Pacific Grove, CA | Member Since 2013
Occasionally, I throw in some fiction in my long line of history/biographies. I'm never disappointed. Characters are fully developed in this story of a woman who reached her goal of Harvard professor only to give it up to raise her sister's orphaned children. After they're grown, they are all still bound together by the old Cleveland manse that everyone grew up in, but can't let go of.
My takeaway quotes/
✅They would repair the leaks in their eyes.
✅They used a hard vocabulary to contain the terrible softness.
✅...all the ways I might die...
✅ A true war story makes the stump believe.
Like Downton, the protagonist is a Cora who marries into English nobility in the 1890s. Like Downton, there is a parallel story downstairs. Like Downton, there's a clash between the mothers-in-law as well as a clash of cultures between the staid and brash.
When it ended, I was not ready. I had to relisten to the last chapter. Unlike Downton, we do not have the luxury of following the next generation's story. Maybe in a sequel to American Heiress?
This author is smartly witty. The narrator is genius. His Russian accent gets fainter as the story goes along and the protagonist assimilates into the American culture.
Cuban mafia vs Fidel Castro
So much to learn. The last line said the mobsters wanted Havana to be a party that never ended but turned out to be a hangover.
The narrator butchered both the Spanish and the English, but other than that was passable as a storyteller.
I now understand Johnny Carson better, but he's sadly unlikeable.
The narrator, Dick Hill, has a whiny voice I finally got used to.
Saint Petersburg's founding
There's too much to digest.
Massie takes the time to fully introduce the peers of Peter The Great along with their countries and how interconnected they were. I never knew how powerful Sweden was or how influential Dutch merchants were. I wanted to delve into Russian history and now my favorite European historical figure is Peter because he was tireless in his effort to make his country a leader in trade, navy, and power. His curiosity in how everything worked was refreshing.
Rethinking linguistic roots
Chaucer was resurrected for me because of his genius with the language and his ingenious, natural rhyming. I just had to listen to The Canterbury Tales right afterward!
He made old English sound alive and current. And important.
Affirmed my conviction that I should have been a Linguistics major :)
Too many books in the world I have to get to!
Both instances when the characters are in the "bowels" of Siena were nerve-racking, but thrilling. My dreams that night had me in the caves under Carmel!
Narrator's Italian is lyrical to the ear. All her male characters sound identical, however.
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