Close your eyes and picture me smiling.
That is me after finishing this book. I was so very satisfied, pleased, happy. I think this book is fantastic.
McCann has perfect dialogs, be they set centuries earlier or two years ago. His books do demand that you pay close attention, but they deliver a message that is worth the reader's effort. He skillfully interweaves historical events into fiction. His characters come alive. Every single sentence has a purpose. His ability to put the reader in another time or place cannot be improved upon. I absolutely love his writing.
You may choose this book to learn about the Abolitionist Movement or Suffragist Movement or the Good Friday Accords or Transatlantic navigation or to understand how "there isn't a story in the world that isn't addressed to the past." What does that tell us in how we should live our own lives?
I listened to the audiobook narration by Geraldine Hughes. Me, I love the Irish dialect. Perfect.
After a bit more than four chapters:
I continue to have a hard time with this. I find it extremely depressing. There is humor, but it is not the kind I like. It is sarcastic, mean humor where you are supposed to laugh at the stupidity or crude behavior of people. I protest; I like to laugh with people in happiness, not at people for our weaknesses. There is a priest that is demented and he wants to hear confessionals so he can hear what is going on and then he tells others. Now I don't think that is nice. Sure it might happen in the real world but how often? There is Miles' alcoholic father who continually throws out cruel, snide criticisms of his son and others. Miles' mother has died of cancer and her death was painful and horrible for all. I find this depressing. I am not avoiding the reality of life, but what is the purpose of sinking myself into the worst of man's behavior.
Mid-life crises kind of bore me.
None of this is a spoiler since I have not gone far into the book.
Neither have I even mentioned the prologue which was utterly disgusting. I don't find it appetizing to read about a decomposing moose, even if it leads C.B. to make a foolish decision - BTW, here I am just guessing. Let me point out that I never shy away from gruesome events in history, but what is the point here in reading about how people behave so cruelly to one another? What does that teach me?
There is absolutely nothing exceptional about the writing; the author's ability to depict an emotion, a place or an event is just plain ordinary.
This received a Pulitzer. Would somebody who loves this book explain to me why I should continue reading. I just do not understand. SHOULD I continue? I need advice.
After 14 chapters (about half of the book):
So I continued; several said that Tick is a fabulous character. She plays a larger and larger role starting in Part Two. She cannot save this book for me. I find the humor not to my taste. I find the characters black or white - cardboard characters. It is simple to make two piles, the good ones and the bad ones. I cannot accept such characterization. People are complicated; they cannot be sorted in this manner. And the dialogs sound like those perfect for a popular weekly television series. Perfect sitcom dialogs.
In desperation I went and read spoiler reviews...... No, what is coming is not up my alley either. Enough is enough. I will be reading no more books by Richard Russo. This is my third and last try.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Ron Mclarty. That was the only thing that was exceptional. Great narration. His intonation perfectly matched the lines. So if you want to read this book don't hesitate to choose the audio format and this narrator.
Peter Batchelor narrates my audiobook! There are at least ten or twelve characters that return over and over again. He narrates each of them with a different voice so you can hear who is speaking. However in places the recording isn't the best; here the words were difficult to decipher.
Dickens is disappointing AGAIN. I have recently tried Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol. I will give this a fair try, all through to the end, but I believe it will be my last Dickens.
Everyone gushes over Dickens so maybe an alternate view is good to hear occasionally too. I find it wordy, alternately cute or sentimental or downright drippy. The characters are simply not complex enough for my taste.
I can conclude that I liked this one better than the others I have read by Dickens. Why? Because by the end I had come to care for the characters. I knew who they were; I could guess how they would behave given a particular situation. Some I disliked immensely, with others I chuckled over their peculiarities and others I alternately ached with them and smiled with them. The variety of characters presented was wide; this was entertaining. I cannot deny that Dickens wove a story of a group of individuals that became a close knit group, and the reader comes to know all of them well. All are important for the story, and all are different.
You do see how life was for those of the lover classes in Victorian England. A struggle.
But the story is extremely predictable. When Agnes enters the story at the beginning of the book I knew immediately where she was going to end up at the end. And Uriah Heap! You know when he enters the scene what role he will play, not the specific details of course, but almost. He is so very slimy.
