About the Audiobook
Author: Christine Evelyn Volker
Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir
Length: 12 hours 6 minutes
Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker⎮2018
Release date: Mar. 27, 2018
Synopsis: Struggling to forget a crumbling marriage, 40-year-old Anna Lucia Lottol comes to Venice to visit an old friend – but instead of finding solace, she is dragged into the police station and accused of murdering a money-laundering count with whom she had a brief affair. A US Treasury officer with brains and athleticism, Anna fights to clear her name in a seductive city full of watery illusions. As she works to pry information from a cast of recalcitrant characters sometimes denying what she sees and hears, she succeeds in unleashing a powerful foe bent on destroying her. Will she save herself and vanquish her enemies, including her darkest fears?
A captivating tapestry of murder, betrayal, and family, Venetian Blood is a story of one woman’s brave quest for the truth – before it’s too late.
“A riveting whodunit that makes full use of its dramatic setting.” (Kirkus Reviews)
This novel was quite an Italian treat. Taking place in the city of Venice, the flavor of this story is exquisitely Italian. The names, places, idioms all displayed an authenticity in the setting of this mystery. Anna Lucia Lottol is a memorable character trying to cope with a bad marriage, a murder mystery, Venetian romance, while dealing with her own demons. This was more a like a literary murder mystery full of red herrings. Excellent.
NARRATOR PERFORMANCE: 9/10
Narrated by: Gabrielle de Cuir
- Narrator-Story Connection: 10/10
Gabriella de Cuir is completely enveloped in the story which make for a great book. Excellent.
- Voice Creation/Switch Over: 10/10
Great character voices in this one! The Italian was off the charts and loved every bit of it.
- Anna Lucia Lottol is such a memorable character with an innocent personality. She reminds me of some of the old school actresses from the 60’s.
- Roberto’s voice and character were also memorable. A player and womanizer who has all the finesse to fully employ his lustful nature.
- Detective Niccolo Biondi. Not sure if I’m spelling his name correctly, but he also was a memorable character. You’ll see this often in detective mysteries, or even crime fiction. A law enforcement official hell-bent on uncovering the truth- one way or the other.
There were a slew of characters but these were some who stood out. The narrator does a flawless job of switching voices/characters throughout the book.
- Pacing 9/10
The pacing throughout was spot on.
- Emphasis 9/10
Knowing when and how much to emphasize with each character was great. I think this distinguishes an ordinary narrator and the better ones. It really brings out the personality of the character and makes them more believable. Anna was so adorable!
- Reader-Story Connection 8/10
Initially I had a harder time locking into the story for some reason. By this I mean, focus. Some stories are easier than other for different reasons. But once I zeroed in on the form of storytelling and narrative voice, it was sensational.
- Sound Quality: 10/10
Publisher: Christine Evelyn Volker – Excellent sound quality.
- Overall Performance: 9/10
Gabriella de Cuir is a pleasure to listen to. She has great skill in many areas and I’d definitely listen to her again! Highly recommended.
A few questions with author Christine Evelyn Volker
- Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
Yes. But it didn’t enter the choices that I made. If you’re a writer doing your job, you’re already making decisions based on the cadence of words, their sounds, how realistic your dialog is and how it would be spoken. All of these factors are critical for a good audiobook. After the first few drafts, I read the book out loud to hear how the words sounded and made changes if they didn’t work well together.
- How did you select your narrator?
Gabrielle de Cuir auditioned, and I loved her voice – its pitch and expressiveness. She brought out the characters’ emotions while also creating interest in paragraphs of pure description. Once I heard her Italian pronunciation (I also speak it), I knew she could handle the super-challenging text I had written: lots of Italian and Spanish words, plus six types of accents in English. I checked her background. She had won awards, and was highly experienced. She didn’t have to learn the craft via my book. I used Audiobook Creation Exchange (acx). Despite the audition and the first fifteen minutes where the author listens to the narrator’s recording and provides feedback, going forward there’s a lot riding on faith. Faith that the rest of the voice actor’s work holds up to the standard of the first part. Given the linguistic and emotional complexity of my book it would have been easy for someone with less talent and experience to go astray.
