Audiobooks: When the reader makes or breaks a book

I have almost finished listening to This One and Magic Life by Anne Carroll George.

Anne George (c.____ – 2001) was the Agatha Award-winning author of the Southern Sisters mystery series which culminate in Murder Boogies with Elvis, publishing in August 2001. Like Patricia Anne, she was a happily married former school teacher living in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. George was also a former Alabama State Poet and a regular contributor to literary publications. During her lifetime she was nominated for several awards, including the Pulitzer. Being a true lady of the Old South, her date of birth will forever be a mystery.

Anne was a dear personal friend. She sent this book to me shortly before her death. She told me that she felt that it was her best work and referred to it as her book about forgiveness. It has been a very long time since a book has moved me so deeply. I recommend it highly. Don’t expect to find the wonderful, silly Southern Sisters anywhere in these pages. DO expect to find grace in all its guises– as beauty, as elegance and, yes, Anne, as forgiveness and redemption. It grieves me that we lost this magnificent writer before she could write more books like this one. DO read her poetry, as well. (review from Amazon)

I had never heard of the author. I found the above information after checking out the audiobook. And I found this, too.

The book was among our nearest  library branch’s very limited audio offerings. And I’m sure it is a wonderful read, but as an audiobook? Well. Here’s the beef.

Why can’t anyone nail a southern accent? Or better yet, why are actors and actresses called upon to narrate these works, when a native could do SO MUCH BETTER?

The reader may as well be Vivian Leigh trying to play many parts. Good lord, all southern women do NOT sound alike.  The men in particular sound just plain ridiculous.

Every single character sounds fake – at best, either drunk or half-asleep. I have to struggle to hear the fine writing behind this pathetic rendering. The book has its magical moments, but personally, picturing the dark-skinned, 10-year-old May (Mai?) from South America talking like mealy-mouth Melanie in GWTW is a bit much.

So to all of the audiobook producers out there: Get some readers with authentic accents to deliver these books. My sister has a good speaking voice and just enough of a southern accent to do the job. C’mon! Do justice to these fine works.

Thanks. I feel better already.



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