To Die but Once: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear – #Audiobook Review

To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear
(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense 

Book Blurb:

Spring 1940. With Britons facing what has become known as “the Bore War” – nothing much seems to have happened yet – Maisie Dobbs is asked to investigate the disappearance of a local lad, a young apprentice craftsman working on a “hush-hush” government contract. As Maisie’s inquiry reveals a possible link to the London underworld, another mother is worried about a missing son – but this time the boy in question is one beloved by Maisie.

My Review:

Book fourteen in this series and my first, so I came in listening to the audiobook as a standalone and had no problem keeping up. There are sufficient backstory tidbits along the way to provide fleshing and an appreciation for her character.

To Die but Once by Jacqueline WinspearMaisie Dobbs was a nurse in WWI and subsequently trained to be a psychologist and investigator following that war. This story takes place in 1940 with Great Britain once again at war with Germany and several subplots tied to and underlying the main focus.

First, Maisie is hired to investigate the disappearance of a young boy, Joseph Combes, who succeeded in finding work for a company with a government contract. Set in the background are Dunkirk and the pending possible invasion.

Also in the background is a family drama (her own possible adoption of a young girl) and the spy hiding in plain sight.

A low-key start to the audiobook gradually begins pulling plot threads together until they weave interchangeably throughout the narrative. While the beginning is rather slow moving, the well-plotted novel hooks the reader into the discovery of the dark side of war, those who would reap huge monetary rewards from the military conflict. So sad, but so true of every war, unfortunately, that impacts many more lives over those in the actual conflict.

The personal losses stemming from the battles do not go unnoticed either and there are emotional scenes regarding the population and their individual handling of grave circumstances. The author movingly incorporates her own experiences as she describes the desolation and sacrifices.

A great historical novel along with the mystery was well drawn and satisfying in the conclusion. I was engaged and entertained and can recommend to any who enjoys detective stories (even with a slow build-up) authentically mixed with history.

Book Details:

Genre: Traditional Detective Mysteries, Historical Mysteries, Women Sleuth Mysteries
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B077NHKTP6
Listening Length: 10 hrs 29 mins
Narrator: Orlagh Cassidy
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: To Die but Once [Amazon] 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Jacqueline Winspear - authorThe Author: Jacqueline Winspear is the creator of the New York Times and National Bestselling series featuring psychologist and investigator, Maisie Dobbs. Her first novel – Maisie Dobbs – received numerous awards nominations, including the Edgar Award for Best Novel and the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. It was a New York Times Notable Book and a Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten Pick.“ Jacqueline’s “standalone” novel set in WW1, The Care and Management of Lies, was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in 2015. In 2019 The American Agent, her 16th novel, was published, along with a non-fiction book based upon the Maisie Dobbs’ series, What Would Maisie Do? Originally from the UK, Jacqueline now lives in northern California.

 

Orlagh Cassidy - narratorThe Narrator: Orlagh is an American actress, both parents from Dublin, Ireland. She works in Theatre, Television and Film and has recorded numerous award winning audiobooks and commercials. She can be seen in ‘St. Vincent’ with Bill Murray as well many guest starring roles on ‘Homeland’, ‘Billions’, ‘Good Wife’, ‘Elementary’ and ‘The Mysteries Of Laura’. She has worked in New York theatre at MTC, The Public Theatre, MCC, Origin Theatre Company and The Irish Rep where she received a Drama Desk nomination for the role of ‘Mamie’ in the ‘The Field’ in 2007. She is a recipient of The Princess Grace Foundation Award and has a BFA from SUNY Purchase.

©2022 V Williams V Williams

#throwbackthursday

The Golem and the Jinni: A Novel by Helene Wecker – #Audiobook Review – #TBT

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - banner

(Amazon) Editors Pick Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 

Book Blurb:

Audie Award Finalist, Fiction, 2014

Helene Wecker’s dazzling debut novel tells the story of two supernatural creatures who appear mysteriously in 1899 New York. Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a strange man who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York Harbor. Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian Desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop.

