#worthyopponents #daniellesteel #michaelbraun #mustiqueisland #sarahmccoy #cassandracampbell #tomlake #annpatchett #merylstreep #thebrighterthelight #maryellentaylor #megantusing
The focus of my August listens is not going to be the heat or the disasters that are going on around us or the potential for hurricanes or any of the myriad newsworthy items that are the current headliners. Whether purely by chance or through some cosmic design, I find myself with a group of books whose storylines are built on a subject almost as widely written about and discussed as the weather and politics – family dynamics. Worthy Opponents addresses the impact of a business legacy on a family, Mustique Island demonstrates that family issues are not exclusive to any particular class, Tom Lake is a lesson in recognizing that the life you dreamed of could never have measured up to the life you have, and The Brighter The Light proves the obvious: history – especially family history – is only as accurate as the historian.
By Danielle Steel
Narrated by Michael Braun
In life, opponents take many forms. They can be political opponents, athletic opponents, or business opponents. A worthy opponent is one who believes strongly and fights fairly. This is the premise of Danielle Steel’s novel Worthy Opponents. Spencer Brooke and Mike Weston have the same goal … to be successful in business. Spencer is driven by the strong relationship she had with her grandfather and wants to successfully continue the business he founded; Mike primarily wants to be successful at making money for the investors who’ve shown faith in his company. Spencer desperately needs Mike’s help, but the storyline revolves around whether or not she will be able to forfeit her grandfather’s legacy to keep her company alive. As with all Ms. Steel’s books, there is an interesting plot with interesting characters and a conclusion that will leave you feeling good whether you agree with it or not. Michael Braun does an excellent job narrating this worthy palate cleanser.
By Sarah McCoy
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Mustique Island could be classified as historical fiction because the storyline is a product of the author’s imagination, but the setting is real, some of the players in the drama that takes place are well known in British history, and some of the events that take place are authentic. Against that back drop, author Sarah McCoy has written a book that mostly focuses on family dynamics. Never mind that there is royalty involved and my man Mick Jagger even makes an appearance. Various snoots with their ever present shenanigans are spending time on Mustique, but the theme – even the part of the story that includes Princess Margaret, sister of Queen Elizabeth – is about families both functional and dysfunctional. Believe it or not, I didn’t fully realize this until Cassandra Campbell’s exceptional performance was coming to a close. Is that a flaw to be laid at the author’s feet? I don’t think so. I think she took her time getting to her point because she wanted to make the message clear that it’s never too late for the healing power of love to work its magic.
By Ann Patchett
Narrated by Meryl Streep
One memorable summer a group of aspiring actors, actresses, and theater people gather at Tom Lake to hone their skills. If you are author Ann Patchett and you are creating these characters, could you find a better voice to give life to them than Meryl Streep? Some of the people from that memorable summer actually become stars in the author’s fictional world, but the real star of the audiobook is actress Meryl Streep. Her performance makes a very good book a work of art. During the forced togetherness of the Covid lockdown, a mother relives her role in the story of the Tom Lake theatrical group for her three daughters providing a unique insight into family dynamics as well as the surprising turns that life can take as we each perform on the stage of life. This is a book for anyone who has ever wondered what life could have been like if only they had lived out some youthful dream and confirms a truth we’ve all learned … sometimes dreams that don’t come true, shouldn’t.
By Mary Ellen Taylor
Narrated by Megan Tusing
Although The Brighter the Light isn’t billed as a mystery, it could certainly pass for one. From a mysterious shipwreck that continues to appear and disappear to who’s related to whom among the many characters that are introduced, readers and listeners will want to pay close attention or risk becoming lost as we alternate between a storyline in the 1950s and one more current. Kudos to Mary Ellen Taylor for clearly announcing each change of era and the name of the character speaking to keep things straight. Despite the work that was necessary to keep up with the storyline, I found this book compelling and hard to put down. If you are intrigued by family dynamics and the complexities of relationships through several generations, this one is for you. Megan Tusing is a new narrator for me, but I found her performance made this complicated tale easier to follow.