Narrated by Nicholas Boulton
We Kinsale fans are getting such a treat – 12 audiobooks in the next year, all narrated by superstar Nick Boulton! And Flowers from the Storm is arguably the most eagerly awaited Kinsale title amongst them all, for good reason.
Flowers from the Storm is a break from the regular Regency historical (for one thing, it isn’t exactly Regency, but that’s beside the point). The hero is the Duke of Jervaulx – the regular arrogant peer hero, who starts the book dallying with a married woman. Then, in a dark twist, Christian suffers a massive aneurysm, is declared insane and must struggle to regain his position in the world. Of course, in those days (it was about 1828, around the time King George appointed Wellington Prime Minister) stroke victims were thought to be lunatics because they could not speak or if they could, it didn’t make any sense. Christian’s own reaction to his predicament was violent, so he was locked up in an asylum.
Maddy Timms is a Quaker who lives with her blind, ailing father. Mr. Timms is a brilliant mathemetician – as is Christian – and he has been corresponding with Christian about a particular theorem. Maddy and Christian meet before he has his stroke, at a mathematical society meeting where he and her father present a paper, to great acclaim. It’s by chance that she and her father then move some months later to help out her cousin Edward, who runs the asylum where Christian is found chained to his bed.
Maddy, who has been struggling with her faith, decides that helping Christian is God’s mission for her, since she seems to be the only one who can communicate with him. And throughout the book, it is only when she is strong in her conviction to help Christian that she is truly happy, and when she has doubts that standing by him is the right thing to do that she is conflicted and unhappy.
Christian’s POV is told from his muddled mind, and it’s incredibly effective in putting you inside his head. He’s treated as a violent imbecile, and in his own mind, as things come back to him – slowly, and never completely – he struggles with reaching out and regaining his position. He soon realizes that he needs Maddy, he depends on her, she is his strength and his courage and his only way to his own personal salvation. This is where Boulton truly shines – his delivery of the frustrated bursts of unintelligible speech is brilliant and convincing and just as frustrating as you can imagine.
However, Boulton’s star turn as Christian isn’t the only wonderful part of this narration. His characters are masterpieces – Christian’s friends Durham and Fane, his pesky Aunt Vesta, the sniveling brothers-in-law, Maddy’s cousin Edward and the various asylum employees. All are done with easily identifiable and differentiated voicing, with local accents that vary by class and gender. It was 16 hours of pure agonizing bliss – agonizing because my heart went out both to Christian and to Maddy as each struggled with redefining their worlds and their morals and even their very personalities, but the combination of Kinsale’s prose being read by Boulton is pure bliss.
I laughed at myself when I picked this up to read – I actually DNFed another book to start this because the other book was such a downer, with both the story and the narration sending me spiraling into a dark abyss. I wanted something I knew I would love. I would warn readers, however, that this is also a very dark, very heart-wrenching story. The difference between that Unnamed DNF and FFTS, however, is the mastery of the author and the narrator making you wanting to know more, instead of wanting to just turn off the audiobook and walk barefoot on hot coals instead. And here’s a DIY tip I learned while listening: put your ipod/iphone/mp3 player inside a paper cup to use as a cheap speaker! It works!
Book Content: A+
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Hedgehog, Inc.
Flowers from the Storm was provided to AudioGals by Hedgehog Inc for review.