I had been really looking forward to reading this book, having read the author's columns for several years in the Los Angeles Times. However, although the premise of the story was amusing (restaurant reviewer forced to wear a variety of disguises), I found it repetitive after a while (how much foi gras and lobster can anyone eat?). Only moderately entertaining.
Barbara Kingsolver spins a fascinating tale of family life in the Congo as the country spirals into chaos. The novel has a wonderful sense of place - we can almost smell the jungle - and we come to know each character intimately. A gripping story, told with empathy and humor.
I am an optimist by nature, so I stuck with this book to the end, always hoping it would get more interesting. It never did. The saga eventually petered to an unsatisfying conclusion, and I felt I had wasted 25 hours of my time listening to it. The narrator does a nice job of differentiating the different characters and accents, but her talents are wasted here.
Absolutely wonderful narration, elegant writing and a thoroughly enjoyable book. I agree with the readers who commented that the second story is a little weak, but the main story pulls you along with irresistible force. More books by this author please!
The author skilfully weaves together two amazing stories. I was completely unaware of the Chicago Worlds Fair, but after reading the book I was so intrigued I had to google it for some pictures (the only downside of audible books: mental images only). The depravity of the "devil" is truly mind-boggling, and well documented by the author. Narrator Scott Brick does a sterling job, as always.
I am a huge fan of Jodi Piccoult, but I agree with a couple of the other reviewers that this was way too reminiscent of The Green Mile. Jodi is usually wonderful in constructing well-rounded characters and thought-provoking moral dilemmas, and though the characters were fully formed and likeable (especially Maggie), I failed to feel involved with the central moral issues. For me, there was a great deal too much religious philosophy and biblical discussion, which seemed to slow the whole drama down to a snail's pace. However, the story was well read by a good cast of characters, so it was modestly entertaining.
A likeable main character and his dog, but the story dragged slowly to its unsurprising conclusion with too many thinly drawn characters and little excitement along the way.
This book was highly recommended to me by a friend, and I am equally enthusiastic. The narrators are excellent, and add greatly to the enjoyment of the book. I was sorry to reach the end of the book, but the conclusion was satisfying - if implausible. Suspend your disbelief and let yourself be carried away by the magic of the circus.
I am a big fan of Jodi Piccoult, and in previous books (My Sister's Keeper, Mercy) she has tugged my heartstrings, made me shed a tear or two and explored moral dilemmas - all while crafting a taut narrative with believable, likeable characters. Vanishing Acts disappointed on all fronts. The main characters were whiny and disfunctional and the whole thing dragged on for way too long.
The author guides his characters on a journey of self-discovery, and along the way we gain insight into the traditions, contrasts and conflicts of modern Turkey. Anna Field gives another bravura performance, adding immensely to the listener's enjoyment. The translation was a little weak on the nautical terms, but apart from that minor quibble the book was very enjoyable and added to my understanding of the region.
I listened to the entire book, hoping to find some redeeming spark, but even the ending was weak and contrived. The characters were one-dimensional, the dialog was completely unbelievable, the plot implausible and the whole thing was utterly pointless. One of the worst books I have ever read. Sorry to be so negative, but my rating would be less than 1 star.
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