Ken Follett and John Lee: Master Storytellers

It finally hit me, beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I’m in love with Ken Follett.  And, for that matter, John Rafter Lee, too. So, consider me the Number One member of their fan club. In fact, I am officially declaring myself a Ken Follett/John Rafter Lee groupie.

Ken Follett

Ken Follett (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, I’m obsessed! Though, you may be thinking, why? Why swoon over the likes of Ken Follett, an author who describes himself on his website as a, “Master Storyteller and Best-selling Author?”  And, who the heck is John Lee, anyway?? Well, more about him in a moment.

First, Ken Follett really is a master storyteller. He spins a darn good yarn. Clearly, the man does his research, whether writing about five families whose lives are intertwined during World War I and World War II, or the building of a cathedral in 12th century England.  Do you have any idea how long it took those guys back then to build one cathedral? We’re talking decades. Maybe even centuries!

So far, I have read two of Follett’s books and am halfway through a third. Though technically, I haven’t really read any of his books at all. It’s because I listen to them on audio! On average, the number of pages in each of his novels ranges from 1,000 to infinity. Talk about epic! There are only so many hours in a day, which is why, without the audiobook, I would be missing out on Follett’s tomes.

These are the ones I’ve listened to: Fall of Giants and Winter of the World, Books One and Two of his Century Trilogy (which, if I interpret this correctly, means that there is one more book in the series that I can look forward to!).

And, the book I’m currently listening to is Pillars of the Earth, which Follett wrote way back when. It’s a riveting account, detailing all the drama, politics and double-crossing involved in building a cathedral. I mean, really. Who thought building a cathedral could be so intriguing, and so enthralling?

John Rafter Lee, actor and professional narrator.

John Rafter Lee, actor and professional narrator.

In audio form, each of these books is between 30 and 40 hours long. Goodness. I’d lose my voice if I had to read aloud just one chapter! Which brings me back to John Rafter Lee.

I love Lee!  And I only know him by his voice! You could say, he had me at, “Hello.” I have listened to many an audio book, but none has kept me as rapt as Lee. He narrates all of Follett’s books, and while Follett might write the books, it is Lee who truly brings them to life. I cannot say enough good things about this man’s voice. It’s clear and crisp. Best of all, Lee, who has recorded the audio for other books as well (Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak and Tai-Pan by James Clavell), is able to capture every accent and nuance of the gazillion characters or so that are to be found in a Follett saga.

Take his most recent, Winter of the World. The main characters are Russian, British German, American, and Welsh. He does all the accents pitch perfect, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, Lee is an actor first, but he’s made a solid career out of recording audio books, and now I’m determined to listen to them all.

By the way, if you happen to run into either of them, please let them know they shouldn’t be frightened of me. Not in the least. True, I’m obsessed enough to stalk them, if not for the fact that they’re in England and I’m on this side of the pond.   So, let them know they can relax. For now, that is. One of these days, they might spot a crazed woman peering at them from behind a tree, in a very clandestine sort of way. You just never know.

Finally, I want to thank Anne and Don, a very sweet couple who were kind enough to introduce me to Ken Follett. After all, if not for them, I wouldn’t be hanging on to every word he writes and Lee utters.

Now, what are you reading?

Seattle, Here I Come (and other random stuff)

Guess what? I am going to the Emerald City, which is what some call Seattle because it’s so darn lush and green, thanks to all the rain they get. I’m practically apoplectic with delight, because I’m going to see my friends, and you know that when I was last there, last spring, we had buckets of fun.

The view from the plane as it approaches Seattle.

I’ll be staying with Pam, who I’ve known for decades. Hundreds and hundreds of years, if you ask me. Pam has a big heart and a biting wit that is way sharper than mine, and makes me laugh like crazy.

I’ll also be seeing our pal, Pat, who is very sweet and kind, and somehow tolerates our off-kilter humor, which is just one of the many reasons why we adore her. Oh, and because, when someone makes her mad by doing something really annoying (present company excluded, of course), the best she can say, in her most polite voice, is, “I’m finding it hard to remain civil.”

With any luck, I’ll also see Clare, my amazing author friend who has written and published a plethora of books for children. Not to mention, Tom, aka Dernab Swarren. That’s what I call him, and he calls me Della. That’s Della Wolf, to you. Long story.

Pike Place Market is must-visit for anyone traveling to Seattle.

I am also going to get to spend time with Pam’s twin daughters, who are the same age as my daughter, and so much fun to be with, too.  And, last but not least, those canine cuties, Digby and Maisie. No doubt, they’ll be underfoot, looking for a cuddle and a lap to rest on.

Well, there’s at least one person I’m not going to be able to meet up with while in Seattle.  I was hoping to at last meet my young blogger pal, Cappy, whose got lots of moxie and joie de vivre. But turns out, she lives nowhere near Seattle. What was I thinking??

So, here’s my dream list of stuff I want to do during my visit, in no specific order:

  • Spend time with my friends
  • Pick up chocolates at the Dilettante
  • Peruse the stalls at Pike Place Market
  • Go antiquing
  • Catch up with my friends
  • Go out drinking and listen to music
  • Nosh like crazy!   Which includes breakfast at Julia’s Restaurant where they serve French toast with orange butter, lunch at Kidd Valley for awesome char-grilled burgers and pineapple shakes, and, what else? Dinner at Ivar’s Salmon House, for some mouth-watering, alder-wood smoked salmon.
  • Take walks with my favorite little Yorkies, Digby and Maisie
  • See a new movie

Ivar’s Salmon House restaurant serves up delicious alder-wood cooked salmon.

OMG, I can’t wait! I’m packing my bags and filling them with warm clothes, because if I know anything about the Northwest, it’s going to be cold, cold, COLD!



Hey Neighbor! I have a new blog, folks! This one’s for my work and it’s called, Hey Neighbor! It’s all about the ordinary people that make San Diego such an extraordinary place to live. If you have a chance, I hope you’ll check it out.


This photo, and all the others here, were taken during my last trip to Seattle.

Sick of the election coverage? Me, too. Well, it’s almost over, but not soon enough for this four year old who gave into her tears after her mom was listening to yet another election report on NPR. Check out this story, in which NPR apologizes, Dear Little Girl: Sorry We Made You Cry About ‘Bronco Bamma’ and Mitt Romney. If you ask me, I think she’s channeling what many of us are feeling.


Fifty/Fifty Challenge:  Full confession. I didn’t finish reading anything in October. And, I didn’t even see one flick! Sigh. Oh, well, I am working on Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy, a book that is 960 pages long, though I’m listening to the audio version, because I’m no fool.  All I can tell you is that Ken Follett is a brilliant writer and John Lee is the perfect audio reader, capturing every accent, and every dialect in this saga of five families across continents, on the eve of World War II. I am absolutely riveted!


Take the hint and vote! I already did. And, be sure to check out the latest posts from our Race 2012 bloggers.

Ta-tah for now! I’m going, but I’ll be back soon!