Disclaimer: I was not able to finish the book, It might have gotten better later.
This book might be enjoyed by someone who likes meandering plotlines and well thought out descriptions of things told with a nostalgic tone. It's literary fiction and if you just want to sit back and take in some poetic language and experience a scene, it might be fine.
If, like me, you like things to actually move the plot forward, this isn't for you. This is a little like On the Road if Kerouac's main character had been an English schoolboy.
Lack of movement. Lot of great language but it was just boring. There's a character called Stringum, and because my attention drifted for a moment I briefly thought it was a girl and that made the story a little interesting because it would make for a nice love interest. But no. All the characters are boys and none of them are gay as far as I could tell before I stopped listening.
I don't know what the main character wants, I can't see any sort of conflict. There is something about somebody's uncle that has gotten in trouble with the law for some reason, but no one seems all that concerned, it's just seems like a topic of dinner conversation. I might suspect that I'm just not English enough for this, but I listened through Bleak House and didn't get bored so I don't think that's it.
I think overall the emphasis in this book is in depicting how things look and feel, and not so much on story.
Simon Vance is mostly a narrator. It's been a while since I listened but I don't remember him doing any voices.
An abridged version might be better.
Picture PBS Masterpiece Theater without the video told in fist person. The ramblings of a early 20th Century British narcissist.
I kept thinking the school-house characters would be engulfed in a World War or something interesting. Just rambling through the day-to-day of the main character. Must be modern art?
I loved Simon Vance's reading of the Stieg Larsen books, so when I read that this was one of his favorites, I bought it. After listening for well over an hour, possibly two, I decided that I just wasn't interested in what happened to the characters. I realized that this was a book for someone, most likely male, who could relate to the experiences being recounted.
I have concluded that it is important to spend more time in research before selecting an audiobook for purchase.
I got through about the first half of Part I. It introduced a number of interesting characters, but I couldn't discern any real story line.
Did I give up too soon?
I am afraid I have not finished this book, to hard to get in to it is slow and monotonous, 3 hours in and the book is going no where, bought on the recommendation of the narrator in a review. never again.
Listen nearly every day to an audiobook.
The print version of this book received rave reviews on other sites. Based on the reviews, I did not expect the book to be plot focused. I usually love British classics. Unfortunately, Simon Vance's performance seemed uninspired by the novel. I could not tell whether Vance, or the author, did not develop the characters into memorable individuals. I have listened to a number of well-acted audiobooks by Simon Vance. In this performance, I did not lose myself in his performance of the novel, and instead, found his distinctive voice a distraction.
I really really tried. I listened to over 13 hours, I even started over once thinking I was just not paying attention. I couldn't finish it. There is no plot. The characters are boring. I love long books. I love series. I love historical fiction. I hated this book and I have powered through some long slow starters and mediocre books before, but I just couldn't do it. I really wanted to love this book. I can't even say I liked it or it was "okay" I have over 600 audiobooks in my library and this is one of three that I just couldn't finish. It's dreadful! I rarely write reviews, but I needed to warn others to stay away!
Wow. What a slog. I almost tossed it (something I very seldom do) after a few hours in, but I was so pissed that I'd spent 12 credits on it that I gutted it out, which was a lot like an exercise in masochism. So many characters, such a fractured story line (if in fact there actually is one.) I kept waiting for something to coalesce, which it never does. The writing is sometimes exceptional, even brilliant, but by the time the sentence ends you've lost the author's original point. Mostly, it's just boring. I must say that Simon Vance is at his best, but that in no way makes up for this effort to turn what could have been a short story into a tome. Save your credits.
For those of you who are fans of Anthony Powell's Magnum Opus, I'm happy for you. I, however, so slow and tedious that I have stopped listening about half way through the first section of the first book. The narrator seems at the same time to be pretentious, boring, and withholding of information. The pace is incredibly slow. The events are trivial, and I just don't find that I care about the characters. I realize that some people find Mr. Powell's work superb and entertaining. I find myself dreading the remainder of this book, much less listening to the remaining books in this series. So I'm cutting my losses now.