This was my first download from Audible years ago and I wasn't disappointed even though I am just now getting around to posting this review. This is a book lover's book and I was immediately entranced. The protagonist is a young British girl raised in an antiquarian bookshop with the likes of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as her primary companions. A mystery unfolds as Britain's leading "popular" author seeks to finally tell her story. There are a couple of dark sub-plots and one graphic scene that bothered me but was essential to the tale. The rest of it was the unfolding of a great mystery, perfect for a mid-winter read (think "the icy wind whistling across the moors") by the fire.
Avid reader and audiobook listener; I love paranormal lit, mysteries, historical fiction, romance, Brit-crime novels and thrillers.
I really wanted to like this book and I know I'm going to get a lot of "unhelpful" votes for this review. Please know that it isn't all bad. The story did have some good points. Ms. Setterfield writes wonderfully descriptive passages and her style is lovely in places, but she uses a lot of odd similes ("the words flew out of my mouth like a bird hitting a window"). Huh???
The first half of the book was good. I was very interested in the story and engaged with the characters (however unlikeable they were), but sometime after the break between sections, I stopped caring about what was happening. The book became tedious. I got fed up when I had to listen to a portion of the twins' story re-told through Hester's diary entries. No doubt they contained important information that the author wanted to convey, but by that time I'd had enough. Where was the editor?! I was constantly checking to see how much time was left, which is never a good sign.
A number of reviewers have referred to "the twist" and how they thought it was excellent. Well, I was disappointed in it. I thought, "is this _really_ where she's going with the story?" Since I hate spoilers, I'll say no more about that. I will say though that there's only so much self-pity that a reader can tolerate. I'd be interested in hearing a real-life twin's opinion. Not being a twin myself, perhaps I can't relate, but Margaret seems overly attached to (no pun intended), and longing to be reunited with, a twin sister she's never even met. Obsessed is probably a better word because she sees and hears her sister everywhere. Strange.
A word about the narrators: I can't figure out why there was a need for two. I understand what the director was trying to accomplish, but the book isn't written in a way that's conducive to using two different voices. There are too many places in the narrative where the characters' stories overlap and the narrator who is portraying Vida ends up reading a passage written from Margaret's point of view, and vice versa. It could be confusing if the listener isn't rapt (which admittedly, I was not). Also, I have listened to several books narrated by one of these ladies and, once again, she does a fine job here; however, I had forgotten the promise I made to myself that I would never listen to another audiobook narrated by the other reader. She is not native to England and the way she pronounces certain words is irritating, like nails on a chalkboard, to me. I mean no disrespect. It's just a pet peeve that I wish I could get over.
I'm sorry to be so critical. If you loved this book, I'm happy you found enjoyment where I could not. If you did not like it, I encourage you to write a review and tell us why not. Books, like any art-form, are subjective. What one person finds merit in, another thinks is rubbish. Such is life.
The story within the story is superb, but the story itself is painfully tedious. The main character is nauseatingly self-obsessed and terminally boring… and the audio narrator doesn’t do her any favors. By the end of the book, I was completely fed up with both of them. The only reason I kept going was because the other “story” and audio narrator were so good. Overall, though, I’m not sure it was worth the pain.
This is one of those books that starts out a little slow and then pulls you in. The narration (by two narrators) was excellent. This is a book that I have recommended to my friends.
I'm a very patient listener, but I found this story to be painfully slow from start to finish. I finished it, but it took a fair amount of effort on my part to keep myself focused on the story as it progressed.
I'm actually fairly confused as to why there are so many 'rave' reviews on this book and so many other reviews that seem to reflect my feelings that it was was very hard to enjoy. I guess I'll chalk it up to a person's individual taste. My recommendation is that if you are a reader that likes books with a fair amount of action involved with the main characters, then this novel may not be for you.
I came across this book because it was an Audie Award finalist and highly reviewed. While it wasn't bad, I didn't think it was that great either. I thought the narrator was fine, but I just didn't find the story as entertaining as I thought it would be when I read the synopsis ahead of time; this was a clever idea for a story whose execution is only so-so. It was a little slow in parts, but has enough suspense to keep you reading through to the end.
This is truly a beautifully written book. The author's descriptions are poetic and visually rich. It is the story of a storyteller, and as such it feels like you are sitting at the foot of a master weaver of tales as they are spinning one just for you.
The narration was superb. With two actresses reading the parts and hitting the mark perfectly. I can't find any fault with my experience- other than the fact the I was so utterly transported that everyone and everything felt like an interference to the blissful experience of entering the world of this tale. Truly Enchanting.
For those of you put off by the idea of a ghost tale- don't be. It isn't what you think.
After a mildly interesting prologue, I was completely hooked by the tale that began to unfold. The plot detail and character development was marvelous, and the shared narration of the two main characters was luminous. I was completely captivated and spent hours unable to turn the book off when I should have been doing other things. The ending brought the story to a nice, plausible close. Part ghost story, part mystery, part study of dysfunctional family dynamics, I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Wanda the artist
I didn't know what to expect. For me, this had a different take in storytelling. Do I like it, do I not like it? YEAH, I liked it, very much.
What I liked most - at first - was that there were two narrators for the two different women. That helps a great deal and I enjoyed that! It made the story alive; glowing, from the beginning to the end.
So, my judgment is that it was truly a VERY good book. It had me thirsting all along to hear both story lines, that are told simultaneously.
How is this done, you might ask? Well, one older famous author (woman) finally fesses up to her - so called - true life history and hires a lady autobiographer to do this.
Yet, at the same time the autobiographer has a story of her own to tell; not as fancy, not as sumptuous of a life story, but still very interesting.
Did that last bit of review mix you up a bit? Well, it sounds funny, but not really. Just remember, this is a book of two women, each with their own story, and with their own narrator to speak for them. OK. I give up. Just read it, then you will see.
Again, like George Eliot, there is a richness to the characters that makes one WANT to finish reading the book to the end. (Or, listening to the book). If you enjoy a nice long read, then this one is for you. I do. The longer the better.
This has to be one of the best books I've listened to in a LONG time. I've been telling everyone I know to read it or listen to it. Wish she had more books out. The story had me spellbound. I listen on the way to work or on the treadmill. I walked many an extra mile to get this in!!