My five and seven year-old sons love this audio book. I've tried to read the Pooh stories aloud (there is a knack, which I don't possess) so we all appreciate the excellent narration of these stories. Also, this is a great bed-time selection, as the pace and action are gentle.
These are not too babyish for young grade school listeners -- the language is much more sophisticated than in the Disney videos, although the characterizations are similar.
This book is built on over reliance of period detail. The author seemingly took two events that were easy to research (San Francisco earthquake and JFK inauguration) and built stories outwardly from that, rather than upon interesting characters. Claire's story in particular is full of endless minutia about the food, the clothes, the furnishings of the early 1960s that the resulting story is very thin. Anchored by their settings, the characters fail to become interesting on their own.
As others have noted, narration is a coin toss. I didn't mind her but she is. very. precise. and. enunciates. every. word.
I was surprised how much I loved this book. The story is old fashioned and a little choppy, but the main character is so decent and likable it's hard not become engaged with her life decisions.
When I was young, I was a big fan of boarding school stories this book is from the perspective of the head of such a school. Another plus for me.
If you're looking for a gentler type of book, but not one that's insipid, I highly recommend this.
If you have ever read Nancy Mitford's wonderful "Pursuit of Love" you'll find a clumsy homage in this book -- and some elements are practically identical. Other inspirations for this book seem to be the mediocre "Maisie Dobbs" series, the "Poor Relation" series and Dorothy L. Sayers. I'm not saying that authors cannot be inspired by other works -- but these echoes distract from what could be a more singular experience.
Regarding the book itself, the mystery takes too long to get going and Georgie isn't a strong enough character to carry the novel part of the book. If I hadn't read the above books, I'd probably like this one more.
I found the reader very hard to listen to. Regardless of the book's action, all the dialog and narration seems to have the same choppy, semi-intense cadence. This is the first time I've encountered this phenomenon but it made the book almost unlistenable, for me at least.
This is one of my favorite Inspector Wexford books. While the book was written in the mid-80s, the story holds up very well today.
One of the beauties of Rendell's work is that while her characters grow and develop, you don't have to read the books in order. There are no spoilers between books.
The narrator is well suited to the story and to the character of Wexford. (I don't like all the narrators for the series; I wish Michael Bryant was available for more.)
Note: the narration on the actual file sounds better than the preview.
This is one of my favorite Ruth Rendell books, and the audio rendering is terrific. John Lee is the best Wexford narrator, in my opinion.
The story has complexity, and the central characters are particularly rich in this book. You don't need to read the Wexford books in order (no spoilers between books) but the characters do age and evolve over time, which makes the Inspector and his companions much less like cardboard cutouts and more like real people who happen to have jobs solving crimes.
The fact that I've re-listened to this mystery more than once is indicative of the appeal of a great main character (Robyn Ballantyne) and the great reader (Kate Reading.) Robyn's story is equally -- if not more compelling -- than the mystery that is at the core of the book. I wish Catherine Sampson would write another beyond the two books in this series. I would get it in a snap.
I've listened to this complex book several times; it's that good. A rich and rewarding story.
It's also a book where the narrator brings so much life and depth to the narration that it is equal to (and I might even say superior to) the printed work, which I also read. Jameson does a wonderful job with the characters and nuances of the story.
What a delight to have these books to listen to, for both children and adults! Enright is a skilled, observent writer and her characters are REAL --nevermind that she wrote these books more than 60 years ago, the children are just as engaging and relevent today. The Melendys have varied interests and are great sibling role models without being unnatural. If you want a family story that everyone will enjoy, this series is a great place to start. (My only reserve is the "foreward" is a bit dull for those who don't yet know the books, and should really be an "afterword".)
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