Woman at 1,000 Degrees

12 CDs. Recorded Bks. Mar. 2018. 14:45 hrs. ISBN 9781501969621. $123.75. digital download. F
Eighty-year-old Herra Bjornsson recounts her haunted and haunting life in this international best seller. Herra's life is framed by her Icelandic father's Nazi past, which led to the family moving constantly and bearing the shame and stigma of his bad decisions. Herra reveals the effects of all of this by living a life of promiscuity, carelessness, and falsehood, told in fragmented form about overlapping time periods. The very definition of an unreliable narrator, she tries to shock the listener by recounting the many follies of her life, all told as coarsely as possible and in minute detail. All of the vulgarity and jumping around in time grows a bit tiresome. However, Suzanne Toren's warm voice lends sympathy to what might otherwise be a somewhat irritating character.
VERDICT Toren commits 100 percent to the source material, creating a fully believable old battle-ax, raging against her circumstances and awaiting death as she recounts the tragicomic story of her life. ["Despite the unusual, humorous premise, the voice feels inauthentic and the story drags on. Fans of whimsical novels or those interested in Icelandic settings may enjoy it": LJ 11/1/17 review of the Algonquin hc.]

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