The Minotaur

audio booksI’ve been experimenting with listening to audio books (mostly while driving) and my newest audio selection is The Minotaur by Barbara Vine. An Amazon review summarized the novel as follows: “Barbara Vine (a.k.a. Ruth Rendell) is back with yet another fascinating psychological portrait of what could be called the ultimate dysfunctional family. A young Swedish caretaker (Kersten, pronounced “Shastin”) is sent to work for the Cosway family, four unmarried daughters and a disturbed son who are ruled by the apathetic 80 year old Ida Cosway.

They live in a rambling ivy covered mansion which features a mysterious maze inside a locked library. Kersten soon finds that the family members pretty much hate each other and their lives are governed by sexual jealousies, secrets and lies.” There are countless aspects of this story that intrigue me. It is a Victorian gothic novel set in modern times. There is a mystery involved. The family is quite eccentric. The home of the Cosway family reminds me of the setting for the recent film, Atonement. I also keep imagining scenes from The Secret Garden.

In addition, there is a labyrinth within the home that is a gigantic library and the walls of the labyrinth are made up of books… How exciting is that? I imagine this scene but darker, far darker and with dust and cobwebs in place.

The narrator, British actress Sian Thomas, is excellent. Her voice is perfect for the novel and is what I would describe as lovely. She is British and it is a British novel so I think the word lovely is spot on.

Throughout the first half of the novel they continue to reference the geode. I figured out it was a physical thing but this is where my mental knowledge ended. Tonight I looked up the answer. A geode is essentially a beautiful rock formation. *Whew.* I can rest easy now. You see, while driving I can’t stop and look up information… so I end up sorting it out in my head, which in turn distracts me from listening to the story…While listening to audio books I always feel like I am missing important details.

With a mystery novel I know I am missing important details. This could be because I am driving and to some extent paying attention to the road and in turn my listening comprehension decreases. Oh, if only I would ignore the road and listen to the story in full, complete detail! I’m sure I would have solved the mystery by now. Instead I’m still trying to put all the pieces together.

Previous audio books I’ve listened to include:

Naked, by David Sedaris. This was very easy to follow. Sedaris reads all of his own work.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by JK Rowling. I had already read this (like a true Harry Potter fan, of course) but I listened to the audio version as a refresher. I will listen to Book 8 once it is available from the library.

Do you listen to audio books? If so, when and where?

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