Absolutely. This book was first written as a monthly serial over 20 months. Twenty episodes for 20 days perhaps. Or, if you are like me, you'll forgo sleep and listen to all. Then listen again, several times over, to catch the parts missed whilst dozing the first few times. Dickens writing is meant to be spoken. Hilarious characters beautifully exaggerated - or are they - abound here. The most decent of characters. And the most vile. My greatest reason for recommending this book is that the two readers really demonstrate Dickens intent when he gave Bleak House two narrators, the unknown onlooker telling in the present tense; and Esther, around whom all of the stories are woven. Poverty, wealth, class systems, skullduggery, robbery and murder are all given centre stage. Personalities galore.
Lady Dedlock is perhaps the most intriguing to me. I don't understand her loyalty to her awful husband, Sir Leicester Dedlock. Perhaps it's gratitude that he married her despite her past, though he knows nothing of it. She's awful. She's snooty. She's breakable. She's smart. She's discerning. She's drawn to beauty. She's conceited. Her husband is quite a bit older and very wealthy. Her deceit is so complete that she believes it herself. Most of the time. An occasional sensitivity is revealed.
Narrator Sean Barrett is witness to the events that run almost parallel to Esther's own memoir. Both readers were called upon to animate, and maintain, the voices of a huge variety of characters. Sometimes the voices are whining and irritating. Sometimes, seductive and warm. As are the characters. I particularly enjoyed Teresa Gallagher's interactions between Esther and Charley, the thirteen year old orphan girl who leaves her six year old brother Tom to take care of their baby sister while she goes to work as a laundress and is later employed by Mr Jarndyce to be Esther's maid. Her portrayal of Esther's voice throughout is easy and confident, warm and chatty at times. Formal at other times. Thoroughly enjoyable. Sean Barrett's dialogues between Lady Dedlock and Mr Tulkinghorn, given the opposing attitudes of the adversaries and the undercurrent of intent, are excellent spoken civilly in a respectably soft volume. But it is Sean Barrett's own voice as the narrator that is most commanding.
Take your chances in the Court of Chancery
Many hours of thoroughly enjoyable listening.
I love that it gave a clear view of the French Revolution and an understanding of the celebration for the people's storming of the Bastille. Dickens opening page that it was the best of times and the worst of times, gives a clear picture to the two opposing sides of this bloody history, when the good side descends into the worst of human behaviour.
It opens with the very best lines, that sum up each point along the continuum of human history. It ends with the best line of all: "It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known."
It begins with one and that continues to the last line of the book.
Huge competition but perhaps it's the battle of equals when Miss Pross and Madame Defarge confront each other.
As page one tells, this book could be written for any time in human history. The same brutality and injustice exists in our world today as it did hundreds of years ago. Dickens provides these deeds with a smattering of humour in both main and secondary characters. His wit is certainly razor-sharp.
Just a few cringes in the text and in the readings pulled this from a five to a four. It is exceptional, nevertheless and I recommend it to readers of a range of genres, particularly readers of genealogy and historical fiction.
I loved the parallel narratives. The protagonist of The Winter Sea is a character-writer of historical fiction in the present. The fictional protagonist of the character-writer is an adult orphan girl who lived three hundred years earlier. Genealogists will enjoy the searches for ... our place ... in time ... and in location. And what a location - the coast of Scotland! Winter! The line is not sharp between then and now. 'Then' is always in the author-character's mind until the book is complete. Her mind will be peopled by present day folk and those from hundreds of years past. I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling that I was making discoveries as they were made by the author.
Rosalyn Landor's reading is exceptional. She does the quick laugh of a man taken by surprise, better than any of the male readers I've listened to. Her male, Scottish voices are thoroughly convincing. I will look for other books that she has read. And I see there are a lot of them!
This book carries all of the emotions from chaotic fear to calm resolve. I was angry, frightened, happy, grieving, resolved, thrilled. It's all there.
I loved almost everything about this book, in particular its style. The parallel narratives gave clear contrasts and allowed the blurred edges of human nature to translate through hundreds of years.
It's not the very best, but certainly very good.
Best of all, I love its history and the fact that I'd never heard of it! Nor of its author, whose name must be American, I thought. Always happy to learn. Wikipedia sold this book to me. First published as a book in 1860 London, it was written throughout 1859 as a serial for monthly or weekly newspaper.
From Wikipedia: "It is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is widely regarded as one of the first (and finest) in the genre of 'sensation novels'." This sentence convinced me: "The use of multiple narratives draws on Collins's legal training, and as he points out in his Preamble: 'the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness'."
At the time of purchase, I was researching family history in England and Australia during the 1850s. What better way to gather a feel for the class and gender inequalities of 1850s England, than through its fiction. I wasn't disappointed.
The readings were exceptional. I absolutely detested the sound of the most loathsome male character in the book. Likewise I detested the voice of the superior house keeper of the property and her inability to distinguish between nobility and decency. Where each participant is given the time and opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted, the bore or the shrew will be difficult to tolerate in an audio book. As it is in life. Sigh.
35 hours would be difficult at a sitting but I must confess that I do have my books playing night and day. These readers use the nuances of the language rather than volume to control the variations of pitch, tone and accent.
I'm surprised that it wasn't heralded during struggles for women's rights, votes and legislation. Maybe it was. I missed it. I'm glad that I've found it and I do recommend it.