There is another serious problem with this book. David Copperfield is looking back and telling us of his life. So guess what, much of the action is told rather than shown. Isn't that a widely acknowledged no-no?!
If I had to pick one word to describe the book? It would be CUTE I think it reads like a fairy tale. You are alternately supposed to feel a wide gamut of emotions - anger, happiness, fear, satisfaction. And how must it end? Don't expect a story that will get you thinking.
By the book's end I was happy. So very cute. How can you not smile? Through much of it however I was alternately bored, wished there had been a better editor and was successfully predicting what would happen next. So I am afraid I can only give this two stars. It was OK. Sure, read it if you are in the mood for a cute story, a long cute story. I didn't waste my time. I know now clearly why I feel as I do about Dickens' writing.
This is partially autobiographical, but how accurate is the relationship with his wife?!
I definitely liked this book and it is definitely worth reading.
Its topic is the death of a loved one, seen particularly through the eyes of a young child. Monica, the author, speaks of her father's death when she was nine years old in 1963, the same year Kennedy was assassinated. How did that death impact her own life, her siblings', her mother's and her uncle’s? You follow first the days, then the seven months and finally the two years without Dad – the "Dad-less days". This is touching, but never maudlin. The author also makes you laugh.
I liked very much following this good, religious family of Catholics. Few books talk about GOOD, upright families with high morals. Definitely refreshing. That is not to say they were faultless. Some of the adults certainly pulled whoppers, but these were good if ordinary people.
This book will also take you back to "Memory Lane" - the 1960s, the death of Kennedy and life in a small, American town, in this case Mexico. Yes, this IS a small town in Maine near the border to Canada. I didn't realize how many in the area spoke and breathed French. This is the town of Oxford Paper, that shiny, smooth, glossy paper we all recognize from National Geographics. Do you remember the song Big Girls Don't Cry, the TV show Mr. Ed, the Talking Horse, the school game Red Rover, pedal-pushers and tootsie rolls and....it will all come back when you read this book. To at least some of us.
The author narrates her own book. She does it well. She delightfully sings the lyrics of those songs, the oldies we remember so well.
This book is true to life and serious and fun too. Pick it up. Read it.
So this was a Tolstoy...... Hmph, the story doesn't say much except to reiterate how difficult and painful death can be, both physically and emotionally. The story is way too short to establish empathy for Ivan Ilyich! He was a judge. A game of bridge was his favorite amusement. All his life he conformed to proper decorum, becoming with age aloof and irascible. What was the point of life - both he and the readers may ask?!
The narration by Walter Zimmerman was certainly not bad, but it didn't add anything.
Yes, a gem! Why I found it amazing and thus worth five stars is explained below in the partial review.
I will only add here a bit about the book's setting: Georgia, 1944-45. You see the world through the eyes of 12 year old Frankie, or F. Jasmine Addams. SHE, not I, will explain to you why she appropriated this name. Not only do you see the emotional turmoil of a preteen but you also get the racial tensions in the South and the tension created by the War. We know it is 1944 from the simple line that "Patton is driving the Germans out of France". One line and so much is said. No long discourses on history.
Do you remember when you were caught between being a child and an adult and belonging nowhere? Alone....and the world is a scary place.
The narration is fantastic; it is read slowly, with feeling, and it is easy to follow. Wonderful Southern dialect.
After part two of three OR after three fourths of a 6 hour audiobook:
Lend me your ear for a moment please. I consider myself pretty hard to please. For this reason I tend to prefer non-fiction because then I tell myself I will at least learn something if the writing disappoints, if the story fails. But the most stupendous books are those of fiction where the writers create a marvelous gem all from NOTHING. They create a tale from assorted words and how they string them together, their imagination and their ability to capture human emotions that we all share. So when I run into astoundingly beautiful writing, and by that I do not mean "pretty" but rather writing that speaks to us all, that has the ability to to pull us out of our own existence and allows us to share common experiences and emotions, now that is something else. THAT is what Carson McCullers does in this book. Fantastic writing.
Do you remember your preteens, when you didn't feel comfortable in your own skin, when the whole world changed over night and all was frightening? Physical changes and emotional changes that throw you off balance. Do you really remember that period in your life? Here it is again captured in writing.
Don't read this. Listen to it narrated by Susan Sarandon. Stunning performance.
Don't miss this audiobook.
Yep, I have listened to " The Heart is a Lonely Hunter". This is even better!
