Author: Nevada Barr
Narrator: Linda Stephens
Produced by Recorded Books, Inc.
Audiobook production date: 2001
Length: 16 hours, 25 minutes, 34 seconds
Bittersweet is just that, a bittersweet story about love, dreams, hard work, and heartache. We journey, westward bound, with Imogene Grelznik and Sarah Tolstonadge (later, Ebbitt). The two women meet after Imogene is forced from her teaching post in Philadelphia and takes up as the resident teacher in Calliope, Sarah’s small town in western Pennsylvania. A scandal sends both women into the wilder terrain of Nevada, battered, but not broken. Nevada Barr’s skillful writing conjures up an Old West full of possibility, with all of the highs and lows that accompany life along the way.
Linda Stephens narration calls up images of a warm, wood burning stove and the comfort of a lay on which to rest your head as you listen to the story unfold. Her voice lends itself well to the range of characters along the trail from East to West. At times, you can hear how her voice remains in character, absorbing the powerful currents of emotion, after reading dialogue. The way Linda’s words catch in her throat is engaging and very moving. Since I had read the novel prior to listening, I braced myself for the difficult scenes involving domestic abuse and sexual assault. Linda steps up, though, and handles those sections with strength, excellent pacing and tone. Another highlight of this production is Linda’s wonderful characterizations.
I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical fiction featuring strong, resourceful women who face seemingly insurmountable odds.