Thursday, June 21, 2018

Showcase - Review - Upstate by James Wood Audio version narrated by Raphael Corkhill

I've never had the pleasure of reading a James Wood novel before but I love British literature, their wit, humor and their staidness. So when Upstate was one of the June offerings from Macmillan Audio I said yes please.
June is audio month, celebrate by listening to an audio book.


ISBN-13: 9781427298195
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: 6-5-2018
Length: 6hrs 52.mins
Source: Publisher for review
Buy It: Amazon/Kobo/Audible


New Yorker book critic and award-winning author James Wood delivers a novel of a family struggling to connect with one another and find meaning in their own lives.
In the years since his daughter Vanessa moved to America to become a professor of philosophy, Alan Querry has never been to visit. He has been too busy at home in northern England, holding together his business as a successful property developer. His younger daughter, Helen—a music executive in London—hasn’t gone, either, and the two sisters, close but competitive, have never quite recovered from their parents’ bitter divorce and the early death of their mother. But when Vanessa’s new boyfriend sends word that she has fallen into a severe depression and that he’s worried for her safety, Alan and Helen fly to New York and take the train to Saratoga Springs.

Over the course of six wintry days in upstate New York, the Querry family begins to struggle with the questions that animate this profound and searching novel: Why do some people find living so much harder than others? Is happiness a skill that might be learned or a cruel accident of birth? Is reflection conducive to happiness or an obstacle to it? If, as a favorite philosopher of Helen’s puts it, “the only serious enterprise is living,” how should we live? Rich in subtle human insight, full of poignant and often funny portraits, and vivid with a sense of place, James Wood’s Upstate is a powerful, intense, beautiful novel.

Listen to a sample-

My Review:

James Wood
Narrated by Raphael Corkhill

Book 4 Star
Literary critic and author Wood’s latest work of fiction is the perfect June release either for vacation/beach reading and/or the perfect father’s day gift and the upstate NY winter setting is a perfect anecdote for those hot sticky days of June. It takes place in the recent past of 2007/2008 and is an intensely personal, immensely intimate family drama, a look into the complex relationship of a father and his two, very successful, very different adult daughters. The characters are endearingly realistic making the author’s prattling style of dialogue an excellent way of making them irresistible to readers while imparting a brilliant fly-on-the-wall POV to his audience. Readers will come to care for all the characters but they will absolutely fall in love with Alan, a man whose coming to terms with his business failing but still puts the welfare of his children first and foremost who drops everything to come to his eldest daughter’s aid. Both sexes and fans of family dramas and
contemporary literary fiction will eat this up.

Narration 4:
Raphael Corkhill’s narration is an ideal choice for the vocal performance of this novel, his soothing clear voice nails the male characters and he does a good job of the female voices too. He captures the emotional content well and personifies perfectly the character of Alan.

Alan Querry a real estate developer from Northumerland and his daughter Helen, a London Sony executive have received troubling news; according to her live-in boyfriend Josh, Vanessa, Alan’s eldest daughter, a philosophy professor at Skidmore college in upstate NY may be having a mental breakdown. The only option is to book tickets to Sarasota Springs NY and see what’s what. But it’s not only Vanessa that has issues it seems that Alan’s business is about to go under and Helen isn’t happy at her high power job although right now Vanessa comes first. When they arrive Vanessa seems to be in good spirits, just as argumentative and opinionated as ever. But what’s really under the surface? That’s what Alan and Helen hope they’ll be able to suss out during their visit. And maybe they’ll have some personal epiphanies too.

 Meet James:James Wood is a staff writer at The New Yorker and a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. He is the author of How Fiction Works, as well as two essay collections, The Broken Estate and The Irresponsible Self, and a novel, The Book Against God. 

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