In The Pearl Thief, Elizabeth Wein revives Julie Beaufort-Stuart for a Code Named Verity prequel. When Julie surprises her family with an early visit to their grandfather’s Scottish estate, she is mysterious struck on the head. After her recovery she discovers, there is much afoot: an employee is missing, the family fortune is slipping, and an enigmatic traveling family are wrapped up in the middle of it.
In The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Henry “Monty” Montague likes his party. Be it booze, gambling, or kissing both girls and boys, Monty know how to have a good time with his money. Monty is sent on “tour” in Europe with his snappy sister, an austere guardian, and his closest friend Percy to clean up his ways and figure out a way back into father’s will. But Monty’s romantic feelings for Percy intensify and complicate his future.
Both of these historical novels draw on common themes in the contemporary Young Adult universe: class, sexuality, race, illness, and family strife. Turn up the heat with adventure and mystery and you have two compelling and fresh feeling reads. So in the audiobook, the believability of the characters that is present in the writing also needs to be matched with credible narrators. Narrators Maggie Service and Christian Coulson (aka movie Harry Potter’s young Voldemort ) respectfully bring to life their main characters with authentic accents. Both Service’s Scottish and Coulson’s British envelop listeners into their world and allow them to get swept up into the action.
I can tell you that Odyssey members do think long and hard about accents. It is fair to say that we often have to check our biases and preferences and do some more research on proper pronunciation. In this Booklist blog post, Mary Burkey dives deep into one such resource: Audio Eloquence. Narrator and creator Judith West and Heather Henderson have a lot of fascinating insights on the hard work that goes into getting every single world correct. Both talk about how the digital world now allows narrators access to instantaneous and endless information but, as West points out :
“… info and data do not equal knowledge, and it’s the context of words — who says them, why, to whom — coupled with human experience and understanding — yours or someone else’s — that determines correct pronunciation”
Treat yourself to Service’s and Couslon’s authentic portrayal of two historical but very modern day and grounded characters.
The Pearl Thief, by Elizabeth Wein, read by Maggie Service. 7 hours, 58 minutes. Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd, 2017.
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, by Mackenzi Lee, read by Christian Coulson.10 hours, 47 minutes. Harper Audio, 2017.