File this one under audiobooks that are definitely worth listening to before (or after, for that matter) you see the movie. In Florence Foster Jenkins, Nicholas Martin (who also wrote the film starring Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, and Simon Helberg) and Jasper Rees tell the extraordinary story of one of America’s best-known sopranos. Florence Foster Jenkins, despite lacking pitch, rhythm, or tone, was celebrated for her unique recordings and sellout concert at Carnegie Hall.
Florence was born into a wealthy family in 1868 and proved to be a talented pianist in her youth, but her life was thrown into turmoil when she eloped with a man twice her age, Frank Jenkins. The marriage proved a disaster, and Florence was forced to abandon her dreams of a professional musical career. She taught the piano in order to survive until her father died in 1909, leaving her a considerable inheritance. With her newfound fortune and recent relocation to New York, Florence once again decided to pursue her passion for music, setting up a prestigious amateur music club and staging operas. She worked tirelessly to support the city’s musical life, aided by her partner St. Clair Bayfield. Many young singers owed their start to Florence, but she, too, yearned to perform and began giving regular recitals that quickly attracted a cult following. And yet nothing could prepare the world for the astonishing climax of her career when, at the age of 76, she performed at the most hallowed concert hall in America, Carnegie Hall.
Florence’s story is one of perseverance in the face of difficult circumstances, and pursuing your dreams without giving any mind to your critics. Brought to life by award-winning and beloved narrator Katherine Kellgren, the Florence Foster Jenkins audiobook is sure to climb to the top of any listener’s list of favorites. Start listening to an excerpt: