Sunday Salon: Of Small Houses and Things Far Far Away

TheSmallHouseatAllington-copyI’m bound and determined to finish The Small House at Allington, book five in the Chronicles of Barsetshire, by Anthony Trollope today. Its interest to me waxes and wanes, at times most achingly slowly. I was thrilled to be invited by Audrey to join her, JoAnn and Lisa in a read along, for my favorite part of blogging these days lies in shared reads. I was also eager to discover Trollope for myself. But, this may be my first and last book of his unless the current feeling I have is suddenly thrust aside in a flash of excitement.

I’m in the mood for something darkly autumnal, actually, and when I received an email from Penguin RandomHouse audio about Far Far Away I had to pursue the trail laid out before me. Incredibly, our library had this version of the novel, and I was spared paying $55.00 for a copy of my own. Which I probably wouldn’t have done without some assurance of its worth beyond the publisher’s promise.

JoAnn is particularly fond of audio books, but it’s not something I excel at. I’ve enjoyed listening to the National Short Story nominations broadcast on the BBC during my drive to work. But they are short, approximately thirty minute segments, which don’t require a huge amount of effort on my part to stay awake. For the end result of listening to an audio book is the overwhelming desire I have to fall asleep. (Even if the voice is that of Colin Firth reading The End of The Affair which was my first gift from


But, Far Far Away promises to be an intriguing ghost story read by W. Morgan Sheppard who has a magnificent voice. It is a novel which has been a National Book Award finalist and an Edgar Award finalist. It is described on the publisher site as this:

‘A dark, contemporary fairy tale in the tradition of Neil Gaiman.

Jeremy Johnson Johnson hears voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next.

But Jacob can’t protect Jeremy from everything. When coltish, copper-haired Ginger Boultinghouse takes a bite of a cake so delicious it’s rumored to be bewitched, she falls in love with the first person she sees: Jeremy. In any other place, this would be a turn for the better for Jeremy, but not in Never Better, where the Finder of Occasions—whose identity and evil intentions nobody knows—is watching and waiting, waiting and watching. . . And as anyone familiar with the Brothers Grimm know, not all fairy tales have happy endings.

Veteran writer Tom McNeal has crafted a young adult novel at once grim(m) and hopeful, full of twists, and perfect for fans of contemporary fairy tales like Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Holly Black’s Doll Bones. The recipient of five starred reviews, Publishers Weekly called Far Far Away “inventive and deeply poignant.”‘

So, that is what I’ll be reading/listening to next as the autumn leaves tumble and crunch on the path outside my window, beneath an ever darkening sky pulling us toward October’s end. Are you reading anything wonderfully eerie before German Lit Month begins in November?