Funny, entertaining, performance was very good, especially the little girl. Like most Crusie books, the plot thickens till it's a bit hard to follow everyone's motivation, but not impossible. The plot moves along at an energetic pace, the humor is just right, and the characters are great fun.
I love this series and this was the first one I have listened to instead of reading. Simon Prebble's deep, resonant voice was nice, but his rapid pace took a little getting used to. Unfortunately, his female voices sounded a bit feeble, more like caricatures than real people. I forgot about it mostly, though, because Downing's story is riveting and his sense of place is impeccable.
The other aspect to the narration that was distracting was the volume level kept changing, sometimes in mid sentence. Careless editing, perhaps?
This is the first of the Outlander series I have listened to instead of reading and I can't wait to listen to another one, as long as Davina Porter is narrating. She is one of the few narrators who can do voices of the opposite gender and not sound at least a little bit affected. She's very natural-sounding and infuses the text with warmth and genuineness.
Love this series and can't recommend it highly enough! You won't really enjoy them out of sequence, though, so if you are considering this as your first Outlander book, please go back and start at the beginning.
The reader reviews on Amazon were positive and I love to read novels set in WWII Berlin, but this audible book disappointed on all levels.
Initially, I thought I was just put off by the narration. I hesitate to denigrate this narrator, as I know it was a lot of work on her part and she did try to create different voices for the characters, but the men's dialog just made them all sound like they had laryngitis and the expository text was delivered with the same intonation, a kind of final emphasis, as though every. single. sentence. was the most important one in the entire book. Instead of creating energy or excitement, it had the opposite effect, creating a breathless monotone that was, frankly, enervating.
As to the storyline, it started off rather intriguingly, setting up an interesting situation and characters. I prefer more character development but was allowing for the fact that this was perhaps genre fiction and lighter than my usual fare. I did like the POV switching back and forth between the grandmother and granddaughter; it was a good way to move the story along. However, when I arrived at the crucial secret revelations, they were so ridiculous that what was a serious story became laughable. After that, characters began behaving uncharacteristically to how they had been set up to behave and the whole thing fell apart. Unfortunately, this was not where the book ended, and why I gave it 2 stars instead of 1. I did keep listening till the end; I wanted to know how she would end it, however bad it might be, so that was one tiny saving grace.
I loved this book, even more than The Winter Sea, which I felt was a more uneven presentation--developing the plot of the past so much more than the present. In Rose Garden, the story is far more evenly told and therefore, we get a protagonist beautifully integrated in past and present.
My big beef with this novel (tho' I won't rate it down because of it) is the title, which is fairly meaningless and banal. Even after finishing the book, I have no idea why it was called The Rose Garden. Sure, there WAS a rose garden, but it was not an important element. Perhaps the image of the hybridization process was supposed to evoke some metaphor for Eva?
I agree with other reviewers who praised the romantic aspect of the story as being subtle and intense and therefore, very appealing. Also, I, too, would have liked the book to be a bit longer and contained more character development of Claire and of Daniel.
The reader, Nicola Barber, did a great job with the voices, especially Daniel's.
As usual, Kate Morton combines Brontean tragedy with a Dickensian plot in an "I Capture the Castle" setting. Don't read if you can't stand open windows into other people's pain . If you can take it, however, it's Morton's typical well-plotted mystery unraveling at a slow and steady pace. As all her books do, the story pulls you forward, keeps you wanting to know what happened next, and why. And as all her books do, she evokes another time and place beautifully.
In other words, typical Kate Morton. I like long, wind-y plots that take hours to listen to and this book fit the bill perfectly. It was however, rather despair-invoking. Caroline Lee's perfect reading kept me going, as well as the humorous asides that very occasionally find their way into the story. The ending was more positive relative to the other two of her books available here, and for that reason, was mostly worth journeying towards.
I love the time period of turn of the century into the 1920s and that is what drew me to this book. I was not disappointed by her evocation of the time, the clothes, events, and social mores. However, one really needs to have a high tragedy threshold with Kate Morton. I found The House at Riverton to be slightly less tragic than the other two of her books that are available at Audible.com. The narrator, Caroline Lee, is one of my favorites and I would like to hear her read more.
You won't regret the time spent to listen to the wonderful reading of this marvelous book. Every character comes alive. It's not long, but by the end, I wished it were.
If you like a twisty story with lots of plot developments (and I do) you won't be disappointed in the plot of Sarah's Key (and I wasn't). However, I'm not sure that an interesting story really can survive being badly told.
I am a fanatic about all things WWII Europe and I had high hopes for this book. I did very much enjoy the setting, character set-up, and basic storyline the author created. But I didn't enjoy the telling of the tale very much at all.
My main problem with this book was the character development (meaning the lack of it) and the way the characters are drawn mostly by listing things they dislike about a given situation--obvious things, but we are forced to sit through these lists time and again.
The POV goes back and forth between a girl of 10 or 11 and a woman of 45. There are interminable passages for both where we are forced to hear long lists of things they hate. It's rote and boring, as if after writing the story, the author went back to each plot turn and inserted a dutiful, lengthy list of dislikes in answer to the question, "and how did the girl/woman feel about that?" It drags the story down enormously.
Another character development problem was people (especially the main character) not behaving consistently with who they are. We are told the main character is a journalist, but her lack of even the slightest fact-checking before acting on information (e.g., spending a lot of money for something, traveling a long distance to meet someone whose identity she hasn't verified ) is ludicrous to the extreme. Then, when she is unhappily surprised (which happen with tedious regularity), she just marvels at how no alternative to her preconceived notion had ever occurred to her. No reasonable adult would behave that way, much less a professional journalist; it was just a cheap and lazy way to move the plot in a specific direction.
There are also dialog problems For example, the American woman never uses a contraction. The narrator reads every. single. dislike. with the same odd, unidiomatic intonation and emphasis. "She did NOT like it. She did NOT want to see it. She would NOT give in." In fact, every character gets this odd emphasis and inability to use contractions. I did NOT like listening to this and I will NOT be listening to another book by either this author or this narrator.
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