Audible listener who's grateful for a long commute!
On March 18, 1990, two thieves broke into the The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, and stole thirteen work of art, including five works by Edgar Degas - four drawings and a painting. This book imagines the trajectory of the painting, described as one in Degas' Bathers series. [The painting taken from the Gardner was not in the Bathers series.]
Claire Roth is a professional art forger, and works for the fictional reproductions. Her specialty is Degas, although she can copy other masters and genres. Claire is an artist in her own right, but she has been a pariah in the art community for three years. The reason she has been cast out is a key part of the story.
Claire is aproached by art gallery owner Adrien Markel to make a reproduction of the stolen Degas painting, and Markel promises her a one woman show in exchange.
Edward Degas, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and Gardner's great grand niece are key players.
I would listen to the narrator of this book, X.E. Sands, read a grocery list. She is just that good, and she was an ideal choice to narrate this book.
I found that the plot, although definitely a tangled web, was predictable in the last third or so. I would have liked to have known more about Gardner herself, and I hope B.A. Shapiro writes more about her, either fiction or non-fiction.
This is B.A. Shapiro's first novel. It's made several best seller lists, and is an Indie Book Dealer Best of 2012. I learned more about oil painting than I ever expected to know - or even thought I'd be interested in. The book isn't teachy, but I learned a lot.
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Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" (2013) begins with a quote by Maurice Sendak, "I remember my own childhood vividly. I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn't let adults know I knew. It would scare them." Sendak's quote is an apt warning.
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is about a child, but, as Gaiman has made clear, it is not a book for children. Gaiman takes the worst nightmares of childhood (I had forgotten them myself, but no more) and binds them together into a compelling story.
Remember stepping on something sharp and worrying for days or weeks that it would kill you? But not telling your parents . . . Agonizing about the possibility no one would come to your birthday party? Being locked in an attic? Clothes that come to life and grab you? Worrying that your father will truly get so mad at you he will actually try and kill you? The babysitter who is vicious to you but sweet to your parents? Those fears are all in "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," wrapped up in parental preoccupation, indifference, and bewilderment at the 7 year old boy who finds a savior in the remarkable Lettie Hempstock.
Lettie lives at the end of the lane, with her mother and grandmother, near a pond that is the ocean. The reason the pond is an ocean and the remarkable powers of the Hempstock women are, to some extent, reminiscent of Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" (1988).
The story is intriguing on many levels, and Gaiman is an excellent narrator. I only wish I'd been able to listen to this curled up in a blanket with a cup of hot tea, instead of in my car, stuck behind a Cooper Mini for an interminable amount of time.
The title of this review is from a trade Lettie makes to get the tokens she needs to save her 7 year old friend. The eerie magic stuck with me.
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I discovered Stephen King the summer I was 13 years old. I remember reading "The Shining" (1976), "'Salem's Lot" (1975), "Carrie" (1974), and "Night Shift" (1977) over a hot and humid week. When the weather broke one night with a spectacular summer thunderstorm, I woke up screaming, convinced that a long-dead priest was in my room.
Carrietta White and Danny Torrance psychic abilities - their shines - fascinated me. Wouldn't it be fun to make the tight Jordache jeans the tall blonde who was "going with" the boy I had a crush, on split the bottom of her jeans wide open, just as she tossed her perfectly feathered Farrah Fawcett hair? But Margaret White, Carrie's mother was a religious zealot; and Jack Torrance, Danny's father, was a raging alcoholic. Carrie and Danny didn't use their shine for fun, they used it because the people who loved them were murderous. Only Danny survived his childhood.
In 2001, about the time Danny is learning to become sober, Abra Stone is born into a family with two (mostly) normal parents and an adoring great grandmother. Abra shines, and shines brightly. Her parents realize it, and take an approach to the situation Andrew Solomon (Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, 2012) would approve of: they have a pediatrician observe her, confirm what they know - and love and support her.
Danny has a great evil to fight - alcoholism. He started drinking at 13. It dulls his shine, and considering what he does for a living - he's an orderly at hospices, and he helps people pass on, who could blame him? But, as any alcoholic knows, Danny drinks because he is a drunk. King has been sober for 26 years, and writes about Alcoholics Anonymous - 'the program' - with the passion, clear head, and understanding of someone who knows the program far deeper than being able to recite the Serenity Prayer from memory. King's description of Danny's longing for a drink at a dive bar with neon lights advertising $2 pitchers was so vivid, in one of the most narratively tense parts of Doctor Sleep, I found myself thinking, "Don't do it Danny, don't do it!"
Danny and Abra have another, prescient and cannabalistic evil to fight - Rose the Hat and "The True Knot," a band of seemingly ordinary people criss-crossing the United States in those spectacularly expensive RVs you sometimes see on long drives on the 10 West, heading into Arizona; or parked in a Walmart lot, easily taking up a dozen parking places. The people in them look normal - even dull - but . . . and Rose and the True Knot are very, very old - because they take something from children with the shine.
Would I have enjoyed Doctor Sleep as much as I did if I hadn't read "The Shining," or for that matter, "Carrie"? I think I might have liked it even more, because I would have been truly surprised by the Overlook Hotel/Lodge - and frightened by the ghosts, maybe as I was that long ago summer.
I'm giving the audio a 4, not because Will Patton isn't a fantastic narrator - he is. He's got the characters to a t. When he was Dick Hallorann, I actually saw Scatman Crothers from the 1980 movie "The Shining" in my mind. However, there's a small portion of the narrative that is difficult to follow as an audio book. It sorts itself out eventually, but that's why I knocked a point off.
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