The Tenderness of Wolves – Stef Penney – 7/10

The Tenderness of Wolves tells the story of the search for the murderer of Laurent Jamais, French trapper in late nineteenth century Canada, one brutal winter. Mrs Ross’ son Francis is suspected of the murder, and she sets out on a most unconventional journey to clear his name.

This was my first full-scale audiobook listening exercise (it took me about 5 months from start to finish because I don’t have much time in the day that can only be used for audiobook listening!) and I very much enjoyed it. It is such a different experience from reading a print book (not least in terms of the patience necessary!) and I will be looking out for more audiobooks now. This recording had two narrators; Sally Armstrong (with a beautiful clear but distinctive Scottish accent) for Mrs Ross’ strand of the narrative and Adam Sims (again, a clear and versatile voice) for various male-perspective strands.

I was particularly impressed by the characterisation of Donald; like Mrs Ross, he was granted considerable rumination and reflection, thinking back on his time with the Company in Canada and about his father. There were definite tinges of Little House on the Prairie in there, as what is fundamentally a simple murder mystery with a bit of pursuit is turned into an adventure story (to anyone who’s read it: did the story of Lina and her escape have any purpose at all except to add some danger?) and the cosy winter scenes are tempered with the tragedy of the Ross’ lost daughter and the missing Seeton girls.

Somehow the ending, which I would have found riveting and fast-paced in print, dragged a little in audio; whether there was too much perspective switching as the scene was revisited by several characters, or whether it was simply a function of the time taken to describe a scene and thus the impossibility of urgency, I’m not sure. Something to keep an eye out for in future I guess.

An enjoyable adventure tale, and well done in audio.

Additional info:
This was borrowed from the library.
Publisher: ISIS Audio Books
Order The Tenderness of Wolves from Amazon*
* this is an affiliate link – I will be paid a small percentage of your purchase price if you use this, which goes towards giveaways.
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5 thoughts on “The Tenderness of Wolves – Stef Penney – 7/10

  1. Alex 7 December 2011 at 3:57 pm Reply

    I listen to a lot of audiobooks, but somehow never really review then as audiobooks, if you know what I mean. I never talk about the voices, accents, etc. Unless they’re very good or very bad.

    This was a very good audiobook year – I especially liked The Coma by Alex Garland read by Matthew Macfadyen.

    • readingwithtea 20 February 2012 at 6:44 am Reply

      That would be good. I shall have to start looking out for particular narrators!

  2. JoV 8 December 2011 at 8:54 pm Reply

    I haven’t listen to any book before, can you believe it? I have been meaning to read this. I like the Canadian setting, snow and all. We’ll see. Thanks for the review.

  3. Belgie 20 February 2012 at 1:30 am Reply

    Steff Penny’s writing style skillfully weaves character development, setting, and plot to draw the reader into being part of the tapestry of the story. It reminded me of Mystic River in that the characters in the story are as intriguing as the plot, making the book far more than a mystery.

  4. […] loved Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and cannot wait to go and see it as a film. I also enjoyed The Tenderness of Wolves in audio format (both links are to my reviews). I’ve not had much luck with any others […]

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