i like to read. i like to listen.
this book was amazing, freaky, scary, frustrating and totally totally F'ed up.
this is a story of obsession and insanity, yes. but it's also a story of friendship and love, unhealthy love. of dependence and self loathing. of how decisions can stunt and haunt someone. it's a story of race and intolerance. it's a story of art and literature and beauty and freedom.
nora, a teacher in cambridge, is psycho. i mean...seriously. she becomes obsessed with a family -- not as a family -- but as three separate units. she's in love with all three of them, mother, father, son -- in unhealthy and insane ways.i truly do think that nora is clinically psychotic. but god, what a fascinating narrator she makes for this story. so...i will say without any doubts, i did not like nora. i think for all she pats herself on the back for being such a great person, friend, woman, teacher...she's really kind of an asshole. but i guess it all goes back to the fact that shes INSANE. and so, as unlikeable as i find her, i couldn't stop reading her story. of course in a book like this, i know upfront that i cannot trust her as a narrator and so i found myself doubting everything she said. at times, she even said as much...that she was telling these events as SHE perceived them...maybe not how they actually occurred. but how well Claire Messud wrote her perceptions....it's amazing. i reveled in hearing each moment she spent with the three members of the Shahid family (reza, sirena and skandar). i was excited for every new development that progressed in each string of the story...and how they all wove and intertwined with each other.
i've listened to a few books read by Cassandra Campbell in the past. i'm the first to admit that she is not usually my favorite narrator. there is something about her that irks me. and in this book -- that only lent itself to making her voicing nora's insanity strong and true. it sounds strange, but the fact that i don't love her narration worked for me in this story -- because i didn't like nora either.
i was on the edge of my seat this entire book, waiting for the other shoe to drop...and was horrified and amazed when it did.
one of the best books i've read this year. definitely on my top five for 2013 (so far).
like other reviewers, i cannot believe that i haven't heard of meg wolitzer before. she's written a ton of books, and if they are anywhere close to as good as this one was, i'm excited that i've discovered a "new" writer so that i can go back and read all of her work.
this book was so realistic. it was the story of six teenagers who meet at art camp and it follows their lives through the years into their 50s. the narrator shifts between three of them, but is mainly told by Julia dubbed early on "Jules". she's such a tender and relatable character. she's welcomed into this group of "interestings" -- without fully understanding why. she feels they are the apex of coolness and style, and that she's somewhat unworthy. from her first time in their "inner circle" (in the teepee of art camp) through the last page we see of them together, she's got doubts and questions...lack of confidence...and insecurities as to why and how she belongs.
the story is told over the years, jumping back and forth from past to present to somewhere in the middle..and seamlessly unfolds this story of friendship, marriage, success, failure and love.
Jen Tullock was, to me, the perfect narrator. she embodied Jules perfectly - but also played Ash, Ethan, Jonah, Dennis so well. She even gave ancillary characters their own perfect spin, voice and piece of the puzzle. I loved her reading of this book.
oh how i love the unreliable narrator. the narrator who at first, you kind of like, laughing at his jokes, agreeing with his commentary. the narrator you feel compassion for -- his story and opinions. the narrator that throws everything on it's head as the story progresses and makes you feel almost angry at yourself for feeling the way you did in the beginning of the novel. when the truth is actually laid out there and you see what he was saying all along.
clive mantle does a great job with this narration.
this book is DARK. i mean...like....really really dark. in a long while i haven't read anything this shocking. its full of people you won't like...full of scenes you won't ever want to read again (and won't soon forget).
i think the pacing of this novel was really well done. to use a food metaphor (this is "the dinner" after all), the unfolding of each layer of the onion brings out new facts, new understandings, and therefor new questions. there was a perfect amount of the "now" and the "before". a perfect amount of insight, introduced course by course.
***one thing i will say is that this book is NOTHING like Gone Girl. i dont know why so many people are comparing the two. i mean, i've read no less then 5 books in the past year that have so called 'twist' endings...and none of them can be compared to one another. so...if you liked GG, you may not like this...and if you hated GG, you may still love this -- so don't take that comparison as your judge. just read it.***
John Lee gives a hearty but flawed performance of "Ulysses." The energy and the humor come through -- this is, after all, one of the funniest books ever written -- but there are quieter moments as well, and these fare badly: Lee delivers everything at a breakneck pace, not so much narrating the book as declaiming it.
In addition, there are some errors in the production design of the audiobook that detract from its effectiveness. First and foremost, "Ulysses" is full of music, from snatches of song to the quarter-hour tolling of a bell tower. All are rendered in the same straightforward declamatory prose style of the rest of the narration. Second -- and it's possible this is a problem with the Audible rendering rather than the original audiobook -- the episodes all run together without a second's pause between them. Whether you view the book as three long chapters or eighteen separate episodes, there are clear indications of breaks throughout the text, each accompanied by major changes in tone, style, and narrator. Here, the last sentence of one and first sentence of the next seem to be delivered in the same breath.
It seems to be using a better (more recent) text than the Naxos version. The Naxos version has a number of other flaws as well, but it does a far better job of capturing the music and the rhythm of the narration than Blackstone's offering. If Blackstone were willing to undertake it, a little re-engineering of this title could make a huge difference and might justify a higher rating.