The story line(s) for this book was/were way too eclectic and hard to follow. Several times it really didn't make any sense at all. If I had known it was structured in this manner, I would certainly have not selected it.
Very dissatisfied with this read. Never made it through the first part before giving up (and I never give up on a good book).
The Devil visits 1930's Moscow and raises holy hell with the Stalinists. He and his helpers aren't evil, just zany, providing biting satire along with madcap antics. This is good writing, with lots of poetic images in the prose. Underneath it all is a celebration of a human spirit that can't be crushed.
There's a love story mixed in too, written straight. Plus there are long sober sections on Pontius Pilate and Jesus, providing Bulgakov a way to compare the Soviet State with the Roman Empire. A Polish friend said this was the part he liked the best -- how Pontius Pilate weighed his options is how Poland had been ruled.
The book is NOT a difficult read or listen, but there are a lot of things that those of us in current-day America wouldn't normally get. Bulgakov's use of odd justapoxitions of events can seem disorienting to us, until we put it in the backdrop of the Expressionist movement of the time, with its exaggerated colors and ordinary things displayed out of context. (The Penguin hardcopy book uses an example for its cover.)
The satire may be hard for us to recognize too, but that's part of the book's value, figuring out why this book couldn't be published for decades and why it became so wildly popular in Eastern Europe when it was. Fortunately, there are excellent on-line resources that help explain.
The 2005 Russian TV mini-series is an excellent supplement too, all eight hours of it. The quality of the this production is much better than you expect from TV. (There are more naked ladies in this show than you can shake a stick at, so you may want to be selective about who you watch it with.)
The narration of the Naxos audiobook is wonderful. Some other negative reviewers just may not like to have fun.
The book is complex and require full attention, and the narrator dancing around with his heavy British accent on Russian characters. He increases his audio-volume and shout unexpectedly, you can imagine how inconvenient that is while you do your cardio and someone, suddenly SHOUT in your headset, must stop the cardio and turn down the volume (unprofessional) he is trying to perform, and its makes the book impossible to listen. Why in this website they never sample when narrators read a dialogue because that when we can see how horrible they are. It should be flat reading Like Jeremy iron in Alchemist.
This is an excellent book. Loved the story from beginning to end. The Narrator (and this is a small point admittedly) has an English accent. I normally enjoy listening to a narrator with an English accent, but this book is set in MOSCOW. It is very odd to hear Russian characters speaking like chimney sweeps from Charles Dickens.
Other than that, it is well worth the credit.
Geeky painter girl who loves all things Whedonverse. Audio book addict. :D
I've started listening to this book several times. Perhaps it is better read in physical book form? The narrator does a good job, but the story seems too whimsical/symbolic/incoherent for me to follow anything meaningful. Maybe I'll be ready for it some time in the future.
Rarely do I give up on a book, but this one is a rarity. More than half way through, I discovered I was mentally dozing off and had absolutely no desire whatsoever to rewind and catch up. The whole thing just felt flat out foolish. Does Audible give refunds?
As a stressed out professional, I like having someone else do the reading! I read non-fiction and the classics.
Dostoevsky, White Nights
Amazingly perseveringly energetic.
A book designed for bedridden children that cannot escape.
I can only imagine my love of Russian literature made this a 'recommended' book. It's likeness to the C.S. Lewis Narnia is only in the fact that it is a slog to get through. Sadly, it bears no resemblance to the Chronicle's brilliance. It's simple-minded plot is dressed up with mind numbing tomfoolery clearly meant to entertain small children. Even I admit I read Harry Potter and Narnia as an adult. The difference is I don't regret it. What a waste of time that could be spent on good Russian literature.