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April/May 2019

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THE BEANTOWN GIRLS Jane Healey Read by Sarah Mollo-Christensen Sarah Mollo-Christensen gives a stellar narration of this gripping story of Red Cross girls who leave Boston as part of WWII relief efforts. Organized Fiona vol- unteers along with two friends, shy Dottie and brazen Viviana, as a way of helping in the midst of her grief at finding out her fiancé is missing in action. Soon, the wistful tones of missing her loved one turn to the embold- ened and urgent tones of struggling to survive. Mollo- C h r i s t e n s e n ' s m o v i n g descriptions of devastation and death may bring the listener to tears. She adeptly switches between the many accents involved in this global story: the guttural speech of Germans, the clipped accents of British aristocrats, the drawls of people from New Orleans, and the dropped word endings of Bostonians. A.L.C. Brilliance Audio 11.25 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781721349180 $24.99 (also MP3, DD) LEARNING TO SEE Elise Hooper Read by Cassandra Campbell Cassandra Campbell's sensitive narra- tion of this novel tells the moving story of documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, whose iconic images of poor and migrant people during the Great Depression brought a human element to a tragic period in U.S. history. Arriving in San Francisco in 1918 at the age of 22, Lange was determined to support her- self and quickly became a s u c c e s s f u l p o r t r a i t photographer. Campbell's expressive voice embodies the indignation Lange felt at many people's dire eco- nomic circumstances in the 1930s, which led to her work for the U.S. government documenting destitute migrant families and, later, Japanese- Americans living in internment camps. Campbell's equally warm and sympa- thetic voice reflects Lange's guilt and self-doubt as her health began to fail and her children suffered as she put her work before all else. J.E.S. Harper Audio 10.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9780062892027 $26.99 THE SPLENDOR BEFORE THE DARK Margaret George Read by Steve West, Katharine McEwan, Susan Denaker Listeners engage George's epic second novel where The Confessions of Young Nero left off. Re-creating the life of the Roman emperor who allegedly fiddled while Rome burned, the story begins with that famous fire and follows Nero through his last years. Steve West car- ries the lion's share of the narrating as Nero recounts events as he lives them. Katharine McEwan and Susan Denaker ably support the narration with smoothly executed performances. As Nero devotes himself to the massive undertaking of rebuilding Rome, West shows him mak- ing enemies, overturning insurrections, and swallowing the bitter pill of disloy- alty from those he trusts most. West, in tones alternately hopeful and loving, vin- dictive and self-deluding, does a terrific job imagining the many facets of the fre- quently misrepresented emperor. S.J.H. Penguin Audio 21.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525640943 $30.00 Books on Tape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9780525640950 $60.00 (also DD) DAUGHTER OF A DAUGHTER OF A QUEEN Sarah Bird Read by Bahni Turpin Narrator Bahni Turpin beautifully per- forms this novel based on the real-life story of Cathy Williams, who was born into slavery and "freed" by Union gen- eral Philip Sheridan for the purpose of helping his camp cook during the Civil War. Afterwards, Williams became the first woman to serve in the U.S. Army during peacetime. Disguising herself as a man, she served in the cavalry as a Buffalo Soldier for almost two years. Turpin skillfully delivers every nuance of Cathy's emotions—the pain of being separated from her family, the tender- ness of first love, the fear of rape, and the determination to pull her weight—as well as the immense cost of her choices. The audiobook includes an interview with the author, who discusses her research. C.B.L. Macmillan Audio 15 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781250299017 $44.99 (also DD) SCHINDLER'S LIST Thomas Keneally Read by Humphrey Bower There is nothing like a fresh reading of a classic to breathe new life into its message. Humphrey Bower's graceful narration of Keneally's audiobook is just such a mile- stone. The story of Oskar Schindler is well known: He was a patriotic German and member of the Nazi party who managed to save more than 1,200 Jews by bringing them to work in his enamelware factory in Poland. (As part of the war effort, Jews engaged in such work were exempted from deportation.) Bower has a pleasing tone and cadence, and perfectly pronounces a daunting array of German, Polish, and Yiddish words. Even for those already familiar with this story, it is well worth the time to revisit this treasure of compassion and bravery. D.G.P. Simon & Schuster Audio 16.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781508250968 $23.99 Historical Fiction It is well worth the time to revisit this treasure of compassion and bravery. 38 n AudioFile/www.audiofilemagazine.com

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