More insightful and reflective than I expected, but still funny. Compelling. Steve Martin's voice makes for a very pleasant listen.
This understated book is the first of a series that grew on me and became enthralling. Written in form of an autobiography, it tells the life of an author from his boyhood after the first world war through his youth in school and at Oxford, his military service during the second world war, and afterward through his old age in perhaps the late 60s. The story is an assemblage of small moments in his relationships, in the military and otherwise mainly with artists, musicians and authors. One character recurs throughout, acting as a sort of archetypal figure of trage-comedy.
Some may find the pace too slow; there is little action, but give the books a chance. I found myself feeling as if I was there, too, seeing, hearing, feeling, even smelling, life as it was in England then. Taken as a whole, it has a mythic force. I found it haunting and well as amusing. Simon Vance achieves a tour de force of portraying widely diverse characters completely convincingly, enabling me to become immersed in the story.
I recommend listening to rather than reading these, at first, because the various accents of the characters are key to the story. Being unfamiliar with British class society, and their various accents, I would have lost a great deal if I had started with the books.
Trollope is one of my favorite authors. I loved the Barchester Chronicles, but when I began reading "Can You Forgive Her?" I pretty soon decided that I couldn't. Years later, I tried this audiobook and loved it. Timothy West's excellent reading helped me see the humor and irony in what, on first reading, I considered the ridulous and pointless dilemma of the heroine, Alice Vavasour. The American voice in my head did not do justice to the essential Englishness of this plot. Timothy West is a terrific reader, whose audiobooks I continue to seek out.
I found Robertson Davies because I am a big fan of the reader, Frederick Davidson. What a find! Davies is like a naughty version of Charles Dickens. The best book of his Salterton Trilogy is the third, but the first two are very good, and in order to get maximum enjoyment, it is best to listen to the three books in order. Once you read - or hear - him, you'll be hooked.
Winston Churchill was, in addition to being one of the greatest men of Western history, a terrific writer. I was entertained as well as informed by his story, which teaches not only about his life, but about human nature. Frederick Davidson is, hands down, my favorite narrator. He brings every story to life.
Robertson Davies is a recent discovery and what a treasure! The Lyre of Orpheus is my second favorite book of his, not far behind the first book in this trilogy, The Rebel Angels, both of them comic masterpieces. The middle book, What's Bred in the Bone, begins with a very boring exposition of the class origins of the central character, Francis Cornish. When Francis grows up, the books gets much more interesting. You need all three books for the third book to have its maximum impact. Frederick Davidson (a/k/a David Case), my favorite narrator, makes these books come alive. Well worth your time!
The Forsyte Saga series starts off a little slowly at the beginning of "The Man of Property", then inexorably draws us into its world of complicated passions and motivations. David Case's inimitable narration brings the story into vivid life. Positively addicting!
David Sedaris' latest book is amazing, discomforting, thought provoking, humane, and, of course, very funny. It is a must-listen.
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