I read the book a few years back and loved it. It is beautifully written, very absorbing, and heartbreaking. This is a great way to re-read the book, or to read it for the first time. Simon Vance is one of the best narrators I've heard, and he does a marvelous job here. A fabulous listen!
I bought this on sale (and it's on sale for one more day, if you're interested), and am glad I did. I needed something involving but not too demanding. This is a gothic mystery, which is not usually my kind of thing. But. It's quite well-written, has a great story, and terrific narration. Both narrators are excellent, but I was especially taken with Bianca Amato. What marvelous delivery! So of course I look to see what else she has done (nowhere near enough considering how good she is . . hello? Audiobook empire, please take notice!) and it's a lot of books I wouldn't normally pay attention to. Do I need to start reading Philippa Gregory? I don't know. Maybe. Anyway, I dithered over getting The Thirteenth Tale, as it seemed not really to my taste, but it's a darned good yarn, narrated beautifully.
What a debut! And though this book is very well-written and beautifully narrated, I did not find it an easy listen. The author goes out on a limb in order to put us inside the mind of an elderly woman with serious dementia, most likely Alzheimer's. And the limb bears the weight of this construct. It's very well done, to the extent of being genuinely frightening, along the lines of "that poor woman" and "please don't let this happen to me." The book unravels two mysteries: that of the title, and a much, much older one from the narrator's past. It's gripping and absorbing, and at times so intense that I had to take a break.
Not the least of the author's accomplishments is to increase our understanding of what it might be like inside the mind of those with dementia.
A beautifully-written and compelling book about fascinating people. The anthropologists are as interesting as the tribes they are studying. I could have gone on listening to this for quite a while longer and am sorry it's over. I completely disagree with the reviewers who panned Simon Vance. No, his reading of Bankson isn't euphoric, but neither is Bankson's character. So much of what is going on in the book is in the contrast between his approach and that of Nell and Fen, and Simon Vance and Xe Sands (whom I also loved) nailed this aspect. Great book, great narration all around. I loved it.
The book deals with an engrossing mystery surrounding the fate of Louis-Charles, the Dauphin of France, the son of Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. The detective in this case, widely believed to be the first private detective, is Vidocq, and the book is well worth reading just for this character. The writing is skillful, moving, and often very funny. It's hard to go wrong with Simon Vance, and he's chalked up another A+ with his narration of The Black Tower. Highly recommended.
One of Tana French's many strengths is the psychological depth of her characters; the criminals, yes, but particularly the detectives. The more we find out about the crime and the suspects, the more we discover about the detectives, and the way she intertwines the backgrounds and stories of the two groups is masterful. Reading through all five of her books, none of whom has the same narrator, we experience the different detectives through their own eyes and through others. In this book, we see through the eyes of Rob Ryan, who is investigating a crime with his partner Cassie Maddox (the primary detective in The Likeness). It doesn't matter in which order you read the books; they all work regardless. The crime Ryan and Maddox are investigating here takes place in the same neighborhood Ryan grew up in, and where he went through an as-yet unexplained trauma. As the investigation progresses, we go deeper and deeper into Ryan's background and his relationship with Cassie. It's heartbreaking, riveting, and very well done.
I loved this book, and now I'll have the dilemma of choosing between Sean Barrett and Simon Vance for the Dickens I haven't listened to yet. The narration is exquisite; Mr. Barrett has a lovely voice, and when you listen to Dickens's beautiful writing in Mr. Barrett's beautiful voice . . . well, it's mesmerizing. There are wonderful characters in Martin Chuzzlewit: in particular Mrs. Gamp, the alcoholic nurse who repeatedly violates the Hippocratic Oath, and jolly Mark Tapley, who seeks out trouble and misery because there is "no credit in being jolly" when you're in a good situation. The plot is classic Dickens and if you've read much of his work, you're familiar with his devices, but it's the writing, the characters, and the narration that make this one memorable. As is often the case, Dickens gets pretty Hallmark-ish and treacly at the end, and in his handling of Ruth Pinch, but who cares? It's a great audiobook! Go for it.
