This is a beautifully written book. The subjects' lives and their times are presented in fascinating detail, and Pearson has a masterful command of the language so the characters and the era come to life beautifully.
But by about halfway through, I was finding the Sitwells excruciatingly boring. They might have made important contributions to the arts but, really, they were a tedious and snobbish trio. I did feel sorry for poor Edith, but my sympathy couldn't carry to the end of the book. For anyone who doesn't have at least a basic knowledge of English poetry and poets and the arts in general, it would probably be a waste of time.
The really outstanding thing about this book is the dreadful narration. I can see why Mr Douglas got the job. He has a really nice voice and enunciates very well, so he would be very easy to listen to for 22 hours EXCEPT for the oh-so-frequent mispronunciations - even in English. I started to list them for this review, but there were so many I didn't have time to go to my notebook each time my ears were offended. It's odd, because he obviously has some knowledge of French and Italian and a reasonable accent in both languages, so how does he mispronounce things like Commedia dell'arte, San Gimignano, Ballets Russes - the list goes on. German too - Bayreuth. Even in English - executor (of a will) pronounced executor (as in hangman); antecedents pronounced an-tessa-dents - again, the list goes on.
Mr Douglas has an idiosyncratic way of punctuating sentences - I doubt Mr Pearson wrote in all those commas and full stops. And sometimes he seems to be speaking as though he's keeping time with a metronome at his side.
Doesn't Audible audition people before entrusting them with a book? Doesn't anyone check before it goes on sale? If a book has foreign words, surely the reader should know enough to be able to pronounce them correctly, or to check out any of which s/he is uncertain. For a finely written book to be mangled in the narration like this is a shame.
I can only endorse all the positive reviews from other readers. This book is a masterpiece, and David Horovitch's reading is superb. I will be re-reading this book many times for the pleasure it provides on so many levels.
Anyone interested in Che the man and Che the revolutionary, Latin America, the CIA, or international politics and dirty tricks, will enjoy this book. The authors present a well researched and ultimately compelling case for what happened to Che and who was involved. An interesting, informative, and sometimes unsettling read, with excellent narration by Kevin Free.
Blake is a fascinating character and his life, thinking, and motivations are explored and presented in this well-written account. The era and historical context of the events are also explored so the book is both history lesson and biography as well as a ripping yarn. Blake was a highly intelligent and quite charismatic man who lived an exceptionally full and often exciting life with some nail-biting episodes to keep the reader enthralled. A fiction writer couldn't have created a more complex protagonist or a more interesting plot. Full marks to the author on every aspect of the book, and to Michael Tudor Barnes for his very competent narration.
I always take first person accounts with a grain of salt, but read this as light relief from my usual serious reading agenda. It was an interesting picture of talent, the quest for stardom, and the distorting power of money and fame. The ins and outs of family and love affairs are always titillating but for me, the book is most informative as a social history of being gay in the pre-AIDS and post-AIDS Western world. Early in his life and career Liberace had no choice but to remain in the closet and, once the pretence was established, what could he do but maintain his stance and deny the rumours? It is a sad indictment of prejudice and persecution of gay men. How different Scott and Lliberace's lives would be if they were born now - if not fame/notoriety, at least more freedom to be who they are than they could ever have dreamed of.
I was glued to my iPod for this book. I wasn't sure of the outcome of this trip by Shackleton, and I knew nothing of the detail of the voyage so just had to keep listening to see how they all fared. Alfred Lansing's telling of this great adventure brings all of the characters to life and, drawing upon the diaries many of them kept, readers are with the group every painful step of the way - their physical, emotional, and inter-personal ups and downs, as well as their suffering, ingenuity, and triumphs. Shackleton shines as an outstanding leader, a most impressive man who rose to the occasion and displayed all of the qualities essential to keeping his men together and driving on to the end against the odds. Simon Prebble is the perfect narrator and his accents and voices for the various men help the reader keep track of who's who.
This book will be of interest to anyone living or working in London, or tourists with a serious interest in history, art and architecture. It is full of anecdotes about the various characters who frequented Whitehall from Wolsey to present day politicians and it held my interest throughout. But I don't think I would have finished the book if I hadn't had a computer nearby all the time so I could find illustrations or photographs of the buildings. It's really hard to visualise the rabbit warren of rooms in the Tudor establishment and the changes which were made to them. Same for discussion of sculptures and architectural changes over the years. Frustrating, too, that so much of what the author writes about is not open to the public - fair enough, it's the seat of government, but there are loads of treasures we will never see. The book was well read, but is Georgiana (Duchess of Devonshire) really pronounced George-ay-na?
This book has everything for the true crime fan - gripping story, suspense, emotional involvement, well told, beautifully read. I was left with just one question which I can't spell out in much detail because it would be a spoiler - after suspicion was aroused, nothing was mentioned about anyone having concern for the safety of the girls.
This is another very good Alison Weir book. If it does nothing else, it provides a look at the familiar world of the English court from Edward IV to Henry VII through the eyes of Ellizabeth of York who lived and suffered through it all. There is not a great deal here which is new, and there is a lot of 'probably' and 'possibly' and 'it is likely' and so on, where there is scant or no evidence. Still, it is worth reading for the female perspective and it will be a must-read for Alison Weir fans and anyone interested in this period of English history. Maggie Mash did a fine job with the foreign words and Spanish accent, and her ordinary English voice is easy-on-the-ear. I did find her 'male' voice not so easy to listen to, even though it was appropriate and well done. Perhaps Weir should have relied less on direct quotes and paraphrased more. My only real gripe is Mash's phonetic pronunciation of 'ye' when it means 'the'. The use of 'y' instead of 'th' was simply a printer's convention - 'ye' as the definite article is pronounced 'the'. Did nobody on the production team know this?
There is not a lot one can say about Cry, the Beloved Country which hasn't already been said. It is a classic, and deservedly so. If some of the sad scenes and inspiring moments don't bring a tear to your eye or a lump to your throat, you're a tough cookie. I was sorry to read a review saying that Michael York's pronunciation of Afrikaans words/names and his Afrikaans accent were poor. I am a stickler for correct pronunciation in the languages I know, and many an otherwise good Audible book has been hard to finish because the narrator mispronounced words or names. But I don't know Afrikaans at all, so I wasn't aware of this shortcoming and thus I thought Michael York's reading was just wonderful - he conveyed all of the emotions of all the characters, his timing was perfect, and his Stephen Kumalo voice brought the old priest right into the room with me. Michael York didn't just read the book, he acted the story and the characters, and I loved every minute of listening to him. I know I will often return to this book, both for the wonderful story and for Michael York's beautiful narration.
Anyone who enjoys true crime and/or Ann Rule will enjoy this typically Ann Rule re-telling of a series of ghastly murders. The only difficulty for me was that there are so many young victims their lives and deaths tend to blurr, despite the fact that Ann Rule deals with each of them separately and with sensitivity and respect. So many sad lives, so many tragic endings, and one man who got away with it for so long. A gripping story well told and well read.
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