Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oh Dear Silvia

Silvia Shute is in a coma, and her prognosis is not good.

In the unabridged audio book of Dawn French’s Oh Dear Silvia, various members of Silvia's family and friends visit her in the hospital. We meet them all—ex-husband, sister, son, daughter, granddaughter, cleaning woman, best friend, and Silvia's nurse.

Silvia’s bedside becomes a place where each visitor comes alone to unburden himself or herself, talking to Silvia and hoping she will hear.  These individuals recall memories and sometimes secrets from the past and hopes for the future. Through this, we learn what a complicated person Silvia is.  We also learn of the decisions she has made and how they have affected those around her.

There is some comic relief, though. I enjoyed the character of Tia, Silvia’s cleaning lady, who stops by the hospital frequently to tell Silvia about current events and celebrity news. Silvia’s sister, Jo, is there for some comic relief as well with her unusual and unsuccessful remedies to bring Silvia out of her coma (one solution involves stuffed animals), but I didn’t find all these scenes humorous.

Besides Tia, another favorite character is Winnie, Silvia’s nurse. She is caring, compassionate, and respectful of Silvia and her family, and the kind of nurse anyone would be lucky to have.

I looked forward to one character getting her just desserts, and there was a hint that this justice would be forthcoming. It would have been more satisfying if this had happened during the course of the novel.

Dawn French is the narrator of the novel and does a fantastic job. The cast features Gareth Armstrong, Jane Collingwood, Beattie Edmondson, James Fleet, Llewella Gideon, Jack Lowden, James McArdle, Pauline McLynn, Patrice Naiambana, Celine Rosa Tan, Maggie Steed, and Ruby Turner. 

Listening to the book felt more like listening to a play which I liked, and the great cast made for a powerful listening experience.

Have you listened to this audio book or read the book? What did you think?

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