I normally don't bother to write reviews on books I didn't love, but I feel compelled to make an exception in this case.
The narrative is beautifully written and I can tell that the author has a real love for the sounds of words - but there is just too much narrative and not enough story for my taste. There didn't seem to be any likable characters - or maybe it was that the narrator's performance kept them from being interesting. I found myself frequently having to go back and listen to sections again in order to tell which character was speaking. I slogged through the entire thing, but I'm not sure why I bothered.
This may just be one of those books that is better on the printed page than it is as an audio book.
I would have selected a single narrator - one who could invest themselves in each of the characters. Alternatively, I would have had each of the multiple narrators stick to a character, so that each character could have a unique voice.
Several times in the story, the main character, Dinah Kirkham, is described as having a "Lancashire accent" - although you couldn't prove it from the narration. Each of the narrators who read Dinah's words gave her a different voice & only once or twice did that voice have anything but the narrator's own (American) accent.
Otherwise, the story was excellent. The book describes what life was like for early Mormons, but makes no attempt to proselytize. The author does a fine job of fleshing out each character. By showing the characters' struggles - physical, emotional & intellectual - the author lets us see them as real people.
Even though this book is 12 years old, the story is still completely relevant - and hilarious - satire on office life. Even the issue of "second-secondhand smoke" is currently in the news (as "thirdhand smoke"). The idea that when Management returns from a seminar, it means "a new acronym, sensitivity training & more paperwork," certainly still holds true.
I loved everything about this book, from the references to past fads, to the unfortunately-chosen acronyms, to the 42-page "simplified" forms. The narrator - Kate Reading - captures all the characters perfectly.
This is a novel in which all the main characters are actual historical figures. The story itself is quite good - but almost completely due to the subject matter. The time around the turn of the 16th century in Italy is rich in events, political intrigue and fascinating characters. So I almost hate to say that I wasn't captivated by this audiobook.
The story is told from the viewpoints of sisters Isabella & Beatrice d'Este - two of the most influential women of the Italian Renaissance. It focuses on their relationships with their politically powerful husbands, with each other, and (marginally) with Leonardo da Vinci.
Perhaps if I had read, rather than listened to, this book, I might have had a much different opinion. It's possible that the narrator - even though she seemed to be a good reader - lacked that certain spark that makes for a great audiobook. The characters all seemed to run together & at times, I'm afraid I lost track of which sister was "speaking."
On the plus side, this book made me want to know more about each character & their actual histories. So my overall experience with this book was a positive one.
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