With everything that’s been going on, I’ve recently reintroduced myself to the wonderful world of audiobooks and have restarted my Audible subscription in order to give myself some time and space away from it all. I have been loving plugging my headphones in while I walk or clean or do a puzzle, and I found every second of listening to Cassandra Campbell narrate Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing a joy.
Listening to an audiobook means that I read a book slower than I ever would physically. It means I can’t skim read like I normally do, and am able to savour every image and turn of phrase, and fully appreciate the work put into the language. It also allows me to fully immerse myself in the world – especially in the accents that are such a big part of the setting of Where the Crawdads Sing. I even found myself talking to myself in a Southern accent for the days where I listened to the audiobook non-stop.
I absolutely loved Owens’ debut (how is this a debut?!), and most of all I appreciated the opportunity to go somewhere I have never been before – North Carolina – and get lost in the marshland. Where the Crawdads Sing follows young marsh-dweller Kya as her mother and then the rest of her family one-by-one abandon her in the swamp. She grows up alone, with the marsh as her mother and maker, selling mussels to get by and going to school just one day in her life.
Kya’s character is brilliant – naive but also whip smart. Although everyone in the town calls her the ‘marsh girl’ and assumes she’s an idiot, she surpasses everyone’s expectations and demonstrates just how intelligent and astute she really is.
And then there’s the marsh itself – the place Owens clearly has a deep love and affinity for. The way she describes the large and small details of the land, how the tides move and the fireflies mate – it’s wonderful writing and it brilliantly echoes Kya’s internal world. As someone who has trouble describing things in detail, Owens’ simple but impactful words are something I should learn from. She made the land come alive , until I felt like I was there, and that is a brilliant gift.
Listening to the story, I really felt Kya’s heartache and happiness at each step of the way. Her loneliness rules all, and Owens describes the details of somebody who has nobody in such perfect and poignant ways. You can’t help but be moved by how she lives and what she endures.
I don’t want to give too much away, but the last part of the novel surprised me somewhat in its format – although I still really enjoyed it. It kept me guessing until the very end, however, Owens making the reader wait until the final words to find out what happened to Kya’s lover, Chase Andrews.
This is a slow, hazy novel, that puts you in the grips of the marshland at the very beginning, and doesn’t let you go until the very end. To read it is a pleasure, to listen to it adds an extra layer of richness. I am extremely glad that audiobooks have made a comeback in my life.