Recently I discovered audiobooks. I had previously discounted them because of time. Someone reading to me out loud means the story will take so much longer. And that’s still true. But then again, what’s the rush?
Our library is running a winter reading challenge for adults called Turn Up the Heat. One of the challenges is to read a book in a format you wouldn’t normally choose, and having read loads of print books, ebooks and even a few graphic novels, I thought I’d bite the bullet and opt for an audiobook. I downloaded a Charles Todd mystery from the library website onto my phone (which was fairly painless using the Libby app) plugged in my earbuds and off I went. Literally.
I went off for a walk, I went off to hang out the washing, I went off to prune the roses, and I went off to clean the kitchen and the bathroom. I accomplished such a lot over the weekend and ‘read’ a book at the same time. This was a revelation.
In A Question of Honour, Rosalyn Landor does a terrific job bringing to life the characters’ voices – from main character Bess Crawford, a WWI nurse, to aging colonels, servants and orderlies, across all ages, male and female. And the story isn’t bad either, recalling events from ten years before when Bess was growing up in India and a plot around an alleged murderer, supposedly dead, turning up in the battlefields of France. There are plenty of twists and an unexpected ending, as you would hope for. The story is also a poignant reminder of the plight of children being sent home from the colonies to be cared for by strangers. Raj Orphans they were sometimes called – Jane Gardam’s splendid novel Old Filth describes this too.
Since my first foray into the world of audiobooks, I’ve ‘read’ a couple more – those Charles Todd novels can be addictive. I’ve heard that audiobooks are gaining in popularity, and now I can see why. But choose carefully – you need to like the narrator as well as the book. Fortunately, there is usually a sample you can listen to first. If anyone has any audiobook recommendations, I would love to hear them.