If you could live your life over time and time again, would you/ could you ever get it right? That is the central question of this book. The next question posed is if this ability to relive your life would be a gift or a curse. This is a book of fantasy and historical fiction. It poses philosophical questions concerning how life should be lived.
Atkinson's writing is clever, both the questions she poses and her ironic, satirical, sarcastic and often sardonic humor. Don't expect good-natured laughs based on happiness. It is solely because of the writing that I have chosen three rather than only two stars.
The book is confusing. Not only does the reader jump back and forth in time but also into different versions of the same story, the point being that there is not just one story. The stories overlap at points only to later go off in different directions. The reader must continually figure out if they have been dropped into a different version or a different time period of an earlier version. In addition, many characters are not introduced. When they are first mentioned you have not the slightest idea who they are.
By the end everything is interwoven. Picture a twine of yarn that is split at several points, each strand going off in different directions. The reader hops back and forth to different segments. Is there one "correct" ending? Is there one preferable ending? Is it possible to choose the final destination? Most importantly, what is the message of the book? Was the message worth the confusion? In my view, the answer is no.
I thought the author magnificently described life in London both during the Blitz and after the war. I enjoyed the segment set in Obersalzberg, at Hitler's residence Berghof, near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany, meeting up with Eva Braun. This IS a book of historical fiction. Events of both WW1 and WW2 are covered.
The audiobook narration by Fenella Woolgar was exemplary. Irish, British, American and French accents are all perfectly executed. I believe the audio version further enhances how people of different cultures "think".
You must keep a paper and pen nearby to jot down the date of the episode you are listening to. In addition, I recommend you read this book quickly; if you read a little each day you are sure to get lost! Good Luck!
I am in the middle of moving from one country to another, so I just do not have the time to write a decent review of this excellent, marvelous book! Please, if you are at all interested in either history or amazing people grab this book soon. On closing this book the reader truly understand the atmosphere that swallowed up America during the era of McCarthyism and the Cold War. The reader comes to understand Oppenheimer - his creativity, his imagination and his failings too. The list of the latter is long, but boy do I admire the guy! There is so much I could tell you about this man who I knew nothing about before I read this book, except his label as the the "Father of the Atomic Bomb".
I don't regret reading "Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon", but the two don't compare! You in no way need to read one to read the other. The first is about the bomb, the Manhattan project and spying, but this about Oppenheimer is about the person and his era.
I listened to the audiobook read by Jeff Cummings. I have no complaints with the narration. Read the book or listen to the book. You choose, which ever suits you best. Just don't add it to one of those never-ending lists of books that you don't get around to actually reading!
Yes, I liked it, but if you stop and analyze what happens you over and over find things that just do not make sense! That wouldn't happen! That is unbelievable! If I give you examples, I am going to wreck the book for you.
Contemporary authors seem to think readers today no longer want a book that runs in chronological order. They all have to flip back and forth in time. Here we start in 2003 and then flip back first to the 50s and then to time periods closer and closer to 2003 when Edward is in his 70s. We learn retrospectively why he has become who he is. This flipping is not difficult to follow, but tell me, what is gained by this manner of writing?! Nothing as far as I can see.
Did I care for the characters? No, but they felt real. Edward is self-centered, egotistical and detached.
Do you get much history? No, even if some well-recognizable people (Churchill, Nehru) flash by! That Edward saw the American destruction of Japan (specifically Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hiroshima) with unforgiving eyes is not ever explained. He writes a book about it, but why he felt so moved is left unexplored. More could have been done with this theme.
What the book does excellently is beautifully draw for the reader the ambiance of a place - NY, London and Japan (around Tokyo). Mostly the latter two. Edward is Scottish. The Japanese characters feel Japanese. The American characters too. All the dialogs are perfect. Over and over I thought, "Yeah, that is exactly how a Japanese would talk to a foreigner." I have been there. I have also been to the places where the story is set, outside Tokyo. Everybody that goes to Japan will visit Kamakura and Hakone. On a crowded train near Hakone we were given painted toothpicks by a Japanese man. Given, they were a present from someone I did not know. You feel that the description of the places is genuine. However, I am a little unsure if my own memories make the lines more enjoyable for me than for a reader who has not been there..... How much have my own experiences added to the author's lines?
