The Perfect Match
Amy Rubinate is one of my favorite narrators so I was excited to listen to her narration of Kristan Higgins’ latest work. Maggie gave the print version a B; I didn’t like the story quite as much as she did and, despite a sterling narration, can only give a qualified recommendation to the audiobook.
As the story opens, Honor Holland is having a gynecological exam on her 35th birthday. During the exam, her doctor tells her she has slightly elevated blood pressure and warns that her eggs are going to be deteriorating. Uh oh. If only I’d known what a prominent role those eggs were going to play. They’re basically a secondary character in the book and they’re telling Honor to have a baby now!
Honor has had an odd sort of “friends with benefits” relationship with Brogan – a famous sports photographer – for years. Secretly in love with him, she’s taken what she could get when he’s not with someone else. Since she loves kids, and has always wanted to have children, she decides to propose to Brogan. Honor doesn’t get the reaction she hoped for. Brogan laughs at her and is baffled when she says they’ve been “together” for 17 years. Brogan assures her he thinks of her as his “best friend,” but never saw them as “together.” And he gives her one of the worst descriptions of a relationship ever, saying he thinks of her as “an old baseball glove.”
Living in an extremely small town populated by her relatives, there aren’t a lot of prospects for her baby daddy. Finally Honor’s grandmother Goggy suggests Tom Barlow, a mechanical engineering instructor at a nearby college. Tom needs a green card to stay in the country to be near Charlie, the son of his dead fiancée. Tom and Charlie were close until his mother died. Tom has no legal claim over Charlie who lives with his grandparents, but Tom loves Charlie and wants to stay involved in his life, despite Charlie’s seeming dislike of Tom.
As always, Ms. Rubinate does a fantastic job with the narration, paying careful attention to the voices of all the characters. I love the tone of her voice: it’s pleasant, it’s comforting, it’s never annoying. The conversations sound real, as Ms. Rubinate conveys the tones and nuances I would expect the characters to use when speaking to each other. Tom speaks with an English accent and she has the breathy flirtiness of the girls in his class down perfectly.
A lot of the book takes place in Honor’s mind as she plans for the future, deals with setbacks, and talks to her aging eggs. This can be claustrophobic but never felt that way, thanks in part to Ms. Rubinate’s narrative techniques that accurately portray Honor’s feelings, which run the full gamut.
One thing I really like is Ms. Rubinate’s portrayal of two of the most eccentric characters in the series, Honor’s grandmother Goggy and her sister Prudence. It would have been easy to perform each sounding large and overly-dramatic to fit their personalities. Instead, they sound age and gender appropriate. They’re normal, not overly dramatic. If anything, it makes the characters easier for me to handle in audio than in print.
What keeps me from rating The Perfect Match higher is not the narration but the story. I just didn’t feel the romance as strongly as I’d like. It feels as if Tom and Honor interact with other people more than with each other, and for far too long, Honor cares more about having babies and Tom cares more about Charlie than they do about each other. However, while this is not my favorite by the author, it kept me entertained. And if you like all of Ms. Higgins’ books, I’d encourage you to give the audio version a try. Ms. Rubinate is a wonderful narrator, and brings the characters to life in a believable, enjoyable manner.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: A- and Book Content: C+
Unabridged. Length – 12 hours 12 minutes