“Jewels of the Sun” Audio Book Review

June 11, 2012

Anyone familiar with prolific author Nora Roberts probably has a pretty decent grasp of her subject matter of choice: women falling in love. Her heroines have names like Mackensie Elliot, Cilla McGowan, and Eve Dallas, cool names that parents would never think up. And they unfailingly have exciting, challenging, and satisfying careers as architects, homicide detectives, or photographers. This is all part of the fantasy Roberts weaves in which capable, modern women meet the perfect man and fall in love despite their own personal baggage, insecurities, and misgivings. It’s a formula that she has perfected and in “Jewels of the Sun” she sends the whole kit and caboodle to romantic and idyllic Ireland.

Jude Frances Murray is the heroine in this tale of overseas adventure, and she is in need of salvation. Despite a lifetime of careful planning and making the “smart” choice, she finds herself in the wake of an apparently unsurprising divorce and a job she detests (psychology professor). The picture Roberts paints of Jude’s buttoned-down family is enough to make you snort in derision (is anyone really that Waspy in this day and age?), but their detached self-righteousness is merely a tool to help you understand why the seemingly timid Jude would want to break the bonds of repression, quit her job, and high-tail it to Ireland to “find herself”. Sadly, you will find this audio book full of such cliché characterizations. But don’t give up too early. Despite the fact that you can practically see the seams in this quilt of many colors, the story will eventually deliver the emotional goodies that make Nora Roberts the queen of guilty pleasures.

And her descriptive prose is nothing if not fun and fully formed. Sentences like “Roll after roll of green hills shimmered under sunlight that glowed like the inside of seashells,” will help you visualize the picturesque beauty for which Ireland is famous. And as you listen (hopefully out by the pool on a hot summer day) you will begin to feel your own tension slide away as the story unfolds, just as Jude feels herself relaxing into her Irish sabbatical in the tiny town of Ardmore. Of course, the lull in her story can’t last, and listeners certainly wouldn’t want it to.

First there is the mysterious ghost that seems to have taken up residence in Jude’s cottage (for the last three hundred years), flitting around windows and making herself known here and there. Then there are the faeries. And of course, there is the love interest, Aidan Gallagher, who is suitably handsome, charming, and romantic. He’s also got a wild streak and, wonder of wonders, he seems drawn to Jude, despite her self-deprecation, skepticism, and overall neuroticism. But like all of Roberts’ characters, Jude must come to love herself before she can bask in the love of her hunky leading man. And the mysticism of Ireland provides a fitting backdrop for the affair.

It isn’t only jewellers that can spot a gem, and while Roberts’ audio book offerings may be a bit rough for more enlightened readers, there’s no denying that her descriptive wordplay and well-hewn formula hit just the right note for a summer “read”. And thanks to the audio format you won’t even have to put in that much effort to enjoy the fun of this kooky love story.


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