Japanese value beauty. This is an important theme of the book, and this is spot-on.
If you are curious about Japan or have been there, I think you will enjoy the book. I did.
One word about the narration by Nick Cheales - excellent! He perfectly captures different accents, Scottish, Japanese and American.
On completion, all I will add to that written below is that I adored the ending. This IS my favorite book by Hemingway. Hemingway has illuminated friendship and love in a beautiful and also honest manner. Note, this is a love story, a wonderful love story that rings true. Nothing false here. If other authors could write love stories like this, romance would be my favorite genre.
Although fiction, the book is in fact written about real people and real events, and it has an autobiographical basis. Check out Wiki when you have completed the book; no peaking before! I found Jake very attractive. I will include just one quote from Wiki: "In the novel, Hemingway presents his notion that the "Lost Generation", considered to have been decadent, dissolute and irretrievably damaged by World War I, was resilient and strong." When you finish the book you have glimpsed French and Spanish life in the 20s. You feel you have yourself vacationed in both France and Spain. Need a vacation? Read this book. I absolutely loved it.
I am nearing the end, and I am absolutely loving this. Yes, even the bullfighting fiesta. It goes on for seven days - rockets and dancing and music and crowds. And yes of course drinking. To remove that would be absurd! Me,I am the one to faint in a crowd and have done so at a 4th of July parade, so this fiesta should not be my kind of thing, but here, in this book, you see why it is so loved by the Spanish people. You, the reader, are part of their festivities and understand and f-e-e-l their excitement. Back away two steps and your inhibitions rise up, but while reading Hemingway's lines you are there in the middle, and it is glorious and frightful all rolled together. Hemingway shows the horrors of it too, so the reader gets a rounded view. Not all Spaniards love bullfighting, even back then in the twenties.
And a word about how antisemitism is portrayed. Yes, one of the characters is a Jew, and yes he is disliked, but really it is not for his religious beliefs. It has nothing to do with that. This book is about friends and all the currents that lie underneath a friendship - jealously, competition, disgust, petty annoyances, sharing, camaraderie and caring. Be honest, friendship is NOT so simple. Much of the antisemitism is pure bluster.
William Hurt does a marvelous job with the narration, but it is not perfect. Tut, tut, tut, what do you mean, William? Shame on you! Not every line is perfect! (For clarity - I AM being sarcastic.) The French and American voices are perfect. I mean perfect! Dialogs between different friends succeed in that you know exactly who is speaking. Even if a female voice or the Scottish and German dialects could be improved, you still easily know who is who! And the pacing and strength of the lines describing scenery, the mountains, the fields, the color of the sky are wonderful too. Perfect narration? No. Good? Yes! And this book is not easy to narrate.
I have just begun, but I am sucking up the atmosphere of Paris in the 20s. All are plastered - that is, some Americans and French and Italians and Greeks. I am listening to a narration by the w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l William Hurt. There is no way I could imagine the lines spoken with all these different accents as well as Hurt narrates them. Sooo perfect, particularly the French and American, the others accents give an amusing contrast! The mood of that time and place, Paris and expatriates and booze and bars, 1924, is delightfully portrayed. I don't mind the macho lines at all. They make me laugh and giggle. Sooooooo Hemingway!!!! Good stuff.
And I am not a boozer, but this I enjoy. You can live vicariously through books ...... without yourself having a hangover the next day!
Please let my enjoyment continue.
I know this book contains misogyny, homophobia, and some antisemitism too, but a good author can handle difficult themes well. Oh yeah, yucky bullfighting too. We will see how I feel at the end.
I think this will be my favorite book by Hemingway!
