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August/September 2013

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Fiction THE WANTING THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS PARIS: The Novel Michael Lavigne Read by Robert Fass, Cassandra Campbell, Neil Shah Claire Messud Read by Cassandra Campbell Edward Rutherfurd Read by Jean Gilpin Cassandra Campbell superbly portrays Nora Eldridge's life of quiet desperation. Teacher, spinster, and dutiful daughter of an ailing father, Nora has the soul of an artist, but her existence has little personal meaning. Her late mother's voice and frustrations also echo in her heart. When Nora meets the Shahid family, she becomes enchanted with them: her charming student, Reza, who is confronted by bullies in the schoolyard; his artist mother, Sirena, who becomes Nora's studio partner and then outgrows their relationship; and his father, Skandar, a Harvard professor who embarks on long walks, and more, with Nora. Campbell portrays the Shahids with mesmerizing personalities and varied accents. Campbell's performance shares the author's passion for these characters and their intimate story. D.P.D. Rutherfurd's newest saga entwines seven centuries of families and a multitude of events that helped to shape the magnificent city of Paris. The noble de Cynge clan sustains a multigenerational blood feud against the Le Sourds, the bourgeois Blanchards founded and continue to run a high-fashion retail dynasty, and the laboring Gascons include a riveter who toiled for Eiffel. Narrator Jean Gilpin's mostly straightforward reading gives consistency to the somewhat ragged narrative, which jumps back and forth through time and families so much that the listener may wonder if the audio player is skipping. Most notable are Gilpin's subtle portrayal of the distinctive designer Coco Chanel and her graceful characterizations of the Jacobs, a Jewish family that specializes in private art collections. Gilpin's steady interpretation makes Paris a worthwhile listen. N.M.C. The choice of a trio of narrators conveys the richness of this contemporary novel about the multilayered conflict between Israel and Palestine. The story careens between male and female adults as well as the young daughter of one of the characters. Narrators Robert Fass, Cassandra Campbell, and Neil Shah hold their own when called upon. They convey the deep ambivalence that the characters feel about violence and the contradictions of their everyday experiences, in which violence plays a key role. This is a work that questions our links to one another as family, friends, and enemies. The contemplation of the human experience at the core of the story is brought out by the cast, who use gentle, measured tones when delivering dialogue and ruminations. M.R. Blackstone Audiobooks 12.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9781470836696 $32.95 (also MP3, DD) Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781470836702 $105.00 (also PRE) Random House Audio 11 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780307913609 $40.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9780307913623 $40.00 (also DD) THE UNCHANGEABLE SPOTS OF LEOPARDS Kristopher Jansma Read by Edoardo Ballerini Edoardo Ballerini's performance of this exhilarating novel may be a personal best for him, and that's saying a lot. The text is an unreliable narrative by an unnamed writer who is either telling you his own story or letting you read his fictions; you rarely know which for sure, and you sometimes can't tell if he knows himself. The relationships of fiction to lying and to truth are obviously the subject here. So are young love, artistic rivalry, friendship, literary homage, fame, and the process of writing. Hardest to describe is how utterly satisfying, in the most old-fashioned way, these bravura-pleated stories-within-stories are, and how smoothly Ballerini inhabits Jansma's continuously transforming characters. Surely this entrancing book and impeccable production will rank among the year's best. B.G. Penguin Audio 9.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781101605318 $39.95 Dreamscape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781624064203 $59.99 (also PRE) Surely this entrancing book and impeccable production will rank among the year's best. 32 I AudioFile/www.audioļ¬lemagazine.com Random House Audio 38.5 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: CD ISBN 9780385359511 $60.00 (also DD) Books on Tape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9780385359535 $60.00 (also DD) WISE MEN Stuart Nadler Read by Bernard Setaro Clark Hilly Wise is determined not to be anything like his father, Arthur, a renowned litigator whose legendary wealth Hilly despises. Narrator Bernard Clark characterizes both voices with so much contrast that there's no doubt the two men are polar opposites. The sarcastic and pessimistic Hilly stands out perfectly against the exuberant and bombastic Arthur. The setting of the story ranges from the shores of Cape Cod, where Hilly fancies the niece of Lem Dawson, the black caretaker of the Wise property, to the fields of Iowa, where Hilly's verboten love, Savannah, resides. Clark paints that forbidden romance with equal parts frustration and sarcasm. Nadler's story of opportunities lost and found is well crafted, and Clark is a wonderful storyteller. S.C. Hachette Audio 10.75 hrs. Unabridged Trade Ed.: DD ISBN 9781478978244 $25.98 Dreamscape Library Ed.: CD ISBN 9781624064777 $59.99 (also PRE)

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