What a wonderful opportunity to hear first hand what it is to be a world leader from the world leader himself. The book is many things. It is a study in the qualities of leadership. It is humorous and at times painfully personal and touching. It provides an intimate glimpse of the personalities other important world leaders. It is a lesson in the recent history of british politics and world affairs.
I think that the poetic quality of Robinson's writing really comes through in the narration ... especially the parts where the story is told by the main character from the past (who turns out to be an author in the book's present day). The combination of the narration, the writing style and the story really moves me ... to the extent that I've listened to this book more than a few times. I love the WWII history, the way the story moves between the present and the past, and of course, I love the Alan Banks character.
First of all, I'm always impressed when a male author can write so well in a woman's voice. This book also presents a plausible picture of what it might have been like being the wife of a well-known, recent president and also a believable characterization of the personality of that president. I felt like Sittenfeld did some thorough research and created a really believable story. For my taste though, there was a little too much graphic sex ... athough some might argue that it was important in establishing the nature of both the husband and the wife.
Aside from the intriguing storylines of the Inspector Banks series, there are two things about Robinson's writing that make me want to come back for more. He is one of the best authors that I've read in his ability to get the reader inside the head of a character. It's amazing to me how a male author can so succinctly describe the complexities of the conscious and subconscious of a character like Annie (Banks' co-worker and sometimes love interest). By the time you get done with the books, you really know who these characters are. Robinson also just writes really really well. His descriptions of the locale in which his stories take place make you feel like you are right there. For instance, when he is at home in his cottage, you are right there with him, listening to his classical or jazz music, having a smoke on the balcony or a sip of fine whiskey, and listening to the rush of the falls outside the cottage. The kind of detail that's required to get the reader so close to the characters and immersed in the story takes time, and some readers may enjoy a faster pace. As for me, I'm ready for another.
This was my first Hosp book. I liked the detective,Finn and the private eye, "Koz" although the young associate that works for Finn was a little bit unbelievable ... a little too rough around the edges. The story was interesting with some twists and turns, some great love "scenes" and some tense violent sections, but like another reviewer, I guessed the ending too. It didn't really matter though. I still found it hard to stop listening. I even brought my MP3 Player out of my car and into the office one afternoon so I could continue listening. Georg Guidall, the narrator, is one of my favorites and is one of the reasons I decided to listen to this book. He's great. Listen to the Tony Hillerman books for more of his work.
This was the first Kurt Wallander story I'd listened to and I like this character. He has so many bad habits and flaws ... he's just a regular guy. He's got great intuition but sometimes it takes him awhile to pull the intuitive thought from his subconcious. I like the way the author describes this process. The storyline was captivating. The translation was pretty good, but I wasn't all that thrilled with the narrator's over-annunciated style. I'll probably listen to another one of these.
The more I listen to audiobooks, the more I think that there are some books that just don't lend themselves to being read out loud. I think this book falls into that category. It was a unique plot and exciting to the end. However, when it was read out loud, the dramatic prose got even more dramatic and at times made me cringe hearing it. I think that having a narrator trying to give voices to these characters who are already a bit over the top on the written page was just too much. Personally, I think I would have enjoyed this particular book more if I were just reading it on a long airline flight.
I disagree with others who said this book got off to a slow start. I was intrigued by the characters and the Swedish setting from the beginning. (Although, I will say that if one were reading the book, instead of listening to the excellent narration, it might have been a different experience!) The storyline was excellent ... and there's a secondary storyline that is set aside for awhile and then resurfaces after the first storyline gets resolved. It's like you get two endings. How satisfying is that? After the first plot winds up, there are still two hours of listening to go. All in all a great "read" and I will look for the next book. The translation, by the way was excellent. I didn't get the sense at all that I was listening to a translated work.
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