The Sixth Lamentation
William Brodrick

Review of Book
This very cleverly and intricately-woven mystery revolves around the events in the life of Agnes Aubret, during the Nazi occupation of Paris in the 1940s. Based in part on the experience of William Brodrick's own mother in Holland, it touches on a Vatican attempt at face-saving, its own internal church politics, and the British government's deflecting blame when it's found that a suspected war criminal has been given refuge for decades.

But more than anything, it's a human tale. A totally absorbing story of displaced persons, confused and forged identities. Of actions that betray the inherent human emotions of love and fear, with tragic consequences and misunderstandings that reach forward to the present day, and for which very high prices have been paid.

Through the now elderly and terminally-ill Agnes, in trying to explain to her family what it is that has made her into the, sometimes difficult, person they've come to know, we're taken back to that terrible time. As the Nazi occupiers move inexorably to tighten the net on Jews and other groups, Agnes has become a member of a group smuggling Jewish children out of France, entrusted into their care by desperate parents, to what they can only hope is safety. Though certainly poignant and thought-provoking, her recollections are not graphic.

Review of Nat's Reading
After listening to all of Nat's previous audios, I was never in any doubt that this recording with a new publisher, would be good. But the combination of his beautiful and perceptive reading (as ever) with the lovely and occasional voice of Diana Bishop (that somehow throws Nat's into relief and complements it perfectly) plus interludes of piano music (that form part of the story and add so much to the mood and atmosphere), this recording is simply elevated to a totally new level.

Nat's unhurried pace, that's very relaxing to listen to, with exactly the right sense of emotion makes it feel very intimate somehow. It's as if his reading has reached a new maturity that is just a joy to hear. So convincing are his characterisations and so absorbing is the text that you simply forget it is only one person.

Even after finding so many voices and characterisations for all the audios that have gone before, he manages to find yet more. And in the same sentence he can slip effortlessly, not merely out his own voice but from, for example, Yorkshire into French and back again. His French and German pronunciation sounds just great to me, but his Italian is exquisite.. Uh!

In an interview, I heard William Brodrick say that his hope was that the reader be left with "a feel for that time, and to recognise that they are part of a chain of remembrance of the passing of memory…" In the present climate (among some at least) of ignorance, indifference and scepticism of this period of mankind's history, this six hours of imaginatively produced and extremely high quality recording certainly makes Brodrick's writing incredibly moving…

Published by
Time Warner Audiobooks
ISBN 1405501081 (CD)
ISBN 140550109x (Cassette)
March 2005
Abridged version
Running time 6hrs approx.

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