This book is the literary equivilent of a sleeping pill. A third of it could have been removed without any loss to the story. It just seemed to go on and on and on in a kind of literary montotone. I cant imagine how it received the accolades that it did, which was the reason I downloaded it. There are a few laugh out loud moments, but they are miniscule desert islands in a seemingly enless sea of nothing much. Totally putdownable, and a great idea wasted.
This book seemed to have a lot going for it - good author, fresh plot, interesting characters - unfortunately Mark Helprin fell in love with comedy based on inane misunderstandings between characters and dialog repetition. It seemed as though a quarter of the book was comprised of nothing more than Freddy making a comment and Fredericka repeating it back to him - or vice versa. Add to that a weak ending and what's left is just not enough to make this novel worth while.
Freddy and Fredricka was, hands down, the best book I have listened to. I have listened to this book three times, and I still find myself laughing out loud. The story is so original, and you never know what might happen next. I wish there were more stories like this one. Get this one now!
Helprin wrote a very funny story, but it is unlike his Winter's Tale which will be a disappointment to many who hold that up as a model. While a wonderful unlikely fairy tale, he does over due it on very sophmoric jokes and sort of beat you to death with them. Yes, they're funny-ish the first time, but then he keeps beating you with it and it just becomes annoying. However watching the characters change for complete prats to people who actually do a little thinking and caring is worth the read. It is well read and the character voice not grossly over done nor are they too dramatically read. It's easy to listen to the narrator and let your imagination fill in the faces and scenery. Helprin uses his wonderful imagry here but does keep get too contrived putting his characters through the same pronuciation pit falls time after time. You just want to yell from the third to the upteeth time there is a issue, 'Teach him to ennunciate properly and we won't all be in this mess'. He over plays that angle, while twisting a tale in a beautiful fashion and showing the under belly of many. It's a nice read and pleasurable.
Don't try to eat or drink while listening to this! Wry British humor at its sneaky best. I still can't think of the Konrad Adenauer exchange without chuckling, even though I almost inhaled my ma po tofu lunch and had tears streaming down my face. The accent thing isn't much of a distraction, at least not like it was in "War and Peace" where it was Russians with a cockney accent.
I have been listening to Audible books for three years now, and this is definitely in my top three! The narrator brings so much to this book that I would highly recommend listening to this version rather than reading the book yourself. It is a very silly book. Perhaps one of the silliest books I've ever read. But it is a very well written silly book with a great heart. Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka reminds me of the Thorne Smith books I loved in my college days. Listening to this book was a terrific, highly entertaining endeavor.
Hi! I'm Casey Keller, semi-retired TV writer, avid cyclist, husband and father. I'm also a guy who devours audio books.
Normally I hate abridged books, but Mark Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka could have used a lot of cutting, preferably with a machete.
I chose this title because the New York Times gave it an ecstatic review and because I enjoy fiction with humor. Instead of a comic novel, I listened to what sounded like a first draft manuscript. It rambled off in all directions and made side trips that had nothing to do with the story or the characters. The book was 25 1/2 hours long!
Much of the comedy in this book came from hopelessly contrived, heavy handed situations. For example, Prince Frederick goes through a village calling for his wife's dog, Far Q. These silly verbal misunderstandings cropped up every few pages. Instead of making me laugh, they frustrated me because the characters should have been intelligent enough to reason their way out of them.
This brings me to another complaint. Were Freddy and Fredericka intelligent or not? Instead of giving them believable intellects, the author yanked them around like marionettes. One moment Freddy stupidly sets up shop as a dentist despite the fact that he knows nothing about dentistry. The next moment's he's on Night Line, dazzling Ted Koppel with his brilliance. One moment Fredericka has never read a book, the next she?s spouting Shakespeare.
To be fair, Mr. Helprin?s a gifted writer and there were wonderful moments. When Craig-Vyvyan took flight, the book soared with him. The Prince and Princess? escape from the forest fire was memorable. But these passages were too few and the un-funny comedy set pieces were too frequent.
This is one book I would not recommend to my friends.
I did not expect much from this book, but was willing to give it a chance. I was pleasantly suprised. It was charming and very funny. I would certainly recomend it for anyone looking for an amusing change of pace.
This fine book could have been even better with a competent editor. Slurs such as "soul brothers" and the tired and embarrassing American Indian-speak were distracting and disappointing.
Supposed slapstick moments were often too slowed-down to enjoy without completing the scene ahead of the narrator; others were so cliche or repetitive (such as the running gag of double-meanings misinterpreted) that they cheapened the book.
Combined with beautiful sentiments about man's relationship with his world, the duty of royals, and the beauty of life lived for others, the result was a jumble of impressive passages and others where you wondered if the editor skipped over whole chunks of the book in an effort to coax the author to finish.