I have a lot of love and tenderness for this book. There’s something about it that speaks of a new era and gives me hope. I won’t repeat what I wrote in my original review, I still agree with myself – which isn’t always the case. It’s been a really interesting experience, listening to it now, a little over a year after it first came out and Milena McKay burst onto the lesfic scene. So much has happened since then, a novella, a second novel that is now in the running for multiple awards, a third one coming soon (A Whisper of Solace, April 12th). McKay has grown tremendously as an author over this period and yet there’s already so much wonderfulness in this debut.
I love Jamie’s big heart and, of course, I love Vivian’s sharp tongue and tenderness and the vulnerability she doesn’t hide that well. Hearing her now, I feel like I understand her better than I did a year ago. Unsurprisingly, Abby Craden‘s narration is fantastic. Jamie’s voice reflects her wide-eyed youth and tenacity. Vivian’s is at once haughty and warm, perfectly embodying the complexity of the character. The secondary characters shine just as much and I’m particularly fond of Arabella, even more than when I read the book.
One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned in previous reviews of McKay’s novels (I’m not including The Perfect Match in this comment, it’s a much lighter and fun read, since, you know, cupids…) is the sense of humour. Obviously, there’s Jamie’s friend Lucy, but beyond this character, there’s an underlying but quasi constant tongue-in-cheekiness that allows the story to tackle dramatic issues while keeping an uplifting quality, leaving the reader, or the listener, inspired rather than despondent. That same sense of humour also permeates The Headmistress, with the same success.
If Milena McKay’s precise writing and wonderful characters didn’t already have my whole heart, with this audiobook and Abby Craden’s narration, they would now.
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