When I first started listening, I was put off by the narrator. With time, I adjusted to his delivery, and I very much enjoyed this book. With a different narrator and some paring down of the "books within the book", I would have given this 5 stars. Even still, I was sorry to have it end.
This isn't among Irving's best, but even when he's not in top form, Irving writes with such flavor that the story stays in the mind long after you've finished the book. I was less than captivated by what feels like the author's over-interest in his alter ego's sexual prowess, and would have been delighted if the book had been two hours shorter.
I loved A Prayer for Owen Meany so I thought I'd listen to other Irving books. This one is a turkey. There seems to be no plot, just a series of anecdotes about sexual exploits and marital infidelity. The characters lack depth. There are huge gaps of elapsed time in which the characters aged, but didn't really grow. The pace of the novel isn't helped by the narrator whose reading is slow and ponderous, when there isn't really anything to ponder. Huge disappointment.
Looking over the reviews for this book, I see some frustration at the lack of resolution, how the book never "went anywhere", etc. That's John Irving. When I download one of his books, I know I am in for a lot of entertaining character development, interesting, interconnected vignettes and the like, but that I may not be getting a big tidy story arc or a punchline. It's still great listening, in my opinion!
When I first heard George Guidall years ago, I thought I might not be a fan because his voice has a grandfatherly characteristic to it that I felt might be hard to overcome when voicing younger or female characters, but I've come around on that opinion. He's narrated some of my favorites and seems like an old friend at this point.
I won't give it away, but there are a couple powerful scenes where writer characters use the full force of their narrative abilities to reveal some disturbing details.
On the whole. First third was great, typical Irving. The last two thirds were so-so.
I was so sorry this book ended. The varied and flawed characters the interweaving stories. It was so worth it. The narration was superb and if you like a great story and like to reread in the future - Don't miss this.
Like many other listeners I've sometimes struggled with Mr. Irving but when he's good he's soooo good! Not his absolute best for me but well worth spending my credit. I loved the dry humor from beginning to end & it's an unusual & interesting story line. I tried Son of the Circus & could not finish it so I'm a little gun shy but found this one rewarding.
It's not my favorite John Irving novel but still a wonderful experience. Anything read by George Guidall is enjoyable.
Of course. Great writer.
I found myself alternating between several emotions while I listened to this terrible John Irving novel... primarily I was disappointed that Mr. Irving could even write such insipidness, then I was angry that I was wasting my time on it, every once in awhile I was vaguely drawn in by short passages...and then I would return to disappointment. Yes, the characters were very well developed -as one would expect in an Irving novel- but beyond that I do not know what happened!! The obnoxious, totally over-done breast fixation (and I mean over-done!!), the tedious books w/in the book, the very hard to believe plot lines in the second half of the story... PUH_LEASE!! I cannot believe I actually finished this book- and up until now, I would have called myself a John Irving Fan!
Mr. Irving missed the boat on this one. While there were fairly exciting moments in some parts of the book, the plot is so scattered that I quickly lost interest. Being the optimist, I continued to listen with the hopes that it would get better. It did not. This one should not make any recommended book list.