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Marie Beaumont, , read by Kate Reading. . Blackstone Audio, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-4332-0808-9

Nothing could be more challenging for an audiobook reader than to take on the character of a voice-over artist. Fran Clark, a well-to-do Londoner burnt out thanks to two small children, an unfaithful husband and two unexpectedly pregnant friends, is in the grip of early onset midlife crisis and a career-ruining case of stage fright. Kate Reading's bravura performance nails down every character, including the mothers in a posh London district, a Germanic school administrator, many small children and Fran's charming but wayward husband, who is given a suave, sexy voice that ignites his thousand-watt smile. The grand finale finds Fran attempting to impress her children's friends and their parents by imitating the cast of The Simpsons , Bette Davis and a few politicians, all in a few moments' time, during which she switches back and forth to the reactions of her audience. Reading turns this amiable novel into a tour de force performance that is funny, fast-moving and fearless. Simultaneous release with the Hyperion hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 22, 2007). (Jan.)