Friday, July 11, 2008

"A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell

Source: Librivox (mp3)
Length: 53 min
Reader: Cori Samuel

The story: Most mysteries focus on the "who" or sometimes the "how" of a crime. In this story both "who" and "how" seem to be apparent from the beginning. The real question is why Minnie Wright would strangle her husband.

While the county attorney, the sheriff, and a neighbor search the house for clues, the wives of the sheriff and neighbor are left alone in the kitchen. Here, they discover secrets about the Wrights hidden within the details of domestic life. The clues are also symbols - spilled sugar, an open bird cage, a misformed log cabin patterned quilt waiting to be knotted - all these point to the crime, but they also represent the broken dreams of Minnie Wright.

These clues, combined with the condescension that the men show for their wives show how women can be pushed to the side of a marriage, no matter whether the husband is loving or spiteful. Despite their differences, all three women in the story share this difficulty; as Mrs. Hale tells Mrs. Peters, "We all go through the same things, it's just a different kind of the same thing."

Rating: 9/10

The reader: Cori Samuels has the most lovely British voice I can imagine. Some might argue that this story of rural America should not be read by a non-American accent. Those who argue such nonsense deserve every broken bone I'm wishing on them right now. Samuels' voice is a welcome teller of any story, particularly this one. She knows how to use pauses to set off a word or sentence without overly drawing attention. To build drama, she varies her volume and speed, then stops, and releases the tension. Her recording set-up is quiet and free from hiss. This is my first encounter with Ms. Samuels' reading; I will certainly be reviewing more of her work in the future.


kara said...

Cori's one of my favorite readers, too :) Great story -- and I didn't know Cori had recorded it for us, so thanks for the review!

mel u said...

I just now read and posted on this very interesting short story-I linked back to your very interesting post in my post-