E-books/audiobooks review: fiction
by Sophie Kinsella
(read by Finty Williams, Beth Chalmers, Michael Fenton Stevens)
Sophie Kinsella is so big that it takes three actors to read her audiobooks. In fact, Michael Fenton Stevens is the odd man out as the narrators are depicting sisters Lottie and Fliss. Fliss is serious, successful and, as the story begins, a wife and mother drowning in a divorce. She hears her sister, having been disappointed once again by her boyfriend Richard, has run off to Greece with her first love Ben (they had a deal to marry at 30). So Fliss decides to sort everyone out. The plot is classic Kinsella: silly, light and full of comic potential. Fliss does everything to stop Ben and Lottie getting down and dirty, while Lottie tries to capture her lost youth. The two leading men (well-read by Stevens) are sympathetic if useless - especially compared to Fliss' love interest, Lorcan. The show is stolen by Lottie's farcical love life and Fliss' rather more mature and moving trajectory from chaos to emotional care and convalescence. A hymn to delayed gratification, Wedding Night is perfect summer reading.
Chaplin and Company
by Mave Fellowes
(read by Lucy Price-Lewis)
Chaplin and Company tells the story of a woman's ambition to become a 21st-century Charlie Chaplin. Our heroine is Odeline Milk, a "fledgling" who has landed on a canal boat (Chaplin and Company). She hopes to make a name as a mime artist. Odeline is "an unusual figure", thanks to Chaplin's "tramp" outfit, but also because she is an outsider. She is left alone in the world after her mother dies - her father, a clown known as Odelin, had vanished years ago. Armed with a desire for fame and to recover her lost parent, she finds a similar band of eccentrics: Ridley, a traveller and tattoo addict, Vera, an immigrant from eastern Europe who runs the local café. Lucy Price-Lewis narrates the story - a number of short tales linked by Odeline - with the right amount of wonder and humour. Her Odeline is both charming and unknowable, loveable and antisocial. Price-Lewis is especially good at Fellowes' lyrical descriptive passages and the intimate narrator's tone. Lovely.
Dead Man's Time
by Peter James
Set in two periods and places - England in the present day and New York about a century earlier - this clever whodunit slowly brings the two worlds together. The modern plot takes place in Brighton and features James' regular, detective superintendent Roy Grace. An elderly woman has been murdered, seemingly, to steal antiques worth millions of pounds. The woman's family seems blissfully unconcerned about the theft, save for an ancient watch. This was once the property of an Irish gangster who fled America with his wife and two children. His youngest child was five-year-old Gavin Daly - whom Grace meets as an ailing, but clever 95-year-old. After Gavin's mother is murdered and his father kidnapped, all that remains is the watch and a mysterious list of names, which he spends his life trying to understand. Along comes the detective, who tracks the age-old secret from Britain via Spain to New York.
Extras: a video interview with Peter James activated by an interactive bar-code on the cover.