Member Since 2001
This book came highly recommended not only by hundreds of Audible readers but by my sister and a friend whose opinion I value. My experience was very different.
I actually stopped reading about two hours short of the end, after completing Parts One and Two. I suspected after the first eight hours that the book was not going to get better, but so much of the beginning of the story was in a mysterious land and an unfamiliar environment that I was willing to keep on going to discover more about Ethiopia and more about the inner life of a hospital in the third world though I was becoming impatient with the poor literary quality of the story.
Had the book ended after the main character left Ethiopia I might still have thought overall it was a pretty decent story despite some rough edges. But once the main character comes to American the flaws in the narrative and in the characters became unbearable. This was especially true of the 'momentus meeting moments' when the main character encounters people from his past. This book took itself too seriously and made every encounter between major characters sound like it should be announced by melodramatic organ music.
The story goes on and on and on. Nothing is ever held back or just suggested. Everything is explained in excruciating detail, even when totally unnecessary, which is a LOT of the time. There are about five stories running through the book, the story of modern Ethiopia, the story of the adoptive parents, the stories of each of the servants, the story of identical twins and love stories and side characters that don't add anything to meaning of the story. The story of the Eritrean separatists. What's wrong with the American medical system and Medicare.
Not that any of these stories weren't somewhat interesting - but they overloaded this novel with way too much baggage to carry on such a slim structure.
And the main characters in the second half deteriorated into people whose major motivations were spite and cruelty. By the end I couldn't hear anymore, what had started out peopled by characters with decency and warmth had given way to people who supposedly were skilled surgeons but lived and interacted according to only infantile and troubled motives and only the whores had good and generous hearts. The female characters in the second half of the book are caricatures of women.
The narrator's progress was much like that of the book, started out really well, but went downhill badly in the second half of the book. His reading just got too pompous to bear although his diction is clear and I would eagerly listen to another narration by his pleasant voice.
I NEVER leave a book with only two hours to go, but this time I just couldn't waste any more of my precious reading time.
I enjoyed every minute of this well narrated and well written book. It is the basis for the part of the movie Julie/Julia that is based on Julia Child's life and it describes both her love of cooking and the delights of living in France...also the delights of EATING in France. A great recommendation for fans of France or of Julia Child."
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