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Description⎮Reviewed June 2018
Narrator: Linda Emond
Length: 9 hours 47 minutes
Synopsis: Perennial New York Times and national best-selling author and acclaimed, multiple prizewinner Laura Lippman delivers a brilliant novel about a woman with a secret life who is forced to make desperate choices to save her son and herself.
Heloise considers it a blessing to be a person who seldom attracts attention. In her suburb, she’s just a mom, the young widow with the forgettable job, who somehow never misses a soccer game. In the state capital, she’s the redheaded lobbyist with a good cause and a mediocre track record. But in discreet hotel rooms throughout the area, she’s the woman of your dreams – if you can afford the hourly fee.
For more than a decade, Heloise believed she was safe, managing to keep up this rigidly compartmentalized life. But her secret life is under siege. One county over, another so-called suburban madam has been found dead in her car, an apparent suicide. As 40 looms and her son enters adolescence, Heloise is facing a midlife crisis with much higher stakes than most will ever know. With no formal education, no real family or friends, Heloise has to remake her life – again. Disappearing will be the easy part. The trick is living long enough to start a new life.
4.75★ Audiobook⎮The best praise I can give And When She Was Good is to say that it was the only audiobook (out of approximately 7-10 contenders) that could grab and keep my attention during a particularly annoying two-week listening slump. I could drone on about how unfair it is to be caught in a listening drought right at the beginning of Audiobook Month, but I’m just so relieved to be out of it!
There was probably nothing wrong with the other audios I tried listening to, as I’ve found that listening slumps have more to do with my state of mind than with specific audiobooks. Nevertheless, I’m not only overjoyed to have been so enthralled by And When She Was Good, but to have also discovered of Laura Lippman and Linda Emond. Laura Lippman’s writing style was like a breath of fresh air. It was straightforward, yet realistically detailed. The pacing was enjoyably slow, giving appropriate time to world building and character development. It may be too slow for some listeners’ tastes, but I appreciated the opportunity to really “sink into” the story, like a warm bath.
Besides, the promise of climactic action was always just underneath the surface. Lippman’s laying out of the story was intentional and calculated, without seeming overtly so. It was extremely intellectual, offering thought-provoking insights instead of mere fluff. Heloise’s cerebral nature may have pushed away those in her environment, but it was what I found most endearing about her. That, and her fierce maternal love. Sometimes a character’s vulnerabilities don’t lie within their own flaws, but in the existence of those they love. This was a poignant and intriguing premise.
Heloise was an amazing main character, possibly one of my favorites in a long time. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the brief flashbacks detailing her past and explaining how she got to her current position in life. I normally don’t enjoy flashbacks and I thought I wouldn’t like these, but Lippman direct writing style won me over. She was able to directly tie past events in Heloise’s life to their effects in her present, thus making the flashbacks seem useful to the plot as well as character development.
I chose And When She Was Good over Lippman’s other titles because (at a glance) it seemed to be the only one built around a premise other than a “whodunit”. There is a murder that acts as a catalyst in the story, but not a central event. I found that very refreshing. I would recommend And When She Was Good to anyone who has enjoyed the television show The Client List. Both feature women trying to compartmentalize their personal lives as suburban moms from their professional lives as escorts.
I’m so glad to have discovered Laura Lippman. I will 100% be checking out more of her titles in the immediate future.
Narration review: Linda Emond’s voice is singularly enjoyable. She has a voice I could listen to all day long (and did during the course of binging this audiobook). Emond is undeniably a quality narrator and it’s clear that she knows her way around a recording booth. I am as glad to have discovered her as I am Laura Lippman. They make an incredible team and I’m happy to see that they have collaborated on other titles as well. This was an all around excellent listening experience. ♣︎