On Audiobooks and the Great Actresses…
Dear Ones —
Some of you have very nicely been asking me lately if I'm going to be reading the audiobook for my new novel "The Signature of All Things". As some of you know, I did read the audiobooks for "Eat Pray Love" and "Committed" — which was a really funny and surreal experience, both times. (Ten days in each case, locked in a tiny booth with my own words, asking myself sometimes — when stumbling over a difficult passage or a particularly long paragraph — "Give me a break, man, who WROTE this unreadable garble???" And then starting over, and reading it again…and again…and again…until my head almost rolled off in a weary daze.)
I didn't want read the audiobooks for my earlier books (admirable actors did the job) but I insisted on reading EPL and Committed — because those stories were so intimately my own, and I just thought it would be odd to hear somebody else's voice essentially reading my diary.
But with "The Signature of All Things"…well, I never even considered doing it. First of all, I can't do the accents that this novel requires (which range from an 18th century British Baron, to a 19th-century Bostonian scholar, to a cheerful Cornish sailor, to a drunken Italian astronomer, to a dangerous Yorkshireman, to a Philadelphia coquette, to a stern Dutch-born housekeeper, to a refined native-born Polynesian missionary…and many more beyond.)
Also, it's 500 pages long, and I think my vocal chords would collapse and my brains would turn to custard.
But most importantly, I could hear a voice in my head the entire time I was writing this novel…and that voice wasn't my own. That voice was Juliet Stevenson's.
Those of you who are audiobook junkies probably know Ms. Stevenson already. She's read most of the Jane Austen novels, a good deal of Virginia Woolf, and I keep her exquisite version of "Middlemarch" on my iPhone forever, listening to it when I have trouble falling asleep at night. It always soothes and delights me.
For those of you who don't know Juliet Stevenson…oh, you're in for a treasure. She's a gorgeously trained British actress of stage and screen — one of the greats — with a voice that is intelligent, calm and supple. She just SOUNDS like an omniscient narrator — and a compassionate one, too. From the beginning, she was only person I ever wanted to read "The Signature of All Things" but I never thought I would be lucky enough to get her.
Guys, I got her.
So this is a dream for me. She's actually doing it. I am so thrilled and honored. I cannot wait to hear how she sees my world.
So that's that…and if anyone wants to check out her complete collection of audiobooks on iTunes, here it is. Her Jane Austens are superb. You can hear some small samples:
Happy listening, and thank you, Juliet Stevenson!