Another person reviewed the book stating the main character was a bit of a spoiled brat. I have to agree with the writer on that one, and yet it was still an engaging story. The main character is extremely cynical. I did not identify with her as a mother, a wife, a friend, or any of the roles she played. I usually am extremely impressed with Russell Banks ability to create characters who have depth that surpass most authors. I'm glad I purchased it. It's not my favorite, but it is an intriguing story. The narration is superb. It's worth the listen. It would be a good pick for a book discussion.
I suppose the narration and the writing are good, but I wasn't far into the story before I found it too graphic, too gruesome. For the same reason I don't watch CSI--too many bodies, too much blood.
I was exhausted when this book ended. It seemed to touch so perfectly on all of the strange and horrible mishaps of the late 20th century. The book really is a masterpiece. Mary Beth Hurt did a wonderful job. The whole experience was a rare work of art.
The story of Hannah, a revolutionary activist in The Weather Underground who flees to Liberia only to get involved in Charles Taylor's revolution and then watch it sour was riveting from start to finish. Unforgettable. Russell Banks does it again.
A compelling story beautifully read by Mary Beth Hurt. It is hard to imagine anyone else reading this with such poignancy. The author introduces the reader to the political maelstrom of Liberia in the 80s and to some of the principal figures of the time. The main character is an underground Weatherman/SDS figure whose identity was defined by the political strife in the U.S. of the 60s and 70s and whose life slips between constantly changing social realities.
The reader is trapped in the mind of the narrator, and her mind, though intelligent with excellent recall, is numb, relentlessly numb. I finished this audiobook, hoping that life would somehow surface, but it never did. The consistency of tone, however, is remarkable, and I learned a lot about Charles Taylor and Liberia.
The Darling is one of the most engrossing novels that I've ever read. The main character (Hannah) is fascinating -- complex and admirable yet mysteriously aloof from some important aspects of her life. The depiction of events in Liberia, with just enough history and political insight, makes the story compelling. This is a great book.
I slogged through this book, determined to see it through to the end, but it was a struggle all the way. I never felt any affinity with any of the characters and, indeed, was ready to have the worst happen to all of them , just to get the story over with. The author never gets us to identify with the heroine at all: she is just a spoiled, rich brat from a well to do family who rebels against her WASP-ish upbringing by heading on a self-destructive path to Africa. Unless you are a Patty Hearst wanna-be, and long for the days when "social activism" meant blowing up Federal buildings, I suggest you avoid this book
I have to admit I may be overly sensitive when it comes to hearing about dogs and chimps being killed, left in cages to starve to death, or otherwise suffering unimaginably horrible lives and deaths. And that's just the animals suffering in this book--the people have such sad desperate lives too. It is extremely well written and well-narrated and I wanted to finish it. But I just reached a point where I just couldn't bear to hear any more about the suffering of the chimps, so lovingly described with all their ever so human characteristics. And from flashbacks earlier in the story I knew that things would only get worse so I stopped a little more than 3/4 through. I'm also not sure than the protagonist's behavior throughout the story is very congruent with who she supposedly is. I found myself thinking "Huh? Why would she do that...I thought she was smart and independent, strong and committed...that doesn't make sense..."
This book didn't catch me - I tried for an hour or so. But it was too disjointed - distinguishing between past and present, location, etc. Especially her fantasies about chimps real or not - I just didn't care! Teh was not a sense at all about where the book was heading and passion for her or her characters (especially when she tells us that the fate of her chimps was much more inportant than knowing what happened to her three boys in Liberia - it doesn't ring true. Never finished the book.