Struggling to make their way in this strange new place, the Golem and the Jinni try to fit in with their neighbors while masking their true natures. Surrounding them is a community of immigrants: the coffeehouse owner Maryam Faddoul, a pillar of wisdom and support for her Syrian neighbors; the solitary ice cream maker Saleh, a damaged man cursed by tragedy; the kind and caring Rabbi Meyer and his beleaguered nephew, Michael, whose Sheltering House receives newly arrived Jewish men; the adventurous young socialite Sophia Winston; and the enigmatic Joseph Schall, a dangerous man driven by ferocious ambition and esoteric wisdom.

Meeting by chance, the two creatures become unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures, until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful menace will soon bring the Golem and the Jinni together again, threatening their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

Marvelous and compulsively listenable, The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of folk mythology, historical fiction, and magical fable into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

My Review:

Okay, don’t say it.

            This one is definitely not my usual genre. But there’s a reason for that.

I went hunting for audiobooks in which George Guidall narrates. He is one of my very favorite narrators and another reason I listen to so many Longmire audiobooks (written by Craig Johnson). This one caught my eye and oh my gosh! What an amazing journey!

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene WeckerMiddle Eastern fiction woven beautifully with historical fantasy—so much to learn—so fascinating. A major atmospheric classic in fairy tale proportions. And the names, the language, the insight into Jewish culture, literature—all very smoothly rolled off Guidall’s tongue like a man reciting romantic poets, bathing the reader softly in the moment, caressing the ears.

This is a book to be read leisurely, digested, and enjoyed. The pace is languid through introduction of main characters and into backstories, explanations of the who and why. The backstories provide a greater understanding of present-day activities, the protagonist’s issues, proclivities, limitations, and each their separate and not necessarily complementary powers.

The author also examines the lengths at which each, both golem (Chava) and jinni (Ahmad) (supernatural beings) had to go to manifest normal human characteristics—the toll that extracted from each—and the extreme relief each must have felt when they were finally able to expose themselves to the other.

Take the time. It’s worth it. The characters, both main and support, are amazing. Easy to become invested, engaged. Arbeely, the Rabbi, Maryam Faddoul, empathetic. Michael Levy, poor guy—and Dr Saleh (Ice Cream Saleh), poor guy–sympathetic.

It’s an immersive fantasy brought to life with characters that create an enchanting tale of the ancient arts and magic.

The last 15-20% of the book brings the whole tale into one giant wizardy conclusion that has your head spinning with visions. All but one issue satisfying. BUT.

[Spoiler ahead]

I hate what happens to Michael and is the only reason I can’t wholeheartedly recommend this as a 5+ star narrative. Surely there is an alternative! His only fault is his innocence. He loved the golem and I felt would have accepted her, knowing her powers, albeit some unfortunate. ARGH!

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker[Note: You may be interested to know that the author has produced a sophomore release called The Hidden Palace: A Novel of the Golem and the Jinni. Declared “well worth the wait,” it was released June 8, 2021 and was also narrated by George Guidall.]

Book Details:

Genre: Historic Middle Eastern Fiction, Jewish Literature, Jewish Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Publisher:  HarperAudio
ASIN: B00BU8DV2K
Listening Length: 19 hrs 42 mins
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link(s): The Golem and the Jinni [Amazon]
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Helene Wecker - authorThe Author: Helene Wecker’s first novel, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, was awarded the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, the VCU Cabell Award for First Novel, and the Harold U. Ribalow Prize, and was nominated for a Nebula Award and a World Fantasy Award. A sequel, THE HIDDEN PALACE: A TALE OF THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI, will be published in June 2021. A Midwest native, she holds a B.A. in English from Carleton College and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in literary journals such as Joyland and Catamaran, as well as the fantasy anthology The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and children.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

 

 

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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