One of Trollope's more domestic novels in which he focuses on characters we already know from their regular appearances in the Barchester novels. Action revolves around "Planty" Palliser, the Duke of Omnium, who tries to cope with the emergent independence of his three willful children after the death of his wife. Trollope lets the dynamics of the central personalities be the story. Simple motifs become engrossing through the author's great gift for drawing the reader into the motives and emotions of each character.
The Hook vies with The Axe for first place on my list of Donald E. Westlake favorites.
Along side the basic story of two men colluding in crime, The Hook gives an insider's (Westlake's) satyric view of the publishing world.
Westlake is a master at understatement when he scripts two amateurs plotting murder. And what an easy-going, likeable hitman he creates!
Great book! Great narrator!
A Dorothy Sayers (unabridged) novel narrated by Ian Carmichael is a marriage made in heaven. Carmichael has narrated most of the Sayers Lord Peter novels and he is without rival for excellence in this genre. In this recording of Unnatural Death Sayers' complex and riveting story of clever deception and calculated murder is brought to its full dramatic heights by narrator Ian Carmichael.
Audible, PLEASE bring us more Sayers read by Carmichael!
I found these stories difficult to decipher. Did Gareth David-Lloyd have a severe head cold? I do not want musick plinckity-planking during a recorded reading; it is stupid at best. A dud;
M.R.James deserves better.
Memory is a departure from the usual story-based novel, not only for Westlake, but for most writers. The central character, Paul Cole, has the kind of internalized perceptions found in the protagonists of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment or Camus' The Stranger. Their world is defined by a logic which conflicts with the expectations of others. Cole is driven, not by circumstances, but by their refusal to fit together in a way that will allow him to re-establish his forgotten way of life.
This is a very interesting and ambitious mode of story-telling, because Westlake lets the reader see ahead of his hapless protagonist and sense the outcome of Paul Cole's groping attempts at regaining his memory. The theme of the book stands as a kind of metaphor for the accidental nature of life. Events appear to be cyclical, but they are spiral, the circles never quite overlap.
Trollope was himself a bit dismissive of this unassuming work , maybe, because he did not juggle several dynamic stories in The Belton Estate, as he does in most of his novels. Nevertheless, it is a very affecting portrayal of two people "made for each other". The simplicity of the tale allowed Trollope to fully develop the excruciatingly annoying behavior of the characters who stand in the way of the happiness of the lovers. Trollope is a master at portraying the ordinary pettiness that causes most of life's problems. The Belton Estate, modest, but satisfying.
My favorite Wharton novel.
Beauty, brains and breeding promise great success for Lily Bart. We are introduced to the heroine when her social triumphs are just beginning to be a thing of the past, and no one is more aware of the clock ticking away than Lily herself.
Wharton lucidly shows how Lily's expectations and upbringing have prepared her for a kind of life for which, at heart, she has a contempt. Her intelligence and sensitivity make her overly critical of the hypocrisy and vanity of the set in which she aspires to reign.
Wrong choices, bad luck and false friends erode Lily's last chance at fortune. The reduced circumstances in which her only true friends live is repugnant to Lily who can only imagine life being worth while when passed amid luxury.
We vividly see the illusory trap that prevents Lily Bart from escaping the denouement.
The twists and turns of the plot (or plots) of Framley Parsonage make this a highly entertaining tale. As always, Trollope provides the romantic struggles of at least one couple as a unifying thread, and their trials and tribulations are especially witty and ironic here in Framley Parsonage. His cast of characters runs the gamut, from the sublime to the absurd; Lucy Roberts, her too easy-going brother, Mark, Mark's nemesis, Sowerby, the wealthy and raucous heiress Miss Dunstable, the statuesque beauty, Griselda Grantly, &c. Trollope has a gift for imbuing his villains with likable, or at the very least, sympathetic, personalities. Haven't we all known an engaging knave, like Sowerby? Yet, in spite of the rich complexity of plot and character, Trollope keeps hold of the reins throughout and brings all to a satisfying conclusion.
The Spoils of Poynton has an unusual topic for a novel-the obsession with objects. Considering how the love of, and possession of "things" is central to so many people's lives, it is odd that it does not figure more importantly in novels. The theft of "things" and the desire for material wealth provide the subject of a great many novels, but the actual obsessive delectation of one's possessions rarely provides the plot motivation. Maybe it requires a genius like James for such an undertaking. "The Spoils of Poynton" with its heroic battle to save the "Spoils" from the Philistines is wonderfully tragicomic.
Who are the incontinent producers who can't resist spoiling an excellent narration with background music? This fine reading of The Stories of Guy de Maupssant was spoiled for me by the unnecessary, unsuitable and highly disttracting music grinding away. Why can't we have honest straight-forward narration by fine narrators without some egotistical "producer" sticking their incompetent fist in?
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