Byatt weaves together two story lines, one set in Victorian England and the other in present day academia, in England. She is an academic herself and this is probably the best (and funniest) portrayal I've come across. At the same time the themes are deep and resonant. It's hard to believe that she made the two Victorian poets out of thin air, they are so clearly drawn.
Byatt writes beautifully, but mostly she can tell a story that works as a mystery, love story, academic send-up, and an historical.
The scene in the graveyard was the perfect crisis, exciting, evocative, satirical.
Christabel LaMott, the Victorian writer and poet.
Byatt composed two sets of poetry for this novel, one for each of the Victorian poets. This is not light reading, but then on the other hand you can get a lot out of this novel even skipping over the poetry. The narrator really delivered, as well.
I like long books, but sometimes a long book got that way because it wasn't edited very well. There is a lot of repetition in this story, the characters going over the same subjects to themselves and each other, in wording that doesn't vary much. This is amplified by the fact that the dialogue is full of terms that will offend some readers. Realistic dialogue isn't necessarily well-done dialogue.
The narrator, however, was good. She handled the different personalities and ethnicities really well. I'll look for more of her work, but I think that I'm not the right reader for this author's work.
The narrator was really excellent, especially when Ambrose was the pov character. However, I almost gave up on this novel because of the strong Christianity theme. If there had been one more scene in which 'scripture' was discussed, I would have turned it off permanently. The story was well told and the themes well developed; physical beauty, or the lack thereof and the way those things shape our understanding of ourselves and the world, the loss of hope, the redemptive power of friendship, all these worked well. It's a quiet but thoughtful novel, but again, I found the repeated return to topics in Christian theology almost too much.
This story is populated by people from working class Boston neighborhoods, but only a couple of them have any trace of the accent, and that inconsistently. The main characters sound like they grew up in the midwest, and even Bubba -- dear gawd, Bubba -- sounds off. He's got almost a southern tinge. Massachusetts in general and working class Boston in particular stand out for allegiance to the regional language features. I don't know if this was the producer's call or if the narrator made the decisions, but either way, the performance was severely compromised for me. I know the story well, have read the book multiple times, so this was a very big disappointment.
The story itself is very dark, but in a way that encourages thought about difficult subjects.
These characters should sound like they were born and raised in Boston. Consistently.
When Amanda's uncle finally realizes there's no more hope, and comes clean over a double Scotch.
The people who produce audiobooks should have a linguist or two on staff -- a sociolinguist (which yes, I am a trained academic linguist specializing in sociocultural language issues) could set them straight when they go off course like this. It happens far too often, and needn't happen at all.
This is simply the best audiobook I have ever listened to, and I have listened to hundreds. The book is excellent but has what I consider a few weak spots, but the narration is flawless.
All of them were astounding, but Aibileen was my favorite.
I'm the author of this book and the series, but I'm writing this review to say how really pleased I was to have Kate Reading as the narrator. She does a spectacular job.
Kate has read all of the Wilderness series for unabridged audio, and her performance is consistently excellent.
This is one of the six books in the series where I actually was able to keep the title I wanted.
Thanks to Audible for their support of authors.
There is actually a good premise here, an unusual start to a romance. Unfortunately the author was trying so hard to be witty and funny and urbane that the characters slide right into the ridiculous. The narration actually made the problem worse, as all three female friends are read with a degree of breathless silliness that was hard to stomach.
Far sillier than Sex in the City, not nearly as entertaining.
The narrator could have toned down the drama and silliness.
Will Trent is such a complex character, there's no way to describe him in a sentence. Let's just say that he's survived hell and somehow remained compassionate and at the same time, filled with anger. So Will is a big part of the draw. But NOTE: You have to read the previous book in the series to really appreciate this one, because here's the real kicker: in that book you meet a whole slew of 60-something women police officers and ex-police officers, tough women, in some cases distinctly off-putting (Amanda, I'm looking at you); in some cases almost awe-inspiring (Evelyn). Then in Criminal you are introduced to Amanda and Evelyn early in their careers. Maybe because I'm just a few years younger than these characters, but I really adored experiencing the way they fought their way into the police department in the seventies. It's gritty, but it's also funny at times. The historical research is really excellent but not in-your-face. This is the way I remember things. But more important, the old broads (as they call themselves) started out their careers with a case that is heart breaking and which also throws light on Will Trent's current day situation, and explains a lot about Amanda and her motivations in hiring and mentoring him.
Will Trent, but it's a tough call.
In a flash back, when Evelyn refuses to be cowed by a bad experience and mocks it so effectively that even conservative, staid Amanda has to laugh. Pig-Tush.
There is a great depth to the story, don't' rush reading it.
compelling, evocative, Gulliver
I've read a lot of Nora Roberts' novels and many of them blend together for me, which means that they were less than compelling or memorable. Not bad, mind you. Just not exceptional in any way.
A couple of her novels have stood out for me, and this I think is the one that I like best. I certainly admire Roberts' ability to make the perilous world of fire jumpers come into focus. A lot of research went into this, but (and this is the hard part) she never indulges the temptation to simply show off what she learned -- Roberts provides just enough detail to get a real sense of how physically and mentally challenging fire jumping is. I got a good idea of the current technology and how it's used, and maybe most important, I began to understand the mindset and priorities that would drive an otherwise sensible and intelligent human being to jump out of a plane into a raging fire.
The primary romance is exceptionally good. Rowan, a veteran fire jumper, and Gulliver, a rookie. I find I can't resist the urge to use the totally predictable descriptive phrase: they generate tremendous heat.
Rowan tells Gulliver the truth.
The scenes between Rowan and her father were very well done. She realizes that he has been lonely, and that she doesn't want him to be lonely, no matter how much change scares her.
Tremendously interesting, and an alpha-hero who tempers near perfection with a good dose of self-awareness.
I am a big fan of Brockmann's other books -- especially the last five or so SEAL Team series. On that basis, I thought I'd try this novel, one of her early (earliest?) efforts. Everybody starts somewhere, after all.
This is not a bad novel, but it is awkward and strained in tone, and the characters are less well rounded than those in later books. The narrator handled all the different regional and social dialects well.
Somehow it just didn't gel for me.
Hmmm. I'd rather see Izzy Zanella on a big screen, I think.
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