Title : A Bitter Veil
Author: Libby Fischer Hellmann
Narrator: Diane Pirone Gelman
Publisher: Libby Fischer Hellmann
Length: 9 hrs 29 min.
Year of Publication: 3-30-12
I really enjoy listening to books when they involve another culture and include dialogue in a different language. When I’m reading I attempt to determine how to pronounce the foreign words and it can throw me out of the story. With audio books the narrator, when they’re good does all the heavy lifting and everything flows. This is the case with Diane Pirone Gelman.
As the single narrator, Gelman, creates the myriad of characters by using tone, inflections, and accepts. Her performance did not have a false note. Her performance kept me riveted to the story. I have a rule, audio books are listened to in the car while traveling. I broke that rule while listening to A Bitter Veil.
One small complaint in an otherwise flawless performance was that the chapter number felt rushed. There didn’t seem to be a pause at the ending line of one chapter when the new chapter number was being announced. It’s a small irritation but I noted it.
Being an old school woman, and new to audible, I had to figure out how to be able to play this through my stereo speakers. Enter an FM transmitter. Even with this low tech solution the production of the presentation was very good. The sound level was consistent throughout the book.
I listen to a lot of audio books, some good, others not so much. This production kept me glued my seat. The story is excellent and although his my introduction to this author I will be seeking out more of her work. She creates memorable characters and puts them in a time in history when the world in Iran is turned upside down. The author obviously did a great deal of research on this period in time. It led me to want to learn more of this culture.
The author starts the book with a crisis in the life of the married Anna. She is in Iran, the Ayatollah has taken over and the national guard is sweeping through the country taking people into prison or executing them. One night, after a fight with her husband Nouri, she is awoken to find 3 national guard outside her door announcing that her husband has been murdered. She is being accused of his murder. Anna is wondering how she got to this place when the author indeed takes us back to the beginning, when Anna met Nouri when they were both college students in Chicago.
Just when you are screaming about being taken away from this momentous event Hellman sweeps you up in the romance between these two young and idealistic students. How can Anna resist when Nouri reads from Rumi. “The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.” Nouri is an intelligent and passionate man who loves his country and wants more for it than what the Shah is providing. Anna has never felt truly part of a family and Nouri gives her a feeling of being part of a relationship. As they near graduation Nouri proposes and they plan to live in Iran.
Hellman uses the changes that are occurring during this period in Iran to begin building the tension, between the family, amongst the citizens and in the country as a whole. Even knowing the history the author allows the reader to really experience these changes over time and feel the building tension. As events unfold the author keeps you at the edge of your seat and doesn’t let you go till the very end.
It’s a beautiful story and highly recommended.
This audio was provided by the publisher and Audible.com. This in no way impacted the outcome of this review. Indeed, I plan on buying the Kindle version so that I can experience both the written and spoken word my next time around.