I really enjoyed this book, much more than I expected to. It was funny, thought provoking, satirical, descriptive and ironic. Why not five stars? The narrator's lack of American accents in the context of his variety of English accents was distracting, and the double entendre names was (were?) overdone.
Please, does anyone know the anagram for live ash circle???????
The clever word play that is said to be the books many wonderful qualities was the most annoying thing in the book. Clever? Please! It was like listening to a much to long, badly done "who's on first" monologue over and over and over again. There were so many that it became pathetic. I don't know what the writer was thinking!
The story was cute and entertaining at times but there were just too many stupid cornball situations the main characters get into, like a bad sitcom. It became unfunny very quickly. I finished listening, and that is saying something...but it was a challenge.
If you have read Mark Helprin before, you know what to expect: flights of fantasy inhabiting and enlightening the everyday world, flashes of humor, and, now and again, startling luminous prose of a beauty to rival Shakespeare or Thomas Wolfe. I enjoyed Freddy and Frederika, but it is not Helprin's best. The plot is weak -- it is more a series of amusing incidents than one coherent story. Much of the humor is in the form of "Who's on first" dialogs, but because of the hybrid format (a work originally written and now being read) these don't work as well as they ought. Too much was explained, diluting the laughs. And the narrator was not great -- it is particularly irritating that everyone has an English accent, even though most of the story takes place in the USA.
Still, sub-par Helprin is head and shoulders above the best that most authors produce.
The funniest thing about this book is that the British narrator doesn't even try to do American accents. A large portion of the book takes place in New Jersey, but everyone has upper class British accents, including a bunch of guys in a New Jersey motorcycle gang! That's a hoot but the rest is mostly silly and tiresome.
I seriously considered not burning the discs for the second part of this book. I did - and found that the story started to redeem itself. The end, however, was just as dreadful as the beginning.
If you are enamored with royalty - and aristocratic snobbery - this is the book for you. Otherwise - you will find better use for your credits!!
Mark Helprin wrote three of the greatest novels of the last 25 years: Winter's Tale, Refiner's Fire, and Soldier of the Great War. They all alternately sublime, hilarious, wrenching, but mostly, beautiful.
But F & F is a severe disappointment. There are a few beautiful passages, and some funny moments, but it is as if Mr Helprin has consulted a 11-year-old nephew for his jokes. The Prince of Wales is videotaped while chasing through a village after the Princess' dog, shouting its name, which is--are you ready?--"Fah Cue". Get it? Get it?
Mr Helprin, we respectfully beg you to bring us more miracles like "Swan Lake." Trust us to fly with you again. Don't leave us with the taste of this treacley mess on our palates too long.
This is a wonderful story. It is funny and at times unbelievable. We looked forward to long trips in the car to listen to this book. It is also a love story, a story about America, and a story about growing up. Listen to this book, you will not be sorry!