I became addicted to audiobooks about seven years ago and haven’t looked back. Before I had a membership at audible (thank you Lea, for the recommendation) I listened to audiobooks on CDs. Because CDs were quite costly, I primarily stuck with audiobooks by my favorite authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard. I was unwilling to take a chance on newer authors. However, sometimes even with those favorites, the audio version was a risk in the hands of a less-than-desirable narrator.
Thanks to my audible membership I’m able to sample books before I download them, to make certain that I actually like the narrator. And thanks to Lea’s wonderful Speaking of Audiobooks columns, I’m now alerted to new-to-me narrators. As Lea wrote in her very first Speaking of Audiobooks column back in June of 2009, it’s all about the narrator. Over the last seven years I’ve discovered such wonderful narrators as Tanya Eby, Kate Reading, Xe Sands, Justine, Eyre, Susan Ericksen, and Anna Fields. I now not only look for titles I think I might like in audio, but for new works by some of my favorite narrators. But of all the wonderful narrators I’ve listened to over the past few years, my favorite, bar none, has been Jayne Entwistle’s narration of the Flavia de Luce mysteries.
I loved Alan Bradley’s first Flavia de Luce mystery, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, in print and gave it DIK status here at AAR. I listened to it later in audio, and Ms. Entwistle’s narration is so spot-on that I now listen to each subsequent book rather than reading them in print. Ms. Entwistle truly brings Flavia to life. Flavia goes through a lot of emotions in each book; she’s alternately angry, pouty, smug, curious, wistful, and afraid. You name it; Flavia feels the emotion, including her deep love of chemistry. And Ms. Entwistle’s narrations bring life, and humor, to those emotions.
I like Ms. Entwistle’s narration so much that I’ve done numerous searches the last few years for other books she’s narrated. Until recently these searches have been frustrating. Outside of the Flavia de Luce series, she’s narrated several children’s books, but nothing I particularly wanted to read.
I was absolutely delighted a few months ago when I discovered Jayne Entwistle is the narrator for Sophie Kinsella’s I’ve Got your Number. I immediately downloaded it and began listening. I was intrigued by the book when I read Leigh’s B+ review of it earlier this year. I became even more interested when several readers listed it as one of their favorite Chick Lit books of 2012 in a post I wrote here on the best of 2012 Chick Lit and Women’s Fiction. This seemed almost too good to be true: a great narrator reading a highly acclaimed book. But somehow, it didn’t quite work as I expected.
Don’t get me wrong, Jayne Entwistle does a marvelous job with the narration of I’ve Got Your Number. The problem for me is that she uses exactly the same voice for Poppy, the heroine of I’ve Got Your Number, as she uses for Flavia. That voice is so fixed in my head as being Flavia’s, that for at least the first two hours I was constantly pulled out of the story, thinking such things as “Why does Flavia have an engagement ring,” and “No, no, Flavia, dump that jerk!” and “Flavia, you’re only 11 years old, go back to your chemistry lab.” Thank goodness there’s nothing more than kisses going on in the book, as I just don’t think I could have handled Flavia…err Poppy, in bed with anyone.
But once I managed to get Flavia out of my mind, Ms. Entwistle’s voice did work for me as Poppy. Poppy has all kinds of funny escapades, and the narration brings out the humor in each one. By the end of the book I was both completely satisfied and hoping that it would go on longer.
If you listen to audiobooks, have you ever had problems moving from one book to another with the same narrator? I’ve listened to hundreds of audiobooks, and this is the first time this has ever happened to me. Not every narrator works for me, but I’ve never had such a problem separating a narrator from her previous work. Perhaps it’s because I’d listened to four books narrated by Ms. Entwistle prior to this point in which each time she was the voice of Flavia de Luce.
Note: If you’re curious about Ms. Entwistle, you can sample her narration of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie at Audible, and her narration of I’ve Got Your Number here. You don’t need an audible account, but will need to click on the arrow under the book on each page (and sometimes it takes a few clicks to get it to begin).
– LinnieGayl Kimmel