Anne here, and I'm excited to announce that The Autumn Bride has been made into an audio book. That's a first for me, and I'm really thrilled about it.
I love audio books now, but for a long time they didn't appeal to me at all. When I was a child I used to love being read to, but that stopped not long after I learned to read. It wasn't that people stopped wanting to read me a bedtime story — it was me, being greedy and impatient. I could read much faster than they could speak, so I fired my parents and older siblings from bed-time duty and read the books myself.
It was a really evil paint job that converted me to audio books. I have an old house and at the time I couldn't afford to renovate it, so I was sprucing it up myself. I'd used a steam machine to remove a glowing metallic feature wall from the lounge room and four walls of frolicking donkeys from the study. Now it was time to attack the moldering vestibule/entry hall. Small space, small job, I thought.
Hah! Turned out there were 3 or 4 layers of wallpaper, and each one had been painted over at some stage and then papered again. I don't know what they'd put on those walls over the years, but it was made to stay. I tried everything the guys at the paint shops could suggest. The only way I could shift it was to peel and scrap it one shred at a time. So first thing Saturday morning, I started.
The time c-r-a-w-l-e-d. By 10.30 am I felt like such a martyr. Hours of scraping and hardly anything to show for it. Worse, it was the last long weekend before winter, everyone else had gone away to the beach or the mountains or the bush and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. And there was I stuck indoors in the vestibule from hell: scrape, scrape, shred, shred, martyr, martyr.
Then I recalled that I'd borrowed an audio book of a favorite author from the library, only because it was the one book of his that I hadn't been able to get. I pulled it out and started listening. . . Hours later the book was finished, and somehow, almost without me noticing, a heap of wall had been scraped clean. The time had flown; I'd been miles away in the world of a book. So I whizzed off to the library and borrowed a pile of audio books. By the end of the weekend, the vestibule was clear of shreds, washed, sanded and ready for a coat of sealer — and though my arms were aching, I felt like I'd spent the weekend reading. Magic.
Now I'm still impatient for the story and my preference is still to curl up with a book and devour it in one sitting but when I'm doing a mundane chore or driving long distances, I love being read to.
So now one of my books had gone into an audio edition, and though I would have been happy with any of my books being chosen, I am so pleased that it's The Autumn Bride, because it fits with the story.
There's quite a bit about books and reading them aloud in this book, and it starts when Lady Beatrice, bedridden but still feisty discovers a new pleasure — books read to her by the heroine and her sisters. And when an old friend visits, and Lady Beatrice asks her to wait until the chapter is finished, her old friend is stunned.
“You’re reading books now, Bea? Good heavens! Well, of course I don’t mind, if that’s what you want.” But though she allowed herself to be seated in a comfortable chair by the fire, it was clear she thought the request a peculiar one.
However as Abby read on, Lady Beddington edged forward in her chair, twisting her shawl into a rope, listening eagerly, until by the end of the chapter she was perched right on the edge of her chair, hanging on every word.
When Abby finished the chapter Lady Beddington fell back in her chair, exclaiming, “Bless my soul, I never knew a book could be so entertaining.”
“I know,” Lady Beatrice said. “Before these gels came to live with me, I can’t remember when I last read a book. All the books I’d ever been made to read were dreary, improving things, full of morals and lessons and homilies or facts—and that’s when I could understand the dratted things. But Abby and the gels always find the most thrilling tales, and the only thing that’s improved when we’re finished is my mood.”
The audio edition of The Autumn Bride goes on sale on 18th Feb. I haven't heard it yet, and I suspect it will be a bit weird hearing my own words read back to me, but I can't wait.
And where is your favorite place to read or be read to? (The painting on the right and the one above of the girl in the hammock are by E. Phillips Fox, one of my favorite Australian painters, who painted in the late 19th/early20th century.)
I'll give a copy of the Autumn Bride (paperback version) to someone who leaves a comment