Birdie and Jay

Written by Ella Joy Olsen Eva Kaminsky (narrator) Gerard Doyle (narrator)
Review by J. Lynn Else

Early 1900s, New York. What’s bigger news than the Titanic’s sinking? Finding Darwin’s missing link. Birdie’s family plans to finance the expedition for the Museum of Natural History, with Jay as the museum’s representative. For Birdie, she’s more excited by an invitation to help paint the museum’s bird habitats. Birdie’s mother, though, refuses to have her daughter seen as a working girl and forbids it, so Birdie creates opportunities to sneak away. Despite their different social classes, Birdie and Jay are drawn together like magnets. Keeping their relationship secret, Birdie plans to get through her season without becoming engaged. But when a persistent Austrian count begins courting her and Jay is sent overseas on to the dig site, their new-found love will be put to the test.

Readers are welcomed into the extravagant lifestyles of New York’s wealthiest citizens while also digging for bones in Piltdown, East Sussex, searching for Darwin’s missing link. Opulent homes and outdoor landscapes are well described. The narration switches between Birdie and Jay with two different Audible narrators. Gerard Doyle’s Irish accent brings out Jay’s personality as well as his cultural roots. Eva Kaminsky has a wonderful ability to create distinct voices for both males and females. While pursuing their passions in the museum, Birdie and Jay are engaging characters. Jay’s work and his investigation into suspect activities surrounding the Piltdown dig are immensely intriguing. However, as Birdie pines over Jay and reluctantly spends the summer with her family, she becomes a listless narrator. The story lacks a counterbalance of levity as situations get more serious for our main characters, slowing the plot’s momentum. While I greatly enjoyed the natural history aspects, the romance feels slightly rushed and the characters lack depth when they aren’t in the museum.