I was very sad to hear of the untimely passing of narrator Katharine Kellgren on January 10.
Katherine was so good at what she did that a friend of mine who also shares my audiobook addiction actually texted me one evening when she heard the news herself. I mean, this friend does not even text me when celebrities die, but Ms. K got the honor.
I was surprised to learn when reading about her that she did not come by her British accent naturally, but was American. Being that I sound awfully American and I can’t do accents, I find this impressive. She also narrated 250 audiobooks, so the ones that she made special to me were but a slip of her time, a blip on her radar. I own other books she has done that I have not yet enjoyed. I am saddened about the loss of this talent.
Her talent brought to life my favorite cozy mystery series, Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen.
Her Royal Spyness is about a remote British royal named Lady Georgiana Rannoch, a single woman in her early twenties who suffers from genteel poverty in 1930s Britain. Her cousin, the Queen of England, gives her assignments to spy on or further her interests in the outside world. Usually someone dies over the course of these situations that the Queen sends Georgie into. A layer that I particularly enjoy is the cameo appearances of real people who lived back then, like Wallis Simpson and the Prince of Wales that she is after, and Noel Coward. I mean, if one is going to do a historical time and place, which any reader of this blog will know I am crazy about, having real figures makes it all the better.
I can be terrible at series. I don’t usually want to keep hanging out with the same set of characters, but somehow Her Royal Spyness keeps it fresh and different for me, while I am always waiting for the same set of characters to show up: her ex cop grandfather, her man hopping actress mother and her famous contacts, her licentious friend, and a fresh set of antics through the half competent maid whom she keeps out of desperation. As with any cozy, you can usually smell the love interest the moment he steps onto the scene, but I still wait for him to show up and declare his love for the more awkward but deep and principled Georgiana. Anglophilia runs in my blood still after over 200 years of my family being in this country. Two hundred years can’t beat out the excitement that I get from Georgiana’s contacts and assignments from the Queen. Can’t do it! I currently am up to Queen of Hearts. That one appears to toss a little American history into it. I have it on audio and it is next in line. I binged on the ones before that pretty hard, including the Christmas one, which I thought was particularly well done, even after my seasonal Christmas novel binge.
I was sucked into this series by an Audible promotion to start with (they know how to market) and I have tried reading the books on my kindle or on paper and it just isn’t the same without the particular accents and voices that bring each character to life for me. Even when I am excited to read the next book and it is sitting on the library shelf looking at me, I tend to use a valuable Audible credit on it. That is high praise.
But I can’t truthfully say that I have not wondered who will be next to narrate these and if it will be even remotely the same. Kellgren was not the only narrator I have ever loved, but she is close. I don’t know if anyone will ever do a better Cockney male than she does. I just don’t. A talent gone too soon from us.