6.08.2015

Audiobooks I Listened to in May

Last month, I got really into audiobooks.  I've started mowing our gigantic yard again, and when I'm clean out of podcasts to listen to, I turn to books.  And last month, I was into historical fiction apparently.  I haven't read much historical fiction of late, but I listened to a couple books last month and really enjoyed them.  I am here today to talk about those!
The House Girl by Tara Conklin - First up, a book that's been on my TBR for a while, but one I haven't heard a lot about.  This book is a split narrative, switching between Josephine Bell, a slave prior to the Civil War, and Lina, a burgeoning attorney in present day New York City.  Lina has just been assigned to a slavery reparations case, and her mission is to find a lead plaintiff to represent the case.  Eventually, the stories of the two women collide, and as Lina discovers more about Josephine Bell, the mysterious house slave/artist/runaway, her course of her life is altered.  This book was great.  I don't read a lot of slavery fiction (something I am trying to remedy), and this book was the perfect gateway drug.  I really enjoyed both of the main characters: Josephine and Lina, and found their voices equally engaging.  I absolutely love the split narrative trope in historical fiction, and it worked brilliantly here.  At first, I thought Lina was going to end up being annoying, but I warmed to her character and ended up really enjoying her throughout the book.  Josephine's character was fascinating.  She was multifaceted, and just when I felt like I knew her, she changed on me, right up to the (really surprising) end of her story.  I enjoyed most of the characters in this book - I felt like I connected with them and was able to empathize with most of them.  I did have a couple little things I didn't love about this book.  First of all, I found the idea of a reparations case a leeeetle bit unbelievable.  Like, really?  You think a single case, one sue against the U.S. Government is going to right all the wrong done to African American slaves?  And even if it could, the government of today is not guilty for a wrong that occured over 150 years ago.  Also, Lina's relationship with her dad got a little bit long.  The little references and hints to the truth he was keeping from her seemed a little heavy-handed at times, and it almost seemed like the author had to drag that out till the end of the book to make her ending work.  Those are just a couple minor things, and they didn't affect my enjoyment of the story at all, I just thought I'd throw them in.  Overall, I really enjoyed both the story and the characters.  They seemed alive and warm, and I haven't stopped thinking about the book. (Also, the narrator for the audiobook did a nice job).  I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott - This book reminded me so much of North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell.  It's basically a story of the mill girls who work in the cotton mills in Lowell.  When they decide they want change in their mill, which isn't the safest place to work, one of the girls, Alice Sparrow, decides to be the group's spokesman.  Alice catches the eye of the mill owner's son, Samuel Fiske, a man who is different from everyone else in his family, and works for the good of the mill workers.  When Alice's best friend dies, her death and suspected murder stirs up controversy against the Fiske family, her budding relationship with Samuel is torn between their loyalties to "their kind" and a chance at true love.  This book was really good as well.  It doesn't compare to North & South, but I really enjoyed it all the same.  I didn't connect with the characters quite as much as I would have liked, but the story was strong and the characters were pretty likeable for the most part.  Lovey Cornell, the girl who is killed, (this is not a spoiler because it happens pretty quick) was my favorite character, because she seemed like she had the strongest personality, so I was pretty bummed when she left the story.  I enjoyed her far more than the main protagonist, Alice Sparrow, basically because Alice never had a really sturdy, consistent personality.  Though this may have been because the narrator voiced her with kind of a weak, timid voice, which was totally opposite to her character.  That was annoying.  Another issue I had with this book was the romance.  I'm totally okay with romance in historical fiction, but this one seemed ever so slightly unbelievable and rather heavy handed at times, and both of those things will turn me away.  So while the romance was sweet, it seemed a little incompatible with the character of Alice Sparrow and ever so slightly unbelievable for its time.  Overall, I enjoyed this book quite a lot, but I didn't love it like I did The House Girl.  I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

And those are my thoughts on the audiobooks I listened to last month.  Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any audiobook recommendations, I would love to hear them!   xo, Ella

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