Angelina’s Bachelors by Bryan O’Reilly
Published by: Gallery Books
Published on: August 2011
Page Count: 384
Genre: Women’s Fiction
My Reading Format: Audiobook review copy sent to me by the narrator
Audiobook Published by: Tantor Audio
Narrator: Xe Sands
Audiobook Length: 7 hours 22 minutes
Available Formats: Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook
Angelina nearly has a charmed life. She and her husband Frank may not have much, but they are deeply in love. They have a strong network of community and Frank’s family. Angelina has lost her family, but her in-laws have taken her into their hearts as their own. Even charmed lives, however, are fragile. They didn’t yet have the children they wanted to have when, so much earlier than would seem possible, Frank passes away in the night of a heart attack. Angelina is hit a double blow when, just after the funeral, she learns that the company she works for is going out of business. Without her husband or a job, Angelina was at a loss. In a frantic fit of grief, Angelina spends an entire night cooking everything edible in her house. In sending out the excess food to friends and family, a chain of events is set into motion that leads Angelina to her destiny.
Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet story. Angelina is a charming, genuinely nice heroine who, in her mourning, stumbles into her future with an open mind. Her natural cooking abilities enable her to nourish single men in her neighborhood. They, in turn, nourish her spirit. Sometimes it is refreshing to visit a world that is at its heart simply nice. It left me with a warm feeling each time I listened. As the novel progressed, some fairly predictable conflicts arose, but the way in which they were addressed were typically satisfying. There was one instance, however, where the resolution, even with its Catholic twist, was a touch too Roma Downey for my taste. The first half of the novel was stronger for me for this reason. Still, it didn’t dampen my opinion of the audiobook because I didn’t pop it into my car stereo to be challenged. I chose to read it when I did because I wanted a comfort read and Brian O’Reilly delivered exactly the type of read I wanted.
Brian O’Reilly is an Executive Producer for Dinner: Impossible on the Food Network and it shows. Angelina’s Bachelors is full of good food and Xe Sands brought out even more flavor. I am no foodie. In print I normally skip over descriptions of food. In fact, I’ve yet to check out the recipes included on the first disc of the audiobook. The way in which she narrated Angelina’s menus, however, kept me interested, entertained, and left me hungry. Listening to this audiobook while eating your lunch can make even the most incredible sandwich taste not just ordinary, but kind of soggy. Outside of the food, Xe Sands did a good job of bringing Angelina, her bachelors, and their Philadelphia neighborhood to life through voice differentiation and tone. Having also listened to her narrate Fire and Ice, it was interesting to compare her approach to two very different types of spicy reading.
After reading some tough novels at the start of the year, Angelina’s Bachelors was like drinking a rich cup of hot chocolate on a crisp winter day. Despite the little issues that niggled at me, I appreciated this novel for just what it was, a heartwarming tale of a close knit Italian Catholic neighborhood and family creatively dealing with an unexpected loss. I recommend this novel to anyone who needs a little hug in their day.