Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal


Dollbaby
by Laura Lane McNeal
narrated by January Lavoy
Penguin Audio, 2014
11 hours and 12 minutes
source: purchased

Publisher's Summary:

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans - a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets.

When Ibby Bell's father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father's urn for good measure. Fannie's New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been - and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum - is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie's black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.

For Fannie's own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby's arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby's hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.

For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby  brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.

By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby  is an audiobook listeners will take to their hearts.

My thoughts:

Have you ever read a novel and enjoyed the characters so much you hated to say goodbye? That's exactly how I felt about Ibby (Liberty), Fannie, Queenie, and Dollbaby. Every moment I spent with them was a treat.

Set in 1960's New Orleans, Dollbaby  is brimming with southern charm and atmosphere, but also reflects the racial tension of that time period. It's a coming-of-age story filled with joy, sadness, love, self-discovery, and, of course, family secrets.

And I loved it.

Dollbaby  is an impressive debut novel. I'll be reading whatever McNeal writes next.

About the audio production:
Listening to Dollbaby  was a near perfect audiobook experience. January Lavoy delivers an outstanding performance and is my top narrator discovery of the year. Whether you are an audiobook evangelist or considering your first listen, Dollbaby gets my highest recommendation.

My rating:



Bottom line:
Dollbaby is my favorite audiobook fiction of 2014.  Read or listen, just don't miss this one!




26 comments:

  1. I have been hesitant to read this one for some reason. This sounds like it might be a little lighter than I thought it was which is a good thing. I'll definitely have to add this to the list. Thanks for the heads up about the audio! I have a much higher chance of getting to it this decade if it's in audio form!

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    1. Katherine - Dollbaby isn't all that heavy, but audio is definitely the way to go. I loved this one!

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  2. You know, without your recommendation this pushes none of my reading or listening buttons... with it, though, that doesn't matter!

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    1. Audrey - This is, by far, the best audiobook I've listened to all year. The story is wonderful and the performance is outstanding - definitely a win/win experience. I hope you get a chance to listen!

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  3. Glad to know at you loved it. It sounds vaguely reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. I do love coming of age stories, especially during the time when I myself came of age. 😉

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    1. Bellezza - Yes, it is reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird... and also The Help. My mother doesn't listen to audiobooks so I got her a print copy and she loved it, too. This was also the time I came of age and I loved every minute of this book!

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    1. Diane - It is excellent! I hope you get a chance to listen.

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  5. A lot of people have loved this book! It sounds wonderful to me.

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    1. Kathy - I loved this audiobook and my mom loved it in print, too!

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  6. I've come to trust your opinion when it comes to audio books. I don't even need to know what the book is about. If you endorse something with 4-5 stars, I'm convinced. You gave this one 5 stars, so I'll be sure to listen to it in 2015. Thanks, JoAnn!

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    1. Les - I just know you will love this! In many ways it reminded me of The Help and The Homecoming of Samuel Lake... different in may ways, too, but every bit as wonderful.

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  7. I have this book in print but when I learned that January LaVoy narrates, I knew I had to listen instead! Glad you liked it so much.

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    1. Nise' - This is such a great audiobook. I will seek out January Lavoy's narrations... she is amazing!

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  8. I don't think I've heard of this book before, but you do make it sound so interesting. I love stories with old family homes full of secrets. And the setting really piques my interest. Hopefully our library has it.

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    1. Lisa - Dollbaby is a finalist for goodreads reader's choice award in the historical fiction category. My mother loved the print version just as much as I did the audio. Hope your library has it in one form or the other!

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  9. I loved this one too - it's going on my best debuts of the year list and in my holiday gift guide!

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    1. Sarah - This has been an outstanding year for debut novels as far as I'm concerned!

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  10. I'm going to have to add this to the wish list. And, since you loved it, it will need to be near the top!

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    1. Lisa - I really think you'll love this in either print or audio, but since the audio is so amazing I'd recommend that route.

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  11. As you know, I loved this audiobook!

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    1. Beth F - I can't believe I've never come across January Lavoy's work... and I loved McNeal's story!

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  12. Looks like I'll need to get my hands on this one. I love books set in New Orleans.

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    1. Stacy - This is the book I'm recommending to everyone this holiday season!

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  13. I just wrote that I loved "coming of age' novels set in the 60's! It looks like it was meant to be. I must read this one.

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    1. Debbie - This is definitely a book for you!!

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