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When Davina Porter was quite young, she discovered the best way to learn something--a poem to memorize or history facts--was to say or read it aloud. She did this, often to her dolls lined up along the wall. She liked the way the words sounded and found that she easily remembered them. For nearly 25 years, Davina has had the chance to "learn" many things through the recordings of more than 100 audiobooks. One of the founding narrators with Recorded Books, Davina has an impressive list of classics in her audiography, including ANNA KARENINA , MADAME BOVARY , TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES . Davina's voice is surely one of the most elegant and refined in audiobooks, giving the Victorian classics fluid presentation. She's able to capture historical settings with splendid clarity and yet convey the harsh realities of the period. In her renditions of biographies of Catherine the Great, Empress Josephine, and Marie Antoinette, Davina engages listeners with the details and simultaneously projects the full context.
Talking with AUDIOFILE, Davina mentions her attention to historical detail. As a student of conventions and manners, she laughs at the anachronisms she encounters in some novels--sitting cross-legged on the floor in a hoop skirt, for example. She admires authors who do their homework, like Diana Gabaldon. Davina's readings of the Outlander series, for which she uses her Scots heritage to flavor the dialects of dozens of characters, have many fans. And they're among her personal favorites. Gabaldon's lengthy novels require careful preparation. An initial reading, which Davina always does, is followed by preparation of a day's recording session, with careful anticipation of pages that may involve five or six Scots in a scene. She strives to bring each voice off the page and at the same time maintain a natural sense. A flexible voice, notes Davina, is essential for audiobook narrators, as is the ability to make quick changes and maintain a comfortable narrative level for long periods. Davina always seeks the author's intent, and with an author like Ruth Rendell care must be given to subtle, psychological clues. Davina's success with a range of mysteries by Rendell, Elizabeth George, Anne Perry, and M.C. Beaton is a testament to this perceptive approach.
Few female narrators have the fluid capacity to capture grand historical figures and the more subtle, introspective portraits. We should also mention that Davina excels at satire--the Fay Weldon variety. THE LIFE AND LOVES OF A SHE-DEVIL is wickedly good, and shows her fluency with subtle irony. Davina attends to every detail--word, phrase, and emotion come alive with her narrative style.--[December 2001]
December 2007: Recorded more adventures from author Cynthia Riggs of the 90-year-old detective living on Martha's Vineyard and from Alexander McCall Smith's Scottish series, A CAREFUL USE OF COMPLIMENTS.
December 2006: Davina has always been the voice of Diana Gabaldon's audiobooks, and winning the APA's 2006 Audie Award for Best Female Narrator with A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES secured that honor. At home with the Scottish accents of Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series, Davina gave us FRIENDS, LOVERS, CHOCOLATE and THE RIGHT ATTITUDE TO RAIN . She introduced a new-to-audio series by Cynthia Riggs with THE CEMETERY YEW and DEADLY NIGHTSHADE , both set on Martha's Vineyard, a familiar locale to Davina. Historical fiction has always gotten careful and thorough treatment from her, and Philippa Gregory's THE VIRGIN' S LOVER and upcoming THE BOLEYN INHERITANCE are no exception.
December 2005: 2005 found Davina even busier than usual. She performed DEATH OF A PRANKSTER , from M.C. Beaton's popular Hamish Macbeth series, and three of Anne Perry's mysteries, SILENCE IN HANOVER CLOSE , RUTLAND PLACE , and Earphones winner CARDINGTON CRESCENT . She was also part of an ensemble production of Alexander McCall Smith's THE GIRL WHO MARRIED A LION and narrated WORMWOOD by G.P. Taylor.
December 2004: A special highlight of the year was Davina's Audie Award in the Inspirational Fiction category for TREASURE OF STONEWYCKE. Having done many successful fantasy titles by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Diana Gabaldon, Davina delighted listeners with her reading of Jackie French Koller's THE KEEPERS and THE WIZARD'S APPRENTICE . Davina continues to record titles by Anne Perry and M.C. Beaton, and also Alexander McCall Smith's new series set in Scotland, which debuts with THE SUNDAY PHILOSOPHY CLUB .
December 2003: Satisfying her love for historical detail, Davina completed recording two biographies by Alison Weir, THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH I and MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS AND THE MURDER OF LORD DARNLEY . She also brought listeners more titles featuring Scottish detective Hamish Macbeth by M.C. Beaton, two period mysteries by Anne Perry including DEATH IN THE DEVIL'S ACRE , and enjoyed the chance to do some children's stories, including THE SPIDER AND THE FLY . Davina enjoyed several staged readings of Alan's Bennett's Talking Heads at various Connecticut libraries. Davina will be appearing in a New York State Theater production of Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced .
December 2002: Davina completed Diana Gabaldon's THE FIERY CROSS , a 40-cassette opus that shows her amazing skill with dialects and character portraits. Moving to Victorian England, Davina narrated BLUEGATE FIELDS by Anne Perry. She then did several titles set in wartime Britain in the Stonewyke series by Michael Phillips and Julia Pella. DEATH OF A SNOB by M.C. Beaton rounded out Davina's year.
Photo by Jo Anna Perrin
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