cover image The Vacationers

The Vacationers

Emma Straub, read by Kristen Sieh. Penguin Audio, unabridged, six CDs, 6.5 hrs., $30, ISBN 978-1-61176-395-9

Sieh, a relatively unknown character actress who has appeared in Boardwalk Empire and Orange Is the New Black, steals the show in this audio production, impressing listeners with her wit, humor, and remarkable accents. Straub’s novel takes place on the island of Mallorca, where the Post family and some friends have retreated for two weeks of sun, sand, and soul baring. It’s challenging to provide believable voices for around a dozen characters in many different stages of life, but Sieh nails them all without a hiccup. She is as adept with Sylvia (the teenage daughter whose epic bouts of sullen eye-rolling mask hidden depths) as she is with Sylvia’s brother Bobby, a 28-year-old Peter Pan who can’t quite settle into a job or a committed relationship, even though he’s brought his older girlfriend Carmen along to the beach. Sieh does an excellent job with Carmen’s Cuban-American Miami accent, then perfects the lilt of Sylvia’s handsome Spanish teacher, providing the appropriate lisp in his pronunciation of “Barthelona.” Add to this the indefatigable purposefulness of the Post matriarch, Franny, and the humor of several other characters, and Sieh’s narration makes for winning entertainment. A Riverhead hardcover. (June)