- How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
We worked together very smoothly. I spent a lot of time at the beginning by preparing six pages of written character descriptions, including minor ones. I boiled the key characters down, their attitudes, what made them tick, and where important, how I thought their voices could sound. This allowed her to reflect before she started, to figure out how she’d breathe life into their words. Since Gabrielle grew up in Rome, I didn’t need to give her Italian pronunciation tips. That was a huge boost. We did have a back and forth, surprisingly to me, about the first name of the main character, Anna. I didn’t have to consider this at all when writing the book. But Anna’s name would sound different when pronounced by Italians or Americans (“Ah-na” vs. “Anna.”) This could confuse listeners. Gabrielle needed to nail it down. We decided on the “Ah-na” pronunciation, no matter which character was saying it.
- Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
Certainly there’s my visceral love for Venice which becomes a character in the novel. I tried to bring out the city’s rich and storied past, its faded glory and its contradictions. Venice still exists, against all odds. Then there are bits of my own life hidden away in the pages. In 1992, I went to Italy for work but also to seek space from a troubled first marriage, so I fused pain with my love of Venice and the desire to create. The time period for the book is the same. Also, wildlife is a sub-theme in the book; nature and the future of the earth are important to me.
- Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
Definitely when there are two characters engaged in a suspenseful or moving dialog, like Anna being grilled by Detective Biondi, Anna and Pablo confiding in her about Sergio – the dead man, Anna, Margo and Agatha together later in the book when Agatha reveals shocking secrets. I’ve listened to my audiobook three times now, and its emotional punch is greater throughout. Whether it’s the fact that language is meant to be spoken, or that in our history, the spoken word came before the written one, or that many of us had the pleasure of hearing our parents tell us stories before we learned to read, or that listening is a more elemental pleasure than following dots across a page, or that hearing is something we engaged in before we were even born, or that it’s all of the above—I can’t say. But a well-narrated story is more gripping than the written one.
- “If this title were being turned into a movie or television series, who should be cast as its characters?”.
Anna Lucia Lottol: Rachel Weisz
Detective Niccolo Biondi: Daniel Craig
Margo Fruhling: Jennifer Connelly
Count Alessandro Favier: Giancarlo Giannini
Pablo Morales: Javier Bardem or Edward James Olmos
Dudley Filbert: Gary Oldham
Agatha Filbert: Helen Mirren
Roberto Cavallin: Raoul Bova
About the Author: Christine Evelyn Volker
Christine Evelyn Volker became intrigued by foreign cultures at an early age, which propelled her to study Spanish, German, and Italian. After securing a BA in Spanish and an MLS at University at Albany – SUNY, followed by an MBA at UC Berkeley, she was drawn to international banking and became a senior vice president at a global financial institution. Her career brought her to Italy, where she immersed herself in the language and made frequent visits to Venice. Venetian Blood marks a return to her roots in the humanities, and just won the Sarton Women’s Book Award for contemporary fiction.
She is currently at work on her second international mystery, this one set in the rainforest of Peru.
About the Narrator: Gabrielle de Cuir
Gabrielle has narrated over 400 hundred titles specializing in fantasy, humor, and titles requiring extensive foreign language and accent skills. Her “velvet touch” as an actors’ director has earned her a special place in the audiobook world as the foremost choice for best-selling authors and celebrities. Short list of those directed: Anne Hathaway, Emilio Estevez, Wil Wheaton, Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Elijah Wood, Deepak Chopra, Eric Idle, Nancy Cartwright, Michael York, Ed Herrmann, and Joe Mantegna. She is the writer and director of the Award winning short film THE DELIVERY, which deals with an Alice-in-Wonderland version of audio books. She spent her childhood in Rome growing up with her wildly artistic and cinematic father, John de Cuir, four-time Academy Award winning Production Designer, an upbringing that her to be fluent in Romance languages and to have an unusual appetite for visual delights.)