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December 2019/January 2020

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December 2019/January 2020 n 29 THE TESTAMENTS: The Handmaid's Tale, Book 2 MargaretAtwood ReadbyAnnDowd, BryceDallasHoward,MaeWhitman, DerekJacobi,TantooCardinal, MargaretAtwood Bear witness to the secretive lives of Gilead's women 15 years after TheHandmaid'sTale's conclusion. Narrator Ann Dowd, known for her role on the television adaptation, is for- midable as Aunt Lydia. Hearing her resonant narration of diary entries allows listeners to feel the horror of early Gilead, be disturbed by the aunt's complicity, and discover her secrets. Bryce Dallas Howard's sweet narration of the Transcript of Witness Testimony 369A provides a window onto the extreme restrictions of girlhood in Gilead. Mae Whitman's snarky rendition of Witness 369B's testimony reflects a privileged youth in Canada, where she unwittingly triggers dramatic changes. Listening adds an entirely new dimension to a rivet- ing tale. Atwood narrates section headings and her note, and Tantoo Cardinal and Derek Jacobi nail the scholarly conclusion. E.E.C.2019 Best Audiobook Random House Audio 13.25 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780525590453 $45.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780525590484 $95.00 A SINGLE THREAD TracyChevalier ReadbyFenellaWoolgar Narrator Fenella Woolgar portrays Violet S p e e d w e l l , o n e o f W W I ' s " s u r p l u s women." Facing a postwar life of spinster- hood, Violet is determined to make her life meaningful. The story opens as she leaves her mother's home for a fresh start in Winchester, the site of a renowned cathe- dral. The large cast of characters is brought to life by Woolgar's masterful tone, pacing, and use of accents to bring their diverse personalities to life. Her delivery of narra- tive is consistent and melodious. Violet's own voice slowly but surely gains strength as her new life takes shape. The whining bitterness of her mother, the exuberance of Gilda, the self-contained confidence of Dorothy, the overbearing impatience of Mrs. Biggins, and the friendliness of Mrs. Pesel bring the cathedral's embroiderers to life. N.E.M. Penguin Audio 10.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780593149164 $40.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780593149195 $95.00 INLAND TéaObreht ReadbyAnnaChlumsky, EdoardoBallerini,EuanMorton A dynamic pair, Anna Chlumsky and Edoardo Ballerini deliver an emotionally rich performance of this intricately woven story steeped in the Western frontier. Haunted by their pasts, Nora and Lurie do what they can to survive in the desolation of the Arizona Territory. Lurie's chapters unfold in the first person, and Edoardo Ballerini's deep, gravelly voice and pur- poseful cadence underline the urgent intimacy of the truth being revealed. While Ballerini is good, Anna Chlumsky is near perfect as N o ra. Chlumsky employs a slight Western drawl and resists the urge to rush the story, naturally lingering on reflections and revelations. Chlumsky's impressive versatility with a variety characters—men, women, and especially children—further enlivens the performance, transporting listeners to this mythic time and place. A.S. Random House Audio 13 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780449807057 $40.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: DD ISBN 9780449807088 $95.00 ASK AGAIN, YES MaryBethKeane ReadbyMollyPope Narrator Molly Pope delivers this char- acter-driven exploration of two families whose stories intertwine over decades. With sensitivity and insight, she creates believable, multilayered characters, lead- ing listeners through shifting narratives across time. Keane's exploration of love, family, mistakes, and regret is rooted in the long haul of everyday life and considers how perspectives and consequences shift and shade over time. Rookie New York cops Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope become neighbors and begin families next door to each other; eventually, they experi- ence a rift that shocks their neighborhood, complicating—but never destroying—the bond between their children. Pope's steady pace and excellent voicing of dialogue work well. Like the event at its center, this story unfolds with long-lasting reverbera- tions for listeners. J.C.G. Simon & Schuster Audio 12.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781508297833 $39.99 (also DD) THE DUTCH HOUSE AnnPatchett ReadbyTomHanks Tom Hanks narrates this novel about Danny and Maeve, and their beloved child- hood home, The Dutch House, with a restraint that admirably captures the writ- ing's surface calm and buried tension. Set in 1950s Philadelphia, Patchett's first book since Commonwealth feels as timeless as a fairy story, and is, in fact, satisfyingly full of classic tropes—grand house, distant father, abandoning mother, wicked step- mother, controlling wife. Hanks takes his narrative cue from Danny, who tells the story with a mix of bemusement, wonder, and nostalgia. It's not a dramatic perfor- mance but is, instead, a sensitive and warm reading of a fine novel about love, loyalty, redemption, forgiveness, and what we will do to make the world the way we want it to be. A.C.S. Harper Audio 10 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780062963727 $39.99 (also DD) Fiction Listeningaddsanentirelynewdimension toarivetingtale.

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