At Piper’s Point Audiobook Review, Ethan Day
Story Rating: 4 Stars
Audiobook Rating: 2 Stars
Audiobook Publisher: WildeCity Press Purchase audible.com amazon.com
Narrator: Michael Lesley
Tags: Contemporary Gay Humour, Erotica, Friends
Length: 9 Hrs and 46 Mins Reviewer: Paul
Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his late grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy’s plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel. Interruptions run roughshod, beginning with Neil, who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one and news of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love, Nate Sommers, to his doorstep. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.
Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis while Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie’s life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly who he wants. While he’s certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he’s ready or able for love and life at Pipers Point.
A lot of people have read Ethan Day’s book, At Piper’s Point. It’s excellent, with quite a sad undercurrent driving the plot, but that’s overridden by the frantic antics of a group of gay men, almost all possessing strong personalities, that are all fast witted and sharper than a razor and makes for a really comedic read. Enough to make you laugh out loud at some of the banter between them and it still holds onto its hilarity even as tension driven comments are let fly during short but snarky scenes.
It’s recently been released as an Audiobook. The blurb sums the story up quite well and it really is a very funny novel, one I enjoyed a lot. The characters range immensely in their unique quirks as all of them but one has been romantically involved with the main character, Cassidy.
I suppose it is his story in a way, but without the other men and the occasional intense situation they’re all placed in for a two month summer holiday, let’s just say that sparks fly as jealousy and testosterone fuelled situations don’t take long to let some of those sparks catch fire and burn. Not that these situations ever last long but they’re so well executed and all are fantastic in this exceptionally well written comedy.
It’s not all fun and games though as the crux of the story is about Cassidy finally being allowed to step foot back into his cherished Grandma’s beloved home at Piper’s Point owned by one Sadie Hart.
He arrives in secret a week early, with urn in hand containing her ashes, to prepare himself to finally put her to rest exactly where she wanted. After fortunately winning a vicious ten year battle, that did not feel like a victory at all, against his father and the courts who still prevented him from entering the property even four years after Sadie’s death and another six years of her being in a home. He feels like he’s failed her and that the island community, who once loved him, will now hate him as he just couldn’t face them for ten years as the battle for Piper’s Point nearly consumed him.
It had been the only place that kept him from his cold and distant multimillionaire parents, the only place that ever felt like home to him. So his ruthless father sent her to a state of the art nursing home knowing full well that she did not want to leave her home in Piper’s Point, knowing full well he could have kept her there with live-in medical help after her stroke, on the small island off the coast of South Carolina.
Cassidy’s most horrific nightmare was the fact that he was not the only person banished by this court order which left the house vacant for ten years. It nearly ruined him knowing that Sadie’s best friend, and live in maid, Natalie, and her son, Nate Sommers, who were in his eyes his real mother and best friend while growing up, were tossed out on their butt’s. Hormones kicked in during their mid to late teens then Nate became Cassidy’s first true love. This is sounding maudlin but it’s not at all. As Cassidy awaits the arrival of his two best friends, word gets out he’s back in town and other men literally pop out of nowhere very quickly becoming six gay men that all come marching in to help Cassidy in more than one way. His secret week of peace to prepare himself to help send off this sassy, free loving, and borderline scandalous, old woman ends up uniting most of these men from the grave as her essence and Piper’s Point pervades them. Then the laughs begin and just keep coming.
Unfortunately, I did not like the Audiobook, even though I loved the story. I know the narrator Michael Lesley’s work very well and some of his former Audiobooks are actually some of my favourites, this Audiobook, however, was not.
The initial onslaught of the book was read mainly as a narrative and it was read with a very unusual camp voice and I actually had trouble understanding it quite a bit and had to go back and re-read stuff constantly. I usually do not have a problem with this but I actually couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. I had to keep stopping it and going back to understand what he had said. There is only one reason I disliked this though, if the Main Character, Cassidy, was portrayed as either effeminate or camp in the book then I don’t have a problem, However, this was never indicated by the author whatsoever. As far as an Audiobook goes it made it hard work until I got into the swing of it. The rapid fire blurting of sentences punctuated with breathy gasps for air before continuing into another tirade was very difficult to understand.
Ollie was portrayed as quite a loud camp guy, so it made perfect sense for him to have his “biotch please,” voice to suit his “don’t fuss with me,” persona down to a tee, but none of the other guys were portrayed like this, it didn’t match the make-up of their characters.
