I have just finished listening to my first audiobook ever, and I am so lucky it was such an extraordinary introduction to the medium. I am an avid and fast reader, so an audiobook did seem like it was going to be a bit tedious. I was so totally wrong.

Audioshelf has produced The Imagined Child, written by Jo-Anne Richards and narrated by Terry Lloyd-Roberts, and it is a wonderful, intense and rich production. I couldn’t stop listening, and had to stop doing other stuff instead (I am a poor multi-tasker).

The Imagined Child tells the story of Odette, who at the start of the book has just relocated to a tiny town Nagelaten in the Free State from Johannesburg. We get to know her state of mind, and more about the town from her daily reflections and weekly trips back to Johannesburg, for therapy and for work; she writes for a local soap opera.

The story is told in first person via Odette’s reluctant journal entries, and in third person in the body of the story.  Odette is an edgy, blunt and difficult protagonist, who helps weave an intricate tale of failed relationships, children, South African politics, small town characters and conflicts, deep dark secrets, all while keeping Johannesburg totally alive and contemporary.

It is set just before the 2010 world cup, giving an amazing tapestry of South Africa to play on.

There is so much that is rich and layered about this book, with keen observations, detailed characters who manage to avoid the usual stereotyping, and an astounding and complicated personal story that left me reeling and in tatters at the very end. I went through the gamut of emotions; from irritation to being deeply moved, and even laughing out loud at some of the typical South Africanisms dotted through the narrative.

What made it even more haunting, intimate and stirring was having it read to me by Terry Lloyd-Roberts. Her voice is such a pleasure to listen to, and it adds colour, texture and integrity to the experience.

The Imagined Child is a deeply original, truly South African personal odyssey and it will stay with me for a very long time. I am so glad I listened to it.

To listen to a snippet go here http://audioshelf.co.za/shop/product/the-imagined-child/

Oh, and watch this space. My own audiobook of Green Margie and The Starlight, read by me will be available on Audioshelf very soon.