It is a testament to Julie Orringer's writing skill that I could endure the what seemed like 100 hours of yammering. The narrator was one of the worst I've heard. He droned on in a portentious voice and seemed to have no ability to provide different personas for the individual characters. His pronunciation of French words, even to my tin ear, was painful. I think this is a book better read than heard.
Julie Orringer clearly has a love of words and a masterly hand for painting word pictures. It's also apparent that she's done a great deal of research into a lesser-known aspect of Holocaust history; i.e., what happened to Hungarian Jews. This aspect of the book is different and should have a particular appeal for anyone who has an interest in the social history of Europe during WW2.
I appreciated this story, but I wasn't fully drawn in. The main characters, Andras and Klara, seemed two-dimensional. In this lengthy novel, there was too much dwelling on their morose love affair for my taste. For no good reason, Andras often imagines that Klara has been unfaithful to him. His emotional immaturity makes Klara's love for him a little hard to believe in completely.
Several side characters tended to be more interesting. Andras's brother Tibor and his best friends, Mendel and Eli definitely fall into that category. I wish more of the book could have focused on them.
A truly successful novel should have some element of humor in it. Even in Holocaust literature, I've read many books that had that element. It's often bitter, dark humor, but humor nonetheless, that made those books rise above the rest of the genre. This book's plot plods on in its dour way from one event to the next, with only one exception. Andras and his friend Mendel collaborate to create three underground newspapers when they are on their various labor service assignments. The excerpts from these papers are satirical and clever, and bring the book to life in those pages.
Despite these criticisms, Julie Orringer's talent is obvious. She has a real work ethic, a love of language and I hope next time around she will present more vivid, compelling characters and tighter pacing. I will give her next novel a try.
I cannot recommend the audiobook, narrated by Arthur Morey. Morey's voice tends toward the monotone and his emphases and emotional content often seemed to me not to be what the auth
This is one of the best books I have ever read. The auther brings to life the old world with all the hopes, sadness and real people.. This book should be made to a movie. The narriator did a fantastic job.
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The first half of the story was a little too long for my taste; it could have been cut in half and wouldn’t have had any adverse effect on the story.
Boy goes to school in Paris, boy meets girl, boy looses girl, boy wins girls back, girl freaks and splits, boy wins girls back… enough! What’s was the point!? The second half was more interesting by far; I felt that finally something was happening and the story was really starting!
I suspect the drawn out beginning was a trick; plunging us into the day to day minutia of their pre -war lives so that we’d care more about them and be more sympathetic to their struggle once war starts brewing in Europe and the events start “hitting home”.
Ultimately, I think the ruse was effective because I was totally engrossed by the second half.
Regarding the narration I completely agree with other posters: Incredible bastardisation of French and German - I can only surmise that the Hungarian was equally awful. This is really my top pet-peeve with Audio Books.
The descriptions. I wanted to go to Budapest to see this book. Loved Budapest. Beautiful city, the Opera House is the most beautiful one in Europe, according to me. The synagog is beautiful also. It made the book come alive. Shoes Always the Danube is a sad memorial. Buda and Pest are lovely. I read it again on the flight. Very moving.
One of my favorites.
Great book about the world war era Paris and Budapest, as well as about the ravages of the nazi regime in Hungary.
Arthur Morey's narration is great, except when he tries to pronounce Hungarian words, where he fails epically. It would not have been a huge task to ask a native to help out. Also, he is inconsistent in this, pronouncing a word one way and 50 pages down, another way.
All in all, a very engrossing and enjoyable book.
This is a beautiful, poignant story which held my attention from beginning to end - with one big exception. The canvas is one which particularly interests me, having lived through some of it.
Everything. I'm a big fan of Mr. Morey, but this reading is a disaster. As someone who is multilingual, I was appalled at the numerous mis-pronunciations throughout the book. While some of these may have been intentional (though I doubt it), I cannot imagine why the publisher didn't choose a reader who is familiar with the various languages. I winced each time a word or a phrase was mis-pronounced, and this just took me right out of the story and into near apoplexy! Please, Mr. Morey, next time you are hired to read a book which contains words in another language, get some serious coaching from a professional. This one is a blot on your otherwise perfect landscape.
What's next from Ms. Orringer?
Somehow, (I can't believe I missed it) the fact that this audio book runs almost 28 hours in length was not something I noticed when I purchased the book. As I always try to start what I finish, I did listen all the way to the end. It took almost 4+ hours for me to really be interested, and then the ending felt almost rushed - given that so much time and detail was spent on the earlier parts of the book. So, if you have 28 hours... be my guest.
I've missed Andras Lvi and his loved ones since finishing the book. The history, of course, can be truly heart-breaking and I think I'll go 'cold turkey' on WWII for a while. I liked the narrator, Arthur Morey, very much!!
Epic story, elegant writing, I cried. I had a hard time getting into the narration at first--his style is kind of flat, but by the end of the book I thought of it as being neutral.