- Release Date: August 6th 2013
- Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
- Genre: Realistic Fiction
- Audiobook Hours: 12 hours 46 minutes
Synopsis: Sisters Natalie and Alice Kessler were close, until adolescence wrenched them apart. Natalie is headstrong, manipulative—and beautiful; Alice is a dreamer who loves books and birds. During their family’s summer holiday at the lake, Alice falls under the thrall of a struggling young painter, Thomas Bayber, in whom she finds a kindred spirit. Natalie, however, remains strangely unmoved, sitting for a family portrait with surprising indifference. But by the end of the summer, three lives are shattered.In The Gravity of Birds histories and memories refuse to stay buried; in the end only the excavation of the past will enable its survivors to love again
I chose this audiobook for two reasons; 1.) I think the narrator, Cassandra Campbell, is amazing and 2.) I wanted to read more adult “literary-ish” novels.
The Gravity of Birds is told in somewhat converging timelines; starting in the 1960’s when adolescent sisters, Alice and Natalie Kessler, meet the rich, young and burgeoning artist Thomas Bayber. Flash forward to 2007 where Bayber is a world-renowned artist but in poor health. With one trick left, he sends his only friend (and biographer) Prof. Dennis Finch and expert art authenticator, Stephen Jameson, on a journey to find a lost painting…of the Kessler sisters. Along the way, the men uncover Bayber’s history and family secrets that have been hidden for decades.
This novel has a lot of plot twists and reveals, so it can be hard to talk about without giving away too much. While I found most of these reveals predictable, a few still managed to catch me off guard.
When listening to an audiobook it is hard to linger appreciate the writing but, from the snippets I’ve seen from the print version, it’s very obvious Guzeman has an excellent writing ability. This book focuses on art and she has this great way of describing the pieces so the reader can “see” them.
The dynamic characters bring a lot to a plot that could have easily been generic. Of all the characters, I found the somewhat socially unconscious art authenticator Stephen Jameson to be the most interesting. Learning about the process of art authentication and the things people can tell from something as small as an artist’s signature got me interested in reading more books about art. This has left me wanting to check out The Art Forger by B.A Shapiro for my next art themed read !
Cassandra Campbell does a wonderful job with the narration which is no surprise as she has over 300 voice credits . All of her different voices just flow so well together.One of the things I like about her is the versatility in her voice. This novel has a majority of male characters and Campbell creates these really authentic male voices, there were times when I forgot it was a woman’s voice. But then on the flip side of it, she can do an array of a teenage girl or little boy voices.
Reviewing this book as someone who primarily reads YA is difficult. Often, when YA readers talk about adult books we tend to focus on how the book has YA crossover appeal, but I don’t think this book is that kind of book. There aren’t very many of the usual tropes and qualities of YA in this book, which made it refreshing for me.
I’m learning that one of the things I like about adult books is they have an wiser perspective. YA novels tend to function on the notion that the most important and finite moments in life happen to you when you are a teenager and then that’s it. While adult books tend to linger and show a span of a character’s lifetime (Joyland, The Night Circus, Water for Elephants), which puts everything, including the character’s adolescent, in perspective. As a post-college reader, this was a nice change.
*Audiobook provided by Simon and Schuster
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.