cover image The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana

Umberto Eco, , read by George Guidall. . Recorded Books, $39.99 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4193-4389-6

Audio reviews reflect PW 's assessment of the audio adaptation of a book and should be quoted only in reference to the audio version.

Fiction The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana Umberto Eco , read by George Guidall. Recorded Books , unabridged, 13 CDs, 15.5 hrs., $39.99 ISBN 1-4193-4389-0

Guidall gives a polished, Masterpiece Theatre –worthy sheen to Eco's odd, funny tale of Yambo, a man who discovers that while remembering the plots and details of all the books and films he's ever read or seen, he has no recollection of his own life or his name. His sonorous tones are soothing, lending Eco's prose a certain hushed aura, but there is something strangely off about the marriage of the Italian author's intellectual mystery story and Guidall's rolling British cadences. It is as if Guidall's Oxbridge enunciation were thought necessary to gussy up Eco's novel, something it is distinctly not in need of. Overemoting, Guidall turns Yambo into a ham actor rather than a slightly comic figure befuddled by a world full of mysterious and alluring signs. Guidall does do a solid job capturing the quicksilver changes in emotional temperature of the volatile protagonist, who is unable to comprehend the confusing new world he finds himself in. Even in this, though, Guidall is more like an actor professing befuddlement than someone actually finding himself disoriented by his mind's empty spaces. Simultaneous release with Harcourt hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 21). (June)