Perhaps. There are nuggets of information that create interesting speculations on the impact of infectious diseases on the course of history: the rise and fall of civilizations and religions, conquerors and the conquered. Sound science. A little loopy in construction, as some anecdotes make multiple appearances in the text.
The narrator went to smile school, and read everything in sing-song cheeriness, as if reading a children's book to a slightly dense toddler. The jarring impact of hearing a voice like that talk about pestilence, cholera, devastation and death is, to say the least, distracting. Also, the mispronunciations made me wonder if there was adult supervision. Honestly, "prelate" is *not* pronounced pree-late.
On balance, if you're a science fan, grit your teeth and get through it.
This is a great page-turner with a story cleverly structured: it unpeels. The characters are wryly observed, complex and credible. It's set in suburban Sydney, which feels very much like familiar suburban anywhere, but with plenty of local color. The three women protagonist-besties have interesting relationships and conflicts with their families, the community, and each other.
The author has an ax to grind, and he sharpens his ax beautifully. It's funny and well documented, full of illuminating history from the goofy and occasionally violent days of the Mormons.
A less than stellar reading, though. Although the narrator is a likable radio host, he offers many cringe-worthy mispronunciations that detract from the flow. ("Ec cetera" is particularly jarring, as it occurs in the text frequently. If that sort of thing doesn't bother you, then buy the book.) I had to decode "cholera" when it was pronounced ko-LER-uh. I lost half a paragraph figuring that out.
I will read it again next year. And every year.
It was part of my bucket list books-I-always-meant-to-read, but it exceeded every expectation. Wonderful book, great performance.
I read it as a kind of bucket list obligation. Always meant to read it. So I did. But it was a little like work to stick with it. Paradise, as many readers know, is not nearly as interesting as hell.
This is Dickens at his storytelling best, with loads of colorful characters. But that opens the door for a great actor's tour de force. This is a compelling listen.
IF I were more musically literate and/or sensitive, I think this would be a wonderful book. While I did get a lot from it, some of the subtlety went over my head. There were many references to passages from Beethoven's works, and I simply wasn't familiar enough (not nearly enough!) to understand the commentary. The discussions of his pianist-influencers was educational, and the narrator did a fine job.
If you're knowledgable about Beethoven's piano works, you'd probably give this 5 stars.
After listening to this terrible book for one dreary chapter after another, I did some research on the authors and was not at all surprised to see that they were born in the 19th century, and died half a century ago.
This is the 1920s Oxford imperial mindset, cheerleaders for orthodox Christianity, ultra conservative and historically dishonest. This is NOT history.
Hope she's working on the next in the series. Each one gets better, and she started on a very high level.
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