Audiobook mini-reviews: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella; The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee; and Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

Title: Twenties Girl
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Paranormal fiction, chick lit
Publisher: Dial Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Rosalyn Landor
First line: The thing about lying to your parents is, you have to do it to protect them.

This was my first experience with Kinsella’s work, and I enjoyed it very much. Equal parts hysterical chick lit and ghost story a la Topper, this story has two fantastic female characters: Lara, a single woman struggling to deal with a recent break-up and her new business as corporate headhunter; and Lara’s great-aunt, Sadie, who just happens to be dead. She is determined to find her necklace, and resorts to haunting Lara, the only person who can see her, to achieve her goal. This book made me smile many times, and laugh out loud more than a few.

Audio notes: Rosalyn Landor did a terrific job of telling the story, and was able to voice both the frazzled Lara and the irrepressible Sadie with equal verve.

Title: The Piano Teacher
Author: Janice Y.K. Lee
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Orlagh Cassidy
First line: It started as an accident.

The thing I enjoyed most about listening to The Piano Teacher is learning about the experience of the Chinese and Europeans living in Hong Kong during World War II. The author did a fantastic job of creating a mood and vividly describing the strange class culture that existed in British-run Hong Kong at this time. Unfortunately, I could not relate to the main character at all. I found her unlikable, distant, and cold, which made it difficult to get drawn into her story.

Audio notes: Orlagh Cassidy has a beautiful voice and did a good job of voicing the various characters, but she reads very, very, very slowly. I almost gave up on the audio production because of this – the pauses after sentences and during dialogue were unbearably long.

Title: Heart and Soul
Author: Maeve Binchy
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Irish fiction
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Sile Bermingham
First line: Some projects take forever to get off the ground.

While I simply liked Whitethorn Woods, I enjoyed Heart and Soul much more, and it involved some of the same characters. It seemed to have a better pace and I loved the way all of the storylines revolved around the heart clinic in Dublin. I haven’t read Quentins yet, but the restaurant also appears a few times – and I have a feeling that other characters also appeared in previous works by Binchy. I am waiting on the audiobook version of her latest, Minding Frankie, which I understand also includes some of these characters I enjoyed so much.

Audio notes: Sile Bermingham is one of my favorite readers of Irish fiction. (She also read Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd, which is brilliant.) She not only gave life to all of the Irish characters, but she just as believably voiced Polish and Greek characters as well.

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15 Responses to Audiobook mini-reviews: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella; The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee; and Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    I’ve got The Piano Teacher on my shelves in print, but since I read audio much quicker, I wondered if I should pick it up from the library. Now I’m not so sure. Those slow readers drive me nuts.

  2. irene says:

    It’s all about characters with Maeve. I love it. Nothing really happens but… I’m also kinda intrigued with the Piano Teacher. thanks for posting.

  3. S. Krishna
    Twitter: skrishna
    says:

    I totally agree with you on The Piano Teacher. Good book, but I didn’t connect with the main character. I read Twenties Girl in print, and while I ended up liking it, the ghost drove me up a wall for the first half of the book!

  4. Anna says:

    I’d like to read the print versions of both Twenties Girl and The Piano Teacher (I’m not big on audio books). I’ll link to your review for The Piano Teacher on War Through the Generations.

  5. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    I’ve had Twenties Girl (in print) for a while and it sounds like I need to pull it out.

  6. Alita says:

    Twenties Girl is probably my favourite by Kinsella. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  7. Colleen
    Twitter: booksnyc
    says:

    I read the paper copy of Twenties Girl and really liked it (despite the ghost!) but I am a Kinsella fan. Thanks for letting me know about Sile Bermingham – I am always looking for new narrators and love Irish books.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Colleen – you should definitely listen to something narrated by her – she’s amazing!

  8. Pingback: Recommended reading for the 2012 Ireland Challenge – plus, vote for the March read-along book | BOOKS AND MOVIES