. . . you will LOVE this book. The reader is lead to believe that it is more fact than fiction because of the amount of research Margaret George did in preparing this book for publication. She read and studied many books and period accounts (check out the bibliography), as well as having visited England more than once for the express purpose of researching the life and personality of Henry VIII. No one had ever thought to try to get into the mind of Henry to see what was really going on there until Ms. George did her homework for this book. I believe it is very revealing. She does not try to make him into something that he is not. We still see him as the king we love to hate - an overweight king who suffered from dementia, felt things very deeply, acted on impulse, loved women, and had people around him put to death if they didn't agree with him. But what it does show is how he came to feel and do the things that he did. One can come close to understanding him, and perhaps even empathizing with him through this book. It is very well and beautifully written. I loved the associated history that I learned along the way. My one and only criticism is that towards the end I got a little bogged down in the war and the politics. I had become so accustomed to the forward movement in this lengthy book that I was a bit disappointed when it slowed down. Just a minor criticism, however. It is overall a fabulous book.
I feel so bad for people who cannot get past the so-called aristocratic, stuck-up British accent that narrator David Case uses. It has been said that his narrations are an acquired taste. I was a bit put off at first myself. But I tell you, he is incredible! I believe that Henry VIII must have sounded just like David Case (also known as Frederick Davidson)! His characterizations are fabulous, and he runs the gamut of emotions which I feel right along with him. He brought me to tears when Brandon died, and made me feel sad at Henry's death. I was as mad at Ann Boleyn as Henry was, and I adored Jane Seymour right along with him. I was disappointed for Henry when Elizabeth was born female (definitely not like me in real life), and so sad for him when baby boy after baby boy did not survive. This book lives because of David Case's narration. If you have not acquired the taste, it will be worth it for you to persevere until you do. He is a master and has done a masterful job of narrating some of the best literature ever written!
I happen to have a large book about Michelangelo that contains detailed photos of almost all of his work. It was so helpful to keep it nearby so that I could refer to it as I read/listened to this book. I also had a hard copy of the book, which also helped me understand it. That is the best way to read a book, particularly one about an artist from a foreign country.
In those days in Florence, Italy, it was thought that if you had to use your hands to make a living, you were somehow a failure. Consequently, he was the only person in his family who earned any money, and he had to support all of them, not only his parents, siblings and their families, but his aunt and uncle also. in fact, until he declared his emancipation from his father, somewhere around the age of 27, his father was entitled to all his earnings. it made life hard for him. Most of his work was commissioned by the pope, which was also difficult because the pope could be fickle and withdraw support at any time. Or a pope may die, and the next pope may order all of his work to be destroyed. But he was compelled by something inside of him to create the things that he did.
To say Michelangelo was gifted, a genius, is almost an understatement. He was driven to do what he did. Each and every detail had to be perfect or he could not live with himself. Although I have never seen any of his works in real life, the pictures that I have seen of them and the descriptions I have read about them have made me feel as if I know them. To be able to catch a glimpse of what he must have been thinking and feeling at the time of the creation of his art work was truly delightful. Here is a trivia fact I did not know: Michelangelo lived to be nearly 90 years old, and was still sculpting right up until his death.
And it is a compelling story, well told, if not always historically verifiable, by Irving Stone.
I really liked the narration of Arthur Morey. He did a great job of the Italian pronunciations, and characterizations from old to young.
Although Scarlet is a pretty shallow person, this book is anything but. Some people have criticized it because it is racially biased. Well, duh! It is set in Georgia in the 1860s and beyond, about the most racially biased time and place in history. If it were written any other way, it would not be true to the times, and not worth reading. If you can't handle reading about things the way they were, don't read the book.
I think Mitchell handled the white vs. black problem extremely well. I came away from this book having a profound respect for many of the black characters, and disgust for many of the whites. But then, is that not life? There are good and bad black people, there are good and bad white people. There are dumb and evil blacks. There are dumb and evil whites. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It is called real life. But what Mitchell gave us was a glimpse into the mindset of the time, both black and white, both good and evil. And, like holding a mirror up to our own faces, if we look in depth, it is scary.
This is only one of the myriad lessons to be learned from this book. It is jam-packed from start to finish.
About Scarlet. I came to dislike her intensely when, as a mature woman, she continued to hold on to childish ideas that could destroy her life. But how rewarding to finally see her able to look in that mirror and see herself for what she was. What happened next? Does she get him back or doesn't she? I wouldn't dare say, but I do know that she would be strong and self-reliant, and with her new-found perspective on life, a lot more realistic, and perhaps a better mother. She is a survivor, and I admire that in anybody.
The narrator, Linda Stephans, is just fabulous. If you have listened to very many audio books, you know that the narrator can make or break it. Ms. Stephans certainly makes this audio book.