Voice actors Edoardo Ballerini and Julia Whelan deliver exquisite performances in the audiobook for The Angel of Rome and Other Stories (8 hours), Jess Walter’s gratifying collection of vignettes about human connection and the twists of faith and fate.
Ballerini is masterful and controlled in his portrayal of ordinary people who experience something extraordinary. In “Fran’s Friend Has Cancer,” his expert pacing balances humor and darkness as Max bickers with his wife and realizes that an eavesdropper is recording their conversation. In the title story, Ballerini brings out 21-year-old Jack’s reluctance to study Latin in Rome—until the young man stumbles upon a higher cause, the actor Angelina Amadio.
Whelan’s crisp narration takes on humorous undertones in “Famous Actor” to portray an astute woman observing the absurdities of a self-absorbed actor. And in “Mr. Voice,” Whelan highlights the vulnerabilities of a girl raised by a stepfather who’s known for his popular radio personality, but whose big heart matters most at the end of the day.
Ballerini and Whelan infuse these engaging stories with warmth and surprise, making The Angel of Rome an ideal audiobook for readers who enjoyed Flights by Olga Tokarczuk and Exhalation by Ted Chiang.