The Siege – Helen Dunmore, copyright 2001.
Read by: Jilly Bond
Publisher: ISIS Audio
Source: Personal Collection – Bought New
Reason for Reading: It received a great review from Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog
This was my second ever audiobook. You may recall that my first audiobook, which I listened to last month, was The Help by Kathryn Stockett and it was an almost orgasmic experience. The multiple narrators made for such an easy and enjoyable reading experience. The Siege by Helen Dunmore and read by Jilly Bond, was a much different experience.
I first heard about The Siege via Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog who, bless her heart, knows all the good books out there. Jackie read this in print and wrote a wonderful review in which she gives it a big thumbs-up. I can only imagine that The Siege in print is far superior to The Siege on audio. I did not finish listening to this book. I constantly found my mind wandering away from the story, unable to keep my attention glued to Bond’s voice. To put this in perspective, I am currently listening to Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design a book that talks ad nauseam about quantum physics and the nature of the Universe. Even without understanding much of what the narrator is talking about, I am able to pay greater attention to the reading of it than I was to Jilly Bond. (Sorry Jilly Bond)
I only managed to listen to two and a half hours of this ten hour audiobook, so I am unable to give a decent summary on my own. Thus, from Penguin:
“Leningrad, September 1941. Hitler orders German forces to surround the city at the start of the most dangerous, desperate winter in its history. For two pairs of lovers – young Anna and Andrei, Anna’s novelist father and actress Marina – the siege becomes a battle for survival. They will soon discover what it is like to be so hungry you boil shoe leather to make soup, so cold you burn furniture and books. But this is not just a struggle to exist, it is also a fight to keep the spark of hope alive…”
I found Bond’s reading of the book to be very cold and despondent. While the story itself is meant to project the fear and uncertainty experienced by the characters throughout the siege of Leningrad, there were also recollections of happier times which Bond did a poor job of enlivening. I am sure her chilly tone and despondency were an accurate representation of the misery and fear engendered by soviet society at the time, but I can’t help thinking that my own imagination would have done a better job portraying the characters in a less annoying fashion.
I’m glad The Siege wasn’t my first attempt at audiobooks, because, if it were, it would likely have put me off the idea all together. After some time has passed and I can get Bond’s voice out of my head, I might give the book a go in print.