Library Ed. Books on Tape 2003
CS ISBN 0736694811 $88.00 Fourteen cassettes
While the story of smallpox is the hook upon which this title hangs, it's also a double biography of two eighteenth-century figures--an English noblewoman and a Boston doctor--whose lives were brought together by the disease. Carrell adopts a novelist's perspective, imagining action, inventing conversations, and ascribing emotions to the characters in her history. Her writing is elegant in places, but her novelistic technique ultimately results in waves of irrelevant detail that reduce the urgency of the story. Recording the book would have been an ideal opportunity for abridgment; instead Michael Prichard's disengaged and languid reading magnifies the book's major flaw. D.B.
(c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine [Published: APR/MAY 04]