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BeckyC

Member Since 2006

ratings
30
REVIEWS
5
FOLLOWING
0
FOLLOWERS
3
HELPFUL VOTES
61

  • Olive Kitteridge

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 35 mins)
    • By Elizabeth Strout
    • Narrated By Sandra Burr
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (914)
    Performance
    (407)
    Story
    (406)

    At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her.

    BeckyC says: "Absorbing collection of linked stories"
    "Absorbing collection of linked stories"
    Overall

    These short stories, which collectively form a meditation on aging and connection (or disconnection) and love, are linked by shared characters (especially Olive Kittredge, who appears in all of them). They are set in a small town in Maine, and at times you can feel the salt in the air. Some of the characters are more compelling than others, but Olive is the most memorable: complicated and frustrating and ultimately wise and appealing. This is not a novel but rather a "novel in stories," a format that turns out to feel very different from a novel. In some ways it's the best of both worlds: you experience the vignettes, the moments in time, that constitute the modern short story--but also have some sense of the wider context in which these episodes are occurring.

    The reading was generally good, though I did feel annoyed by the slow, halting Maine (?) cadence that the narrator used with some characters. I noticed it less over time, fortunately.

    If you like modern short stories of the New Yorker type but also like more meaty novels, I'd recommend this book. I don't think I'll be forgetting the character of Olive anytime soon, and I'm grateful to have known her in the (audible) pages of this book.

    40 of 41 people found this review helpful
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

    • UNABRIDGED (21 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By David Wroblewski
    • Narrated By Richard Poe
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (2853)
    Performance
    (762)
    Story
    (766)

    Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents and an unusual breed of dogs on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. But when tragedy strikes the Sawtelle family, Edgar flees to the surrounding wilderness. He comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him.

    Ella says: "Just OK"
    "lots to like, but..."
    Overall

    There is some lovely writing in this book; the author does a wonderful job of slowly drawing the reader in to a world that seems idyllic and almost magical. And then the world changes--and changes in such a brutal and agonizing way that, even for those who miss the connection to Hamlet, it seems clear that nothing good can ever happen in that world again--at least not to the human denizens. But by then, the reader is so engrossed (or at least I was) that she has no choice but to follow the saga to its inevitable end. Edgar's journey is absorbing and engaging (and suspenseful) but ultimately chilling. I realized as I got close to the end that the novel had become almost a horror story--but by then I had to see it through. I'm not terribly sorry I did--it was interesting and well written throughout, even if a little long in places--but I do feel just a little used by the author, who seemed to set up one kind of story, only to turn it into a very different kind of tale. Solace of a sort comes from the sense that the dogs, at least, have grown and had a chance to express their own true natures--natures that are more solid and reliable, perhaps, than those of the humans who breed them.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • The Darling

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By Russell Banks
    • Narrated By Mary Beth Hurt
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (308)
    Performance
    (70)
    Story
    (73)

    The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the United States in an effort to escape embezzlement charges, he's immediately placed in prison.

    Ellen says: "Complex and compelling"
    "intense but ultimately not compelling"
    Overall

    The plot of this novel is certainly riveting--you are carried along with the story, always interested to know what comes next. And yet I found it ultimately distancing, perhaps because Hannah never really felt authentic to me. She seemed to be a symbol or a caricature rather than a real woman. The story is most successful at showing the effects of American imperialism on a small country in Africa that was, in some ways, doomed from the start. And Banks does a very good job at weaving the real history of Liberia and its monstrous leaders into the fate of his fictional characters. And yet--it just never gelled for me. The narrator did a good job of capturing Hannah's passivity and preternatural calm, but in a way this just heightened my sense of Hannah's one-dimensionality.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • The History of Love

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By Nicole Krauss
    • Narrated By George Guidall, Barbara Caruso, Julia Gibson, and others
    Overall
    (986)
    Performance
    (336)
    Story
    (347)

    Nicole Krauss' first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and her short fiction has been collected in Best American Short Stories. Now The History of Love proves Krauss is among our finest and freshest literary voices.

    Kathryn Lunetta says: "Beautiful story, beautifully written."
    "Such an enjoyable read!"
    Overall

    What a good book! I'd been wondering how it would work to have multiple narrators--and it was great. The narrators were all wonderful, and the story was so engaging and moving. Leo's "and yet..." resonates with me still. Highly recommended!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Christine Falls: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 31 mins)
    • By Benjamin Black
    • Narrated By Timothy Dalton
    Overall
    (740)
    Performance
    (308)
    Story
    (303)

    It's not the dead that seem strange to Quirke. It's the living. One night, after a few drinks at an office party, Quirke shuffles down into the morgue where he works and finds his brother-in-law, Malachy, altering a file he has no business even reading. Odd enough in itself to find Malachy there, but the next morning, when the haze has lifted, it looks an awful lot like his brother-in-law, the esteemed doctor, was in fact tampering with a corpse, and concealing the cause of death.

    Vivienne says: "Engaging debut."
    "A disappointment"
    Overall

    This book had gotten great reviews, so I was very surprised at my negative reaction. I wonder if this is the first book in my experience that is worse in the audio version than the print version. I usually love atmospheric mysteries, and these get points if set in the UK or Ireland (William Boyd's Restless is excellent). But I just could not get into this one--the characters did not seem at all believable and they all just became annoying after awhile. There were no shades of gray; even the villain was so villainous as to be tedious. A major problem for me may have been the narration--it was really overwrought. And as someone who grew up in Boston, I found the southern (?!) accents of the characters living there to be very jarring. In fairness, I should say that I did finish the book and was curious to see how it turned out. But I'm not eager to try another book by Banville/Black or one narrated by Timothy Dalton!

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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