Persuasion by Jane Austen

Second time for this, previous review here

This audio book was narrated by P.J.Roscoe, whose lovely voice and accent brought it to vibrant life. I heard, not someone simply reading, but the voices of the characters themselves telling me their stories. The nine hours was over too soon. 

Ten years ago, Ann Elliot broke off an engagement because she felt it was the right thing to do for her family. She loved him, and he, her, but she believed duty called her to walk away. Now, ten years later, they cross paths, memories are stirred and tensions rise. Not that there's much tension in Jane Austen's books, but there are questioning glances, bated breaths, and misunderstood meanings galore. Of course, you know how it's going to end, but the journey is fun no matter how many times you take it.

I love this book, though perhaps not as much as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Her writing, the elegant prose, the oh-so-genteel dialogue  - all of that keeps me coming back, though this was the first time I've listened to any of them on audio. I thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of having it read to me.

A Footnote to Plato & Possessing Genius

A Footnote to Plato by Tina Lee Forsee

A Professor of Philosophy at a small New England college is falsely accused of sexual harrassment, i.e. "standing too close to a student". He isn't sure if he has unintentionally done what he was accused of, or if, which is more likely, the current powers that be are using it to push him out. With the investigation heavy on his mind, he takes his students on a field trip to Greece to film an on-line lecture series, and there the truth comes to light. 

A quiet start, but it turned out to be quite a good story. Philisophical discussions (way more interesting than it sounds) draw parallels to the events unfolding in the plot and force you to slow down and think instead of rushing on to see what happens next. I love it when a book does that. The characters are fleshed out people you can connect to emotionally, and the settings - a small town college, and then Greece - are irresistibly appealing. Good reading.   

Possessing Genius by Carolyn Abraham

This is the story of Einstein's brain, and what happened to it after the rest of him was buried. I was hoping to learn how his brain differed from the brains of us lesser mortals and maybe something about brain function in general, but it was mainly about the scientists who had bits of Einstein's in their possession - or very much wanted to. Many wanted to be involved in the research but the man given responsibility for it wasn't keen on sharing. Not an uninteresting  story, just not what I hoped it would be.

Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

 Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie

Elderly patriarch Simeon Lee invites his sons, Alfred, George, David, and Harry to gather at Gorston Hall, the family estate, for Christmas. Surprised, as they're far from being a close family, they and their wives discuss the pros and cons and decide, reluctantly, to accept. Upon arrival more surprises await, in the person of a family member no one knew existed, and then a visit from Stephen Farr, the son of Simeon's long-time business partner, who arrives unannounced to meet the man of whom his father had so often spoken.

Once gathered, Simeon, an invalid confined to his room, orders his sons to attend him and with a smug smile tells them he plans to change his will the next day, but doesn't say what the changes will be. After brutishly letting them all know how little he thinks of them, he dismisses them to a sullen dinner and an evening of what-if's and maybes...until a blood-curdling scream is heard from upstairs and they find his dead body, his room trashed in an apparently violent altercation.

Enter Poirot, who is spending a quiet Christmas Eve at the home of Chief Constable Johnson. When the call about Lee's murder comes through, Poirot accompanies Johnson to Gorston and the investigation begins. Through a series of interviews with the family and staff several motives for murder come to light, with a few red herrings slipped in to throw the reader off the scent.

The final scene is a gathering of everyone in the household, where Poirot reveals the true identies of some who are not who they claimed to be, makes a case against each one of them, and finally reveals the name of the murderer.

Looking back at it now I can see clues I missed that might have made me suspect the killer, but as it was I remained oblivious till the very end. I haven't read many of these books and I have to say I find Poirot irritating at times, but I like the way he thinks and I do enjoy being surprised at the end.

My book club chose this for our Christmas book, only to find it wasn't Christmassy at all other than taking place over that week. Even so, it was a pretty good detective story and fans of the genre will enjoy it.