cover image Smoke: A Novel

Smoke: A Novel

Dan Vyleta, read by Allan Corduner. Random House Audio, , unabridged, 15 CDs, 18.5 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-0-7352-0674-8

Corduner has been a fixture of British television and stage since the 1970s, and he brings that wealth of experience to Vyleta’s Dickensian fantasy of a 19th-century England mired in a class struggle that is symbolized by “smoke”—physical tendrils of smoke that humans emit whenever they sin or think sinful thoughts. The saga opens at a quintessentially brutish boarding school where Charlie, an unusually kind teenage boy, befriends Thomas, his abruptly honest peer who is a little rough around the edges. Corduner takes his time with the novel’s characterizations, from the gruff and low voice he uses for Thomas to the self-consciously prim tones he reserves for Livia, a young kinswoman of Thomas who accompanies the two protagonists on their ensuing adventures. Considering that this story hinges so utterly on class tension, it’s crucial that the narrator also voice its many working-class characters with variation, believable accents, and dignity—and Corduner comes through with flying colors, making it easy to get lost in the capacious urban landscape of Vyleta’s imagination. [em]A Doubleday hardcover. (May) [/em]