atmospheric, foreboding, emotional
It had to be Tess even though I wished she could have fought more for the things she wanted. She was a pure soul and a hard worker at the same time.
Simon Vance is always good. Here he rendered dialect excellently and even made the descriptions of rural life interesting
I was so relieved that I don't have to spend the winter digging up turnips in the rain and snow, and that women have more choices and control over their lives today.
I am a fan of 19th century fiction such as Dickens, George Eliot and others, so it was interesting to compare this. For someone not familiar with the era, they might find this slow going.
Yes, these books are all sort of the same but I don't care. I hope Spencer Quinn keeps writing them forever and Jim Frangione stays on forever as the voice of Chet. I was on a trip last week, exhausted and jet lagged, and I couldn't focus on a print book or a more serious audiobook. I put this on and immediately was smiling and chuckling.
Chet and Bernie are in a new setting here of Washington DC and of course they immediately run across a murder. But what really matters as usual is the wonderful relationship between man and dog, and the great dog's-eye view of the world.
In a way this is a typical Ian Rutledge mystery, with the long shadow of WWI cast over events. There are some interesting minor characters introduced. But Rutledge's struggles and the presence of Hamish (most unusual sidekick ever) are less featured. Simon Prebble is always good though I found it hard to distinguish some of the many characters by voice.
I don't know who would be more envious, 21st century kids or 21st century parents, of a time and place where kids, aged 7 to at most 14, can sail real boats, swim, camp, build fires, use knives, etc. with no adult supervision for days on end. The kids know they are responsible for everything and they live up to the demands. Sure, this is fiction, but it is based on the author's childhood. These are the people who would grow up to deal with the Battle of Britain, air raids and rationing with the motto "Keep Calm and Carry On".
The kids also have great imaginations, and the girls are just as good at sailing and climbing as the boys, which is very impressive for a story from the 1930's. One of the girls, whose name was probably Letitia but goes by the (to Americans) unfortunate name of Titty, is always the first to suggest bloodthirsty adventures.
I'm not sure why a woman narrates, as the author was a man and the kids are of both genders, but it works fine. Apparently some British listeners disliked the narration as too much like a governess, but I thought it was good, and she was able to keep the voices of the various characters distinct.
The story is told by Maude who is increasingly suffering from dementia. Talk about an unreliable narrator! But because we hear what is happening in her brain, we understand that everything makes a kind of sense, other people just don't see those connections. This book made me want to be more patient with and interested in my aging relatives.
The narration is brilliant. The great Davina Porter captures the many sudden mood changes and confusions while keeping the heroine relatable. Also there are parts of the story that are early memories, and Porter changes her voice enough so that she is still Maude but a younger one.
When I first heard about this book, I thought "I can't handle ANOTHER story from WWII. But the reviews said it was "luminous", "extraordinary", and that it dealt with the relationship of two young people during the war. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that their intersection takes up maybe 5 minutes of the book. And I wish I had listened to my original concerns.
One theme of the book is the spiral as seen in shells, drains, etc. and the book structured in the form of a spiral. A number of elements start out far apart and as the story circles around and repeatedly comes back to them, they get closer and closer together until they reach the point of connection. A clever idea, but I think it would have been more effective if the author hadn't started the book with a scene from almost the end, then gone back to show how the characters got to that point, while sometimes interspersing scenes from the "present". I don't mind that the book isn't linear, though some readers did get confused, especially in audio. But since we know the direction the story will go, and we know how WWII turned out, there's not much suspense. I felt more dread - which manifestations of the evils of war will these particular characters have to suffer through before they arrive at the scene that opened the book? (cold, hunger, betrayal, illness, loss?)
There are a number of big questions addressed and they aren't subtle. What is free will? What is courage? What is the power of human communication, human knowledge, and human imagination? What is guilt and what is innocence? The more the book went on, the less its characters seemed like real people to me and the more they were symbols.
The narration was fine, and the narrator handled the French and German pretty well but it was so slow that I ended up using the double speed on my iPod, which I've never done before. Sometimes I wished I could have speeded up even more. That's an indication that the book was not grabbing me. For audiobooks I usually want them to last and I want to savor the performance rather than get through in a hurry.
Please check out other reviews as most people loved this book and its writing. Maybe I just need a longer break from any book involving Nazis!
As a Midwesterner I enjoyed the setting of prairie and small town. Someone said the subject was the angst of 30-somethings, but I'd say it's more about the universal experience of never being content with what we have, envying someone else, not knowing they are envying you. It's about the age when people look around and wonder if this is how their lives are supposed to turn out. And it's about figuring out what is really important in life.
I usually don't care for books with multiple narrators because I will hate at least one of them but in this book I thought all the narrators were excellently matched with their characters. The one female character may have been less effective, but I think that's because the male author didn't give her as much depth as he did to the men he created.
It may be unrealistic the way some of the characters described the land in such poetic terms, but I thought it fit in just fine.
A large part of the book is comprised of emails between Jennifer and Beth. I assume they are supposed to have different personalities, but the narrator made them sound exactly alike, at least to me. I'm not sure why I didn't pick up on this with the sample as it annoyed me in the first 5 minutes of the book.
It wasn't awful, but only mildly amusing. It wasn't the mail format that was the problem for me. I loved The Boy Next Door narrated by the inimitable Barbara Rosenblatt and also the Shopaholic books which contain a fair number of letters, emails, etc. Those made me laugh out loud and I'm sure this one could have with a more versatile narrator.
This is an excellent example of a book I would never have read without Audible and all the great reviews. I'm not really interested in science, engineering or space BUT in my opinion that's not what this book is about. It's about human beings and the human spirit.
I would have listened to this in one sitting if I could have. I couldn't tear myself away! The narration was perfect! I saw a couple of reviews online that found the hero's journal entries to be silly. I can see that written out, they may look that way, but on audio they are exactly right. Kudos to R. C. Bray who totally was our hero Mark.
The story is gripping and exciting, but also heartwarming. It would make a great movie. And if I were to be stranded anywhere, this is the guy I would want with me.
Remember how I said above that I wasn't interested in space? This week while I was in the middle of the book, there was a newspaper article on Mars and I read every word! That is the power of great fiction, to expand our interests and our horizons.
It takes some rather odd circumstances to get Jacky into close proximity with Napoleon himself. But the upshot is that the reader is forced to consider that war is not simple with good guys all on one side and glory as the reward.
Several characters remark that our heroine has 9 lives, it's probably more like 20, I've lost track of the many times she is at the point of dying when. . . something happens and she is saved! Ah well, that's the genre after all.
Kellgren continues to surpass all expectations. In this book, she has to indicate that Jacky is speaking French with an American accent, while continuing to narrate in her original Cockney. She also gets to do German and Russian accents for a change. Without her, I probably would never have picked up this series written for a younger audience and wouldn't have gone past one or two volumes. I only wish I had children the right age to appreciate these books.
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