I thought this novel was strong were it should have been understated while it was understated where it should have been strong.
The central story of the bad man who comes into the life of the protagonist sometimes seems a little thin, whereas the smallest detail of this day in the life story can be laid on a little thick.
The subplot of the Iraq War protests are very interesting seen from our current point of view.
This book bored me to tears, but I listened to the very end, hoping for something interesting to happen. It didn't. I failed to identify with any of the characters, and had no interest at all in their fates.
This audiobook is distinguished for its superb narration. It is difficult to imagine that a reading of the book would have produced as enjoyable an experience, because author McEwen crafts sentences that reveal both the attitude and interior character of a single person, one almost engaged in a monologue. The narrator expertly conveys the attitude along with the words.
The attitude is that of one who is completely content in his world and accustomed to possessing complete control over it-- until 9/11 shatters that sense (illusion?) of control. Perown strives to regain mastery of his world in a single Saturday that confounds his efforts to do so at every turn. In the end, Perown seems to concede that his efforts are a failure-- his world will remain ever unpredictable-- but what he has cobbled together is a serenity that he (and McEwen) shares with the reader. For the reader, and especially for the listener, it is an unanticipated pleasure to go along for the ride with the character, author and narrator.
It's fascinating that the reviews for this book are either raves or rants. I agree with the first reviewer: If I could give this zero stars I would. 1.5 of the 10.5 hours were of some interest to me, which leaves 9 hours for such stimulating events as, what would probably amount to 10 pages, on a squash match, or a very in depth description of Henry's mother's dimentia. How this book lands on any respected list of books of the year is more intriguing than any part of the book. Listen to "The History of Love" or "The Secret Life of Bees" not this overhyped book.
For a book that begins with a plane crash, this is a slow and uneventful listen. I have to admit that I didn't finish it. I found myself thinking about other things while the narrator read aloud the ponderous inner thoughts of the uninteresting main character.
I was a big fan of McEwen's previous book, "Atonement". This book seems to lack the intriguing characters and precisely crafted prose of Atonement.
Again I only listened to not even half the book so take my review for what it is worth having not finished it.
I thought it was me. But after reading all these reviews I realize my taste in books is still intact. I'm giving this book a low rating based on about an hour and a half of listening to its incredible nothingness. Thanks to all for saving me some valuable time.
"Seinfeld" was called the sitcom about nothing. This is a novel about nothing. Sherlock Holmes could not find a plot in this awful hodgepodge.
I finished this novel while hoping that there was something redemptive on the way. It was not to be. If you enjoy watching paint dry, then this is a book for you.
If there is a story amoung all the discriptive phrases I have not found it. Long boring discriptions of the characters every thought. If you need a very strong sleep aid this is it. CAUTION!! DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS BOOK WHILE DRIVING.
Oh my goodness - I found this book excruciating to listen to. I managed to endure about 4 hours of part one, and then simply could not continue.
I really enjoyed the beginning, thinking that here was a author who was really skilled at colorful descriptive writing. Soon, however, it became apparent, that this book has the feel of an assignment given to an english major. The assignment would have been, "write a novel with minimal plot, but maximal descriptive elements. Every step, breath, character, bird, car, twig, even a fight, are detailed in minute detail, using laborious, excessive language.
This author is obviously trying to impress readers with his mastery of the English Language, which is unquestionably good, but makes for a terrible novel.