cover image In the Midst of Winter

In the Midst of Winter

Isabel Allende, read by Dennis Boutsikaris, Jasmine Cephas Jones, and Alma Cuervo. S&S Audio, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 10.5 hrs., $34.99 ISBN 978-1-5082-4195-9

The audiobook of Allende’s latest novel employs the vocals of three actors with mixed results. Actor Boutsikaris is a master of tempo, and her well-tempered reading here keeps listeners fastened to the story. Jones and Cuervo, on the other hand, tend to enunciate too carefully, obstructing Allende’s rhythms and causing listeners to focus on individual words rather than the story as a whole. That said, the three actors convincingly portray the three protagonists of Allende’s story, all of whom cross paths in Brooklyn. Each is scarred by experiences related to the Latin American political landscape of the 1970s: NYU professor Richard Bowmaster is a human rights scholar who has worked in Brazil; his tenant, Lucia Maraz, is a visiting professor from Chile; and Evelyn Ortega is an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who crashes into Richard’s car while driving her employer’s Lexus on a snowy day. The book includes a somewhat awkward mixture of light romantic comedy and heavy personal and political tragedies—the Pinochet years, the terror of MS-13, the plight of immigrants, and the hideous business of sex slavery in the U.S. The readers are sweet in the romantic parts, but Allende’s minute descriptions of violent personal and political events are harder to follow. An Atria hardcover. (Oct.)