cover image The Past

The Past

Tessa Hadley, read by Caroline Lennon. Dreamscape Media, , unabridged, 9 CDs, 10.5 hrs., $59.99 ISBN 978-1-68262-815-7

Narrator of well over one hundred audio books, Lennon brings a veteran’s confidence to this quiet domestic drama in her marvelous evocation of Hadley’s language. Lennon prizes the novel’s slow description and careful characterizations of several generations of a British family. However, she falls flat in creating recognizable voices for those characters, all middle-aged siblings who return to the family’s country house for a summer holiday only to find that the wounds that once defined them are still festering under the surface. In particular, Lennon fails to distinguish the three sisters’ voices, despite the sharp differences in their personalities: the pragmatic Fran, the dreamy and self-absorbed Alice, and the chronically apprehensive Hetty. As well, when the novel reverts to an extended flashback to 1968, two other female characters share the same brisk intonations of Lennon’s usual voice. Though it’s a pleasant and highly intelligent voice, the performance misses the subtlety of Hadley’s cast of characters. A Harper hardcover. (Jan.)