Saturday, October 3, 2009

Audio Review: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

by Chris Cleave
Narrated by Anne Flosnick
Tantor Media
10 hours 40 minutes

There has been a very curious marketing strategy surrounding Little Bee by Chris Cleave. Since it is a "truly special story", the publishers don't want to say what happens, however enough needs to be divulged to entice the reader. Then, once you've taken the plunge and read it, you are directed not to say what happens because "the magic is in how the story unfolds".

In an effort to save their marriage, British couple Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke travel to a Nigerian beach, where a series of horrific events entwine their lives with 14-year-old Little Bee. The story, told in alternating voices of Sarah and Little Bee, begins two years later when Little Bee arrives on their doorstep outside London.

The reader does an excellent job, both as Sarah and with Little Bee's African accent. Her voice immediately suggested (to me, anyway) a dreamlike, lyrical, almost surreal tone, which I felt periodically throughout the rest of the novel. It was particularly evident when Little Bee reflects on certain themes: "Trouble is like the ocean: It covers two thirds of the world."
Little Bee's sense of wonder also comes through clearly when trying to think how she can possibly explain certain aspects of British life to "the girls back home".

Little Bee was a very absorbing audiobook, and one that I can recommend...but really, why all the secrecy?

Note: This book is titled The Other Hand in the UK.


  1. I thought they did that just to make people curious to read it. However, I totally disregarded what the publisher's said and reviewed it how I wanted to. I'm a rebel :)

    I truly loved this book and it really had an impact on me. Top read for me this year!

  2. I so loved this book. I may have to buy it when it comes out in trade size. Great review, and so glad you liked it as well.

  3. I just checked, and my library does not have this audio. Argh! I've heard so many truly wonderful things about the book, and I just love audios with this type of feel, as you described it. May have to hunt down an interlibrary loan...

    Also, I have to say that I do appreciate your comments on my blog, and I've been lax in following them back to you. Ti did a post this morning about how important this is, so I'm trying to mend my lazy ways. I am now a follower!

  4. I think that the marketing ploy was unnecessary and more antagonistic than anything else. The book is good but there is nothing in it that deserves such a shroud of secrecy; it is patronising to assume that any reader would spoil the book for someone else. Anyway, I've ranted about this already during my own review but you reminded me how annoyed I was over the silliness :D.

  5. I enjoyed not knowing the story. It made it more magical to me to learn the story as it went along. I might not have been do eager to read it had I known the story.

  6. I didn't know about all the secrecy stuff. It does make me curious but at the same time I think I would be slightly miffed if there was no cause for keeping mum. I will have to check this one out and see if it something I want to read.

  7. It's funny how different the UK title is from the US one! I've been shooting glances at the hard copy version of the book for months. I suppose I should actually try touching and see what happens! Lol!

  8. Thank you for shedding some light on this book. Til now I've had no idea and didn't really care to. Now I'll have to look for it. Thanks :)

  9. People keep saying they love this book, but I haven't seen much from the publisher either. If it weren't for bloggers, how in the world would anyone know to pick up this book?!!

  10. I haven't read this book, but I will admit that the secrecy surrounding it has intrigued me. After reading your review, I'm thinking the audio version may be the way to go!

  11. I read "The Other Hand" and really didn't enjoy it. I thought the publishing tactics were gamy, and maybe that influenced how I read the book.

    Don't know, but just found it pretentious and superficial... Glad you enjoyed it though. It's always good to see other perspectives on books, and try and determine what I missed out when I read it.

  12. Staci - Sounds like you liked this even more than I did. The world needs rebels, too ;-)

    Diane - There was a lot to love with this one. The marketing strategy just mystified me though.

    Sandy - This would definitely be worth going the interlibrary loan route for. Thanks for becoming a follower, but don't feel bad about the comments just gets busy for all of us. Will have to check out Ti's post.

    Paperback Reader - I'm certainly with you on that one!

    Linda - Then there must be some merit to this unusual marketing campaign :-)

  13. Book Psmith - The whole thing just seems a little silly to me, but it does have us all talking about the book.

    Madeleine - Having two different titles is another thing that seems strange to me. Wish I understood the rationale behind it.

    Stacybuckeye - I don't know how much light I really shed on this, but it's definitely worth reading.

    Anothercookiecrumbles - I'll admit to being put off by the marketing, but the book did finally win me over. It won't be one of my favorites of the year, but I'm glad I listened to it. It's good to hear another view - thanks for stopping by!

    Rhapsodyinbooks - You've got a point. It's only through other bloggers that I heard about this book, too.

    Reviewsbylola - Since you're getting into audiobooks, this would be a good one to try. The reader did a very good job, plus it's only 6 CD's.

  14. Great review! I have this book in my TBR mountain and can't wait to read it!

  15. April - Thanks for visiting! I hope you like Little Bee as much as I did.

  16. It was a favorite of mine from last year. Although I enjoyed the book a lot, I didn't see how the "magic" stands out from the magic of other great reads. It's probably just a marketing strategy that gets people all psyched up for it. Had i not known the author, I would not think it's written by a male.

  17. I just read this one and need to review it! I enjoyed it. Not sure how I feel about the 'plot mystery'. I'm a sucker for things like this, so they got me with it!

  18. Matt - You're right. There are so many books that are 'magical' and, although this was a great book, I was annoyed with the marketing strategy.

    Tara - I'll be looking forward to your review! The 'hush-hush plot' aspect did have me curious, but also had me feeling a little manipulated. Plus, it's hard to review if the plot is a 'secret' - lol!

  19. I can see it both ways. There's so much that happens that would be a spoiler if read by someone who hasn't read the book, but yeah, they could have put a little more detail on the back cover. To say that it involves a Nigerian refugee in a horrific British camp wouldn't be a spoiler and would at least give some sense of how the book starts.

  20. Amy - I don't like it when book jackets contain too much information or spoilers. But asking readers to join in a conspiracy of secrecy seemed gimmicky to me in this case... either way, I still really liked Little Bee!

  21. I agree with you on the secrecy thing. I guess I figured there was something in it that I just didn't get.


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