The voice used as Cassidy’s narrative and as himself was portraying him as extremely effeminate, or maybe camp is a better word, but there is no indication that he speaks like this. This was out of context to me because Ethan Day did not portray Cassidy as flamboyant or a dramatic person. When you switch to audio the characters should have voices suited to their disposition, which would have been fine to me if that were the case. So that is where the confusion began for me. This is a huge bone of contention with me and many other LGBT+ readers/listeners.
I’ve found that if characters are not conveyed as they are portrayed in the book, it can come off offensive because they immediately become the branded stereotypical gay male and a very large percentage of gay men just do not speak like this. Alternatively I’ve heard prominent camp characters where the author lets you know they’re a bit camp but you never hear it. I think this needs to be seriously rectified as it just makes no sense. All I ask for in these situations is very simple, just make sure that the characters you convey are portrayed the exact same way as they are in the book.
If you forget to mention that your gay character is either flamboyant or effeminate then don’t give that voice to them in the Audiobook. It’s an easy and simple rule to follow.
Michael Lesley is not only an excellent narrator but also excellent with voices. So was it a producers a directive or the author’s, or out of their hands altogether? Who knows but this Audiobook did not work for me at all. I must concede though that it improved very quickly about half way through but it was too late for me.
Being a mid 40’s gay male from a large city has taken me around the block more than once so I do get a touch offended when there is absolutely no indication, with the exception of Ollie, having his shill and snappy, holier than now voice that suited him perfectly. The other voices did not reflect the characters portrayal within the book.
Cassidy came across more as a lost tortured soul, that was dramatic at times but his voice did not portray him as the way he was conveyed by the writing. Nate, Spencer and Teddy were portrayed as big men so they got OK voices but once again this is where I find some Audiobooks go wrong as their persona’s were not really conveyed properly to suit some of the characters. So I’m at a bit of a loss here, if the producers wanted Cassidy sounding like a camp guy then the author must make note of this in his novel!
Maybe I’m being harsh and picky here, but I live on Audiobooks and text-to-speech and I think these are seriously valid points that are backed up by the writing. I’m raising these points because it’s important to correctly reflect the characters. It’s also the first Audiobook I’ve personally heard produced in the last 12 months that has reverted back to missing the right voices for the right characters.
Most other Audiobooks don’t camp up the characters at all anymore unless the character is portrayed in that light. It really needed to be toned down a bit. I do know that some books are thrown into a pile to await being read as an Audiobook and I also know that all quality control is taken from the author in this process.
Do not under any circumstances ever let this put you off any of Michael Lesley’s other narrative works. He is a consummate professional. This also does not reflect on the excellent writing of Ethan Day.
**Copy provided by the author in exchange for an honest review**
I remember reading At Piper’s Point when I first started reading in the genre a few years ago. I remember loving the characters and the humor.
This isn’t a book I’ve read, but I appreciate the head’s up on the audiobook. I feel like the number of hours we spend on a novel-length book means we get to be picky. Matching the character voice to the source is pretty damn important as far as I’m concerned. I don’t even particularly like the narration that’s just read to me (as opposed to a more theatrical presentation with different voices), but I’ll take a straight read over a poorly done character voice any day.
Obviously this was a tricky one – great book/writing but it appears the narration of the audiobook missed the mark. It’s so important to get voices of characters right. More and more people are listening to them and one day (not too far away I suspect) that will be how I’ll be reading, via narration rather than visually reading words on a page.
I’m glad audiobooks will be there for you to keep up with your love of reading. This is why I always call it reading a book, even when it’s not by sight. No matter how readers experience a book, they’re still reading. Thanks for sharing a great book with us, even if it’s not the same level of great on all the platforms.
Thanks for the comments everyone, I appreciate the feedback. I live via Audiobooks and text-to-speech these days as I can no longer read. This was an excellent book but unfortunately it was a very difficult review to write. Due to exactly what Carolyn expressed, the voices did not match the characters, with the exception of maybe two male characters, which there were a lot of. I do know for a fact that some authors have absolutely no input over their Audiobooks if they can’t afford to pay for it. So the narrator is then produced/directed by the powers that be.… Read more »
@Kazza, yes it really was a tricky one indeed.