Listening to the first chapter, I did not think I would last too far with this book. So glad I did. The richness of the language, combined with the memorable characters, linked with the music, led to an exceptional listening experience. Robin Miles is to be congratulated for her masterful narration and singing! I believe that had I read the book instead of listened, I would have missed a valuable component. Simply stated, this audio book is beautiful and enriching.
I found this to be enjoyable part of the time, the character development at the beginning was good, but the last two chapters covered way too much time, and not much substance -- especially in comparison to the earlier chapters. This development reminds me of Danielle Steele's endings -- it's like they run out of time to get the book finished, so don't do as good a job at the end. Given the time period of the 60's, the amount of material that could have been covered left me disappointed.
I also heard two different errors in chapters 19 and 20 -- the reader started over -- that should have been edited out.
I enjoyed the reader's singing range - jazz, folk, opera.
This book follows seven generations of a Black-American family AND Black-American music AND American history from slavery, the Reconstruction, WW1, the flu epidemic, the flappers, the Depression, WW2, the Vietnam war all the way through to the 21st Century. 568 pages or 26 and 1/2 hours of listening time. The book tries to do too much. Black-American music as it evolves is also reviewed: gospel, jazz, R&B, swing, bebop AND classical music. All the musical top names are sited. You cannot do all of this in depth. On top of all the names and historical events you follow a family. Is this a story about a family, where we are to care for all the characters, aunts and uncles and grandparents and generation after generation of children? What author can pull all this off? I loved Lizzie. The author really brought her personality to life for me, but this did not happen with any other character. When I was living life with Lizzie that is when I loved the book. The things she said!!!!
The book is written by two sisters. They split the book into eight sections, each writing four. I did not notice a difference in the writing! Ntozake Shange had several strokes and had to stop for five years, while her sister continued, but she liked to do thorough historical research and trips to the places where the story is set: Harlem, Chicago, Paris, and Charleston. Charleston breathed and maybe Harlem too, but certainly not Paris! Both sisters are playwrights. Reading this book is like going to the theater. You see, hear and even smell through the depiction of foods…….but you don’t get under the skin of the characters or a deep understanding of history. You get a smattering. Oh yeah, drugs are thrown in too! The picture had to be accurate.
The audiobook is narrated by Robin Miles. Many, many songs are sung and for most she does an excellent job, BUT some went wrong. Classical music is not her forte. Southern and Irish dialects she masters superbly, but p-l-e-a-s-e her French is just not up to mark. And she does not successfully imitate Edith Piaf! So there we are in France during WW2. In one chapter the Résistance is “covered”. Do you understand? There is in every way too much included in this book. Nobody can pull all this off successfully.
I still liked the book! I loved the part centered on Lizzie. There is also a theme on the importance of family, which I enjoyed, of how mothers and daughters have SUCH a hard time communicating!
What is the book trying to say about Black-American music and in fact all music in general?
“Music is just another way of keepin up with livin. Nothin wrong with that!”(chapter 4)
I am amazed there are so many who adored this book, as I can find no redeeming value to it. I always finish a book through. But as I started the second part, still wondering when I was going to get into the story, and realized there was a third part -- I gave up.
Two many characters, too much time, too many coinciences ... too much of everything. I never really got to like any of the characters before a new set were introduced. Could have been broken down into two (very boring) books. It might be easier to follow in hard copy when the story goes from one group of peple to another.
This was really just awful.
Overall I enjoyed listening, but I think it probably works better as a novel to be read rather than listened to. It took a few hours of listening to get into, and I wasn't sure that the end result was worth it. I like my audiobooks to be a bit faster paced than books I might choose to read, as I find that's what works for me. But it is a reasonably good novel and well narrated.
If you bought a book and there were pages in the wrong place or if there were places where the text was crossed out and correncted you would be appauled. This is the case wiht this recording. There are places where the book is not read in order and the narrator corrects herself many times. I enjoyed the book but am angry that the recording was released in the form.
This book is a wonderful contribution to the world of African-American literature. At first, I had a hard time getting used to the cadence of the novel. However, after a while, I had no trouble following the narrative.
This story spans seven generations of strong women. It starts off just after the end of the civil war and the reader follows successive generations to the 21st century, following the well-researched thread of struggle, hardship, joy and song. The authors do a wonderful job of exploring the tensions within and around African-American communities throughout the century, weighing issues of race, class and gender with sensitivity and understanding.
The narrator was very skilled in giving each character a voice. The sung portions of the book were enchanting and I'm so glad that an audio version exists. My only criticism is that the operatic sections were a bit lacking, but this is a small quibble. Overall, well done! This book is well worth a credit. I learned a great deal and was sorry to have it end!
I sang and I cried through this book -- and I have started it again as soon as I finished it the first time.. This novel is the history of an African American family from slavery through the civil rights movement. The audio novel is captures the music that colored the lives of these women ,,, primarily women. .The language is as musical as the actual songs. Sometimes, the novel is in third person, and other times in first person with so much pain that I listened with tears on my face. These authors also wrote "for colored girls ..." and this novel is a fitting follow-up. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. The one exception is the adult language and adult situations. which are appropriate to the plot but people need to be aware in advance.
Robin Miles has pulled off a coup with this read. She has handled the many colourful characters
in this audio book with an impressive array of accents and interpretations, sometimes including 3 or 4 characters in a conversation. As a relatively new Brit-aussie listener, I have found some of the American Narrators difficult to listen to...personal taste. But Robin Miles I would look for again.
A really good book. Although I was a little disappointed at how the book ended. It felt a little rushed to be finished. Overall it was a good book and the reader was amazing with her singing voice.