I am huge fan of John Irving, but this one just didn't work for me. I felt like there was a lot of recycling from several of his past books (boys private school, growing up in New England, transsexuals, etc) and I just didn't get anything new out of this book. Maybe I missed something?
One of the best audiobooks I've listened to. Classic John Irving at his best. Fascinating characters and stirring, intriguing narrative that kept me involved from beginning to end. I'd have to go all the way back to "The World According To Garp" to find John Irving in such fine form.
An absolutely original story, sensitively and skillfully written.
Billy Abbott, the narrator, lives an extraordinary life but is realistic and believable. His first love, Miss Frost, is outstanding.John Benjamin Hickey, an accomplished actor, was the perfect narrator. He delivered a stunning performance. It would not have been the same in anyone else's hands.
I enjoyed listening to book. I think I would have lost interest in the story if I had been reading it.
This is the 1st performance I have listened to by him.
Yes, in fact listening was the best way to enjoy this story. It would have been a slow read.
I mainly enjoyed the story but it was long and dry in certain sections.
This book is read exceptionally well. Expression, cadence, intonation and characters are underlined exactly right. The book spans our society's view of sexuality, in particular, bisexuality, transgender and homosexuality, from the 50s to modern day. The attitudes, biases and development of society are skillfully woven into the tale. Irving's frank address of issues that are often whispered in secret is a refreshing breath of air.
I might compare it to Cider House Rules. Irving does not shy from difficult topics.
A story for education, tolerance and acceptance.
a wonderful read. 5 star
I love John Irving. But this particular novel was a disappointment.
Performance was fine, but writing was dull
I appreciate that the author may have been trying to give a gift to his son. But the voice in this book sounded quite false.
As a straight ally and as a person who loves well-written literature, I am grateful to Irving for this literary gem, one that tenderly explores bisexuality and transgender issues with love and respect. I appreciated the affection and acceptance shown by the most loving characters and the struggles the well-developed characters face. The account of the AIDS crisis years is painfully honest and unromanticized. The conclusion perfect. There were moments in the book when the narrator's energy flagged, yet he was always spot-on when he was reading dialogue.
Sublime storytelling, I was captivated within minutes. The narrator captured the tone of the novel superbly. I felt I was a part of the story, emotionally drawn to each and every character.
I discovered another author referenced in the story. I wanted to know what was next.
My favorite scene was at the end of the book, when William Abbott after a lifetime of discovery declared to the son of his childhood nemesis, "My dear boy do not label me until you get to know me."
John Irving was masterful in illustrating the severity of life choices without overdramatizing or making those choices contrite. Mr. Irving’s characters were smart, ignorant, ill at ease, loving, caring, and accepting. The complexity of human emotions and the discovery of our actual self is a journey I enjoyed exploring with his characters.
To quote Shakespeare,
“To this above all; To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!”
There were moments when the story and it's quirky characters reminded me of some of Irving's best work, like A Prayer for Owen Meany, or The World According to Garp or Cider House Rules. Other times the story was unbelievably boring, repetative and just sort of dumb. I did finish the book after a couple false stops and starts and the main characters have found a place in my heart----something Irving is very good at doing. But I can't help but think the novel could have been so much better than it was, and there were times when I felt that Irving was just having the reader on, so to speak, not serious about this or that development or bit of narrative, as if he was wasting my time all but intentionally. Still, the social commentary behind the novel is worthwhile and the story does finally come through.
Not anything new.
Again, nothing he writes from now on.
Actor's range was a little too limited for such a nuanced story.
Disappointment. Irving has clearly lost his talent and gifts and started re-writing his novels. This one may have been called "Johnny Wheelwright has sex." It's Owen Meany all over again, from a sadly only slightly different perspective. Pathetic.
Oh my god, this is what is left of the author of milestones like "Garp" and "Hotel New Hampshire"...?!? The former master of original, quirky, engaging characters and thoughts and stories delivers a chatty, empty, tired and convoluted heap of blabber that tries so hard you almost feel pity. But while.some of his last books were inferior only when compared to his best works, this one is just "inferior, period." Just like T. C. Boyle he attempts in vain to make his "old same-same" work but without creating anything remotely as interesting as he once did. Cross-dressing grandpa, hot wrestler, mythical father figure, sexually confused adolecents... yada, yada, YAWWWN. He once was brealing literary ground, now he is only breaking literary winds.