I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to reviewing audiobooks – without being able to easily note favourite passages, I get to the end of the book with little ‘evidence’ of what I liked (or didn’t like).
I guess it’s worth mentioning narrators – in the case of these three, Perlman and Gilmore read their own work (I like hearing an author read their own work), and the Jordan is read by Caroline Lee, whose narration is always enjoyable.
Any thoughts on reviewing audiobooks?
Maybe the Horse Will Talk by Elliot Perlman
I have family and friends in the legal profession and know for a fact that much of this story is far-fetched… but equally, much of it isn’t, which is why it’s such a good yarn. And I say yarn because Perlmann tells such big stories, with huge, robust characters.
In this book – a satirical look at the legal profession – the snappy dialogue and snarky humour had me laughing out loud. However, like all good satire, the book highlights the darker side of life, and sexual harassment in the workplace; success at any cost; and mental health are the focus. Perlman, an ex-corporate lawyer, is well qualified to take shots. Extra points for the Melbourne setting, and the name of the law firm (Freely Savage Carter Blanche).
Fixed It by Jane Gilmore
Are you familiar with Jane Gilmore’s ‘fixes’ to news headlines? It’s not surprising that she continues to have regular material to work with, but that doesn’t make it any less astounding and depressing. Her book examines gendered violence, and in particular the language used to describe that violence. Gilmore provides a thorough analysis of the media industry (newsrooms drastically cutting resources, and business models driven by the relentless 24-hour news cycle) which provides important context for discussion about victim blaming and over-identification with abusers.
Gilmore intersperses parts of her own experience with journalistic reporting. I found the ‘reporting’ sections occasionally got bogged down with facts and figures, which I suspect would have been better read than listened to.
This is unquestionably an important book but as I listened, I had the uncomfortable feeling that Gilmore is preaching to the converted – the people who ‘should’ read this book, won’t (and although we might expect that changes in reporting are driven by editors and journalists, as Gilmore describes, the move to online news puts the consumer in a powerful position).
Nine Days by Toni Jordan
A beautifully constructed story that gently weaves together the lives of nine characters, over three generations of neighbouring families in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond.
I generally prefer Jordan’s writing in a modern setting – her humour seems better suited to the contemporary – but in this case, the tight focus on Richmond, and the slow-reveal of the links between the characters was enough to carry me through what otherwise might have seemed contrived historical detail. The shift through the generations requires the reader to fill in some gaps but Jordon supplies enough clues to keep you reading, as well as adding a few surprising twists.