Sirens & Muses

Books on Tape. Jul. 2022. 13:21 hrs. ISBN 9780593587720. $95. F
Far from home at an elite New England art school, Louisa Arceneaux finds comfort and inspiration in her roommate, Karina Piontek. Karina, the scion of wealthy art dealers, feels the mutual attraction as she models for Louisa but responds still to overtures from senior Preston Utley. If Karina’s parents ever met the anticapitalist conceptual artist, they’d hate him. Wrynn College’s visiting professor Robert Burgess made his name with political paintings but hasn’t produced a significant work in decades. As Occupy Wall Street builds momentum, the four are forced from ivory tower to New York skyline, where making rent trumps making art, though they’re compelled to try. Angress’s debut novel is an absorbing, intelligent drama made irresistible in audio. Narrator Rebecca Lowman reads precisely and seriously, but with fluent breaks for character-specific dialogue, dipping into a palette of emotions that completes the already vivid personalities on display. Louisa’s faint Cajun accent, stronger when she visits family, perfectly exemplifies this attention to auditory detail.
VERDICT Superb narration adds to the impact of this populist, yet personal take on a rarefied set. Highly recommended.
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