Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
In the first book of Greenwood's Phryne Fisher Mysteries, we're introduced to our heroine, who might at first be mistaken for a wealthy English aristocrat, though we learn she was born in Australia where she lived in poverty with her parents until the passing of a rich relation in England. Phryne, all grown up and living in England, now has more money than she knows what to do with, and is wondering what she should do with her life, since marriage isn't an option she especially looks forward to. After she uncovers a jewel thief during a dinner party, a couple asks her to investigate their son-in-law, as they suspect he might be poisoning their daughter who lives in Melbourne. Phryne doesn't hesitate to leave boring London society behind and make her way to the colonies for a bit of adventure and excitement. She finds plenty there when she encounters a communist taxi driver, meets a gorgeous Russian male dancer and is on the trail of a cocaine ring that seems to be operating out of a Turkish bath house.
This series is firmly set in the roaring 1920s, but there's no mistaking that it was written in modern times. The doctor friend heading the women's hospital in Melbourne is a feminist who uses language to describe female troubles and anatomy that would have made a 20s female author blush. Phryne isn't afraid to use her feminine allure with an attitude that harks back to the flapper girls of old, who could have taught our modern femme fatales a lesson or two in the art of seduction. You can't help but like a girl with attitude who is also kind and caring, and takes such obvious delight in dressing to perfection for every occasion. This is pure chick lit and no mistake, all good fun and good times, with just the right amount of cheek and naughtiness.
I wanted to love this book, but a huge cast of characters involved with local Yorkshire politics—politics being a topic which I shrink away from—did not exactly win me over in the beginning. Soon, some key figures emerged, namely Sarah Burton, the new and youngish headmistress at the local high school, and Robert Carne, a broke and principled landowner and descendant from a venerable family regarded locally as a lord—if not in actuality, then figuratively. Little by little, as the politics took a secondary place and the various individuals became more fleshed out, in this poor community between the wars struggling to improve the lot of it's residents, I was pulled in by their various stories and struggles. I eventually found myself truly caring about Sarah and Carne, the modern and independent clever woman falling in love with the older man defeated by personal tragedy. And County Alderman Mrs Beddows,—at first seeming like a mere figurehead as the first Alderman woman (apparently as Holtby's own mother was)—a married septuagenarian more than a little bit in love with Carne too, earned my affection in the end. A book I feel I should have appreciated more than I did, and which I may very likely revisit eventually.
Carole Boyd is one of my favourite narrators and delivers a flawless performance as always.
While it does deal with the Trojan war and it's main participants, this is first and foremost a love story about Patroclus, a rather ordinary and not particularly talented or attractive young man, and the god-like hero Achilles. Patroclus tells us about his early childhood as a prince who couldn't live up to his father's expectations and his subsequent banishment, whereupon he is sent to live among a gaggle of boys trained to become soldiers by none other than Achilles's father. All the boys venerate Achilles for his great beauty and grace, for he is in fact the son of a goddess and as such possesses special gifts. Seemingly out of the blue one day, Achilles chooses Patroclus to be his close companion. Why he chose Patroclus, who had nothing to distinguish himself from the others, was shy and uncommunicative isn't made clear in the story, but nonetheless the boys end up spending most of their young lives together while a strong bond is formed, and eventually come to be lovers. When the war on Troy is declared, both Patroclus and Achilles are sought out by Odysseus to join the war effort. Everyone knows that Achilles is destined to be the greatest warrior of his generation, and everyone also knows about the prophesy which dooms Achilles to die shortly after having killed Hector.
Beautifully told, this story brings mythical characters to life and makes even fantastical creatures, such as a centaur and sea goddess seem absolutely believable as essential elements in the narrative. A very interesting take on a mythical tale, this made me badly want to revisit The Iliad—in fact, I almost wished I'd read it first to refresh my memory, but this is by no means essential to fully appreciate The Song of Achilles. In fact, it may be better to come to this story fresh because I know for a fact Madeline Miller took plenty of liberties with her retelling, which could bother purists. I wasn't particularly taken with the homoerotic elements of the story, but then I'm not a fan of "straight" romance and erotica either as it's all cringeworthy to me.
Frazer Douglas was an excellent narrator and added greatly to my enjoyment of this book.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
I had my doubts about reading this book. I have a hard time with books about WWII Germany. I knew this would probably be a heartbreaker too but for some reason I decided to take it on. Maybe because the book was about books, and I usually like that genre; maybe because the reviews were so good; certainly not because I read it was appropriate for "sophisticated teens and adults." For whatever reason, I am glad I selected The Book Thief. It was incredibly well-written. The characters completely came to life. While there certainly was heart-brake, the heart-warming more than made up for it. This is a book for all ages. The narrator was outstanding and all and all, it was a book I will not soon forget.