If you’re looking for an audiobook with sweltering summer vibes then I urge you to dive into The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff. This compact coming-of-age story has a timeless quality that’s reminiscent of I Capture the Castle, We Were Liars and The Greengage Summer (Rumer Godden). I’ve long been a fan of Rosoff’s work after falling in love with her debut novel, How I Live Now but none of her subsequent stories have quite lived up to that incandescent first book – until now. I listened to the Audible unabridged audiobook.
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Everyone talks about falling in love like it’s the most miraculous, life-changing thing in the world. Something happens, they say, and you know.
That’s what happened when I met Kit Godden.
I looked into his eyes and I knew.
Only everyone else knew, too. Everyone else felt exactly the same way.
This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer – the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, our watchful narrator sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as their brother and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding.
Enter two brothers – irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.
The Audio Narration
Let me start with the audio element of this book because there is no other way to describe it than ELECTRIC! I nearly bought the physical copy of The Great Godden but I suspect that this version was a better fit for me because it drew out details that I might have missed if I’d read the novel.
Read with a soft Irish lilt by Andrew Scott (the actor who plays Moriaty in the TV series Sherlock), his voice (that of the main character) carries you through the tale in a slow, dreamy way – the perfect fit for a beachside tale of stealth and seduction. He varies the speaking tone for each character with just the right amount of inflection too so that their personalities shine. And I really loved the small touches of humour and sarkiness. Rosoff and Scott totally capture the flow of family banter which nicely offsets the darker elements of the book.
Tropes and Twists
The tropes in The Great Godden are fairly standard – the arrival of an attractive stranger, secret romances, surly teens who have hidden depths, but the author has taken the form and injected new magic into it. Meg Rosoff has a talent for spinning small details into something bigger; for capturing transcendental moments in simple ways. Her prose slips from the mundane to the sublime within a few words.
Unusually we also never find out the name, gender or age of the main character. I assumed that this was of a girl – possibly the second oldest child in the family – until I reached the end of the book and then realised this had never been specified. This completely changed my whole perception of the story and now I want to read this from a male perspective. The idea of having an interchangeable narrator is a genius concept and one that gives the book a unique angle.
Is The Great Godden YA Fiction or Adult Read?
This is being promoted as YA fiction, but it has real crossover appeal and so I’m going to say both. I’d brand this literary young adult. It’s subtle with a slowish pace, which is why I’m recommending the audiobook rather than the hardback. If you’ve read Meg Rosoff’s other work then you’ll know that her novels are often about the subtext rather than the drama.
In The Great Godden, she doesn’t dissect the characters with minute precision. Instead, Rosoff leaves a lot open to interpretation. Kit Godden is a prime example of this. Much of his power derives from everyone’s imagination (including ours). If you prefer your reads to be detailed and sensational, this won’t be for you, but if you enjoy open-ended ambiguity then this will be a good fit.
I only finished this a few days ago and have the biggest book hangover. A part of me is still in that beach house (location undisclosed) watching the tide roll in and out. This is a summer read that I will replay and I highly recommend listening to it before the season ends.
- Author: Meg Rosoff
- Narrator: Andrew Scott
- Format: Audiobook
- Listening Length: 4 hours and 9 minutes
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Inc.
- Version: Unabridged
- ASIN: B08BCSP3CR
Buy The Great Godden Audible Audiobook | Amazon
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