Title: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Author: Darien Gee
Narrator: Tanya Eby
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio CD, AudioBook
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Audio Producer: Tantor Audio
Length: 14 Hours: 16 minutes
Source: Tantor Audio via Edelweiss
Genre: Woman’s Fiction / Relationships
Series: Follow up to Friendship Bread
Best Read in Order: helpful but not required
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration:4 Story: 4
Purchase Now: Amazon § Audible § Barnes&Noble § Tantor
About the Book:
At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.
Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
Being a fan of stories that tackle relationship issues and particularly how women relate to one another, I was excited to be provided with the opportunity to review this title. I had heard many positives about Darien Gee’s first book, Friendship Bread, and this one had a good buzz.
The book jumps right into the story: perhaps a tad confusing as the characters seem to have been introduced in Friendship Bread. While it was difficult at first to understand motivations, the motivations and personalities did start to become more clear and easier to understand as their tales unfolded. The only real complaint I have is with the sheer number of characters: this did become a bit less confusing as the story went on, but there were times it felt overwhelming.
Gee has a beautiful writing style that just dances on the line between overly sentimental and dramatic and unemotional retelling: characters are each voiced with specific patois and approach, and as they learn to work through the inevitable conflicts and personality clashes, they also learn that working together and the support that comes from a community that has a sense of the history and trials you have endured is a wonderful side-benefit to their time spent together.
This is a story of a small town, where everyone knows who everyone else is, and the opinions are often different. These are real people with real concerns and foibles, living lives that are eminently relatable to everyone. There are personality clashes, revelations and above all a sense of coming together to support their own: even when that person is a difficult sort. A real lesson in the power of community and creativity: reminiscent of the sewing circles and quilting bees that were a popular pastime in years gone by.
Narration for this production is provided by Tanya Eby. Ably narrated with a smooth delivery style and subtle changes in pacing and tone provide a sense of the characters through voice. Her characters all do sound slightly different, and by the mid-point in the book, I was able to know who was speaking, even before the narration told me. Eby is well-modulated and delivers lines smoothly, with emotional inflection that is relevant and adds impact to the words she imparts.
I truly did enjoy this AudioBook production, perfectly suited for travel or a few quiet afternoons spent in the town of Avalon. Grab a cup of tea and have a listen, you will not regret it.
I received an MP3 download from Tantor Audio via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review for the Heard Word. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
About the Author:
Darien Gee is the author of the novels The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society and Friendship Bread. She has also published novels under the pen name Mia King, including Good Things and Table Manners. Her short stories have been anthologized, and she also writes an occasional column, “From the Writer’s Corner,” for her local newspaper. Darien lives in upcountry Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii with her husband and three children.
About the Narrator:
Tanya Eby has been a voice-over artist for over a decade. She has a BA in English language and literature and an MFA in creative writing. Besides narrating, Tanya spends her time teaching creative writing classes at the collegiate level, blogging, and working on her own novels. She has published four novels and is at work on her fifth.