Jul 23, 2014

A Long Time Gone by Karen White (Unabridged Audio Version)

A LONG TIME GONE is the multi-generational story of the Walker women of Indian Mound, Mississippi. This sweeping and emotional story focuses on Vivien, Carol Lynne, and Adelaide Walker, who each grew up in a different time but faced many of the same obstacles in life. Their story is steeped in rich history that is plagued by deep family secrets and is told in the first person by each of these troubled women. Vivien in current day, and Carol Lynne and Adelaide from the past.

After being gone from home for several years, Vivien returns to her family home in Indian Mound to try to piece back together a life that has not worked out for her, no matter how far she tried to run. Coming off a painful divorce and having nothing to show for the years she's been gone, she is reluctant and nervous to face the people she hurt when she left without ever looking back. She's especially not looking forward to seeing her mother, Carol Lynne, who was rarely around while Vivien was growing up, causing deep hurt and resentment in Vivien's soul.   Carol Lynne's story is told through diary entries and follows her life as she drifted from place to place from the sixties until the early 2000's when she finally returned home for good. Her's is a sad and lonely story that desperately needs to be told before its too late. Adelaide's story is the most riveting and emotional story of all and begins in the 1920's.

Vivien arrives home to see the sheriff and a few other people gathered in the back yard where a downed cypress tree lies and crime scene tape has cordoned off the area.  As she approaches she sees a shallow grave containing skeletal remains. Suddenly her arrival home is not the only news of the day. The mystery of whose remains they are and who buried them there is what drives this intricately woven novel.

My Thoughts On the Story:

It didn't take me long to get caught up in the story since Vivien's return coincided with the discovery of the body buried in the yard.  The awkwardness of her return is present but takes a back seat to the mystery of the identity of the bones and how they ended up there.  Vivien and her family assure the Sheriff they will do all they can to help shed light on who it might be by revisiting family history.

My favorite character was Adelaide with her innocence and hope for a beautiful future in a troubling time, yet White doesn't actually reveal who Adelaide actually is until much later in the book. The Walker women all have one thing in common, or at least they think they do. Each of them believes their mothers abandoned them, either by choice or circumstance. In Vivien's case this fact has had a huge impact on her life and the choices she's made. Because of that, she comes across as a hard person to get to know but once she let her guard down, I really liked her. My least favorite character was Carol Lynne, though she is the most misunderstood out of all of the Walker women.

The story was very well-plotted, though at times I wished it would pick up a bit. But even with that said, I never got bored with it. There are many different stories being told from different times but each one is easy to follow and none of them get overshadowed. They are all very relevant and important to the main plot.  If you don't mind the time-jumping you will probably really like this book because the characters are so well connected to each other. Vivien is who keeps the connection strong and has the most to gain from digging into her family's history and that's why its such a well-rounded story, though its not my favorite Karen White novel.

My Thoughts On the Audio Performance:

There are three different narrators in this audio and they all did a fine job. At first I felt Vivien sounded a little flat but as I continued to listen, I gained an appreciation of the different people's voices she also interpreted while telling Vivien's story, both female and male, and I think she did an outstanding job. I believe hers was the most difficult of the three. The narrator of Adelaide also did several different characters and did them all very well. Carol Lynne's story, being told through diary entries was the most straight-forward and I felt her lazy and laid back way of talking slowed the story down a bit. The bottom line is that I'm glad I chose to listen to this book and I would recommend it highly as your next audio.

A LONG TIME GONE (Unabridged Audio Version)
Author: Karen White
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: June 2014
Length: 17 hrs 3 mins


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