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The Farm

Tom Rob Smith, read by James Langton and Suzanne Toren. Hachette Audio, unabridged, eight CDs, 9.5 hrs., $30, ISBN 978-1-4789-5312-8

Smith's startlingly original new novel is told from the perspective of Daniel, a Londoner whose parents, Chris and Tilde, have retired to a farm in the south of Sweden. The story begins as Daniel receives word from his father that his mother has been hospitalized after experiencing psychotic episodes. For months, Chris says, Tilde has been "imagining things—terrible, terrible things." Before Daniel can fly to Sweden to see her, his father calls again to say that Tilde has checked out of the hospital and disappeared. Soon after, she arrives at Daniel's door, emaciated and in obvious distress, claiming to have escaped from an asylum where Chris imprisoned her. In her ensuing tale, strikingly enacted by Toren, Tilde describes her nightmarish life on the farm, with Chris and a neighbor plotting against her. Langton convincingly renders Daniel with the voice of an educated, thoughtful young man, unable to decide whether his mother is telling the truth, or is delusional, as his father claims. Daniel, uncertain and perplexed, interrupts Tilde's story with questions that he hopes will bring out the truth. The conversation continues for much of the novel, with Toren contributing an unnerving, emotionally charged performance, and Langton reacting with questions that seemingly suggest an open mind on the part of Daniel, but that carry more than a hint of disbelief. Together, they transform Smith's brilliant prose into a mesmerizing two-character theatrical. A Grand Central hardcover. (June)

Reviewed on 08/22/2014 | Details & Permalink

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