As I looked through the reviews and saw the strong positive and strong negative range (with little in between), I knew I was in for a treat. Anything that draws such feelings is written with true power and emotion I find. This is not escapist reading or especially light, but it is incredibly rewarding in the wise, sometimes even elegiac, light Strout sheds on the lives of ordinary people struggling through the challenges of outwardly unexceptional lives. As is true in life itself, these folks are often frustrating, silly, misguided, and, yet, all too real. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this book as much twenty years ago . . . I think you have to have been seasoned by life a bit to appreciate the challenges we all face as the 'seasonings' of life are applied and acquired . . .
I'm not usually one to lavish praise or load on superlatives, but this book makes me want to break that rule! This was, hands-down, the best dog book I've ever read . . . I can hardly say anything without spoiling some critical plot elements, but I recommend this hands down to anyone who knows and loves dogs. If you loved Marley and Art of Driving in the Rain, you will adore this one. It does have a few moments that will bring you tears, both sad and happy ones (I was a bit embarrassed at points as I often listen to books while commuting on the bus!), but the overall experience is one of profound joy. All I can say is get it!!
A good narrative with many fascinating moments--and very well read! But, as often seems to happen with authors who have acquired sufficient reputation and recognition, the novel needed some serious editing. There are many long, long passages that add little to the narrative and seem to speak only to Mitchell's fascination with various topics. While I appreciate his erudition and research, it often became a struggle to keep going through some of the more turgid digressions. . . Do try to hang in there, though, it is a worthwhile story overall.
OK--I was about to stop after listening to it for over half of the narrative, and, looking at the existing reviews, decided to plunge back in to see if I could finish. With that said, it does have some very good moments and it is indeed fascinating, but some of the long passages of dialogue become much like being forced to overhear long and boring conversations . . . I kept losing the thread and wishing there was more detail and more variation of the pace and the structure. But, I'm going 'back in.' I'll add to this review when I finish it to say if the entire experience seemed worth it, overall . . . But, not for the faint of heart!
I really loved this book. It took me a little bit to get into it, but, by the 3rd or 4th chapter I was hooked! Both Salander and Blomquivst are great characters and very engaging--and it is a lot of fun to get a real feel for Sweden today and to realize it is not all that different from the US today! This is especially true in some of the core issues brought to light in the book. The next one in the series is downloading to my iPod as I write this review!
I think this one really spoke to me because I have a mixture of French and American backgrounds and also because I have spent too many years amongst the philosophers and hypocrites of academe. I think it may work best for people with some understanding of the vagaries of French culture and class obsessions. Or, it could be a wonderful eye opener for someone who would like to understand French culture better.
In any case, it is one of the best books I've experienced in a long time . . . and the reader was tremendous. I think I may listen to it a second time soon . . . And I hope the movie, which has recently been released in France, comes to the States!
I literally could not put down my iPod while I listened to this one. Perhaps it is because of my own life experience, half in the North (NYC) and half in the South (NC), and the fact that for my first six years, I was largely raised by a black housekeeper who gave me more love and guidance than my disorganized and stressed parents could provide. I have read much that deals with the often strained relations between blacks and whites, and I have written some as well, but I rarely have seen it so pitch-perfect and so balanced and engaging. I have been recommending it to many of my family and friends with great enthusiasm . . . .
Cook can still pace a narrative to keep you listening even as you realize it is more and more implausible and absurd. He clearly is using it at least in part as a polemic against alternative medicine--he is particularly scathing about chiropractic. His message about the Catholic Church is also mixed and bizarre. The plot is strange and disjointed, and I don't think I remember ever reading a hastier and more slapped together and implausible ending. I kept going, because it was Robin Cook and moments were interesting, but the overall effect was deeply disappointing . . . .
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