One of the greatest inventions of our time is the audiobook. Being able to listen to a book while you’re doing another task has opened up a world of reading to us in our busy lives. Pop it on during your morning commute, or when on a roadie. Fire up an audiobook while you’re gardening or doing chores around the house. They’re great for keeping kids entertained on a rainy day or in the car. I particularly love autobiographies in audiobook form when they are read by the author. It gives the reader so much more insight into who the subject is than having the book read by someone else.
Here are some eAudiobooks available through Libby that have been read by the author that I’ve particularly enjoyed:
Unprotected: a Memoir – Billy Porter, From the incomparable Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award winner, a powerful and revealing autobiography about race, sexuality, art, and healing. It’s easy to be yourself when who and what you are is in vogue. But growing up Black and gay in America has never been easy. Before Billy Porter was slaying red carpets and giving an iconic Emmy-winning performance in the celebrated TV show Pose; before he was the groundbreaking Tony and Grammy Award–winning star of Broadway’s Kinky Boots; and before he was an acclaimed…young boy in Pittsburgh who was seen as different, who didn’t fit in. Porter is a multitalented, multifaceted treasure at the top of his game, and Unprotected is a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice. (Adapted from Overdrive description)
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride – Cary Elwes,
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes the New York Times bestselling account of the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. (Adapted from Overdrive description)
And Away… – Bob Mortimer,
Although his childhood in Middlesbrough was normal on the surface, it was tinged by the loss of his dad, and his own various misadventures (now infamous from his appearances on Would I Lie to You?), from burning down the family home to starting a short-lived punk band called Dog Dirt. As an adult, he trained as a solicitor and moved to London. Though he was doing pretty well (the South London Press once crowned him ‘The Cockroach King’ after a successful verdict), a chance encounter in a pub in the 1980s with a young comedian going by the name Vic Reeves set his life on a different track.
Warm, profound, and irrepressibly funny, And Away… is Bob’s full life story (with a few lies thrown in for good measure.) (Adapted from Overdrive description)
In The Queen’s Wife (published by Penguin Books NZ), Drayton has turned her biographers lens inwards, writing her first memoir that details a turbulent period of her life. With a richly interwoven narrative, Drayton recounts her experience of coming out as a lesbian in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and the joys, struggles and heartbreaks that ensued.
Here we discuss her reflective journey writing her way through multiple threads of personal histories, her unconventional writing style, and how a 14-year-long chess-piece carving project formed the overarching theme of her memoir.
We extend our thanks to Joanne for taking the time to talk to us about her new memoir The Queen’s Wife. You can discover all of Joanne’s works in our catalogue reading list below, and check out Joanne’s website for more information on her writing.
Browse books by Joanne Drayton:
The Queen’s Wife / Drayton, Joanne
“A memoir of a turbulent time – and a chess game that broke all the rules. In 1989, two married women met by chance. They instantly hit it off, but little did they know that their new relationship would turn their lives upside-down. This is the true story of that relationship, which threatened to cost them their children, families and friends and forced them to reassess their sexuality, identity and heritage. Along the way, one – an acclaimed biographer – was to explore the power of objects, while the other – a painter – was to follow her whakapapa back to the first Maori king, Te Wherowhero. Against the odds, the couple’s new life together became rich in laughter, travel, unusual encounters, investigations into Viking raids, the Kingitanga movement, the death of a New Zealand artist, chicken claws, ghosts, eccentrics and much more. A fascinating read on so many levels, this is an important view of our country from its very edge. ” (Catalogue)
Ngaio Marsh : her life in crime / Drayton, Joanne
“One of the celebrated 1930s and 40s ‘Queens of Crime’ Ngaio Marsh was probably our first million copy author. Her tightly written, stylish whodunits were perennial favorites, rating alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers. A textured, rich and fascinating story, of a young woman of ambiguous sexuality who reveled in the abandon of the Bohemian Riviera, whose spurned suitor committed suicide and whose scintillating murder mysteries all took their inspiration, setting or characters from the heady life she enjoyed as a member of the in set in England, where one moved between town house and country estate. In what will be one of the most read and most significant biographies of 2008, Ngaio Marsh comes to life and finally steps out from behind the cardboard cutout of respectability and decorum.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Hudson & Halls : the food of love / Drayton, Joanne
