Things that make a difference to ones literary experience

I have been experimenting with CD audiobooks from the library. I had a good experience with a John LeCarre novel, Our Kind of Traitor, narrated by Robin Sachs. I have fading hearing, but I was able to hear everything just fine with a set of moderately-priced noise-cancelling headphones plugged into an old, cheap CD off-brand "walkman". I mostly listened to it on a brief out-of-town break I took to my friend Lulu's house in Chisago City, lying in one of her luxurious recliners, with Koby sleeping in my lap. Bliss, for the most part. My ears did hurt after a while, and it was darned cold that weekend and we were staying in the basement, which although also luxurious, is heated only by a roaring woodstove. So the temperature was rather uneven, and then I got interrupted from time to time to eat or be sociable or get in the hot tub (ho, hum) or take Koby out to relieve himself in the snow. Sometimes it's hard livin' the easy life. But no, it was a great, a much-needed break. I anjoyed the visit, and Lulu is a wonderful hostess.

Having enjoyed that audiobook a lot, the next time I was at the library, I got a few more. I just now tried to listen to my second audiobook, The Mystery Woman, by Amanda Quick, narrated by Justine Eyre. This was not such a good experience. Same piece of equipment, now lying on my bed, which is where I finished the LeCarre after I got back from my little trip. But first, there was a fault in disc 1, and I couldn't listen to it at all. Disc 2 played OK, but I only listened about two minutes before giving up in disgust. And this is the topic of my post. It makes a huge difference who the narrator is! And I do not like Justine Eyre, although I don't think, after Googling her, that I have seen her in anything. She is an extremely beautiful, if distinctly unfriendly-looking, young woman, but that could be because she has also been a model. (Or she could have been a model for the same reason she looks so distant and miserable, who knows?) Canadian by birth, raised in the Phillipines, educated in the UK, she is described as a classically trained actor. Her voice, how shall I say this? is horrible. Cut glass, but a little bit too much so, with backnotes of a suburban midwestern Canadian. A timbre somewhere between brittle and wheezy, like it's been overbaked on cigarettes and coke, and yet at the same time, flat in that very young way of very bored and snooty youngsters. I'm sorry, Justine, but I could not get past my appalled fascination with your ridiculous voice enough to even hear the content. Which I would probably like if I were reading it myself.

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