After I returned from performing our play, Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 2018, I was welcomed home with a new book to narrate. It was Little by Edward Carey. A truly remarkable book about the life of Madame Tussaud.
In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.
Next on the docket was the YA title, Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin. This was one of the most challenging books I have ever narrated. The book begins in Poland during WWII and then the main characters take refuge in Shanghai. There were approximately 150 Polish words and 150 Chinese words to pronounce. When I wasn’t sobbing from the heartbreak in the book, I was practicing both Polish and Chinese words over and over and over again to make sure I pronounced them as accurately as possible.
One of the things I cherish about being an audiobook narrator, is how much I learn by reading books I would never normally read. Primarily, it is the YA and children’s books that have so much to teach me.
Warsaw, Poland. The year is 1940 and Lillia is fifteen when her mother, Alenka, disappears and her father flees with Lillia and her younger sister, Naomi, to Shanghai, one of the few places that will accept Jews without visas. There they struggle to make a life; they have no money, there is little work, no decent place to live, a culture that doesn’t understand them. And always the worry about Alenka. How will she find them? Is she still alive?
Meanwhile Lillia is growing up, trying to care for Naomi, whose development is frighteningly slow, in part from malnourishment. Lillia finds an outlet for her artistic talent by making puppets, remembering the happy days in Warsaw when her family was circus performers. She attends school sporadically, makes friends with Wei, a Chinese boy, and finds work as a performer at a “gentlemen’s club” without her father’s knowledge.
But meanwhile the conflict grows more intense as the Americans declare war and the Japanese force the Americans in Shanghai into camps. More bombing, more death. Can they survive, caught in the crossfire?
Speaking of heartbreak, We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet is exquisite! Another WWII story, this time taking place in the south of England. I really lived inside this book and all these months later, it still hasn’t let go. One of my favourite books to be sure!
Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.
One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.
December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.
Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn’t want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she’s long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?
In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.
I was thrilled to narrate my first book for Scholastic and what a fantastic book it was! Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly is a feisty re-imagining of the classic Cinderella fairy-tale, with a twist.
Don’t just fracture the fairy tale. Shatter it.
Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe . . . which is now filling with her blood.
When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she’s turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she’s a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a bold girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.
Isabelle has tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.
Evoking the original version of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.
Last and definitely never least, is Julie Berry’s Lovely War. This is the 5th book I have narrated for Julie Berry. We have been nicknamed “the dynamic duo” by the twitter-verse and that nickname is a keeper! Julie Berry writes big, gorgeous, epic stories and Lovely War is no exception. I am joined on the audiobook by some “big” voices; Alan Corduner (swoon), Dion Graham, John Lee, Fiona Hardingham, Steve West and Nathaniel Parker.
A sweeping, multi-layered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates–and the hearts–of four mortals in their hands.
They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect-turned-soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the U.S. Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though War is a formidable force, it’s no match for the transcendent power of Love.
Author Julie Berry’s critically-acclaimed writing has been called “haunting and unforgettable” by New York Times bestselling author of Salt to the Sea Ruta Sepetys and “utterly original and instantly engrossing” by Publishers Weekly.
So, the little play that could keeps on “coulding.” Tilda Swinton Answers an Ad on Craigslist. This year we performed at the San Francisco Sketch-Fest and at The Vault Festival in London. We are preparing to go to New York for 2 weeks (April 2019) to perform at the Laurie Beechman Theater AND we are thrilled beyond beyond to return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for the whole month of August 2019. If you live in Los Angeles, we will perform a few shows in May 2019 at Casita del Campo in Silverlake.
If you are interested in joining us at one of our shows, you can find information and tickets on our website:
Thank you for stopping by. You can always drop me a line by visiting the Contact page – I’d love to hear from you.