To some friends, yes. The book gives insight into the Taliban and its parts in Afghani history through the eyes of the illegitimate daughter of her father's housekeeper, banished from his household when her stomach began to swell. I usually take a lot of convincing when a male author tells a story through female eyes. For this novel, I am grateful. It will be a long time before we begin to see the wonderful creativity of Islamic women who have survived under such misogynistic regimes as the Taliban.
Mariam is my favourite. From her utter belief in the goodness of her father who visits every month, until the day a life-changing betrayal defines her incarceration. Her endurance and practical world-view provide the courage for the ultimate sacrifice. Her courage and determination are to be celebrated. To read this book is to experience rage and murderous hatred of faceless, landless men. To read this book is to feel powerless. To read this book is to feel utter joy for the opportunity of friendship. And the most gut wrenching part about the book is that women are living just like Mariam. Right now.
I haven't heard her read other books.
This is not only the best title for this book, it's the best title!
There is joy on every page. It never balances the anguish that is also on each page. If you live books as I do, you will cry and you'll laugh and you will rage, rage, rage.
Brilliance and Obsession
I loved the humour although Christopher has no sense of humour. He's very intelligent about his Aspergers and knows exactly what he likes and doesn't like.
Christopher - the maths genius and the detective.
I wouldn't change it. Fifteen year old Christopher who attends a special school and as Asperger's Syndrome, wrote the book. Any title that he didn't choose would be wrong.
Mark Haddon knows this syndrome extremely well and it is an entertaining story that also helps when we come across people who are fixated on things at times. Patience is the first attribute to call upon. Clear and precise honesty are required when interacting with a person like Christopher and this story presents the unfortunate consequences of misunderstandings and the need for absolute truth.
A Beautiful Metaphor
Perhaps I'd compare it with the Irish novel A Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry and read by Stephen Hogan. Both are stories about the end of life and a review of the life that is ending. The one reader is used for two voices in the Secret Scripture - a 100 year old woman who has been locked up in a psychiatric hospital since she was 40. The other voice is that of her psychiatrist who has to review her due to the public outcry that some patients should never have been "held" as they are.
Water for Elephants has two readers. The younger Jacob Jankowski is read very well by David Le Doux. John Randolph Jones reads Jacob in the nursing home at age 90, or is it 93? Some voices are absolutely perfect for a character. This one is. I go and listen to him over and over.
The books themselves could not be more different. A Secret Scripture spans the entire 20th century Ireland. Water for Elephants uses the protagonist's adult life as a circus vet to present, in many ways, the difficulties involved in catering for the needs of the aged. Just like Water for Elephants. Geriatrics will always need more than you can give.
The use of the two voices is a wonderful vehicle to carry such complex stories.
No. Do they have others?
Oh yes. As I age and face a nursing home future, I understood Jacob's distress at never having proper food. But they have this mush that has all its nutrients. Jacob wants a pot roast. And something to bite and crunch. Many moments and the brilliant ending were the most poignant for me.
But the horror of horrors was the repeated beating of Rosie the elephant with a big hook that ripped through her leathery skin.
In the early 20th century there were more travelling circuses than there are now. People stayed working in them for their whole working lives. It's a whole separate culture, that circus existence.
Beautifully written and wonderfully read. The time shifts from the young Jacob to the old Jacob were easily melded.
The best ever.
Evanjalin is a continual surprise throughout the book. She's gutsy, independent, fit and ruthless to her own detriment when she believes there's a need.
All characters were read as the author wrote them. Tom Wren trusts this author completely. His voice reading this text has the music and rhythm of poetry. Frankly, they are all excellent.
Yes. Over and over. I've just begun listening 4.
There are so many beautiful quotes to call upon from this book. A short one repeated several times is this: “Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best.”
― Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock
And a longer passage: “Finn, listen!" Trevanion said, his voice raw."I prayed to see you one more time. It's all I prayed for. Nothing more. And my prayers were answered. Go east, I'll lend them west."
"We have a dilemma, then," Finnikin said fiercely. "Because I prayed that you would grow old and hold my children in your arms as you held me. My prayers have not been answered yet, Trevanion. So whose prayer is more worthy? Yours or mine?”
― Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock
Beautiful prose, dialogue and plot from the writer until character challenges and growth are replaced by the christian god who solves all. Characters don't call upon their own inner strength to overcome mountains and face responsibility. They remain weak and pray to their god to fix it all. What a disappointing end to a wonderful story. Prosletyzing at the expense of character development is a huge disappointment. BUT christians will love it, I'm sure.Is it possible for audible to put a religious tag on appropriate books please so that readers can make a knowing choice.
No - they feel as I do about prosletyzing. We all find no challenge in prayer and god fixes all. We believe the characters have to fix themselves.
Oh - that was perfect! Truly outstanding. I do hope that I will find her reading other books. Her voice remained at the same volume whilst the tone, inflections and pitch altered and that maintained an interest and awareness of the population within the story. There wasn't a single moment that I was jarred out of the story by this reader.
Yes. The writing is excellent and gives clear snapshots of locations and people.
Please make preachy books identifiable. A book I loved, I couldn't finish because the characters were exactly the same at the end as they were at the beginning. Their only difference is that they found a god that enabled them to take no responsibility for anything that had come before or since. When a character is relieved of taking responsibility, that character doesn't grow. It achieves nothing.
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