November 30, 2007


Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
Contemporary (Historical) Fiction
Finished on 11/16/07
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

From AudioFile

Tallgrass is a rare treasure, a historical novel that drops the reader into a unique time and place while illuminating universal truths about human nature. The story is told by Rennie Stroud, an adult who looks back on her childhood in a narrative voice reminiscent of Scout Finch's in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. As Rennie reflects on the impact of a Japanese internment camp on her small farming community in Colorado during WWII, Lorelei King uses tone and cadence to bring the various characters to life--Rennie herself, a father reminiscent of Atticus Finch, suspicious townspeople, and displaced Japanese. The icing on the cake is an extensive conversation between narrator King and author Sandra Dallas. They provide a historical perspective on the internment camps, drawing parallels with today's war on terrorism. N.E.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.

We recently purchased a treadmill to use during the long, cold winter months. As I've walked, I've been quite content listening to music on my iPod, but one afternoon while perusing the shelves at our local library, I decided to see if I could find an audio book to listen to for a change of pace. I came upon Tallgrass and remembered how much Kay loved it, so I added it to my stack. I've tried reading a couple of Dallas's books, but none of them grabbed my attention after the first few chapters and so they were subsequently returned unfinished. This novel, however, was very enjoyable to listen to. When I wasn't listening to it while walking on the treadmill, I managed 5 or 10 minutes on my short commute to and from work, plus a little here and there while cooking dinner.

I don't have much experience with audio book readers, but I was quite satisfied with Lorelei King's narration of the novel; each character was distinctly portrayed and the tension was heavy and foreboding. Not having the book in hand, though, means I don't have any special passages to share. As I said, Kay loved this book and has a marvelous review here. I enjoyed the audio book experience so much that I decided to pick up another from the library. Now I get to see what all the fuss is about with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. So far, so good. I'm actually eager to hit the treadmill for my hour-long walk!


  1. Tallgrass was my third Dallas book and I loved it! I believe I read (not listened) and savored every moment of all of them.

    As for audio-books, they're great! I, too, walk on the treadmill, do housework and errands while listening to a book. Menial tasks have become much more tolerable. :)

  2. Okay, so now I need a treadmill for Christmas, and possibly a bigger iPod than my little Shuffle to put audiobooks on (although I love the clip-on-ableness of the Shuffle).

    The book sounds interesting. My only experience of Sandra Dallas is Persian Pickle Club. I've meant to try others, but haven't ever gotten around to them.

    I just found this interesting author map at . The description says "The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them" and you can click on different authors' names and see who else comes closest to them.

  3. Anonymous5:47 AM

    Les, I'm glad you enjoyed your experience with audiobooks and Tallgrass. I think this book just hit me at just the right time and really resonated. I have been a big fan of the audiobooks for a long time but haven't listened to one in a while. Hope you like Outlander. I have read it but not listened to it. It might be fun to hear someone tell Jamie and Clare's story.

  4. Les: I'm so glad you enjoyed the audiobook. I haven't read or listened to this particular one. I've become addicted to audiobooks for my drive time. I get the Books on CD from the library and put them on my ipod. I rarely listen to them except when I'm in the car by myself, but I rarely listen to anything other than a book anymore when I'm in the car.

    I tend to stick with light stuff, but I have listened to a few classics this way (The Good Earth, A Tale of Two Cities, My Antonia, and Wuthering Heights).

  5. As a HUGE Diana Gabaldon fan, I can hardly wait to hear what you think of Outlander. It's been a huge influence in my life (and travels!)

  6. Another Outlander fan chiming in here. Audio books is a great way to experience the story. The reader, Davina Porter, has a great voice and manages to have a different voice for each of the characters, even the men. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. My commute to and from work just flies by.

  7. Joy - I may have to try her other books on audio. I know they're very popular, but I couldn't get into them (printed version).

    Janet - Yes, treadmills are wonderful. But you live in a climate where you can be outside most of the time. Oh, wait. I take that back! As I recall, summers are FAR TOO hot to walk outside. Yes. Get a treadmill! :)

    We have a cool docking station for my iPod and it's set up on a bookcase right next to the treadmill. It even has a remote control so I don't have to risk reaching over to adjust the volume and fall of the treadmill! ;)

    Thanks for the literature map link. Got it bookmarked now!

    Kay - Davina Porter is the reader/narrator for Outlander and she's got a marvelous voice. She's from Britain and I just love her accent.

    SuziQ - My commute is REALLY short (less than 10 minutes), so I wind up walking extra long on the treadmill, just to squeeze in an extra track or two on the audio book. They certainly are addictive. I, too, get mine from the library, rip them to my computer (iTunes) and synch them to my iPod. Easy peasy and cheap! :)

    I'm considering Moby Dick one of these days. It's the ONLY way I'll ever get through the entire book!

    Maudeen - So far, so good!! I'm glad I finally got around to "reading" this one.

    Kilian - I agree. Davina Porter has an excellent voice for this book. I'm thoroughly enjoying the experience and can't wait to hop back on my treadmill. ;)

  8. Anonymous4:21 AM


    I have read all books Sandra Dallas but this one as I waiting for it to come out in tradecover. I am so happy to hear it is good. I have my favs, but actually I never felt let down by her.


  9. Gayla - Sorry for the delay in approving your comment! I thought I had, but apparently there was a glitch with Blogger. Anyhow, I'm glad this author is favorite of yours and I hope you enjoy the book as well as I did!

  10. Thanks for pointing out your review. I appreciate that. I thought the reader was excellent.

  11. Diane - I agree. I think the reader was very good. Thanks for your comment.


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