All readers must agree that the flipping back and forth between different time periods makes this book more confusing. I believe it must be said loudly and clearly that the current fascination with multiple threads and time shifts is only acceptable when they add something to the story, when employment of such improves the story. In this book they do not improve the story. Perhaps jumping from one scene to another can increase suspense, but must one also flip back and forth in time? In addition, more and more books are made for audios, and this is not helpful when you cannot flip back to see where you are. Finally, time switches unnecessarily lengthen the novel.
Secondly, be aware when you choose this book that the book is not only about WW2 but also a diamond that some of the characters, quite a few in fact, believe has magical powers. Those who possess the stone will not die, but people around that person will come to misfortune. This is all stated in one of the very first chapters; it is not a spoiler. This aspect of the book turns the story into a mystery novel. Where is the gem? Who has it? The result is that you have a heavy dose of fantasy woven into a book of historical fiction. I have trouble with both fantasy and mystery novels. Maybe you love them. (I would have preferred that the diamond was woven into the story as one of the objects stolen by the Nazis.)
Let's look at how the book portrays WW2. It is set primarily in Brittany, France, and Germany and a little bit in Russia and Vienna. Its primary focus is about what warfare does to people, not the leaders, but normal people. I liked that you saw into the heads and felt the emotions of both Germans and French. Some of the Germans are evil but you also come to understand how living in those times shaped you. To stand up against the Nazi regime was almost impossible. There are some who try. These events are gripping. You also get the feel of life in Brittany versus Paris. They are not the same. I enjoyed the feel of the air, the wind in my face and the salty tang on my lips in St. Malo. I do wonder to what extent my appreciation of Brittany as a place is more due to my own time there or the author's writing. Am I remembering my own experiences, or am I seeing it from the words of the author? I am unsure about this.
In any case, I was very disturbed by the blend of fantasy with gripping WW2 events.
The events of WW2 are those portrayed in every book. If you have read about WW2 in numerous other books of fiction or non-fiction you will not get much new. Rape by Russians felt like the author had to include this simply so it could be to be togged off his checklist. I do think the book moves the reader on an emotional level. You get terribly angry and shocked, and this is achieved through the author's writing, his excellent prose.
And this is what saves the book – its prose. The descriptions of things and places, the particular grip of a hand, movement of a body and what characters say. Very good writing. Beautiful writing. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you feel that wind on your skin or the touch of a shell against your fingertips or smile at the oh so recognizable words of a child. Children often see far more than adults, but they also talk in a clear, simple manner. What they say is to the point - could that diamond be thrown away? Of course not. As remarked by one of the French children, "Who is going to chuck into the Seine a stone worth several Eiffel Towers?" Even if the gem has dangerous powers!
People love reading about kids and one of them here is blind. Who wouldn't be moved by such!
The narration by Zach Appelman didn't add much, but neither did it terribly detract from the story. I appreciated how he read some lines with a beat, a rhythm which matched the cadence of the author's words. Pauses were well placed. French pronunciation was lacking.
Oh my, once I got going I told you what I felt. I believe this book will be popular, and many will like it, but not me.
Just as the book description clarifies, through this book Hardy criticizes the three institutions - marriage, religion and education - during Victorian times. Although I agree with his criticism, he exaggerates; he finds example that go beyond a fair analysis. Some of the characters are good and some evil, as in all novels, but Hardy goes beyond this and throws in characters that are mentally instable. Their behavior cannot be seen as a just criticism of the inflexible morals, rules and beliefs. A better criticism would have been achieved through more stable characters.
I have nothing against depressing books, but this is excessively depressing and frustrating beyond words since the characters cannot make up their mind. Talk about vacillation! It was tiring to see how they make a decision and then changed their minds, not once, but over and over again. Yes, such rigid institutions can force people into craziness, but not to the extent portrayed here. These people would not even be happy in less restrictive times, and thus Hardy's message loses impact.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stephen Thorne. I was not pleased with the women's voices, and you could not tell who was speaking. The tone was disagreeable, but so were the characters.
I liked Jude, but felt such pity for him. It is hard to see a man so crushed by life, and his choice of women could not have been worse.
I might try another book by Hardy.
