This book did not rivet me or make me excited to listen and hear what would happen next, but because of all of the good reviews and awards by the experts I stuck with it. I decided it was worth my listening time to wait for the payoff at the end. I knew there would be no plot surprise, because the author told me at the beginning of the book what was going to happen, so I was left wondering what was going to be the "other payoff." This is the deepening understanding that comes through spending hours with a group of characters that finally in the end show you something new about yourself. Unfortunately for me that did not happen. However, I did like all of the characters and I think the author painted a clear picture of most of her leads. I cared about them and I felt the pathos of what happened to them. I still was thinking of the book a couple of days later. But can I say that I enjoyed my listening experience? Maybe, but I don’t think it is one of my favorites.
Going back to the rave reviews and literary awards. I can see that the union between her subject matter (opera) and her stylistic form was very well crafted. This form makes for a great discussion in a book review. However, is that a reason to highly recommend a book to readers? No.
A suggestion... If these characters did more than sit around a house for four months getting to know each other the plot would have been more interesting.
I didn't pay attention to the length of this audiobook when I bought it. It is a short story. Just realize that before you download. I usually only download novels. As far as the story goes it is ok. Not really any big surprises in it or anything.
This audiobook tried so hard to be clever that it ended up just grating on my nerves. Where to start? First, the author really should have forked over the money to hire a good narrator. She sounds like a little girl and because she can't do multiple voices, she has had to use other narrators to provide the male voices in the book. The book has a very SLOW plot, such that keeping reading is an effort. The most annoying trick the author uses is contradicting plot events with another voice, such as: (female voice) "Henry spilled his drink on Lydia, he was so nervous." ... then a male voice cuts in with: "Henry remembers that it was Lydia who spilled her drink." After the 20th time this happens, it quits being cute and starts being quite annoying. The book summary describes this device as "cleverly illuminating the slippery interplay of perception and memory." We all know that two people will each remember a past event differently. We don't need to be reminded of this over and over again. Also, the "parallel narrative" of QD Soda is intrusive and commercial-like. It is meant to be coming from the loudspeaker on a tourbus touring Boston, complete with music and sound effects, and is explaining the history of QD soda. It includes the original commercial jingle. Well, guess what folks, when I listen to an audiobook I don't want to hear a commercial, I just want to hear a story! I don't care that this is providing context or illustrating the pervasiveness of advertising of that time. It is annoying! Many books are light on plot because of character development, however, this book is light on plot AND character development. I didn't care one whit about any character in the book. I was actually cheering when one central but irritating character died! Finally, the publisher's summary states that the author put "years of research" into this book. That may be so, but a little more attention to plot and character would have gone a long way toward making this an enjoyable book.
This book is absolutely hilarious, charming, witty, and clever. Although you do cringe at Ms. Bloomwood's shopping antics, and her increasingly outrageous lies to cover up her buying binges, you will enjoy her creativity in thinking them up. This is a laugh out loud funny book as much as Bridget Jones was. My husband kept asking me what I was laughing at when I was listening (I often cook and clean the house while listening, and he doesn't know I'm listening to a book.) Don't pay attention to the other reviews that find this character shallow and boring. Boring? No definitely not. Initially you may see some of the things she does as ditzy or naive, but that is what makes you laugh! It is the classic comedic device: Audience sees something that main character does not--!!! This is well worth the download and is money well spent. Grade A+ (PS, I just finished the second book, which is also an A+ . If you are like me and love the longer books, this is a perfect series to embark upon.)
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