Elizabeth Robinson,
The True & Outstanding
Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

(Time Warner, 2004)

I was not sure what to expect when I first started listening to The True & Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters. This first novel by Elisabeth Robinson not only has a long title, but the first words on the box stated that it was "9.5 hours unabridged." Yikes! This would be one of the longest audiobooks I've listened to. Would it be able to keep my interest for that long? What if it ended up being 9.5 hours of torture?

Fortunately, that wasn't the case. While I found much of the story predictable, there were enough hooks to keep me listening. The main character, Olivia Hunt, is a young 30-something making a living as a Hollywood producer. She recently got slapped by reality when it let her know that the world does not revolve around her. Imagine being above the masses and then not only being fired because your last movie tanked, but also being left by your moody, artistic boyfriend. I mean, what if all the world realizes your facade of success is fleeting? What are your options? Suicide and ... and ... well, there's suicide.

How tragic the life of the self-absorbed! Before she can complete the ultimate act of self-pity, however, Olivia finds out that her younger sister has real issues. Recently married, mid-20s Maddie has found out that she has a life-threatening illness. Always the optimist, Maddie vows to fight on knowing that the odds are against her. She also convinces Olivia to get back on her feet and pursue her "dream film," Don Quixote. Perhaps the younger sister can also teach the older sister something about love. Maddie's new husband sticks with her throughout the entire ordeal. Unlike the self-absorbed, some people can handle commitment and don't run at the first sign of trouble.

What makes this novel different from most is that all communication is done in the form of letters, faxes and e-mails. This is not the first time I've seen this done, but it does take some getting used to when the entire story is told in this format. Essentially, the listener will hear how Olivia gets her life back together as she deals with her sister's illness, producing her movie and pursuing love. The title comes from a series of stories that Olivia used to make up for Maddie when they were kids. Now as adults, the adventures continue.

While this novel is a first for Robinson, you are surely familiar with some of her work as an independent producer and screenwriter. According to the box, her film credits include the award-winning films Braveheart and Last Orders. Linda Emond, who reads the part of Olivia, comes across perfectly as a narcissistic Hollywood type. She has been on The Sopranos as well as Law & Order.

The True & Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters is not a bad way to pass the time. I initially got a little tired of the written-letter format, but eventually rolled with it. The three parts of the story do keep you interested even when you can figure out what the end result will be long before it happens. Maddie's illness aims for a somber mood. Olivia's love life proves frustrating and revealing. The production of Don Quixote demonstrates the life one might lead in Hollywood and provides most of the story's comic relief. And for those of you on a budget, you do get almost twice as much audiobook for the price of one.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 26 June 2004