I don't usually read fiction so have come late to Melvyn Bragg's novels. I must say this is a book I just couldn't switch off. The story has you always wanting to know what happened next, the characters are well drawn and believable - Bragg's brilliant use of the English language is present in every line. And the narrator didn't simply read a book, he acted it. He had the right accent for each character, and conveyed all of the emotions described so well by Bragg. A wonderful 'reading' experience, it has my highest recommendation.
This is a story which everyone should know, and this presentation is as good as any I've seen. The quality of the script is well known, and these actors do justice to every word. It's a gripping few hours and it is no less relevant today than when it was written. The insights into human nature and the justice system can teach us all lessons about our prejudices and priorities and our relationships with others, and the way society works and often fails individuals. Excellent in every way.
This is a must-read book. Even if you are totally financially illiterate, you will still be able to understand the twists and turns of financial management reported in this book. It is a corporate crime thriller, with one man, Harry Markopolos, and his associates doggedly amassing evidence of the biggest swindle in modern history and repeatedly failing to get action from anyone in a position to do something about it. Early in the book I wondered whether Harry Markopolos was simply blowing his own trumpet - could anyone be so principled and dedicated and sacrifice so much of his life (and eventually his salary) for the good of others and the integrity of the system in which he worked? I looked him up elsewhere and, sure enough, he is a true hero. I kept reading, glued to the story and full of admiration for Harry. A great read from start to finish.
Unlike some other readers, I couldn't fault this book. It had well-drawn true-to-life characters, biting observations, funny and sad episodes, life crises, home-spun philosophy, strong narrative thread to connect the characters, and the added bonus of GK singing - the songs fit perfectly into the story and are interesting in themselves and really add to the presentation by bringing in another medium of communication. I loved it all - thank you GK.
This was my first GK book and it was a very pleasant suprise. GK's rambling style is unique, his characters totally believable and in many cases recognisable as someone we know (even ourselves), and his observations about life and death and human nature are astute, often amusing and often acerbic. Nobody could read it better than GK, he is simply perfect. I must confess the farcical episode on the lake at the end was way to hammed-up for my sense of humour, but GK gets to the heart of what matters in ourselves and others by being a master of observation and, of course, a master of writing. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
As a follower of the Beatles since the 1960s I really enjoyed this biography of Paul. Howard Sounes' detailed research is impressive, and I learned a lot about Paul the man, his relationships with the other Beatles, with family and friends and with other musos. The early days centred on sex drugs and rock'n'roll which became a little tedious, but once Linda arrived on the scene the focus changed and a mature and more interesting Paul emerged. Naturally the length of the book means a lot of characters and a lot of detail, but it held my interest from start to finish. I ended up seeing Paul as a decent and caring man and liking him for the person he is rather than liking his music and admiring him as a star. At the end I had just one question - why didn't Paul learn to write music? With so much musical apptitude and talent, his life might have been easier if he'd been able to jot down music as it came to him instead of waiting for a professional to do it for him. The book is well written, and David Thorpe does a great job of narration - right voice for the job and good with accents.
I really enjoyed the first half of this book - the plot was interesting and moved at a good pace, the characters were believable, there were some surprises with unexpected twists and turns, and I was keen to know what would happen next. But by the time the action moved to Australia it was all I could do to keep listening. The pace slowed, the plot was pedictable and not terribly convincing, a lot of the detail about cattle properties and outback towns was boring, and much of the format was reported speech which I found tedious. I thought that if I heard 'bonzer' or 'oh, my word' one more time I would scream. And couldn't someone have told Shute that there are crocodiles in Australia but no aligators! I know this is a novel of its time and one must accept the racism and sexism as part of society in the 1950s, but referring to Aboriginal people as 'boongs', 'gins', 'lubras' and 'abos' is so totally unacceptable nowadays that it grated every time I heard the words and it detracted considerably from my enjoyment of the book.
Robin Bailey is a first class narrator - his ordinary reading voice and accent are perfect for this story and his accents and voices for different characters are good - except for the Australian accent which is commonly considered very difficult to imitate and Bailey's attempt is yet more proof of the veracity of this observation.
This book is probably more interesting for Law students and practitioners than for true crime aficionados. I understand why the authors belabor the point about everyone, no matter how appalling the crime/s, having the right to a fair trial. Clearly a large section of the public was hostile to the idea of the apparently indefensible being defended - but the repetition of the point leaves the book sounding as though the authors' reason for writing it is self-justification and little more. Overall the book gets a higher rating that it might otherwise because of the outstanding narration by Robin Bloodworth - a truly 5-star performance.
Team Nicholas Shakespeare's gift for writing with a complex character, a mystery, and the personal interest he brings to this family tale, and you have a recipe for a winning book. The setting for most of the book is pre-war France, occupied France, and post-war France and this social history aspect is an added plus. No doubt some will judge Priscilla harshly for the choices she made, but at some points she had few options and simply surviving would have been her over-riding consideration. The book is peopled by many unlikeable and selfish (but nonetheless fascinating) characters and the glamour and superficiality of some parts contrast starkly with the despair and deprivation of the years of war and occupation. Nicholas Shakespeare reads his work well to make this a top audiobook. There are quite a few French phrases which may prove irritating to readers who don't speak French, but not enough to detract seriously from enjoyment of the book.
This is the story of Anthony Lee, with a lot of fictional dialogue and imagined thoughts imposed on the main players. I'm glad I read the book and at certain points I was keen to know what would happen next, but it was a let-down in many ways. The opening chapters tell of Philomena's ordeal living at the convent and giving up her child for adoption, and towards the end we meet Philomena again when her daughter searches for her half brother. But in between these two appearances, the book is about Anthony-Michael. This is all interesting enough, but I kept wondering what was happening to poor Philomena whose grief would have been immense, and the longer she was left out of the story the more irritated I became. I have no idea why the book title is 'Philomena' and why the book cover photo suggests that Philomena and her son are eventually reunited. To me, the publicity for the book and film are very misleading. The narration is little more than a reading of the text. The voice lacks character and the presentation is pretty flat.
This is the fascinating tale of an arch (and eventually insane) manipulator and the trusting and adoring people who followed him to their eventual death. The author recounts the stories of a number of individuals who gave up everything for Jones and his 'promised land' and these stories add immediacy and poignancy to the telling. We also learn about some who left, and some who stayed and survived. All of these stories give some idea of the way people became ensnared in Jones's net and went, willingly or otherwise, to their death. The various strands of the story are beautifully brought together and the reader's interest is maintained from beginning to end. One can only wonder at those whose faith in Jones did not waver in light of his cruelty to both adults and children, his self-confessed adultery with both men and women, and his increasingly bizarre pronouncements. Robin Miles' narration is perfect: the voice, pace, expression are all spot on for this compelling story.
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