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I’ve been listening to more and more audio books this year. It’s gotten to the point where I almost can’t stand to be without one. Like everyone else, I feel like the narrator can make or break the entire story. These two fun novels have it all: winning writing and marvelous narrators!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Atria Books
Audio Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrators: Alma Cuervo, Julia Whelan, +2 more
Release Date: July 13, 2017
Length: 400 pages (12 hrs. 10 min.)
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From the Publisher: Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now…
…Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late ’80s and, of course, the seven husbands along the way.
My Thoughts: On the surface The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo seems like an unlikely choice for me. Hollywood stories don’t typically draw me in, but I had seen so many great reviews of this Taylor Jenkins Reid book that I could no longer ignore it. Am I ever glad I didn’t! The heart of the story is aging Hollywood star, turned recluse, Evelyn Hugo, telling low-level journalist Monique Grant her amazing life story. Evelyn fought her way into the movie industry in the 50’s, quickly rose to the top, and left in the 80’s. Along the way Evelyn acquired seven different husbands and even loved a couple of them. I found all her marriages fascinating for different reasons and adored Evelyn’s matter-of-fact, practical take on everything that happened in her life.
“Heartbreak is loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.”
Sadly, the true love of Evelyn’s life was not one of her husbands, but was a forbidden love that Evelyn fought to secretly fit into her life. As Evelyn unfurls her life, Monique develops a real admiration for the actress and may even be able to learn from her…except for the last secret Evelyn is holding. This was the weakest part of the story for me. I found the “connection” between Evelyn and Monique to be an unnecessary stretch. I’d have liked to see the story resolved in a different way. Nevertheless I found The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo to be a wonderful story, perfect for summer reading! Grade: A-
Narration: In part I chose to listen to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo because of Julia Whelan. I had just finished Since We Fell and thought she was brilliant in that. Julia is the voice of tabloid articles that were interspersed throughout this book and Alma Cuervo, voiced Evelyn. Both were excellent, but the biggest kudos must go to Alma Cuervo as she carried most of the story. Her narration was so engaging that I couldn’t stay away from this book. I put everything else aside to get back to Evelyn! Grade: A-
Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane
Audio Publisher: Harper Audio
Narrators: Julia Whelan
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Length: 432 pages (12 hrs. 2 min.)
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From the Publisher: Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray….By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.
My Thoughts: I was in the mood for a little something different and Sarah from sarahsbookshelves had raved about Since We Fell, so I decided to give the audio version a try. It turned out to be the perfect book: a little outside what I normally read, but fun, fast and extremely engaging. The heroine and narrator of the story is Rachel Childs, a woman who grew up with a wacky mother, but made a very successful life for herself as a journalist. Rachel was on a trajectory to make it to national news until a story got so under her skin that she had a major breakdown, becoming a near recluse. Her second husband, Brian, is nearly perfect: kind, understanding, helpful, encouraging. Too good to be true. On one of Rachel’s first forays out into the big, wide world on her own she sees something that cannot be, and cannot be forgotten. Rachel’s journalist background kicks in and she begins to investigate, becoming enmeshed in a dangerous web of lies and in a story that’s in part her own. Like many psychological thrillers, Since We Fell required some suspension of disbelief. It got pretty far out-there at times, but I kept coming back. In fact, this was a book that I couldn’t put down. I had to know how Rachel’s story ended, and quick! Since We Fell was my first Dennis Lehane book and I’ll definitely be reading more. Grade: B+
Narration: I found Julia Whelan’s narration of Since We Fell to be brilliant. The story was told in first person so Julia was the voice of Rachel and she made the story for me. Julia beautifully modulated her voice when other characters were speaking and her inflections were perfect. I’ll most definitely be keeping my eye out for other audio books narrated by Julia Whelan. Grade: A
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Sarah's Book Shelves says
Glad you liked Since We Fell! Just a warning, I heard this is a huge departure from Lehane’s other books, so may not be a great indicator that you’d like him overall. Still, I haven’t actually read his other books, so take this with a bit of a grain of salt.
And I have Evelyn Hugo on my library holds list! But, I’m way down 🙁 Will be awhile.
Susie | Novel Visits says
I found Evelyn to be a wonderful escape!
I love Audiobooks to Susie and I’m so picky about the narrator, they really can make or break the story. I don’t think I’ve listened to Julie Whalen so I’ll keep an eye out for her. I just finished A Jealous Kind with Will Patton narrating and he was great but I didn’t end up liking the story. Glad you liked Since We Fell, I highly recommend his book Mystic River or Live By Night…he’s got so many good ones!
Susie | Novel Visits says
I’m really not sure why I’ve never read Lehane before. Of course, I’ve seen some of the movie adaptations.
Novels And Nonfiction says
I have both of these in hardcover and am planning to read Since We Fell next week, but I may just have to consider giving the audiobooks a try. Thanks for these reviews!
Susie | Novel Visits says
You’re so welcome and thanks for stopping by.
I previously decided to take a pass on “Seven Husbands” but will rethink. Sounds like a fun summer read. (Zipped over and put it on hold: I’m 36 on 8 copies .. will it still be summer when I get it? LOL)
Question: what do you do while listening to an audio book? I’m a little too antsy to sit and listen without doing anything else — I don’t drive enough for it to be a commute activity (my car is almost 15 years old with 40K miles!). And when I exercise I think prefer music, although that’s an option.
How many hours does it take to listen to an “average” length book (say 225-275 pages)?
It’s only been during this year that I’ve truly become invested in audio books. I do listen to them when I drive. I teach and during the school year my commute is about 40 minutes total a day, so that adds up. I will also listen at home when I’m folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher, etc. If I’m really into a book, I’ll look for excuses to listen to it, like going for a walk. But, this summer especially, I’ve gotten so I like just relaxing and listening sometimes. I have a great hammock swing on my front porch and can easily hang out there and listen for an hour or more at a stretch if the book is good. Like you, I don’t like listening when I workout.
Books can be a little slower or faster depending on the narrator, but I’d say a good rule of thumb is about 3 hours for every 100 pages. It says on Audible or Amazon how long the audios are. If you like nonfiction, you might want to try Daring to Drive. I reviewed it last month and it was both a fantastic memoir and a great audio. It’s about 10 hours, but really sped by for me. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the insights! That hammock sounds lovely 🙂
I do suffer from insomnia now and then. Perhaps listening to a book at 2AM would be easier than reading.
These two are on my TBR so Im so glad you loved them <3