Moreover, the narration makes the situation worse.
We're dropped "in media res" as it were, and expected to keep track of all the many names bandied about; the closest I could manage was to distinguish new ones, from those previously introduced. Core family consists of a widow and her (three) daughters, along with a some people who are "adopted" as close family friends by the kids, even though they've never met them, with stories of their doings sounding as though the family sees these (unknown) people regularly. Reading a print book one might be able to keep better track of which character is which, but the audiobook keeps rolling along so that by the end of a long bus ride to a further part of town my ears were glazing over. At first I had thought the action was set in the 1930's, but by the end it seemed much earlier; I never got an idea of the ages of the kids either, assuming roughly that the oldest was university age, the middle (through whose voice we hear the story) a high school student, and the youngest in later grade school? The father apparently died when the latter was fairly young as she has no memory of him at all. All very confusing. I'll spoil the ending by saying that if you hate endings like " ... and then she woke up" you won't be happy here.
As for the narration ... an American reader making (almost) NO attempt at anything British at all! Had they been specifically an expat American family, who'd relocated to London later, that might be barely tolerable, but they're not. Instead, it's incredibly confusing hearing an American voice blithely quoting prices in "bobs" etc. I believe the name Chisholm is pronounced "Chizzum" rather than CHIS-holm, the spectacles without ear pieces are called "PANS-nay" rather than "PINSE-nezz"; and yes, Ms. Allen butchers Leicester Square entirely. And on, and on.
I'm not from the South, but Erin Clark's Georgia accent brought the book alive for me; her Russian one was great, too! Story veered a bit into chick-lit territory for me at times, but overall I was busy getting into Cherry's sense of humor. I had wanted to know more about she and her siblings live with the grandfather, but enough was alluded to that I figure it can come out over time in future stories.
The characters weren't very sympathetic, and there wasn't all that much of a plot exactly, just inner thought. Moreover, the religious angle was clearly Greene justifying his conversion to Catholicism in a heavy-handed, awkward manner. Colin Firth's narration was excellent, but couldn't "save" this one.
He's a right wing fanatic. Had I known that, I wouldn't have bought this book.
Clayton has been accused of "whinging" in other reviews, but I felt that she was presenting the many times that things went wrong as humorous. She has plenty of nice things to say about the people and places she encounters, while the actual sailing mishaps have to do with being rookies at the game. One aspect that I did find dated concerned their mad hunts for accurate weather forecasts, where today a smartphone would work fine. Bear in mind their trip was over a decade ago, reconstructed (quite well) from her notes.
Pamela Garelick's narration works so well that I had to remember it wasn't Sandra herself telling the story directly to the listener. I'm looking forward to hearing the sequel.
Having been a great fan of the Two Fat Ladies cooking program (as well as admiring Clarissa for her sense of humor in doing an episode of the comedy series Absolutely Fabulous), I looked forward to this one, and wasn't disappointed! In a (roughly) clockwise manner, she focuses on most (not quite all, avoiding metro London itself) English counties, giving an overview of how each has fit into her life, as well as historical and culinary highlights of the area. Narration may not be technically top-notch, but the author does do inflection well, especially in terms of dry humor. One odd point is that there's no final, concluding section at all; the book just ends rather abruptly.
While the book stands alone, I'd recommend reading the first story before this one to get a sense of Apelu's world. Frankly, the cultural notes, and scenery description, carry the story, rather than the plot. Moreover, I was never really fond of Apelu himself, who seemed rather self-congratulatory about being such a decent, loyal guy; I found myself chuckling as he's called out on that near the end. In the previous story, he relied on help from a savvy female (sidekick) to solve the crime; I was sorry that the journalist from that one doesn't appear here, but a mysterious Samoan-speaking Caucasian widow does the job well.
Phil Gigante's audio narration fits well for the series.
Paul Shelley is one if those "I could listen to him read the phone book" narrators as far as I'm concerned, and a good thing, too, as the story itself never got any traction. I've read other reviews that there's lots of humor here; I think I laughed once, perhaps twice. Also, there's mention of a theme of redemption, or not giving up when things seem hopeless. Well, that's true in a sense, but not really as far as I'm concerned, as Polly's ability to "start over" came through less-than-honest means. As far as what to expect specifically, the first part of the story opens with a miserable protagonist at middle age, and then flashes back to his childhood and youth, not as grim as David Copperfield's, but I saw echoes of that novel in it. Once we return to the starting point, Polly contemplates doing himself in, that plan goes awry, with him leaving his unhappy home to seek new adventures. Ho Hum.
Think of Sister Bertrille and Carlos from "The Flying Nun" (set not that much later in an "exotic" tropical location also) and you'll get the idea, though that's not an exact parallel. Sister Conchita is very much the pre-feminist model of the early 1960's, dodging bullets, engaging generally in events more suited to Mrs. Pollifax than the Singing Nun. Sgt. Kella, the local bi-cultural (between two worlds) super cop, didn't impress me all that much; then again, I find "dual identity" angst grating in general. The one character whom I particularly liked was Father Pierre, who'd lived in the islands for many years, and was suspected as having "gone native" in his respect for indigenous beliefs. Cardboard British officials, and nasty, violent villains round out the lot. Still. I'm not sorry I bought the book, just that I don't see myself going on with the series. So, this one's recommended At Your Own Risk if you're interested in trying out a series set in a remote locale.
As a note on the audio narration, Price-Lewis does a decent job with local and English voices, but her American repertoire seems limited to a Boston accent for Sister Conchita that sounded almost Brooklyn-ish to me. She re-uses almost the exact same voice for the two American males who appear later in the book, making them seem almost cartoonish, especially since one is an academic, and the other specifically identified as being from Chicago.
Really should be a straight 2.5 stars, as the plot wasn't lame enough to actually give up on, and the narration was overall tolerable. Ellery and his visiting Scottish cop pal seemed more like the Hardy Boys than Nero Wolfe and Archie. Recommended for folks who might be looking for something light to pass the time; otherwise, if you're looking for an actual mystery to become invested in, no.
A long generation after Franco, the book really didn't much explain the Spanish character to me; the country has changed too much. Travel narrative section at the end was the strongest, while I fast-forwarded through all of the discussion of bullfighting (yuk!) and most of that concerning the character of Don Juan. Audio narration was okay, although Jackson's Spanish accent wasn't the greatest.
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