It's long, but it's worth it. Loved this book, and I continue to think of it long after moving on.
Here's what I liked about this book: There weren't a lot of coincidences, not a lot of aha moments, and not a very forgiving attitude toward the main character.
Here's what I didn't like: The main character, the story's lack of depth, and the narration.
Regarding the narration: I felt the narrator's voice was too old for the character, too shaky, too verge-of-tears at all times. For someone who is neither an artist nor a collector, I needed to care about the characters to care about the story, and the narration left me wishing for a younger, hipper, and (while notably wronged and weak after her experiences) savvier person to take me through the processes.
Everything about this book was perfect for me - the rhythm of Walter's writing, the storylines, the closure at the end, and the narration. Not only my favorite book out of everything I've read by Walter, but my favorite book of the summer (and quite possibly the year).
I am a Patchett devotee, and rank most of her fiction in my top tier. But this morsel of non-fiction was my favorite piece in her body of work.
Ann Patchett narrates.
There's something so special about listening to the author narrate his or her own story. And here's the best part - this is more than a story. It's a bit of advice, a personal tale of bump and rise, and even though it's set up as a graduation speech, it's inspirational for everyone.
The Forgotten Garden, as with this author's other novels, is a very easy read/listen that is well-written, compelling and fun. I tend to go through periods of heavy listening to serious pieces then need to come out of the fog with light, comedic work. I transition back to the heavy like I'm headed down a staircase, and this is where Kate Morton's work always falls. Not frivolous, not too dark. I especially appreciate the pace. Where many serious, historical fiction or classic novels take a lot of time to discuss in great detail people, places, thoughts, concepts or scenes, Kate Morton's writing is always perfectly paced, non-skim-able, and does not idle where one may lose interest. Her storylines are exciting and compelling, and their lightness does not implore one to search for hidden meanings or wonder about loose threads.
One of my main reasons for purchasing any Kate Morton book is the narrator. I enjoy how she handles Morton's lovely writing - they're a perfect match.
I'm just starting the final part to this audiobook, and I'm absolutely loving it. It did take a bit to build for me much like the first in the Outlander series, but by now I can barely take time to write this review without longing to hear Davina Porter's fabulous narration of Diana Gabaldon's amazing storylines.
What seemed like such a promising story about Jane Boleyn turned out to be a textbook-style narration of people and events centered around Anne and Henry. The author involves Jane in almost ridiculous reminders that the book is titled after her -- for example, after lengthy descriptions of Anne's life and events, the author uses phrases like, "Jane would surely have seen this, and probably felt happy for her sister-in-law." There is no real story about any of the people in the book, just a descriptive timeline of sorts, with occasional references to where Jane may have been, what she might have thought about her in-laws, and what she may have worn. I'm almost finished listening and, truthfully, I don't even want to continue, as I'd rather be entertained than lectured to.
I love this series, but the narrator's voice makes me think less of a clever, witty 20-something young woman and more of a grisled, prissy old lady. She makes Holmes sound mean and boring. I feel badly for Laurie King, who deserves better! Listening to this piece has me making faces and snide retorts at the end of most paragraphs.
I read the entire Outlander series years ago, and am now listening on audiobook because of the excellent opportunity provided by Audible.com to catch up with my favorite characters before the newest book is released this fall. Since all previous books were narrated by Davina Porter, and since I had heard an interview with her describing her narration of all the books, I assumed this would be too, when I purchased it this evening. SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT! This narrator is so fast, so monotone that it is truly difficult to even follow the storyline. I'm not sure why Audible.com chose this selection as the fifth (and, I see, the sixth as well) in the series, but I'm hoping they offer the UNABRIDGED version narrated by Mrs. Porter before I'm through with this disheartening one.
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