Audiobook Review: I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

21 03 2011

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

Read by Linda Emond

Harper Audio

Genre: Suspense

Quick Thoughts: While a well written and engrossing tale, there were many intriguing aspects of the novel left open ended, which I found frustrating.

Grade: B

OK, I know I am going to get in trouble for this, but, I personally believe there is a specific stylistic difference between male and female authors. I have argued this out with friends numerous times, but, it’s what I believe. I believe women are just as capable as men, and should be given equal opportunity to succeed in whatever field they choose, but, and here’s really where I get in trouble, I just tend to enjoy books written by men more than books written by women. I do not believe this is misogynistic, despite some protests from others, but stylistic. I do not believe men are inherently better writers, in fact, I would argue from a technical and artistic level, females may be better writers then men, yet, when I choose what to read I base it on what appeals to me, more often than not it’s written by male authors. Yet, this year, I made a consciences decision to read or listen to more books by female authors. My plan is at a minimum one book by a female author a month, with a goal of discovering authors I like and expanding that number by a natural process. One of the authors I had been interested, based on reviews and recommendations is Laura Lippman, author of the popular Tess Monaghan series. I decided, though, to start with one of her stand alone titles, called I’d Know You Anywhere.

I am a bit frustrated, because this book left me with such mixed feelings, which goes to the heart of the issue of my male/female crux. There were so many things I loved about this novel. I loved the experience of getting to know the main character Eliza Benedict, not just through her tragic past, and stressful present events, but through her relationships with her quirky family. The mundane surrounds the extraordinary to give us a true development of her protagonist that we don’t often see in popular fiction. I loved the way the story was told, with each present step punctuated by a moment of past tragedy and its influence on the lives of those involved. The characters where so human you found yourself at moments hating them, yet also strangely sympathizing with them. In fact, I have little criticism for what was written, it was what was left untold that bothered me. Lippman set up so many things in this novel so well, that I was left almost unsatisfied by the ending because I wanted to know so much more. I believe she made a stylistic choice to keep these issues open ended, but for me, and I believe for a lot of males like me, I wanted more. I wanted to understand more about her daughters subtle bullying and seemingly sociopath tendencies that strangely mirrored Eliza’s own sister’s behavior. I wanted to know why her son’s nightmares seemed to all contain his sister, and a fear of pinching. It almost seemed she could have written a whole other novel just of the psychological ticks of Eliza’s immediate family. I guess my frustration came from the fact that Lippman really had me sucked into this families existence, with so many complex issues, yet now I am just supposed to forget about them and move onto the next book without a true understanding of how they will turn out. This is not of course the fault of the author, who did a brilliant job, but one of the annoying male qualities to so many of us share.

I personally believe that some narrators read a novel, while others perform the novel. Here I would say that the narrator, Linda Emond simply read the novel, not putting too much of a flourish onto the characters and giving Eliza, the main POV character a steady narrative voice. This is not a criticism of the reader at all. In this novel, the simple reading style was much more appropriate.  There was something almost muted about Eliza and this slow, careful delivering of her story worked extremely well. The reading won’t leave you amazed by the narrator’s ability, but it will allow you to experience Eliza’s story unfiltered by unnecessary garnish. This novel truly impressed me and easily proved Lipmann’s talent, and despite some issues I had with the overall story development, it’s definitely worth a listen.

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