Brooks puts the reader right into the middle of a 17th century English village that has been struck by the plague. Based on real events, the story recounts the village's decision to seal itself off from the surrounding countryside in order to contain the sickness. The first person point of view is from an intelligent, thoughtful young widow who keeps sheep and works as a maid to the Rector and his wife. The bitter conflicts and heartbreaking effects of the rapidly spreading deadly illness within the town come alive in this riveting story. The author is the narrator and I can not imagine a better performance. This is an emotional story that kept me awake late into the night listening.
I usually love Patricia Wentworth and I usually rate her books 5 stars. I consider her as good as Agatha Christie--an intelligent, interesting writer of Golden Age mysteries. Unfortunately, this story opens with long, agonizing lists and descriptions of complicated family relationships. A central character is tracing his many relatives and choosing some of them to come spend the weekend. The relationships are quite labored and unless you are insanely into genaology (not your own) you may find this deadly dull. I tried and tried but could not get past this indigestible clump of relationships. ANY of her other books are vastly better than this one. Latter End is a particular favorite of mine...The Fingerprint, Lonesome Road, Through the Wall---you can't go wrong with these wonderful titles if you like an old fashioned classic British mystery, but I cannot possibly recommend The Catherine Wheel. The usual reader reads this one and she is great. But not enough to save this dud of a tale. So sorry!
This is an amusing and well narrated story based on Jane Austen characters. The writing is mostly fine, but there are some lamentable lapses in diction, for example, a character says: "The thing of it is..." I find these stylistic lapses inexcusable. Even a single read-through of Jane Austen's novels should be enough that the author would know to write "The plain fact is" instead of "The thing of it is..."
That said, lovers of Jane Austen will probably enjoy this lively story that features many of the familiar faces of Pride and Prejudice.
This is a "village cozy" in the tradition of classic British mysteries. It is well written, with fully developed characters in a wide variety of personalities and tones. The plot is complex and even a touch bizarre, but all the dots connect at the end. I highly recommend this for people who enjoy Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. The narrator is top notch.
Not a towering literary feat, but a good strong story that I thoroughly enjoyed. Wonderful writing about impressionist art and forgery techniques. Art lovers will particularly like this book, but even if you don't think of yourself as an art love you might want to try this---it could well turn you into a fan of the impressionists. Highly recommended.
This well written fantasy places a Jinni and a Golem in turn of the century New York City where each is taken in by a member of the burgeoning immigrant community. Each is stranded by circumstance in this alien environment, compelled to conceal their magical identities, struggling to live with dignity and meaning in a situation where their magical abilities must be hidden with extreme care. What a great premise for a book! We see them assessing and grappling with the social and cultural conditions of humankind in this particular time and place. Many readers will enjoy this book.
I stopped listening about half way through despite all the book's good qualities---and excellent narration by George Guidall--because I found the character of the Jinni increasingly repellent: egotistical, selfish, and emotionally cold as ice. I kept comparing this book to Jonathan Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand, in which a demon is summoned by a young wizard and forced to interact in the human world. He is a demon, but he has abundant charming qualities: funny, witty, and at heart a force for good in the story. To create a "good" demon, Stroud created a character who is not consistent with the classical definition of a demon, and to this extent one can say that he "cheated" in order to make a better story. The author of The Jinni and the Golem has not "cheated" in this way with her Jinni. The Jinni's character is consistent through and through with a god-like being that has existed for thousands of years without any moral compass. And maybe, if the author had made him into a character whom I loved to hate, it would have worked. However, his behaviors do not inspire an enjoyable hatred in this reader--nor do they inspire any affection. He is just depressing to spend time with.
The Golem on the other hand is a sympathetic character---and so are many if not most of the human characters. I wonder how this story will turn out. Will the Jinni develop a heart? Will the Golem find the friendship and a sense of belonging for which she yearns?
The narration by George Guidall is typically wonderful.
A childhood of pampered luxury does not prepare Frances to be left penniless and friendless on the death of her father after his business fails. In desperation, she marries a young man whom she despises. This man brings her to South Africa, where he is trying to build a medical practice. We are now in the milieu of the 19th c. diamond boom, in which unscrupulous white men exploited the Africans without mercy. Just as Frances begins to make some tentative steps towards contentment in her new life, her husband is transferred from a field station where he inoculates people against small pox to the city of Kimberly, a rough town built up around a huge open pit where the workers are beaten, tortured, and routinely crushed in the unsafe mining conditions. To Frances' dismay, her husband is an outspoken critic of the mine-owners' corrupt treatment of workers. His speeches and articles put both of them at risk for their lives.At this point, Frances makes the disastrous decision to reach out to a man with whom she had an affair on the boat from England. Readers recognize this man as a stinker through and through, but Frances' characterization is done with such skill that we understand and almost sympathize with her.This is a good story, a vivid historical novel, and a fun romantic narrative. It is not among the very great historical novels like Amitav Ghosh's Sea of Poppies, but it is thoroughly entertaining and interesting, especially in its evocation of mining in South Africa. The narration is absolutely terrific.
I should just add that some of the love scenes are fairly explicit.
In earlyish 20th century England a young and ambitious actress is victimized by political and sexual politics. From this evil deed a tide of murder and revenge is unleashed. The egotistical, striving world of film is evoked in wry observant tones as we meet various eccentric characters, most of whom have deep secrets. For lovers of British Golden Age mysteries, this will be pure catnip! Superb narration.
Author Edmund Crispin writes in a vein similar to Ngaio Marsh---interesting, quirky characters, a murder victim everyone hates, a baffling mystery, and best of all great use of language. It is a sheer total pleasure to bathe in this cascade of vivid writing and witty turns of phrase. The narration of this audiobook is perfect. If you like these mid-20th century British mysteries I think you'll enjoy Swan Song.
Combine witty, literate writing and a cast of idiosyncratic actors putting on a play in Oxford, and you have a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable classic British mystery. I loved every minute of this story, which is particularly enjoyable for the colorful characters and their interactions with each other. The narrator is perfect.
A button-downed, dreamy New Englander marries a driven Korean woman, who feels duty-bound to buy a deli for her mother to manage and run. The husband is the narrator of this wonderful true account of culture clashes and heart meshings. It's also a fascinating inside glimpse of the microcosmic world of the ethnic-run deli---the place all of us New Yorkers depend upon in our various neighborhoods for newspapers, coffee, and snack cakes. There's a drama behind every single one of these convenience items. The narrator is phenomenal, capturing Korean, Black, Middle Eastern, and Boston Brahmin accents with seeming effortlessness. I absolutely loved this book.
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