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Although they've never met, narrator Tim Gerard Reynolds and author Tana French--author of FAITHFUL PLACE , one of the first audiobooks Reynolds has narrated, and to great acclaim--have led somewhat parallel lives. Both have lived in New England--French was born in Vermont, a state where Reynolds regularly goes for hiking trips, while Reynolds did a stint at the Eugene O'Neill Center in Connecticut. They have both spent much of their lives in and around Dublin, Ireland. Both are professionally trained actors, and both studied at the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College. But it's French's fictional detective Frank Mackey who strikes a resonant chord with Reynolds.
In FAITHFUL PLACE, the detective, distanced from his family by personal conflict, returns to the Dublin neighborhood where he grew up and experiences the changes of time. "The novel deals, quite explicitly, with personal loss, regret, and how secrets held fast can change one's life," says Reynolds, who has lived in New York since 1993. "For me, NOT living in Dublin has been a personal loss, of sorts. I've seen how the place has changed in stark terms as I've been a periodic visitor--seeing family only every 18 months or so. I've had to deal with the shock of change every time I've gone home." He compares himself to Rip Van Winkle--"walking the streets of your hometown and not recognizing the place.
"French's novel struck me as a love letter to a city that's undergone some radical changes, especially as the character of Frank comes to terms with the most important thing that ever happened to him. My mother's family were salt-of-the-earth types from Ringsend, which was, when I was growing up, a real working-class neighborhood replete with one-story red brick houses, and fascinating back alleys and lanes. I used to love getting lost there while visiting old grandaunts and distant cousins. It wasn't all that much of a stretch to imagine Tana French's Mackey family--they seem like people I knew personally.
"My father was a fan of BBC Radio 4, which he'd listen to consistently on a long-wave receiver. So I grew up listening to radio plays, "Book at Bedtime," and poetry reviews. I was obsessed with Peter Sellers's radio work when I was 12. My father also had an LP of Dylan Thomas reading his "Child's Christmas in Wales," which proved to be something of a theatrical influence, too. My exposure to theater was limited to participating in community amateur dramatics until I was in my late teens and watching plays made for TV. But when I went to drama school, that all changed, of course."
Reynolds is a relative newcomer to audiobook narration. "But I've done a few other things for Recorded Books. Most recently, I read some short stories by William Trevor, which have yet to be released." His proficiency with Italian came in handy when he read Recorded Books' adaptation of Ross King's MACHIAVELLI .
Much of Reynolds's time is currently devoted to his art career. "There's a group show I'm participating in, and there's a series of monotypes I'm trying to start as I've got to show something to the curator by mid-September." But theater and voice work are never been far from his heart. "I've recently been cranking up the acting machine again, having spent many years on the sidelines. I'm looking forward to sinking my teeth into a good theater role shortly--I've been fishing for a job. Fingers crossed. I have to say, I'm very grateful to Claudia Howard and Andy Paris, at Recorded Books, for taking a leap of FAITH (no pun intended) with a rookie like me.--Steven E. Steinbock
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