“Hudson & Halls is more than just a love story, though a love story it certainly is. It is a tale of two television chefs who helped change the bedrock bad attitudes of a nation in the 1970s and 80s to that unspoken thing – homosexuality. Peter Hudson and David Halls became reluctant role models for a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ generation of gay men and women who lived by omission. They were also captains of a culinary revolution that saw the overthrow of Aunty Daisy and Betty Crocker and the beginnings of Pacific-rich, Asian-styled international cuisine. In this riveting, fast-paced and meticulously researched book, New York Times bestselling author Joanne Drayton celebrates the legacy of the unforgettable Hudson and Halls.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Search for Anne Perry / Drayton, Joanne
“In 1994, director Peter Jackson released the film ‘Heavenly Creatures’, based on a famous 1950s matricide committed in New Zealand by two teenage girls embroiled in an obsessive relationship. This film launched Jackson’s international career. It also forever changed the life of Anne Perry, an award-winning, bestselling crime writer, who at the time of the film’s release was publicly outed as Juliet Hulme, one of the murderers. A new light was now cast, not only on Anne’s life, but also her novels, which feature gruesome and violent deaths, and confronting, dark issues including infanticide and incest. Acclaimed literary biographer Joanne Drayton intersperses the story of Anne’s life with an examination of her writing, drawing parallels between Anne’s own experiences and her characters and storylines.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Edith Collier : her life and work 1885-1964 / Drayton, Joanne
“Edith Collier’s contribution to New Zealand art as an innovator, modernist and expatriate painter placed her in a most distinguished group, but her achievements have been eclipsed by the very company she kept – such as Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston. This book sets the record straight. Rapidly disillusioned, and feeling marginalised as an expatriate woman painter, Collier became more influenced by other expatriates in London, and was to enjoy greater success through exhibiting with venues outside the art establishment. Collier became a significant Modernist painter and later returned to New Zealand as an experienced artist with innovative ideas. But as a spinster in provincial Wanganui, Collier received harsh treatment, including what Drayton describes as savage, critical assessment and negative response from her own community. In a well-known incident (on which Drayton casts a new perspective) her father burned many of her finest paintings.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Frances Hodgkins : a private viewing / Drayton, Joanne
“The life of Frances Hodgkins was full of adventure, involving both physical and artistic journeys in which she crossed hemispheres, cultures, epochs and styles. Hodgkins worked with such well-known artists as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth – and she became a leading figure of British Modernism. She is one of the most internationally significant New Zealand-born artists to date. Art historian Dr Joanne Drayton captures Hodgkins’s life vividly, drawing on the artist’s extensive correspondence with close friends and family on the other side of the world. She critiques individual works and surveys Hodgkins’s entire career, displaying her unique achievements in context. The result is a beautiful, compelling and highly readable book that is indeed a private viewing: it offers a sense of immediacy and intimacy of Frances Hodgkins.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Rhona Haszard : an experimental expatriate New Zealand artist / Drayton, Joanne
“During Rhona Haszard’s short life she distinguished herself as a “New Woman” whose social and sexual behaviour was highly controversial. She dressed eccentrically, recommended Radclyffe Hall’s lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, spoke positively of de facto relationships and advocated vegetarianism and unprocessed food. Most significantly, she wanted to paint innovatively and professionally. In the 1920s, her brighter, Post-Impressionist style rapidly brought international recognition.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Between the lives : partners in art
“Between the Lives: Partners in Art is a fascinating book about artists who are also intimate partners. It takes nine well-known New Zealand couples and explores many aspects of their lives but particularly how the partnership affects the art they produce. Repeated themes are the situation of women and the strains of producing serious art in a small and isolated country. There are also contrasts as different couples have negotiated their own ways of accommodating two powerful creative talents. Joanne Drayton authored the chapter ‘Captured in Words and Paint: The life together of Frances Hodgkins & D.K. Richmond.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
It’s a new year and we have new biographies hitting the collection, including: a female politician from Afghanistan, a much-loved novelist, an actor and of course some royals, among others. There’s a little something for everyone in this collection.
