TITLE: The Red Necklace
AUTHOR: Sally Gardner
PUBLICATION: 2007 by Orion
FORMAT: Audiobook (read by Tom Hiddleston)
The story of a remarkable boy called Yann Margoza; Tetu the dwarf, his friend and mentor; Sido, unloved daughter of a foolish Marquis; and Count Kalliovski, Grand Master of a secret society, who has half the aristocracy in thrall to him, and wants Yann dead. Yann is spirited away to London but three years later, when Paris is gripped by the bloody horrors of the Revolution, he returns, charged with two missions: to find out Kalliovski’s darkest deeds and to save Sido from the guillotine. With a tangle of secrets, a thread of magic and a touch of humour, the follies of the aristocracy and the sufferings of ordinary people are unfolded as their lives move relentlessly towards the tragic and horrific days of the Terror.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .
I confess that the only reason I am aware of this book and wished to listen to it plot unexamined is due to the fact that Tom Hiddleston reads it. That’s really all the incentive I needed. Does that make me the type of fan you roll your eyes at? Yes, yes it does.
This is a rather short book as far as most audiobooks go at only five discs. When it became apparent that this book was about the French Revolution I was excited. However, I discovered the story to be lacking in a big way. The story had potential, but I found it to be ultimately unfulfilled. If I was reading this book straight or listening to another narrator? I probably would have abandoned it early on to be honest. There were portions where it had some nice writing in it, and vivid descriptions, so I hoped for something good. I expected something more of an examination of the Revolution from different angles. There were moments where Gardner had descriptions of just how horrific the Reign of Terror was yet glimpses were all they were. And I didn’t much care for the speed with which everything seemed to go. Yann’s education isn’t even really touched upon and it seems like that would have been something to note. This novel also seemed remarkably predictable.
I saw the characters to be nothing more than cookie cutter style cut-outs. The “romance” seemed too convenient. I believe in love at first sight, but I just wasn’t buying it with Yann and Sido. None of the characters seemed particularly note-worthy and even Count Kalliovski, which normally a villain would appeal to me, just didn’t strike my fancy. And it seemed his lust for the women such as Yann’s mother, Sido’s mother, and Sido herself weakened his stance as such a dark force in the story. It’s as though a reason needed to be given for why he was such an evil man. I much prefer to see a villain without any such concrete motivations for their dastardly actions, don’t you?
I simply loved Hiddleston’s narration of this novel. He needs to do more audiobooks! I need more! He was able to make his characters sound distinct without throwing his voice in ways that made my teeth on edge. Although there were only a couple of instances where his characters sounded distinctly French, which I can kind of understand the reasons for having it so but it seems an odd decision. There is one segment that seems to have all the Tom fangirls in giggles, which turns out I have heard before when I was browsing the Internet for something else but at the time I did not know what it was from. Now I do! I know there’s a sequel out there, but unless Hiddleston is narrating it so that I can hear that voice I have no interest in seeing what happens. It seems I have found another reader for whom I will sit through something I have little to no interest in merely to hear his voice.
Overall I would say this novel had potential, but it failed to deliver. The most impressive aspect of this audiobook was, in my opinion, the reader.