• Local
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • more weather >

AUDIOBOOKS: New authors

By Sunday, Jun 9, 2019 Arts & Entertainment 2

This week we are exploring new authors. 

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams; read by Abrams, Francois Chau and Peter Francis James
Penguin Audio, eight CDs, 10 hours, $40/www.audible.com download, $28

Abrams spent five days interviewing the Dalai Lama and Tutu at the former’s residence in exile in Dharamsala, India. The two Nobel Peace Prize recipients speak with humor and much insight about their different approaches to maintaining a contented and joyful life. It sounds very much as if one is sitting in a room and eavesdropping on two witty and extremely intelligent friends. Abrams backed up much of what they said with the science (often neurological) behind both meditating and approaching life with a positive attitude. The actors sound realistic and relaxed while Abrams moderates the interviews with authority. Though sometimes a bit long-winded, this is both fascinating and useful.Grade: A  

The Orphan Mother
Robert Hicks; read by Adenrele Ojo
Hachette Audio, nine CDs, 10 hours and 30 minutes, $35/www.audible.com download, $29.65

Thought-provoking and poignant, this novel tackles the realities of life for former slaves in the South after the Civil War. You may recognize the protagonist, Mariah Reddick, as the slave owned by “The Widow of the South” in Hicks’ earlier novel, though this audiobook stands alone. Reddick, who has built a career for herself as a midwife to the women of Franklin, Tennessee, sees her life shattered when her politically minded son is murdered. Ojo is a compelling narrator as her soft Southern accent is expressive and lyrical, and she does a commendable job of providing various male accents and different voices. Though Hicks ably expresses tenderness and forgiveness, the story is occasionally plodding. Grade: A-minus

I Loved Her in the Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses
Robert J. Wagner with Scott Eyman; read by Wagner
Penguin Audio, six CDs, seven hours and 30 minutes, $35/www.audible.com download, $24.50

Gossipy and breezy, this is a fun if extremely lightweight listen. Wagner, who has an excellent vocabulary and a sly sense of humor, clearly adored (most of) the women in this audiobook. He is occasionally catty, but because he employs so much humor, he never comes across as mean-spirited. Starting with the 1920s, he takes us through the decades while dishing the dirt on all the famous actresses he knew or romanced. Very much at ease behind a microphone, he narrates as if he were sitting with us and reliving old tales. This will probably be most enjoyed by those with knowledge of cinema. Grade: B

The Dollhouse
Fiona Davis; read by Tavia Gilbert
Penguin Audio, eight CDs, 10 hours, $40/www.audible.com download, $28

While the history behind the Barbizon Hotel for Women is fascinating, this tale of the inhabitants living there in two eras is mediocre at best. One eager young woman arrives in New York City to attend secretarial school in 1952. The plot jumps ahead over 60 years to a reporter living in a condo in the same building. While one hopes for a juicy historical drama, this stumbles into all the traps of bad chicklit—too little lies below the surface and the characters all but fall through the plot holes. Not helping is Gilbert, whose uneven narration includes bad accents and old women who sound like caricatures. Grade: B-minus

More by »