Matilda Bone (Unabridged Audio Book)

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Read by Janet McTeer
Listening Library / Random House
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add ORT: Matilda Bone the book


Short Review: 
Featuring a nuanced performance by British actress Janet McTeer, this is a splendid unabridged audio version of Karen Cushman’s tale of a medieval girl whose world is turned upside down when she finds herself a bonesetter’s assistant.
Long Review: 

This is the tale of a medieval orphan girl whose world is turned upside down when she finds herself an assistant to Red Peg the Bonsesetter. 14-year-old Matilda was raised on a nobleman’s manor and taught by the severely pious Father Leufredus to pray, read and write in Latin, French, and Greek, as well as to “name the three wise men, the seven deadly sins, and a great many of the 133,306,688 devils of Hell.” So Matilda is unprepared for the messy, noisy chaos of daily life as a bonesetter’s apprentice. Initially feeling out of place and desperately longing to return to her peaceful and solitary religious studies, Matilda instead comes to know, respect, and care for the residents and visitors to Blood and Bone Alley. At the same time, she begins to discover what is really important to her, and to recognize that the most important lessons in life are not necessarily learned from books. This unabridged audio version of Cushman’s novel is beautifully read by Janet McTeer, a British film and stage actress (who won a Tony and an Olivier Award for her mesmerizing performance in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House in London and on Broadway). McTeer’s nuanced performance is perfectly paced, and her rich, mellifluous voice is a pleasure to listen to – it keeps you wanting to listen, making the 4 hours and 20 minutes it takes to read every word in the novel seem to go by in a hurry. Her British accent is appropriate for this tale set in medieval England, and she employs slight variations in accent and tone for different characters’ dialogue. These characterizations never feel forced or gratuitous; rather they serve to bring each character vividly to life for the listener. Karen Cushman, the author, reads her own informative afterword on medieval medical practices, and a nice bit of lute music opens and closes the entire performance. All in all, a splendid production and a wonderful way to become acquainted with Cushman’s delightful heroine, who at first has little control over her destiny, but who, with inner strength and resourcefulness, comes to find her own place in the world.

Lauren Mayer