Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova - Ruth Hogan

I was thrilled to see that Ruth Hogan had a new book coming out. The Moon, The Stars and Madame Burova has just released. And it was another wonderful 'heartwarming, heartstring tugging' book from Hogan.

Imelda Burova has spent her life as a fortune teller on the Brighton pier. She is ready to retire, but has one last promise to fulfill. Billie has lost her job, marriage, and her place in the world when a discovery upends her sense of who she is. "Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail…which leads to Brighton, the pier, and directly to Madame Burova’s door."

Oh, I loved every page! Hogan's description of the pier evoked vivid mental images for me. I'd love to stroll the promenade, hear the sea, eat some treats, ride some attractions -  and visit Madame Burova's booth. The other setting that really stuck with me was the Madame Burova's vardo (a Romany caravan). I'd happily live in it.

I'm not going to detail the premise too much - it's better it unfolds unheard for you. The story unfurls over a span of fifty years, from present to past. In the past we meet the entertainers who worked at a 'holiday camp' attraction at the pier. Over the course of fifty years, many themes are touched on - love, loss, friendship, family, racism, workplace harassment, social strata and more. You may discover what the final answer will be for Billie before you reach the final pages - but it's the journey there that is the ah-ha.

The premise is wonderful, the setting perfect - but it is the characters that make this such a wonderful listen. Imelda is the standout lead - her calm manner, thoughtfulness and more, make her someone you wish you had in your circle of friends. The supporting cast is just as well drawn. Quirky, kind, lovable, bristly to the downright cruel. You'll find your favorites, but enjoy them all - except for maybe one. (And......there's a dog! :0)

I chose to listen to listen to The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova. I've often said that I become more immersed in a book by listening. And that's most definitely the case with Hogan's latest. The reader, Nina Wadia, was fabulous. She has a very versatile voice, providing different tones, speeds, accents and inflections for all of the players. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. Her speed of speaking is just right. There's a nice gravelly undertone to her voice. She inserts reality into her performance, such as laughter that felt and sounded real. Her performance had me feeling like I was part of the story. An excellent performance of an excellent book. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of  The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova.

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