Island and in New York City. This novel was so good, so dynamic, so charged with meaning and psychological depth that I found it hard to believe that Nancy Thayer was the author. Let me explain: Her more recent novels are fun reads, but are nowhere near as accomplished as the emotional depth and sheer panache of Belonging.  

The two novels of Elin Hilderbrand's that I've listened to this year have both captivated me, though I will say that Silver Girl, which I finished on Saturday, is still resonating and has left me disturbed and perplexed. All the loose ends were not tidily wrapped up. Not at all, not for a single one of the characters. I'm not at all angry about this, but I'm coming to see it as a way for the characters to live on in my imagination, forcing me to conjure all sorts of future scenarios for each person. How skillfully rendered this ending was, in that respect!

Just yesterday late afternoon I started listening to The Shell Seekers by the late Rosamunde Pilcher and this will be a very long audio project because it's at least 500 pages, if not more. So far I'm trying to warm up to Penelope's daughters--love these flawed, uncertain, searching characters! I've been waiting to read this one for so many years, it seems. I've read Winter Solstice twice, and I'll read it many more times, but that's it.

Yes, all of these novels are meanly characterized as "women's fiction," a label that even in publishing, despite the fact that they rake in as much money as those on the "male" bestseller list, is definitely intended to demean the genre. But frankly, and I think I can declare this as a reader of so-called "classic literature," that the writing is no less skilled than that of any other genre, I am totally assured of that.  If one knows anything at all about literature, it's clear that each of these novels is the product of a skilled artisan, that is for sure.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for the updates - Rosamund Pilcher a favourite author of mine too.

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    1. Mystica,
      Yes, Pilcher wrote amazing novels about women's lives, and though many of them were published decades ago, they are still selling big-time!

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  2. Judith, the last time you mentioned Belonging, I checked to see whether the libraries had the audio and they didn't so I think I'll use one of my audio book credits to buy this one. Nancy Thayer has a new book coming out May 4th, Family Reunion. I do like her books. I think "women's fiction" is a demeaning genre as well. I am listening to more audio books as well. and started a wonder audio NF called, The Cold Vanish:Seeking the Missing in North America's Wildlands by Jon Billman. So fascinating and great narration as well.

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    1. Hi Diane,
      I do indeed think, knowing you as I do, that you will, at the least, be absorbed by Belonging.
      And thanks so much--No, I didn't know that Nancy Thayer has a new book out next week! Wonderful news.
      I have heard lots about The Cold Vanish--I have been interested since it was first published. We have poor souls vanish in the deep wilderness of the Adirondacks as well. Oftentimes, the victims have been men between the ages of 50-70 years. And they simply disappear, despite the efforts to search and rescue them.

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  3. Such an interesting post, Judith! I usually enjoy Elin Hilderbrand, but Silver Girl is a new title to me. Your thoughts have me curious...

    I've never read Nancy Thayer, but loved many of Rosamunde Pilcher's novels decades ago. Last summer did a reread/listen combination of The Shell Seekers(a favorite) and it was every bit as wonderful as I remembered. Winter Solstice is on my wish list thanks to your post about it. Can't remember if it's one I read back in the 80s/90s or not.

    I'm not fond of the women's fiction label, but suppose it's better than "Chick Lit"

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    1. Hi JoAnn,
      Yes, I am enjoying The Shell Seekers, but at this early, early point in my progress, I'm dismayed by how the relationships between Penelope's three children are. Looking forward to seeing the developments!

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  4. I so agree with you. It's strange but it is only in fairly recent years that I realised that Rosamund Pilcher had lived for most of her life in Scotland in fact very close to where I live. I've read a lot of her books, weirdly she's most popular in Germany and they've dramatised several of her books in the past.

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    1. Hi Katrina,
      Yes, about Pilcher in Scotland. And she wrote so beautifully about a Scottish village in Winter Solstice. (Oh, how I love that book! A second re-read coming up for me this coming December.) Pilcher is still very popular in the U.S. as well. What village in Scotland did she live, do you know?

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