Although the author expresses herself well, the book needs editing. Too many events are thrown in in an unclear fashion. The author’s family is large and I could not keep everyone straight, other than the author’s mother’s seven half-siblings, at least when they were identified with their given name. A “mother” is spoken of and you wonder is that the author’s mother or her mother’s mother or…..which mother?! There are wives and cousins and friends and enemies galore. Few had the same opinion about a given event. The whole story becomes confusing, and it is unclear what information is reliable. Squabbles and drinking influence everyone’s story. And yet, in any family, don’t we all have different versions of the given events?
Life in South Africa is also thrown in, with some brief sections on Nelson Mandela and a few other political figures, but what is the purpose of this book? Is it to relate how historical events affect families? No, I don’t think so. Is it the author’s attempt to understand her mother and her own family? She says that is why she is writing it, but then why does she say she will return but doesn’t?
Or is this simply someone writing a memoir about their family? Ahhhh, this will make an exciting book! I’ve got a story to tell. Everyone nowadays wants to write their own memoir. The basic story here is about a dysfunctional family, about alcoholism and sexual child abuse, and yes, the events are shocking. My guess is that the author needed to work through her own loss of her mother after her death. That IS reasonable, and it IS great to hear of her mother’s strength of character, but I see this as a personal story, not one that I can empathize with. Maybe that is my fault rather than the author’s, but that is how I reacted! Maybe the author through writing the book reached closure, but do you write a book and publish it when you are doing this for yourself? I, the reader, am left confused and without closure. This book will perhaps be more appreciated by one who has dealt with child abuse and alcoholism in their own family…… for them, this may be a helpful book.
In the audiobook the author reads her own book, and she does this very well. She has a British accent, since her Mom had her after she had immigrated to England. England was her home if never really her mother’s. It is interesting: kids should realize their parents have had a whole life before they ever arrived on the scene and often we know very little about that previous life. Do we ask and do our parents tell us?
I did like this book, but it should have been better organized, made less confusing and cleaned up a bit, so for me it ended up just being OK. Often, but not always, I did like how she strung together her words. How an author writes is important to me. Some authors have such a talent and others just don’t. I do think I would try another book by this author.
The only reason I originally gave this three rather than two stars was that:
1. it accurately describes the deplorable way we today deal with old age and sickness in MANY countries of the world, and
2. not all blame was heaped on the government. People are who they are and unfortunately we often fail in coping with sick and/or elderly in our own family.
The book was realistic. In its realism I found it terribly depressing.
All I can say is that this book made me miserable. I cannot deal with stories about dysfunctional families. I get frustrated and unhappy. When you read stories about how people have a hard time because they get caught in a war or a storm or genocide, you watch them fight to survive and you feel a bit of hope for mankind. These characters are strong and have fought for survival and at least some have succeeded. When you watch how normal people are mean to each other you only get filled with despair. I don’t know what to do with my unhappiness when I read such books, books like this one by Robinton Mistry.
The events described were very realistic, it is not that I am criticizing. I am in fact not criticizing the book in any way. It is about the importance of family. I mean look at that title! You learn about life in Bombay in the 90s. Corruption – there it is in one word. Life is a struggle for so many. Poor health care and no social network for the aged. This book is about not only the importance of family, but also about aging and how the young and old have so much to teach each other, but the message is clear that we rarely have the energy to stop and learn from each other. We are too busy just getting through life day by day.
Did I learn anything? Well maybe a bit about Parsi traditions and culture.
This book makes me thankful for living in countries that provide good health care and a relatively good social standard for ALL.
Martin Jarvis’ narration of the audiobook was excellent. Really excellent. Each character had their own intonation and you knew who was speaking just by the tone.
I have absolutely no complaints with this book, but I cannot give it more than three stars. It is a war book. It describes in great detail exactly what happened to George Company at Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War. As such, it depicts many individuals' experiences and so you do NOT get close to any one person. I prefer books that draw me close to the thoughts of one or just a few individuals.
The audiobook's narration by Lloyd James was good.
How do I put this one into words for my review?! It was gooooooood. A goooood novel. Not high literature, but damn it all I enjoyed it a lot. Exciting. It starts with great historical details of life in Paris during WW2, then the excitement builds and builds and builds. Parts are gruesome, but the ending left a big smile on my face. Yeah, tons of fun.