Zarifa : a woman’s battle in a man’s world / Ghafari, Zarifa
“Zarifa Ghafari was three years old when the Taliban banned girls from schools, and she began her education in secret. She was six when American airstrikes began. She was twenty-four when she became mayor–one of the first female mayors in the country–and first of Wardak, one of the most conservative provinces in Afghanistan. Written with honesty, pain, and ultimately, hope, Zarifa describes the work she did, the women she still tries to help as they live under Taliban rule, and her vision for how grassroots activism can change their lives and the lives of women everywhere.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Comrade : Bill Andersen: a communist, working-class life / Locke, Cybèle
“Bill Andersen was one of the most significant figures of the twentieth-century trade union movement in New Zealand. In this biography, Cybèle Locke reveals the relationship between communism and working-class trade unionism during the Second World War and the following decades. Writing with insight and empathy, Cybèle Locke provides a highly readable account of a communist union leader navigating the social and political turmoil of the twentieth century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Getting lost / Ernaux, Annie
“Getting Lost is the diary Annie Ernaux kept during the year and a half she had a secret love affair with a younger, married man, a Russian diplomat. Getting Lost is as strong a book as any that she has written, a haunting, desperate view of strong and successful woman who seduces a man only to lose herself in love and desire.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The secret heart : John Le Carré : an intimate memoir / Dawson, Suleika
“The astonishing portrait of the master of spy fiction, by the woman he kept secret for all of his life. The Secret Heart is the account of Suleika Dawson’s enduring love affair with John Le Carre. A thoughtful, artfully written and intimate biography, the book aims to shed a new light on one of the greatest British writers of the 20th Century and offer an alternative measure of the man over the literary legend.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Camilla : from outcast to Queen Consort / Levin, Angela
“A compelling new biography of Camilla, Queen Consort, that reveals how she transformed her role and established herself as one of the key members of the royal family. Angela Levin uncovers Camilla’s rocky journey to be accepted by the royal family and how she coped with her brutal portrayal in Netflix’s The Crown. Most of all, Levin tells the story of how Camilla has changed from a fun-loving young woman to one of the senior royals’ hardest workers. She has retained her mischievous sense of humor, becoming a role model for older women and an inspiration for younger ones.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Illustrated Black history : honoring the iconic and the unseen / McCalman, George
“A gorgeous collection of 145 original portraits that celebrates Black pioneers–famous and little-known–in politics, science, literature, music, and more–with biographical reflections, all created and curated by an award-winning graphic designer. Beautifully designed with over 300 unique four-color artworks and accessible to readers of all ages, this eye-opening, educational, dynamic, and timely compendium pays homage to Black Americans and their achievements, and showcases the depth and breadth of Black genius.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
All veils are off / Heding, Marguerette
“Qatar? It sounds like a bad lung condition! was Marguerette Heding’s first reaction to her husband about moving there. ‘All Veils Are Off: The True Housewives of Qatar’ is Marguerette’s extraordinary, hilarious, though at times devastating account of her 8 years living in Qatar. Not only did she have to navigate the tricky expat community, but also the secret and fiercely protected world of the Qatari women – a world very few outsiders, particularly a wine-loving, dog owning Australian infidel are ever privy to.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Playing under the piano : from Downton to darkest Peru / Bonneville, Hugh
“A moving, laugh-out-loud memoir from one of today’s best-loved British actors, whose credits include Downton Abbey, Notting Hill, and Paddington. Whether telling stories of his B&H-smoking, G&T-drinking, horse-race-addicted grandmother, or working with an invisible bear with a penchant for marmalade, this is a richly entertaining memoir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Revenge : Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors / Bower, Tom
“Meghan Markle’s trajectory from unknown actress to world icon is remarkable. After a childhood spent on Hollywood film sets, she fought hard for stardom. But even when she landed her breakthrough role, her lifelong dream of celebrity remained elusive. In 2016 she created the ultimate fairy-tale ending: she captivated her very own prince. Yet, within one tumultuous year, the dream became a nightmare. In the aftermath of the infamous Megxit split and the Oprah Winfrey interview, the Royal Family’s fate seems persistently threatened.” (Catalogue)
Only a few British monarchs have ever written books. As a young king, Henry VIII published an attack on the Protestant reformer Martin Luther many years before his own split with the Catholic church.
