I am in awe of how the author made this such a captivating work--He gives so many perspectives on cancer: The personal (his own patients), anthropological (evidence in ancient cultures), historical, and political, with current research and some conjecture about future directions in research and treatment. The fact that it became an instant bestseller can partly be attributed to how many peoples' lives are affected by this disease, but also by what a brilliant book this is.
Audio version is well read.
I felt I finally had a context for this book when I found out the author was a writer for "Arrested Development." The characters in this nutty mystery were not created in any mold I recognized. OK, maybe the precocious but unconventional 14 year-old Bee watching out for her agoraphobic mother, Bernadette, or the clueless, aspirational Microsoft drone, or the high-and-mighty private school PTA diva, or the consultant hired to attract "Mercedes Parents" to their school look familiar, but everyone has their unexpected edge, and I couldn't wait to hear what happened next. Oh, the situations are preposterous: the personal assistant who manages Bernadette's needs to the nth degree from India, Bernadette's hilltop manse invaded by blackberry canes, a family holiday to Antarctica--but it is all spun together with surprising credibility in a myriad of delightful voices. And all of this buoyant hilarity arising from soggy Seattle--Gotta love it!
While this book coesn't soar to the heights of "Bel Canto", its content is certainly more accessible. I enjoyed following the journeys of the diverse, and mostly believable characters in the book. In fact, I wish there was more revealed about several of them. The author interview after the book was surprising; I didn't perceive the same political focus in the book that the author seemed to think it had, but it was value added, nonetheless.
This does not approach "Atonement" (one of my all-time favorite books) in quality, but is quite worth reading. The situation is infuriating, and the ending a bit bland compared to the heart of the story, but it certainly is a compelling portrait of the clashing mores of its time (early sixties). The author interview after the book is a significant value-added feature that makes the audio version preferable to the print.
This is fun Brit-chick-lit: single London career gal approaching her sell-by date, trapped in job and affair with no bright hopes represented in either. It's got a neat, twisty plot that's not entirely predictable, nor too far-fetched. The characters are varied and fairly well fleshed out. Lots of "down with creepy men" vindictiveness, but pretty fair-minded, too. Aww, give it a go!
I don't know how much of this is the author's fault, and how much is the narrator's. I've gone back and forth on Sarah Bird (LOVED "Yakota Officer's Club", but found earlier stuff uneven), but this one won't go on my "must recommend" list. The narrator constantly tried to sound ever-so-dramatic, on the verge of tears, no matter what was happening. Sometimes it gave me a headache, sometimes it made me laugh. But mostly I gagged.
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