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Author: JC Miller
Narrator: Curt Simmons
Length: 7h 28m
Publisher: JC Miller Writer
Released: July 14, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.
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JC (Jeanne) Miller is a freelance essayist, the author of five novels, including the best-seller, Vacation. An avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast, JC resides in Northern California.
Curt lives in Seattle and produces and narrates audiobooks in his home studio. He began his performing career in college as a stage actor and radio personality. After college, in addition to acting, Curt also did voiceovers for commercials, which he also wrote, directed, and edited for broadcast TV. Following the birth of his daughter in 1984, he left the performing arts to pursue a more “stable” profession managing projects. Then, in 2014 he returned to the professional stage for the first time in over 30 years as Walter Flood in Becky’s New Car by Stephen Dietz. He has also appeared recently as Lyman in Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz and Ralph in The Last Romance by Joseph DiPietro. Vacation is Curt’s eighth audiobook.
Dr. William Koval is a 40 year old widower. He loves his microscope and petri dishes, his life being pretty uncomplicated. However, a shadow glooms his life up a bit, his wife, Kathleen, having been killed by a mentally unstable man three years earlier. Now work forces him to take a vacation and he decides on a whim to sign up for an English walking tour, something him and his wife were planning to do before her untimely death. The walking tour brings him some closure and perhaps a new chance at happiness.
I have to say this isn’t my normal cup of tea but I was intrigued by the English walking tour and a still-grieving widower trying to say goodbye to his deceased wife and the life they had together. I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The English walking tour has some bumps and burrs to it and that made it interesting. I was hoping for a touch more here and there. In fact, if the book had all been set in this English country walk, with rich history and some cultural tidbits tossed in, then I would have been very happy with the book. There were plenty of fun & interesting characters on the tour as well but we had to say goodbye to almost all of them when the tour ended.
Alas, the second half of the book is back in the states and is a pretty standard contemporary romance. Should he call her? Will she call him back? Can he get over his past? Will she forgive him? Can they come together over a shared travesty? Quite frankly, it was pretty boring to me. The first half is exciting and different and more than a simple romance. It had complexity. The second half lacked these traits.
The main characters themselves were interesting. William is a doctor, but not a people person nor does he seek glory in complicated surgeries or being a leading expert in some minute field of interest. He’s a practical, quiet man. Deciding to go off to England on a whim was so out of his norm and yet I could clearly see it was him trying to breath life back into this stagnant existence he was stuck in.
Annie Logan is a history buff and also hails from the Seattle area (same as William) and it’s one of those odd quirks that they meet in England. I liked that she was generally soft spoken but would hold her ground, politely but firmly, when she decided enough was enough. She had this trait not only in England but also back home on Vashon Island.
It turns out that Kathleen had a secret, one that William starts to put together on the English walking tour. Kathleen’s best friend, Liz, is now William’s best friend. It’s a friendship that has given them each much comfort, especially when William comes over for a homecooked meal with Liz’s family. I really liked how comfortable they were with each other and how their friendship kept the good parts of Kathleen’s memory alive.
So all told, this story had a solid start with a complex William in an unusual situation. The second half wasn’t my normal fare and while it bored me a bit, I had to know how things turned out for Annie and William. If contemporary romance is your thing, then I highly recommend this book. It has depth.
I received a free copy of this book.
Narration: Curt Simmons was most excellent in this performance. I am truly impressed by his range of not only male & female voices but also his ability to capture nuanced emotions. He had the perfect voice for William, sounding as mild as milk initially and growing in complexity as learn more about William. His female voices were spot on. Each character was distinct and there were several accents for the English walking tour half of the book (Australian, French, British, etc.). He was a pleasure to listen to.
What I Liked: 40-year old widower is the main character; the English walking tour has it’s problems; all the interesting characters in England; Annie’s quiet determination once she’s set her mind to something; William realizing that Kathleen was not a perfect person; excellent narration.
What I Didn’t Like: The second half of the book was pretty simple and it was a bit boring to me.
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