About the Book:
A reclusive woman living in outback Australia receives a letter acknowledging a terrible secret from her past. Thirty years before, she stole another woman’s life. From the moment the letter is opened two women are on a collision course with destiny.
From the London pop scene, to the opera stages of Europe; from a tiny Greek island, to a stifling manor house full of secrets and deceptions; from the sun-drenched Queensland coast, to the silent outback; Angela and Ellie are two women both looking for something.
One in search of her identity and her memory, the other in search of the love that she had and lost; theirs is a duet whose last note will not be sung until the heart-stopping climax, when a shadow from the past returns to claim them both.
Duet is a sweeping saga that follows the lives of two women, and those they are involved with, for several decades. It swings from one side of the world to the other, detailing the rise and fall and rise again of music star Penny Bright and the two women she is the pseudonym of.
I really enjoy Kimberley Freeman’s storytelling, she is utterly brilliant at crafting complex and engrossing stories. There was so much happening in Duet, multiple stories about multiple characters unfolding all at once, yet Kimberley expertly threads everything together, even when you aren’t yet aware of the connections she’s laying down. Duet is a long novel, published back in 2007 when books with 500+ pages were a lot more common, but my attention never wavered. I was captivated right the way through, stealing minutes whenever I could in order to find out what was happening next. As well as crafting memorable characters and spinning out complex plotlines, Kimberley strings her sentences together with such beauty. Take this passage as an example, where Ellie is appreciating the Australian outback:
There were so many times when I thought I knew where Kimberley was headed with the storyline of Duet, but I was wrong every time! She is truly a master storyteller, so skilled in the art of plotting and character development. Her two leading ladies, Ellie and Angela, were crafted so convincingly. My feelings for each of them changed so much throughout the novel but one thing stayed certain: I liked both of them the least when they were wearing the persona of Penny Bright. Each woman was not at her best when caught up with the quest for stardom.
The suspense attached to this storyline forms the backbone of this novel, so I have to be deliberately vague here in my review. So much happens to these two women as we live alongside them from age 14 through to 42. There is an absolute wealth of supporting characters that crop up along the way, some for the long haul, some for barely any time at all, but each adds weight to this story in their own unique way. One thing to note with this novel: nothing happens for no reason and no character makes an appearance for no reason. Duet is very much a six degrees of separation type of story – unfortunate circumstances meeting with serendipitous moments for two women who are linked without having ever met.
Sweeping sagas are not as popular as they used to be, more’s the pity. I love a lifelong journey with a character, a big doorstopper of a book. But it certainly does take a special sort of storyteller to maintain the distance with a saga, and I can say with absolute certainty that Kimberley Freeman has produced one of the best I’ve read in a long time with Duet.
Listening vs Reading:
I began Duet by listening to the Audiobook and was immediately drawn in by the convincing narration of Caroline Lee. She reads so well, with such expression, even doing the various accents for the characters with authenticity. I’ve not used Audiobooks much in the past, I used to find the reading pace far too slow, being a speed reader myself. Fortunately, now that you can get them digitally, you’re able to alter the reading speed, so I adjusted mine to x1.85, which clipped along nicely for me. I listened up to the 65% mark over the course of a week, but Duet is a really long novel and I’m not used to taking that long with a single book so I succumbed to my burning curiosity about what was going to happen next and finished it myself with the eBook. It just wasn’t practical for me to listen at that time but I was able to read quietly to myself, hence the reason why I didn’t just keep on playing it. Despite this changeover late in the book, I did really enjoy the audio version of Duet and recommend it highly to audiobook fans.
Published by Hachette Australia
Available in Paperback and eBook
Audiobook by Bolinda Publishing
Narrated by Caroline Lee