This was an interesting period piece; England before the Great War (WWI); manor houses and housemaids; Grace goes to work at the big house when she's 14. She goes from poverty to posh; even though she works hard. She is nearly 100 and is looking back at her life; and, in the meantime, there is a movie being made of the events at the house. You get a very nice flavor of the first part of the century and the changes made by the war. but its like a fancy box with a cracker jack ring inside; the guts did not measure up to the packaging, in my opinion. the narrator is very good; has a nice way to make different voices different. there are no bad words, although there are love affairs. Not really a book for children, anyway; although teenagers might like it.
I was disappointed, as I really enjoyed her book, the Forgotten Garden -- could not put it down but did not want it to end -- and had hoped for another like that. Well, this wasn't it. But it was done well and you could get lost in the gothic drama of it all.
Dedicated dog lover. Ripperologist. Doll collector. World traveller.
The unabridged version is very long, but all the details are interesting. The storyline and writing are incredible and I savored every word. At the end of the book, I started to cry with some sadness and a little joy. I only gave the book 4 stars because, althought I didn't guess the correct ending, what really happened wasn't worth the 11 hours I put into this book. But don't let that stop you from listening to it. I had a truly enjoyable journey back to the early 19th Century, and as a bonus, may have some ideas how I would like to conduct myself at the end of my life. AND the narrator was a talented delight.
I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
First of all, to say that "this sort of book" is beyond my usual audible diet would, to put it kindly, be a rather drastic understatement. My latest favorites generally involved spaceships, wizardry, and engines of destruction of all shapes and sizes. What this book offered by contrast was something I found by turns so much more engaging, exotic, and frightening; it was a story about people.
Other reviewers have pointed out why you might not like this book. This is not a mystery, in that finding out the big secret isn't really the point. You won't need a map and sextant to figure out where this boat is going, but the reefs and shoals along the way might catch you unawares. Where the author excels though, is with the characters. This book takes its time, introducing you to the members of its cast, allowing you to meet them and live with them, to grow comfortable and familiar before putting you and them through the travails of the Great War and the 1920s. Along the way you'll see what it was like to live and work on a country estate in early Twentieth Century England, witness the garish bustle of the 1920s London social scene, and get a taste of what the division between rich and poor used to mean.
Caroline Lee's reading was exemplary, giving the first person narrative real life and lending voice to each character. I finished the book in a weekend, including one sleepless night. Within a few hours, I'd come to know the people of Ms. Morton's world, decided which I liked, would cheer for, and mourn; it's that kind of book. By the end, Grace felt like a wise and noble fellow traveler. Her triumphs were celebrated, and her guilt, became a genuine source of sorrow.
I heartily recommend this story.
Tell us about yourself!
This was a listening that didn't flow for me in the same way as Morton's The Forgotten Garden. I suppose I was feeling that the reader's voice didn't work with it quite as well -- young, girlish -- though it would be unrealistic to give her the voice of a 98 year old! But could there have been a better match? Furthermore, the narrator's voice had an accent that didn't belong to England, where it was set -- and although other reviewers have commented on Caroline Lee's Australian accent, Australian though she may be, accent (particularly her vowels) she is not.
It also took me a while to get involved in the story. But in the end, I was fully engaged and thinking about the many windows into the society of early twentieth century that this book was opening. What came over most strongly was what was the human requirements to be 'in service' to the rich -- the acceptance by both servants and masters of the concept of superior and inferior beings. And on the other hand, how profoundly these sort of myths were destroyed in the terrible mud of Flanders and other immense social changes.
This book puts a life, Grace's life, into words. The emotions, the fears, the hopes, the love, the boredom, the loss of self and so many other losses, the sacrifices -- in the end, words.
This one took a little longer to get into than her other book,The Forgotten Garden, but this is up there with some of my favorite listens. You don't know the answer to the mystery (completely) until the very last word. It is a well written and brilliantly crafted story, that proves that the smallest choices and minor ommissions create the most dramatic results. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My only minor complaint is the narrator's inability to get an American accent right. Apparently we sound incredibly nasily and flat. : ) I just winced, ignored it, and went on listening. I'm ready to download another of Kate Morton's books. Don't miss this one if you love a good mystery.
Fast approaching retirement as a life long oncology nurse. I love family more than anything. I enjoy reading (audio only), movies, travels, paper crafting, photography, gardening and just being alive.
I love historical fiction and this book didn't let me down. I enjoyed everything about it. The narration was excellent and never interfered with the story. I almost didn't upload this book - what a loss that would have been. A must read.
I think the only emotion I did not feel in this story was scary. And that is Great!! This is absolutely an emotional story. You feel as if you are a spirit and seeing all of the events happen. Loved it!!
I loved this story. I could picture the staff, house, parties, etc. thanks to the author and reader. I hated for it to end yet couldn't wait to hear what happens. I will have a hard time finding a next book to hold up to this one.
A classic tale seemlessly shifting from the present to memories of the Edwardian period forward. The author's phrases and words fit beautifully the era and the bittersweet tale. And the reader is utterly convincing as the storyteller and main character. Hovering in the background is a mixture of longing and inevitability. Here is a story that is satisfying and complete in its telling.
I enjoyed this book, as it was long, and absorbing. However there were a couple of things that were a bit annoying. The narrators accent was more Australian than English at times and this was distracting. Also although there was quite a big build up to some of the "revelations", there was then very little follow up or exploration. I would probably scored this 3.5 had that been an option - it wasnt amazing, but i'm glad I downloaded it.