Eight decades later, James IV of Scotland (later to become James I of the newly formed United Kingdom) wrote a variety of works including an epic poem, a treatise against tobacco and a study of witchcraft and demonology which was later used by William Shakespeare as one of his main sources for Macbeth. However, only one monarch has ever published what essentially is an autobiography during their life; Queen Victoria and her book Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands.
Queen Victoria reigned for nearly 64 years following her coronation in 1837. In 1842 when she was aged 23, she and Prince Albert travelled to Scotland for a holiday shortly after marrying. Their experiences on that trip made a lasting impression on them both and she soon became the first monarch since Charles I to have a home in Scotland. Victoria and Albert returned in 1844 and again three years later. In 1848 Albert acquired a lease on Balmoral Castle and its associated estate of 17,400 acres in the Deeside region, about 80 km west of Aberdeen and then purchased it using his own inherited wealth in 1852. In due course this isolated area was to become Victoria’s spiritual home and she returned there with her family almost every year for the rest of her life. These retreats allowed the royal couple to cast off much of the rigid formality of court protocol and to gain some sense of what it might be like to live a ‘normal’ life. Victoria and her family would roam the hills and explore the wild mountain streams as they chose. Continue reading “From the Rare Book Collection: Queen Victoria’s signed copy of her published journals”→
This June, Wellington residents will have 3 chances to meet with Robin Robilliard, author of Hard Country, number two best seller for non-fiction books on the Paper Plus book chain list, and 4th on the Sunday Star Times best selling biographies list two weeks ago. She will be giving public talks at the following:
Kilbirnie Library – June 18th 6.30pm
Wellington Central Library – June 19th 6pm
Johnsonville Library – June 20th 11.30am
Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the story of an amazing woman and her family’s who achieved the impossible on a Golden Bay Farm and ask her questions about her biography.
As Robin put it “Managing to survive without bankruptcy, as had our three predecessors on Rocklands, is the real success story”.
One thing a fiercely independent young married couple knew for sure when they were planning their farming future together was that they never wanted to work for anyone else.
It’s this resilient and pioneering spirit that runs through Robin (Robby) Robilliard’s absorbing new memoir as this marvellous and sprightly octogenarian reflects on her life with husband Garry and their family the isolated Golden Bay, at the very tip of South Island, far away from family and friends. When they arrived there in 1957 it was a very different place to the vibrant and richly diverse community there is today.
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending an author talk with Witi Ihimaera about his latest book, Māori Boy, held at National Library. Māori Boy: a memoir of childhood is a recollection of the author’s early life growing up near Gisborne in the 1940s and 1950s. As a life-long fan of Ihimaera’s writing, I was really excited and interested to hear him speak about his experiences of writing the book and about some of the events and relationships in his childhood which inspired it. The event was incredibly well attended, creating a need for extra seats as well as more speakers; testifying to the popularity of this iconic New Zealand writer. The audience were also treated to a brief teaser video of Lee Tamahori’s upcoming film The Patriarch, which is based on Ihimaera’s well-loved novel Bulibasha. I was also lucky enough to get my shiny new copy of the book signed!
We have plenty of copies available here at the library:
Māori boy : a memoir of childhood / Witi Ihimaera.
“Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood is the first volume of Witi Ihimaera’s enthralling memoir, packed with stories from the formative years of the bestselling author of Whale Rider and Pounamu, Pounamu. He tells of his early life in rural and small town New Zealand, of family secrets, of facing anguish and challenges, and of laughter and love.” (from randomhouse)