Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Canadian actors need work too

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1)Still Life by Louise Penny

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I'd have given this four stars if I'd read the book instead of listening to it. Not that I have anything against Ralph Cosham as a narrator -- he's been haunting me for the past six months, showing up as the reader of Watership Down and The Woman in Black.

The thing is, those are both British books, and Still Life is a Canadian novel set in a small town outside of Montreal. There are no shortage of English accents in Canada; I grew up surrounded by them, but there are no such accents in Still Life; the characters are all anglophone and francophone Quebeckers. Come to think of it, I had similar problems with a collection of Alice Munro's short stories read by an American reader. Canadians do pronounce words differently, no matter what non-Canadians think.

Cosham's accent wraps itself awkwardly around the colloquialisms in both languages (his bio says he speaks French, but evidently not Quebecois French), and robs some of the funnier bits of their humour. Please understand, he's won awards for book narration and deservedly so, but he is ill-suited for this book. Would you enjoy a British audiobook read by an American, French, or Spanish reader? Wouldn't you find it distracting?

In spite of these reservations, I quite liked the style and plot of this mystery, even though I'm not an unreserved fan of the genre, and look forward to reading more of Louise Penny's books. Reading them, not listening to them. (Sorry, Mr Cosham; I'm sure I'll enjoy your renditions of other British works, just as I have in the past.)

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1 comment:

Winnie said...

I enjoyed reading this. One of my pet peeves is hearing a fake put on NYC accent. It really makes me cringe..Have to turn off whatever it is.