So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
I'm new to Christopher Moore. I'd seen those signature covers, with the bold chunky letters "M-O-O-R-E" across the front, and was curious..."What new genre is this: vampires named Abby Normal, murderous Santas, the spectre Death in a baby carriage, King Lear as a comedy, Jesus and his boyhood pal Biff...holy merde!...is nothing sacre'?!" I was tempted, but my impression was the subject matter was too surreal, too bawdy, too irreverant, for my tastes. But a novel about wonderful art, Paris, Van Gogh, even if it was fictional comedy....oh! I could not resist. I didn't stop smiling or laughing for 11 hrs. and 40 min.
Sacre' Bleu is a brilliantly crafted mish-mash of genres, part historical fiction, part mystery, part fantasy, part mythology, loaded with satire and comedic genius, but also some accurate and interesting history. I get why the fans are zealous, why the reviews are glowing--this is entertaining smart comedy; energetic and colorful, with a cast of who's-who in the world of 19th century artists (even a "cameo" by Descartes and Hemingway) and a story that spans history. The character Toulouse-Lautrec was especially funny, brought to life by the wonderful narration of Euan Morton.The first hour is a little slow, but the pace picks up quickly, and if the plot doesn't draw you in, the amusing banter will.
If you are considering Moore for the first time, I can say I enjoyed this listen immensely, but don't think it is for everyone, it's more an acquired taste. It is irreverant, and there is some bawdy humor--if you can't laugh at a dirty joke, and bits of sophmoric humor, you might not appreciate Moore's style. As for me, I want more of anything that can hold my interest AND keep a smile on my face. I'll be reading the Audible members' reviews of other Moore books and choosing another.
A case of one skill translating perfectly to another field...Maria Semple is an accomplished TV writer (Mad About you, Arrested Development) with years of perfecting the art of compacting a storyline with dialogue and comedy into the most effective punch possible for a time slot. It's a good thing books don't come with laugh tracks--or you'd be downloading thousands of hours to accompany this energetic and hilarious romp--because it is funny. Not rolling off the couch guffawing or holding your sides funny, but clever snarky fun that Semple reigns in just enough to keep her characters real and multi-dimensional instead of implausible quirky stand-ins delivering witty one-liners. These people are smart, troubled, caring, and completely original, all tumbling down a slippery slope from LA to Seattle to Argentina to India (and the Russian mafia) to the Antartica--a story that follows one misunderstanding along all of its crazy off-shoots. Seattle, seen through the eyes of native Californian Bernadette's eyes, becomes a wacky character itself.
Bernadette is a "misplaced" LA to Seattle artist that "can't create," causing mayhem and acting on whims and pent-up anxiety; Elgin is a brainiac that spends his shoe-less days as a Micorsoft demi-god; Bee is the precocious perfect mix of the two with a insouciant bohemian heart, and a genius and insight uniquely her own (and worships the Beatles Abbey Road - lyrics, history, and all. Her mother's favorite song ironically is Here Comes the Sun; Harrison's guitar lead in "always causes [her mother] to smile.") Bee also serves as the voice that connects this series of communications (faxes, e-mails, letters, memo's, FBI reports, etc.) into a map to find her missing mother Bernadette, who escapes "the butterfly nets" during a mental-health intervention...she went out "through the bathroom window"... that ends up being more like a Keystone Cops episode.
As far as the narration...if you'd have asked me 20 min. in, I'd have said awful. The writing style is already a bit frenetic and the animated adolescent voice of Bee made me want to offer the narrator some Ritalin; I almost threw in the towel. But I was hooked enough by the charming calamity that I didn't want to quit. I also realized that when you committ to audio books you have to weigh the risk of great stories being told by not-so-great narrators, or vice versa (and the wonderful times when you get a magical pairing of 2 greats). I'm so glad I took the pragmatic approach because I ended up really liking Kathleen Willhoite; I think she may have been the perfect narrator for this story afterall (a case of a not-so-great listener...).
A fresh and captivating read that will appeal to anyone that appreciates good smart comedy and satire--just as good for Bernards as for Bernadettes. If you pass because you think this is only chick fic [?] you are missing out. I just dare you to read this and not smile. The funny feel good book of the Summer of 2012.
Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit
I so thoroughly enjoyed this masterpiece that I've broken my policy of only one listen per book - I've listened to it twice and I'm predicting I'll be doing it again at some point. You know that feeling when you just want to finally get a good book that doesn't take itself too seriously but is extremely well written? One that will lighten your step and make you look forward to your drive to work? Well, this is that book. The bonus for me was learning about King Lear and his court without having read the Shakespeare original. Yes, it contains incredibly filthy language - but it's the wonderfully wicked kind and an English accent always makes dirty words sound less dirty right? The narration is to die for - simply perfect - the characters are loveable and absurd - I couldn't ask for more (pun avoided - you're welcome.)