Richard Paul Evans! This latest is entitled The Noel Stranger.
Maggie Walther is stunned when her husband is arrested - for bigamy. She retreats from the world, hurt and embarrassed. With Christmas around the corner, her friend encourages her to embrace the season and start to live again. A chance encounter at a Christmas tree farm with a man named Andrew gives her hope that maybe, just maybe, she can find happiness again.
But the road to happiness is often bumpy....
Evans sets his novels around the Christmas season - a time of reflection, connection, forgiveness, joy - and yes, love.
The Noel Stranger is told as excerpts from Maggie's diary. I liked Maggie and wanted her to find happiness again. Her initial hesitation was understandable, given what has happened to her. But, I was somewhat surprised at the speed at which things progressed - a trip to Cabo seemed a wee bit rash on Maggie's part. I thought she would be a bit more cautious, given some of the enigmatic answers he provides. But of course, that's part of the plot! Without providing a spoiler, I did find the reason for Andrew's enigmatic answers needs to be taken with a few grains of salt.
I chose to listen to The Noel Stranger. The reader was a favorite of mine - Erin Mallon. She provides the perfect voice for Maggie - warm, appealing, engaging and easy to listen to. Her interpretation is expressive - rising and falling, accentuating the emotion etc. And....she also does the male voice. And it's totally believable. Mallon uses a deeper voice, one with a rich gravelly tone. There was never any question as to who was speaking or whose narrative we were listening to. I often think about the logistics of narrating a book. The reader is often flipping back and forth between characters. Quite the job - and Mallon does it very well. Listen to an excerpt of The Noel Stranger.
The Noel Stranger was an entertaining, easy listen, perfect for the back and forth drive to work at this time of the year.