All descriptions of this book state that its themes are the Jim Crow South, the Harlem Renaissance writers and the civil rights movement. The book starts in 1910 and ends in the 60s.It follows one black woman, Easter, from her childhood in the South, her time up in Harlem, skims the intervening years and then ends up back in the South again. Yes, the book does cover those themes, but there is another central theme that is not mentioned. It must be mentioned – sex. If you are going to feel uncomfortable reading about various bizarre lesbian relationships, well then look elsewhere; this theme plays a very prominent role. I am fine with lesbian relationships that focus upon the loving relationship; it is a love like any other between two individuals. I think both the heterosexual and homosexual affairs are added to this story to pique the readers' interest, to shock, to add spice to the story. I checked internet to see if the sexual tidbits were in fact historical details that had to be there to portray the historical content correctly. No, pure fiction! From my point of view they detract from the story.
Too many parts of the fictional story were too bizarre and too revolting for my taste. I felt no empathy for any character. The book is short and covers the important events in Easter's life. You are not given her internal thoughts; you watch her actions.
The reader is given information about the writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
I think it all comes down to this: I didn't like how the author told her story.
One star means I do not like a book. IF I cannot bear to listen to it to the very end how can I even say it was even OK? I have listened to seven of thirty-six hours of the unabridged audiobook version translated by Tobias Smollett and narrated by the talented Robert Whitfield/Simon Vance. I cannot continue. I have given this enough of my time. My good friends know that I often will struggle through a book that is displeasing me. Why? To give it a fair chance; some books do turn around. My patience is tested to the limit with this book. In addition, let it me noted that even a superb narrator cannot save a book if you don't like how it is written. Robert Whitfield does a fantastic job.
I found the book tedious, extremely wordy and repetitive. It is a composite of many stories relating the escapades of the knight errant, Don Quixote, and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza. Don Quixote is always, in every story depicted, the idealist, a worthy knight bent on fighting for good and honor, fighting for women and men who are unfairly treated. He is fighting against all injustice, in whatever form it may be. That is all fine and dandy; but he is delusional and sees injustice, inequity and dishonor where it does not exist. He is an honorable man fighting against problems that in fact do not exist. In contrast, Sancho Panza offers us the realist's interpretation of events. (That they see the world differently does make their friendship all the more wonderful!) Each story/episode introduces the reader to new characters, new events, but there is a huge similarity in what is to be drawn from the separate stories. I do not enjoy short stories so I am not the ideal reader for this book! If you do enjoy short stories it may be enjoyable to listen to one, laugh at the humor depicted in the events and the naivety of Don Quixote and smile at the wonderful friendship one sees between the knight errant and his squire. Then put the book aside for a later time when you feel like listening to another story. However do keep in mind that the message imparted is to all extent and purposes the same in all the related stories.
The stories are cute, the lines are humorous and the book well depicts Spanish society and ways of thinking in the early 17th Century. It was published in two volumes, the first in 1605 and the second in 1615. To quote from Wiki: "Don Quixote is considered the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, and one of the earliest canonical novels, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published."
But I personally have had enough. This is in fact the second time I have tried to read the book. My grandmother had a wonderful hardback with great illustrations. It attracted me, I tried to like it, but failed that time too. That was a good fifty years ago.
I am NOT judging the book. I am telling you merely how I personally react to this book. Yes, it can be seen as amazing, as a break-through piece of writing, but it is not with this criterion I rate books.
It is not good when you start a book and don't believe in the feasibility of the characters' first actions. These actions didn't fit the characters' personalities. Once this feeling was lodged in my head I could never throw it off. The characters, their relationships and their actions were not credible.
This is a book of historical fiction that depicts the first years after WW2 in Germany. The setting is Hamburg and the year is 1946. What saved me from giving the book only one star is the accurate and interesting description of the situation in Germany at this time. It was split into four zones, controlled by the English, the Americans, the French and the Russians respectively. The political tensions between the nations are emerging.
The dramatic ending is cinematic in tone. It was NOT to my taste. Talk about unbelievable! Talk about cute! Talk about tying up all the strings into a neat little bow! This book has in fact two titles: the second is The Picture Book, and that is the more appropriate!
I don't mind sex in a book, but every darn relationship was propelled by sex. This too was not believable. Did the author do this to attract contemporary readers?
I liked the historical but not the fictional content of this book.
(The narration by Leighton Pugh was fine.)
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