Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Choir by Joanna Trollope; read by Nadia May (1988, 2012)

I listened to The Choir on audio; Nadia May is also known as Wanda McCaddon.  She is one of my favorite audio readers. She also narrated Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd (a gargantuan audio that was also so worthwhile) and a version of Howards End (one of my favorite books of all time) and superb version of Tales of Beatrix Potter.  She is a superb narrator who is able to modulate her voice in various ways to create many different characters.

That was much needed in The Choir, which has a large cast of major and minor characters who, at least at the beginning, occasionally bled into one another.  One problem with audio books is you can't go back very easily; if I had been reading The Choir in a traditional way, and I came across a character I wasn't quite sure about, I could leaf back through until I figured out who they were.  Not easily done with an audio book. 

But once the story started really taking off, I was able to sort through who everyone was and their connections to one another.  It was much easier going, and then I found the book quite enjoyable. 

Goodreads reviewers complained about the characters being boring or unsympathetic.  I didn't find them to be either; it's interesting what some readers hook on to and others despise. 

I was struck by how lost all the the characters were.  Each major character was beat up by the world and circumstances in some way, real life whacking them back and forth.  Who found solace in the end?

The ChoirThe Choir by Joanna Trollope
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nadia May (aka Wanda McCaddon) is a superb narrator. She has to tackle a huge cast of major and minor characters in this book, and does so masterfully. Trollope's book is quiet and comfortable, a bit staid - but never in a bad way. It was written 30 years ago, but didn't feel dated (although someone was listening to cassettes) - it easily slid from contemporary fiction to historical fiction without too much of a fuss. The characters - and there are many of them - are hard to distinguish at the beginning, particularly if you are listening rather than reading (even with the narrative talents of May/McCaddon) but once you get into the groove and connect the dots, it's a smooth ride until the end.

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