But I have to tell you this: the narration of the audiobok was t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e…..by Mark Bramhall. I mean his French and German dialects were laughable. And you are not supposed to be laughing. He cannot do women’s voices either. I mean bad. OK, when he is just relating straight events, not dialogs, you can relax. The thing is, the terrible narration did NOT affect my appreciation of the book. I make a huge effort to distinguish between the writing and the narration of a book. Good book, but lousy narration. As usual, I am rating the book, not the narration when I give those stars.
There is humor. There are historical details. The book captures the French and how they looked upon the Nazi occupation of Paris. Some French were no angels. Collaborators and those of the Résistance, they are both here. Very realistic. Some women were great and others despicable. Some French were great and some Germans too! :0) Yes, you get architecture too. Classical and Bauhaus and ….oh you have to read this fun, exciting, scary and amusing book. I loved, absolutely loved the ending. It is a novel! I do not want to tell you more than that. Otherwise I might spoil your reading experience.
Please note that this book has received awards for its excellence for young adults. I was hesitant at first because I was looking for an adult book covering the science and history on the making of the first nuclear bomb and about Robert Oppenheimer, the father of that first bomb. This book is not in any way childish. It gives a clear and concise history of all the events. I am completely satisfied with the book. It is an excellent place to start. Having read this you want more details, more in-depth information about the main characters. I prefer starting with a background of the entire event before plunging into a book focused on Oppenheimer himself. Now I want to know more about this man. He is fascinating; first he makes the bomb and he is at the same time one of first to be aware of its dangers! I have already begun American Prometheus by Kai Bird, a biography focused just on Oppenheimer.
I gave this book three stars because I like it. It reads like a good Wiki article. It has all the prominent facts. This happened and this happened and then this. One event after another. You get a picture of the path toward the making of the bomb, its actual construction and the political environment of those times – WW2, the race for the scientific knowledge and McCarthyism. It is amazing how differently the people spying for the Soviets were punished….and why each thought the Soviets should have this knowledge.
Having read this book, I now can easily go further. There is little character analysis in this book, and that is what I am looking for in my next book on this topic. You certainly cannot start your education in the tenth grade…..now I have prepared myself.
Concerning the audiobook narration by Roy Samuelson, it was excellent. He doesn’t over-dramatize the lines or the events. They are exciting in themselves and do not need extra emphasis. Good speed and clear enunciation too. I can highly recommend this as an audiobook.
I suggest you read the paper book b/c it includes the author's note. I did like the story! VERY interesting in fact!
I actually enjoyed listening to this. It was OK, but......
This is one of those books definitely improved by its narration, very well done by Sile Bermingham! Great Irish brogue, and the different women all sound unique. Still, when you look at the book as a whole, you are left rather flat. What does it give you? A "cute" telling of the Irish immigrant story in NYC. Not the early immigrants, but the ones that came in the 60s. Family life and friendship between workmates. What was the sandhog experience like? The job of the sandhog, digging the tunnels for the water pipes of NYC, that too. Half of the book is about the life of Irish gypsies, the "walking people" and life in rural Ireland. Sister relationships, and aging, serious accidents and who exactly is the true mother, the birth mother or the one who raises a child? All of this is covered - some parts flow better than others, but all these different parts are patchy. There is humor and sadness. The poignant end could have been improved. Was the part about Alzheimer's really necessary? You start in 2007, flip back to the past and then go forward to 2007. The book was OK, and certainly very well narrated.
I have chosen to read this book for two reasons. First of all I really liked Mary Beth Keane's Fever, so I have to read another by this talented author. Secondly, when I listened to the sample of this book by the author I both loved the narration by Sile Bermingham, with her wonderful Irish tone, and discovered it begins with a section about NYC sandhogs. Sandhogs is a term used for the Irish, Italian and West Indian immigrants that first dug the tunnels between Manhattan and Brooklyn. So.... I think illogically that the book may be similar to Colum McCann's This Side of Brightness, also about sandhogs! I loved that book, except for its stupid ending. I know this is all rather illogical; I will not get a a continuation of McCann's book, but still it might be good.
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