I partly enjoyed this listening experience because of the readers who gave the narrative an authentic sound. Having said that, it was also at times difficult to fully melt into the story because listening to it required attentive listening, lest I misunderstand the *thick* speech. Definitely listen to the sample to determine if you can handle it. My husband couldn't make it through three minutes.
The story itself was beautiful, with rich depth and a lovely balance between characters. Many of the characters were touched upon from the POV of that character for one segment of the book, and then that person might appear in another chapter from someone else's POV, and this spanned some 60+ years so sometimes we would see the same character as a child, an adult, and an old person. Brilliantly written.
After finishing the book, I was left a little melancholy... a few of the loose ends were tidied in an unsatisfactory way. I'm not sure I would call this uplifting. Also, I will add that this is heavily character-driven and not a lot "happens." Sometimes I would be so totally bored I had to switch to another novel for a while. But when I came back to this one, I enjoyed it again and dove into it. I've read character novels with better pacing and I think this could have benefited from a better edit through some of the slower parts... having said that, I still recommend it. Good history, great descriptions of many landscapes and cultures in different parts of the world, excellent capturing of numerous characters.
Someone who likes fake accents and over-articulation.
I think the book might have been okay, I really couldn't focus on it. I originally had this as a physical book and then decided to listen to it. I should have stuck with *reading* it. Having said that, the story wasn't captivating enough for me to keep with it despite the performance, so I suppose that says something about the book itself.
A different narrator.
First: I started the novel *expecting* to like it because I'm already a Follett fan. Second: I enjoy historical nonfiction very much, so this is close to my wheelhouse... if you aren't fascinated by history, you may not enjoy this.
The basic story here is the leading up to, and the time during World War I. The characters represent German, British, Russian, and American cultures. The plot touches on love and loss, sexual choices, womens' liberation, freedom of speech, corruption and loyalty. There are a few cliches (the demanding father) and a few turns that I didn't see coming.
What I particularly *loved* about this novel was how the characters were all different - age, class, and culture. I loved feeling the story from multiple perspectives and it actually helped shed some light on things I hadn't considered before.
This was long and short at the same time. It was a long novel but it ended somewhat abruptly, and a little too tidy for my personal taste. I understand that is a set up for the next in the trilogy, but it was distracting in a way, and I wasn't totally satisfied upon the book's conclusion.
I really enjoyed this story, and I recommend it to either Follett fans, historical nonfiction or fiction fans. I can't give it 5 stars because I didn't rush out to get the second book as soon as I was done (though it was available at the time of my reading). All in all: a great, solid read... but not a new favorite.
A note about the performance: I almost stopped listening about three hours in, because I don't really care for the narrator. I'm glad I stuck it out, but I would have enjoyed this much more with a clearer speaker.
The audio version was a better choice for me, given the dialogue and accent. Ballerini is so talented a narrator my kids thought throughout the book it was a cast of people telling the story. For this book, the audiobook is a better choice than the physical book.
Any of the parts set in 1962 were so lovely. I don't typically enjoy books that skip back and forth between times, but it was flawlessly done here.
Yes and no. I couldn't wait to listen to more, but I also enjoyed stretching it out and enjoying it over a longer period. One thing is for sure, when it was over I was so sad.
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