This is my second Tana French novel; I listened to Broken Harbor recently, and recommend that as highly as this one. This is marvelous detective fiction: beautifully written and plotted, with complex and fascinating characters. Heather O'Neill does a brilliant job with the narration, handling a good-sized cast very well, and keeping me on the edge of my seat. I desperately hope she does more books; she has just the right amount of expression and emotion.
In Broken Harbor and Likeness, Tana Harbor creates intense and compelling mysteries without much violence. I can't read extremely or even moderately violent stuff; it unsettles me, but I love mysteries and have limited patience with "cozies." I'm also picky about good writing. Like P.D. James, Sarah Waters, and Kate Atkinson, French is able to maintain the tension without a lot of graphic violence. And the writing is *really good.* Denise Mina is another writer of marvelous detective fiction; I love her Alex Morrow series, though her Paddy Meehan & Garnethill series are too graphic for me. I notice Heather O'Neill has narrated two of the Paddy Meehans. Perhaps I can work up to one of those . . .
I get to read three more Tana French novels and then have to wait for her to publish more. I'm thrilled to have discovered her. What a find!
A ways into this book, I wasn't sure I was going to keep listening. The writing is straight-forward, terse, without much poetry to it, and I didn't know if I was up to 20+ hours of it. I'm very glad I persisted. It takes a while to get to know the characters, but once you do, they and their situation are compelling. The writing is effective and affecting, and the story is heartbreaking and all too true. If it doesn't grab you right off, keep going; it's well worth it.
Bronson Pinchot does a magnificent job of voicing the characters and bringing them alive. His command of accents is excellent. I hope he will do more "serious" literature; he seems to do a lot of fairly lightweight material. His narration of this book and of The Child Thief clearly show he is up to more.
I'm not a David Mitchell fan; I got through Thousand Autumns, but gave up on Cloud Atlas. I might give Cloud Atlas another try. I tried this book because of Ursula K. LeGuin's review in The Guardian; Ursula's opinion carries a lot of weight with me. I found The Bone Clocks to be seriously uneven. The first three sections & characters I found compelling, interesting and well narrated. The fourth section was difficult because it seemed to go on for a LONG time and the character was just so unpleasant. This might have been an easier read than listen; audiobooks come to life to such a degree that sometimes it's great and sometimes it's a downside. I didn't want to spend any more time with Crispin Hershey . . . but I got through it. I felt section 5 was by far the weakest part of the book. It's where the supernatural elements are strongest, and I just didn't believe it. I'm happy to go along with any number of fantastic constructs and worlds, but I need them to be well constructed and prepared for. These were not; it seemed like Mitchell just came up with a bunch of cool-sounding words and threw them at us. If the psychic weaponry and war make sense to him, that's fine, but it needs to make sense to me as well, and it really, really didn't. The narrator for section 5 didn't really work for me, and constantly mispronounced "Poughkeepsie." A small thing, I know, but it really got on my nerves after the first few times.
I enjoyed the final section of the book.
Overall I feel like Mitchell came up with some really interesting characters and didn't do much of interest with them. He can certainly write, no question about that. But the book didn't move me, and the supernatural aspect of the story was so weak that I'm left with no idea why he wrote the book at all.
This was Dickens' last finished novel, and he was at the height of his powers. The plot deals with the death of an heir to a fortune, and the effects of this fortune being settled upon a working-class couple. Along the way we have a couple of love stories, greed, jealousy, mistaken identity and murder. The threads of the plot are woven together beautifully and the characters are very much alive. I didn't want the book to end.
Simon Vance, as usual, does a superb job with the narration. His reading of the characters brings them to marvelous life. There is plenty of humor in the book, and Vance presents it with exactly the right touch of dryness. And his reading of the darker parts of the novel is extremely effective and affecting. I think this is one of his best narrations.
On to the next Dickens/Vance audiobook! Perhaps "Little Dorrit."
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