The narrator's telling of the story - his voice, his pace, the way the emotions came through. I am normally an avid book reader. But after listening to this excellent audible book, I want to find find other high quality narrators, well matched to the text. With that, I will be listening to far more audible books.
Great book. It's like a Robert Altman film with several characters whose lives all connect in some way. The only issue I had was with Richard Burton being a relatively main character and certainly a central part of the plot. It was hard to suspend disbelief. All in all a great novel with an extremely well written and poignant ending.
My favorite listens are very very long books, extremely long classics, the longest of the Stephen Kings, and sometimes celebrity memoirs.
Just so good and all levels.
Pasquale - He had such an open inquisitive conflicted heart.
Terrific story, terrific narration.
From the first sentence this one pulls you in. Very well written, complex characters and story lines that cross decades that in the end all comes together. Very funny in parts and sad in others. Kind of reminded me of the book "Empire Falls". The narration was exceptional, particularly some of the known notable personalities that the books includes as part of the overall story. The only criticism of the book that I would have was that the very ending seemed to be hurried, trying to tie up all of the loose ends. I would definitely recommend this book and plan to look at other books by Mr. Walter or books narrated by Mr. Ballerini.
My wife read this first, and when I asked her if I would like it, she said "I don't know."
"Is it a chick book?"
"Well, it's not an action thriller."
So I took a chance. And was drawn in immediately. It is beautifully written and plotted well. My wife knows I don't like films which try to lose the viewer by jumping around chronologically, as I am fairly literal. This book does oscillate in time over half a century, but never in a misleading way.
Now to the best part: Edoardo Ballerini would be worth a listen, if the book were not that good. He's marvelous.
A gadabout with no room for heavy books, so love the audio ones.
I don't see what the fuss was about. It took me almost a month to get through this book. nothing about the story grabbed my interest. I only finished it because it was there.
The narrator did a great job.
Loved the storyline and the characters were interesting. Narration was excellent. Held my attention quite well.
I was incredibly impressed with this story. The plot was intricate, detailing the lives of separate characters. The author demonstrate a great level of diversity in being able to write in different styles and to be able to put himself in the shoes of so many very different characters and to make it believable.
The story changes time, location, and character often, not in chronological order, keeping things interesting and engaging. In addition to this, the lives of these characters all seem to connect at one point or another and it is incredible and exciting each new connection is revealed.
A theme in this book is responsibility. The motto of one character is "We want what we want." However, the motto of another, and I think a pivotal point in the book, is that sometimes, we may want one thing, but we know it is RIGHT for us to do another. This becomes clear in a small, easily overlooked scene, but very important one, when a young version of one of the main characters finds a ring in the sand, dropped from the bag of a beautiful woman. He glances at his mother, and then returns the ring to the woman. His mother then tells him that she hopes he would do the right thing even if she weren't watching one day.
In addition to an excellent plot, story, and character development, the imagery the author evokes in his writing is superb. I found myself swept away onto the shores of a forgotten town in Italy, into an audience watching a play, or onto a hectic set in Hollywood. I found myself seeing the world through each character's eyes, and being able to see, taste, smell, and experience just through the excellent use of words.
The book is not written in a heavy manner. The text is light, easy to understand, and enjoyable.
Also, while some books may end in a certain point in the life of character, just when you've come to love them, this author has chosen to end the book with you knowing exactly what became of all of the characters, offering closure, lessening the grief that sometimes a reader might have after finishing a book and losing the "friendship" that has been developed with those characters. I felt like I walked away from this text knowing that things ended a certain way. It was a unique way of closing a story, a peaceful way, and I really liked that.
Finally, Edoardo Ballerini performs the audio reading in such a great way. He is one of those readers that bring the story to life. I loved when he spoke Italian in the text. It was so musical. He inserted dramatic pauses, a variety of vocal intonations, and didn't have any annoying tics that sometimes audio readers can have unknowingly.
This is definitely a worthwhile book to enjoy!
There is not much I can say about Jess Walter's writing that hasn't already been said. Buy this book. Listen to it.
Ballerini is a fantastically talented narrator. He brought each character to life without ever taking me away from the story. To hear the Italian spoken was wonderful.