30 Day Book Challenge: Day Seven!

Okay, day seven and I’ve managed not to miss any yet! The joys of having almost a whole week off work because the heating there packed up! God bless the Health and Safety gremlins!

So today’s category is

Best audiobook to listen to on a road trip.

Fortunately, I do listen to audiobooks, almost on a daily basis driving into work and back home again. And I don’t want to get into those arguments about “Is an audiobook really reading?” 

So what are the criteria for an audiobook for a road trip… On the assumption that roadtrips are lengthy affairs, a lengthy audiobook would seem logical! In fact, when I first got an subscription to Audible, I essentially searched by length: a 45 hour epic was the same single credit as a 2 hour novella! That was why I have 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami! Nowadays, a ‘typical’ novel comes in about 12 hours which would take me from home on the south coast to Thurso in Scotland.

But length cannot be the only criterion. Engagement, a thrilling narrative, a compelling cast of characters, a pleasing voice.

I’d probably select Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, narrated by Simon Prebble and coming in at a whopping 32 hours! I’d adored the book and cannot remember now why I chose to listen to it again – it’s not usually something I’d choose to do normally. But hey ho. Maybe I was collecting Audible credits like confetti at that point. But I remember I was concerned about the way that the footnotes, which were an integral part of the novel could be managed orally. But it worked and worked well. And its depiction of rival and partner gentlemen magicians and the dangerous fae, weaving magic and myth around the history of the Napoleonic Wars seamlessly, was a sheer pleasure. And, oh, that gentleman with thistledown hair.

Shortlisted for Audible’s Listen of the Year, 2006.
English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.
But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different…
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that 32 hours leave readers longing for more.

A range of other ideal reads would include Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies.

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