Thursday, September 27, 2012

Audiobook Review: Emily Goes to Exeter

Emily Goes to Exeter (Traveling Matchmaker, 1) by M.C. Beaton, read by Helen Lisanti, August 8, 2012 (originally published in 1990). 5 hours 39 minutes. Published by AudioGo. Source: Audiobook Jukebox/Publisher.
Miss Hannah Pym, middle-aged spinster and housekeeper, longs for adventure, though she's attained the pinnacle of a servant's career, running the household of Thornton Hall for her melancholy employer, Mr. Clarence. Thornton Hall has not been the most cheerful abode, however, since Mrs. Clarence ran off with a footman, and when Mr. Clarence dies, Miss Pym wonders what will become of her--until she learns that her late employer has left her a legacy of five thousand pounds! It takes little persuasion from Mr. Clarence's distinguished brother, Sir George, for Hannah to fulfill a secret dream. Taking to the roads of England on the perilous and uncomfortable stagecoaches known in 1800 as "Flying Machines," Miss Pym will encounter all manner of men and maids--and her inquisitive personality and kind heart will lead her to become "The Traveling Matchmaker." Miss Pym's wish for adventure is fulfilled almost immediately on her first wintry journey aboard the Exeter Fly. Accosted by a highwayman, then overturned in the snow, Miss Pym and her shaken fellow passengers repair to the nearest inn to wait out a vicious snowstorm--giving Miss Pym ample time to get to know her fellow travelers, including one pretty young gentleman who is not quite what "he" seems. "He" is, in fact, Miss Emily Freemantle, a Young Lady of Quality fleeing an unwanted marriage--with Lord Ranger Harley, another passenger. Pursuing Miss Freemantle to bring her back to her doting parents, Lord Harley soon finds--with some gentle hints from Miss Pym--that he may be pursuing something else. In her element in the absence of servants, Miss Pym marshals her fellow passengers and puts them to work cooking and cleaning, just as she herself goes to work untangling and retying the romantic knots that bind them.
First Sentence:
Hannah Pym stood by the drawing-room window of Thornton Hall and waited for the stage-coach to go by.


Emily Goes to Exeter is not generally something I would request for review, but after reading a couple of M.C. Beaton's mystery books I thought why not. I ended up thoroughly enjoying this lighthearted read.

When I started Emily Goes to Exeter I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised that there were elements of suspense, danger, and mystery throughout the book. I liked that the book had more to offer than simply that of the middle-aged Hannah's quest for adventure and her newly minted name as the "Traveling Matchmaker". I found it quite interesting to see how the author added in these very elements while expanding upon the MC's character making her into a fairly dynamic leading lady.

I know that y'all know I love characters that scheme, and Miss Hannah Pym filled that role perfectly. Even though at times she tried a little too hard, I liked that her heart was in the right place in her meddling. I liked that her "love" schemes had a sort of 'madhatter' feel to them in their outlandishness.
One of the most interesting aspects of the plot was Miss Pym herself and how she finds herself sticking her nose into the personal lives of her travelling companions. what really made it interesting would have to be that everyone welcomed her meddling in their affairs, yet they all in the end would wind up seeking her help for one thing or another. 

What was perhaps the most surprising thing of all would have to be that there was not one instance were I had to skip due to content. And yet, the story never once lagged for the lack of foul language and questionable content. If anything it increased the atmosphere of the setting and really drew me in as a reader.

Miss Hannah Pym, while she was older then most characters I usually read about. Even though she was middle-aged, she seemed almost young at heart as she searched for the adventure that she never had while she was a housemaid. I liked her because she seemed to almost always have a twinkle in her eye, especially when she would speak of her adventure and ones that she hoped to have.
In short, she was definitely an interesting character to get to know and I'm looking forward to reading about her next adventure.

So, what did I find most enjoyabl about Emily Goes to Exeter, well, I'm thinking Miss Hannah Pym herself. I liked her because she reminded me of the lovely Miss Marple, except that she preferred to make matches of the heart then to solve the latest murder. Her scheming was highly entertaining to read about and left me snickering at points as I tried to not burst out laughing and disturb those in the room.

While Emily Goes to Exeter was a generally good read, that only thing I did not like was the predictability of the plot. It was predictable in the way that most romantic type books are; little guess work to how the little love schemes and plot would work out. While it was fairly easy to figure out who would be together at the end, I liked the way that Ms Beaton brought the romantic endings about.


The narration while good was a little distracting because I kept picturing Isabel Crowley/Harriet Jones as the person narrating Emily Goes to Exeter. I'm sure y'all know who the actresses is that plays both of those characters and that I need not explain.
Even though the narrator, Helen Lisanti, did an incredible job I just kept seeing in my mind's eye that one actress reading the lines and portraying Miss Hannah Pym.

Helen Lisanti's narration was definitely enjoyable in Emily Goes to Exeter. What really made her narration so good was that she was pretty brilliant with the accents, which I expected since she was/is from England. Another reason why her narration was enjoyable would have to be that she did such a great job with all of the characters and giving them different pronunciations and inflections.

The most surprising thing, to me, about her narration would have to be the male characters. I really liked how she read them and found it to be pretty accurate.

The only thing that I found to not be to my liking would have to be that at times I kept thinking of certain characters in two of my favorite TV shows. It was distracting to put it mildly because then I'd lose track of what was happening thinking of what happened in previous episodes.

Final Verdict: Emily Goes to Exeter is for those looking for a clean romantic read with a dash of mystery and adventure.

Emily Goes to Exeter earns 3.5 out of 5 pineapples.

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