Thursday, 15 June 2017

What I listened to in March (Short Reviews)

I often wish I had (for example) Librarian’s consistency when it comes to writing book reviews. I don’t, though! Partly I blame it on the fact that I listen to audio books a lot more than I read with my eyes these days – which makes it harder to go back and recapitulate. So I often end up just writing about some books that somehow make a special impression, and if I also happen to find the time and inspiration around that time to write about them. Checking my blog, that does not seem to have happened for a while now (since February or so)…

That does not mean that I have not been reading / listening, though.

In March, I listened to audio versions of these two books (which I have read in print before):

The Distant Hours Audiobook

The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton
Narrated by Caroline Lee (22:30 h)

This novel by Kate Morton I first read (in print) back in December 2011. This is what I wrote about it back then:

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. My most recent read. (How memorable it will seem in a year’s time… remains to be seen!) This book won “General Fiction Book of the Year at the 2011 Australian Book Industry Awards”.

I mentioned it in my BTT post last week, when I still had 1/4 left to read, saying: “I’m still feeling that on the one hand I want to just keep reading to find out about the mysteries involved; on the other hand I want it to last because I so much like reading it.” I finished it over Christmas, and I have to say it did manage to keep up the suspense until the end. It is a story told from more than one perspective, and going back and forth in time, so sometimes a little hard to keep in memory or be sure who in the story really knows what. (Or, indeed, how much I as reader can trust what I know!) I would call it a modern Gothic tale, and from three real classics mentioned in it I would say it also picks a lot of inspiration from those three: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Mysteries of Udulpho.

Well. At least this novel proved memorable enough for me to want to reread it again, six years later (but this time as audio). In the meantime I have read her other four novels as well; and I dare say it’s likely I’ll want to reread (or listen to) those as well at some point. She is a good storyteller!

Publisher’s Summary:

Edie Burchill and her mother have never been close, but when a long lost letter arrives one Sunday afternoon with the return address of Milderhurst Castle, Kent, printed on its envelope, Edie begins to suspect that her mother’s emotional distance masks an old secret.

Evacuated from London as a 12-year-old girl, Edie’s mother is chosen by the mysterious Juniper Blythe and taken to live at Milderhurst Castle with the Blythe family: Juniper, her twin sisters, and their father, Raymond.

Fifty years later, as Edie chases the answers to her mother’s riddle. She, too, is drawn to Milderhurst Castle and the eccentric sisters Blythe. Old ladies now, the three still live together, the twins nursing Juniper, whose abandonment by her fiancé in 1941 plunged her into madness.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst Castle, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. For the truth of what happened in the distant hours has been waiting a long time for someone to find it....

Die unendliche Geschichte Audiobook

Die Unendliche Geschichte
by Michael Ende
(The Never Ending Story)

Narrated by Gert Heidenreich (15:06 h) – in German

I mentioned this book too in my review of Ende’s Momo back in February – which my first attempt ever to listen to an audio book in German. I think I bought them both at the same time, but I started with Momo as that is the shorter of the two. Probably also the better choice to start with as it is shorter and the story a bit simpler. The Never Ending Story has a lot more fantasy characters in it, and originally the story also sort of involves the reader’s visual impression of the printed text (some parts in red ink, some in green). But since I do own it in print and have read it before (in German), I enjoyed the listening experience now. Basically it is about a boy who finds a magical book, and escapes into it…

Publisher's Summary (English version)

In this classic fantasy novel from author Michael Ende, small and insignificant Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody's idea of a hero, least of all his own. Then, through the pages of an ancient, mysterious book, he discovers the enchanted world of Fantastica, and only Bastian himself can save the fairy people who live there.

Shy, awkward Bastian is amazed to discover that he has become a character in the mysterious book he is reading and that he has an important mission to fulfill.


  1. I have Kate Morton's The Secret Garden but I'm not sure why and at the slow rate I'm reading books at the moment I may never manage to get around to it.

    1. Graham, I think you mean The Forgotten Garden - unless you mean The Secret Keeper, which is another title by her! (LOL) Anyway it might be my fault as I have read both and probably also blogged about them.

      However, I too am guilty of having bought or downloaded lots of other books that I may never actually find the time to read...

    2. Oh dear Monica it's even worse than that. I think I have The Forgotten Garden somewhere upstairs but the book I have in my 'to be read' bookcase is actually The House at Riverton.

    3. ... which on top of all has also been published under a different title: The Shifting Fog... LOL :D Actually I think that's the one that has slipped furthest away from my memory. Maybe that's the one I should reread next. (Not necessarily 'next' as in the very next book I read, but as in 'next time I get in Kate Morton mood')

      If it is of any comfort, at least it does not matter at all in which order you read her novels, as they are all stand-alones and do not form a series!

  2. I think there was a movie of the Neverending Story. The Distant Hours appears to be what we call a Gothic Novel. And a really good one, too!

    1. There was indeed a movie, Ginny. I remember I was not overly impressed with it, as it sometimes happens when you have first read the book and then see the movie.

    2. Yes, I have seen the movie as well - and agree with Meike :)

  3. I have read "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton but that was in 2010, before I had begun to review all my books as systematically as I do now. From your description and the publisher's note, "The Distant Hours" sounds like something I'd enjoy.
    As for "Die unendliche Geschichte", I think I've commented before (when you had been reading "Momo") on Michael Ende's books in general.

  4. I just learned from Kate Morton at Facebook that she's working on her 6th book: "Book 6 Update: my next book takes place partly in Victorian London and partly in a house on the banks of the upper Thames. There are secrets (surprise!), and layers of history and mystery, and characters who I'm going to miss like mad when I finish writing. And the house - how I love the house in this book." Yay, I can't wait... (although I suppose I shall have to!)


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