I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
No question, this will be on my "favorite books of the year" list - and very near the top. Tartt examines some very big topics - love, loss, death, life, forgiveness, redemption and addiction - and she does so with a skill that's secondary to none.
The main characters are BIG - in personality, flaws, strengths - and enormously engaging. I adored Theo, Boris and Hobie and have loved having them live at my house while I was listening. There's a sense of loss now that they're gone.
I've read some harsh reviews of the narrator and I don't understand that. I thought he was perfect for this book. It was a fresh take. His interpretation of both Boris and Hobie was delightful. I never would have imagined those voices if I'd read this in print. It was an added dimension that made it all the more enjoyable.
With more than 30 hours of engaging story, this is one of the most credit-worthy books around. Really, what could be better? It's a good long listen that's beautifully read. I wish they were always this good.
First the gorgeous: There are some phrases and sentences in this book that are so impeccably written that I had to stop and listen to them again. Marra's writing skills are absolutely first rate. The complexity of the relationships and the way he foreshadows events is artfully done. It's brilliant, really. There's nothing about this that feels like a first book. It's really beautifully crafted.
The heartbreaking: It's impossible to put a child in the midst of a brutal war and have anything but heartbreak. But it goes beyond that. There just isn't a part of this story that doesn't have an element of profound loss. I didn't find any of it uplifting as others have mentioned in reviews.
And now about the confusing part: I had a terrible time keeping up with the changes in time. The complexity of the relationships is difficult to track in and of itself. I listened twice simply because I missed too much the first time. I am a hardcore book listener and rarely do I think a book would be better in print - but this is that rare exception. I needed to be able to flip between pages sometimes and I couldn't.
Now the narration ... I won't call it awful, but it is so uninspired. This book deserved something better than that. It's competent, but adds nothing to the experience and may even make it more difficult to track.
I didn't expect what this book delivered. I thought it would be syrupy, preachy and maudlin - three of my least favorite attributes in a book. Because a few reviewers I follow recommended it, I bought it. I was engaged in the story in less than 5 minutes and found none of the treacle I dreaded.
This isn't a big book, but it certainly covers a lot of territory. I was taken with the way some age-old themes - like forgiveness and grief - were merged with such of-the-moment issues like social networking and a fickle society searching for the next new thing.
This story has authenticity and heart. It avoided the cliches that might have sunk it and emerged a real winner. I love the character of Harold Fry - partly because of how he was written and in equal measure because of the spot-on narration.