One of the best narrators reading one of my favourite books? Yes, please.
What was the book about?
Reese Walker hasn’t left her Chicago apartment for too many days for most people to count – but she, of course, knows exactly how many. Her job as an audiobook narrator is the perfect excuse not to have to go out and deal with people. The only person she really can’t escape is her intrusive older neighbour Judith. A long-overdue bill for the rehab clinic treating her sister pushes her to agree to a job in New York. Her childhood friend David will produce the audiobook for bestselling author Arden Abbott’s latest book. Working with David would make getting out of her comfort zone okay, especially since the pay promises to lighten her financial burden, but what is not okay at all is Arden is micromanaging everything, making Reese stop every five seconds to change the way she pronounces seemingly mundane words.
Enemies to Lovers (kinda), Introvert, Sobriety
Both main characters and every secondary character are very well written. I’m not as much of a recluse as Reese is (even though the pandemic isn’t helping me feel sociable), I definitely don’t run from feelings – read my reviews if you have any doubt – but I can relate to almost everything else: panic attacks, noise invasion, people. So much so that I’m not sure I breathed correctly for more than a couple of pages while reading this book. However, even though it would be easy to focus on Reese and all that feels familiar, it would be unfair to both Arden and the book. At first, Arden appears as gorgeous but cold. An ice queen. Soon enough, however, it becomes clear that Arden’s search for perfection is rooted not in her personality but in her need to prove to the world – and to her agent in the first place – that she’s reliable despite the bumps in her life recently. This book and its audio version are a second chance she can’t miss and that’s what her attention is on, until she and Reese realise they like spending time together not as colleagues but as friends then as more.
While Reese is out of her comfort zone in almost every situation and every place, Arden isn’t without her own issues. I really liked the way Bexley handled the topic of sobriety and agency. How easy it is to lose control and how hard it is to get it back. I also love how Bexley shows both women so preoccupied with their own battle that they don’t immediately see the efforts demanded of the other and how they both open their eyes, so to speak, to the other’s struggles and that fragile balance between supporting and overwhelming, between understanding and acceptance.
Despite how complex these topics are, Lucy Bexley manages to keep her novel on the light and heartwarming side, with quirky wit, a healthy touch of sarcasm and obvious tenderness towards her characters.
The chemistry in this book isn’t of the slam-bam-I want you kind. For Reese, it’s more “you’re hurting me, why do I like you?” until she gets to know Arden better and the hurt disappears. Since the story is told solely from Reese’s point of you, we don’t know what Arden feels and she keeps blowing hot and cold at first but the looks she gives Reese say it all. The first kiss scene is sweet and heartbreaking, the second kiss is full of joy and once they finally get to it, the sex is scorching hot.
You can never go wrong with Abby Craden narrating. Hearing her play a narrator is even better. Craden’s voice is rich and full of nuances and she can pretty much do anything she wants with it. Not only does she give each character their own very distinctive voices, but Reese gets two: her Reese voice and her narrator voice. Abby Craden voicing Reese narrating sexy scenes is delightful and I’m here for it. I loved this story when I first read it and, as often happens when the narration is good, loved it even more when I listened to it. Some scenes register in a different way when they’re told by someone other than the voice in my head, and I love this feeling of discovering them anew.
🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥
Must Love Silence is Lucy Bexley’s first full-length novel (and my first book by her). It tackles sensitive issues with care and the solemnity they require but with a romcom feel at times and a good sense of humour that make this book a very enjoyable read.