Friday, January 28, 2011

Behind the Wheel

'Velva Jean Learns to Drive'
Author: Jennifer Niven

Format: Audio Book
Published: Penguin Audiobooks; Oct. 2009
Narrated By: Jenna Lamia
Genre: Historical fiction; Southern
Rating: C
Source: Library

Synopsis: Set in Appalachia in the years before World War II, Velva Jean Learns to Drive is a poignant story of a spirited young girl growing up in the gold-mining and moonshining South. Before she dies, Velva Jean's mother urges her to "live out there in the great wide world".
Velva Jean dreams of becoming a big-time singer in Nashville until she falls in love with Harley Bright, a handsome juvenile delinquent turned revival preacher. As their tumultuous love story unfolds, Velva Jean must choose between keeping her hard-won home and pursuing her dream of singing in the Grand Ole Opry.

My Take: I was really on a roll with my audio books there for awhile. I could do no wrong and I was loving it! Thinking I'd really had it all figured out. I knew my winning streak had to come to an end but I really didn't think it would be with this one. It's not to say I didn't like the story, I just didn't like the audio. My mom had read this book a while back and she said she loved it and it did sound like a story I would like. I love historical fiction and I love the South so when I saw it come up as one of the limited options I could get on audio from my library at home for download I jumped at it. 

You want to know what went wrong? Well at first I really liked it so let me tell you about that. See it starts off being told from Velva Jean's point of view. She's a sweet little Southern girl who loves her momma and lives out in Appalachia. It's kind of a rough life for her family since it's the Depression, although I don't get the sense that a down economy really changed their sense of economy much at all in an incredibly small town such as that. Regardless she's from a small family and they all love each other in their own unique way.

Velva Jean wants to find the Lord and be saved and get on the right path but soon after doing so, many bad things happen to her. For instance, her beloved momma passes away and her daddy goes away for work. Velva Jean's life all just kind of takes a turn for the worse from there but you've got to have some strife in a book if your going to make it interesting. 

Velva Jean's dream is to become a Country and Western singer at the Grand Ole Opry and I can respect that. I remember watching people singing at the Opry when I was kid on my TV so I can imagine that she would think that was pretty much the epicenter of all things cool. But she's got to figure out a way to raise enough money and get herself out of her small little town.

The story progresses from there but the thing is, I kept napping because the narrator talked in the slowest darn Southern draw I have ever heard. I mean, don't get me wrong I have been accused of talking fast a time or too and I swear you could have talked in a Southern drawl at a normal pace and had that story read in half the time. I was on the treadmill working out saying move this thing along! Basically, I think I'll stick to reading my next book set in the South. 

Cover Lust: I do love this sepia-tinged cover. I think it just evokes the setting so beautifully!


  1. sheesh, that would have driven me nuts too! I read that book pretty fast as it was a delightful story, so to have that woman drag it sounds infuriating!

  2. I would love to find great audio books :D I onyl find ones where the narrator annoys me so much that I stop reading

  3. Thats sad, just another probably good book spoiled by a narrator. I hope you next audiobook is good.

  4. Did you see Amanda's post about listening to audio books at double time? Sounds like this book would've been a good candidate for hitting that button!

  5. I haven't heard of this one. I was going to suggest the same thing that softdrink did. I wonder if that would have made a difference for you?

    Thanks for linking up!

  6. I've never had much luck with audio books. I guess I'm not a very good listener! This book sounds like one that would be better in print.


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